A rich and moist dairy-free chocolate cake sandwiched together with a silky smooth chocolate and coconut buttercream frosting and topped with even more chocolate and fresh raspberries. This cake can be made into a 2 layer 8 inch cake or a 3 layer 6 inch cake.
No matter what the occasion, there is nothing like a statement layer cake. Something that towers above the other desserts and makes people say a little ‘wow’ when they see it. Layer cakes can seem intimidating, but I am here to show you they are so easy and approachable.
This cake recipe is one that I have made on countless occasions and I know it is going to work every single time. I developed this recipe first as for cupcakes, but discovered that it is also the perfect amount of batter to make a 3 layer 6 inch layer cake!
This size is perfect because you still get the effect of a nice tall cake without ending up with enough cake to feed the entire village. Expect this size cake to feed 6-8 people.
I am by no means an expert when it comes to decorating, and with this cake I have kept things super simple by piling high some fresh raspberries on top and shaves of dark chocolate.
Raspberries are the perfect pairing with the rich flavours of coconut and chocolate, but if you prefer you can choose to decorate simply with extra buttercream swirls and more chocolate or use strawberries or blueberries instead.
How to make dairy-free chocolate and coconut cake
Over the years of baking dairy-free, I have used every type of substitute for the traditional ingredients of butter and milk. The more I looked into it I found that some cake recipes even used sour cream to add richness and moisture. If you are a dairy free cook, you will know that sour cream is one of the hardest subsituties to make, so often you cannot just take a standard cake recipe and make your 1-1 swaps.
When I bake, I don’t want to use different and expensive ingredients if I can help it. I want to try as much as possible to stay true to the traditional structure and formulas of baking, however I know through trial and error that some things work better in recipes than others.
What I found was that using things like coconut milk and coconut oil in place of butter and milk provide an incredible amount of extra richness and moisture to cakes due to their higher fat content, much like you would get from traditional dairy ingredients.
The downside of using coconut based products though is that they carry through their strong flavours which can sometimes be overpowering to the flavours you are trying to achieve.
For this cake, we are embracing the coconut flavours and instead of having them overpower the chocolate flavour, we are using it to enhance it and create a rich, deeply flavoured cake. The coconut oil in the cake also gives it and incredible velvety texture and keeps it moist and delicious.
For this cake, I started with my ultimate chocolate and coconut cupcakes recipe as a strong foundation. These are one of my favourite cakes, and the batter is the perfect amount for 3 6 inch cake layers like I have made here, or 2 8 inch layers, depending on the cake you want to make.
I love this size cake because it still has the beautiful presentation of a larger layer cake, but it is a much more manageable size for smaller events where you don’t really need mountains of cake left over.
How to make chocolate and coconut buttercream
For the frosting I started with my favourite vegan chocolate buttercream. This is my go to, super reliable and delicious frosting. It is made with cocoa powder so you can make it with pantry staples, because let’s face it, if you are anything like me you are not going to have real chocolate lying around just waiting to be frosting!
Instead of using the usual almond milk, I substitute this with coconut milk. It gets even better if you put your can of coconut milk in the fridge the night before and then just use the cream that hardens on the top. It results in a mega creamy, almost fudgy, chocolate frosting that is actually the best.
This frosting is then used between the layers and all over. I made a single batch for this recipe and it made a little more than I needed, but you can use this to pipe decorations on top if you want, or you can just add extra between the layers.
Once you have frosted and decorated your cake you can keep it in the fridge until ready to serve. I like to let the cake come to room temperature for about an hour before eating but that’s not essential.
Other 6 inch layer cake variations
You can pretty much use any cupcake recipe to make a 6 inch layer cake. Simply make the batter and divide evenly between the pans.
Use the batter from the below recipes to make different cake flavour variations:
Chocolate and Coconut Cupcakes (pictured here as a cake and recipe included below)
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes
Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
Lady Grey Cupcakes
The frosting amount in each of these recipes will also be the right amount for your 6 inch cake, so you can get creative!
What will you try first?
If you do make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and rating below! And tag any of your creations on Instagram with #eightforestlane as I would love to see.
Chocolate and Coconut Layer Cake (Dairy-Free)
For the Cupcakes:
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
For the chocolate and coconut buttercream
- 125 grams dairy-free butter
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 180°C and line 3x 6 inch cake pans with cooking spray and baking paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and melted coconut oil. In a separate bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Add half of the dry ingredients into the wet and half of the coconut milk and whisk until combined. Add in the remainder of the dry ingredients along with the milk and again stir until mixture just comes together being careful not to overmix.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 3 pans and place in preheated oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
- Take the cakes out of the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the buttercream. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted, beat dairy-free spread and vanilla for 1-2 minutes until creamy.
- Add in 3 cups of icing sugar and cocoa powder and beat on medium until combined. As mixture thickens, add in coconut milk a tablespoon at a time. If frosting is too thin, add in an extra ½ icing sugar until it reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. Add pinch of salt to taste if frosting is too sweet.
- Decorate the cake. Level the cakes with a large knife if they have domed in the oven. Place a small amount of the buttercream on a cake stand and place the first cake layer down. Add enough frosting to thickly cover the layer and add the second cake layer. Add more frosting, then the final cake layer upside down so the top of the cake is flat. Add more frosting to the top and side of the cake with a cake knife until its completely covered. Run a cake knife around the outside to smooth the edges.Top cake with fresh raspberries and chopped dark chocolate, or use the remaining frosting to pipe swirls around the top.