This gluten free vanilla cake with light and fluffy coconut cream cheese frosting and real coconut shavings is straight out of my dreams.

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A slice of gluten free vanilla cake with coconut.

Gluten free vanilla cake with…

I’m usually “not a cake person” but I saw a picture of this cake coated in coconut shavings last month and have been craving it ever since so here we are.

Coconut. Cream. Cheese. Frosting.

The fact that I made this cake for no reason other than to satisfy my craving is about as extra as it gets and I’m not even mad because it was delicious.

It probably won’t last the week.

Now that I’ve overshared, let’s talk details. This gluten free vanilla cake is made gluten free with (can you guess?) Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten free flour. It still amazes me how seamless this flour works when baking things as delicate as cakes and cookies.

It has a very traditional vanilla cake base with an extravagantly rich cream cheese frosting whipped with a dash of coconut essence.

Basically, this cake is like a light and creamy, tropical flavored, wintery looking, cloud. And it’s gluten free.  

A coconut coated vanilla cake

Must have ingredients & tools

Must have might be an exaggeration but these ingredients and tools were pretty darn essential to me in baking this cake:

  • Let’s Do Organic Shredded Coconut: you could use any shredded coconut brand you like, I’m a big fan of getting it in bulk at my local food co-op but this brand is also great because it’s organic and unsweetened
  • Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour: if you’ve ever read a blog post from Salima’s Kitchen before, you know all about my love for this stuff. try it for yourself.
  • Parchment Paper Rounds: these are a life saver and a must have when baking cakes. if you don’t want to splurge on these, before I had them I would just use a pencil to trace a circle with the baking pan and cut out rounds from normal parchment paper. do what works for you!
  • Offset Spatula: cake bakers already know how essential this tool is when frosting like a professional. enough said!
  • Coconut Flavor: I never thought I would be buying a jar of something called “Coconut Flavor” or telling readers it’s a “must have ingredient” but here we are. if you really want the people eating this cake to feel like they are on a beach drinking out of a real life coconut, this stuff is probably the closest you are going to get. unless you’re actually on a beach, in which case,  you win.
A slice of vanilla coconut cake on a blue plate


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A slice of vanilla coconut cake

Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

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  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 1 two layer cake 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This gluten free vanilla cake with light and fluffy coconut cream cheese frosting and real coconut shavings is straight out of my dreams.



For the Cakes:

  • 2 tbsp butter or Pam spray (to grease both pans)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp coconut flavor
  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk

For the Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 7 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp coconut flavor
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • coconut flakes


  1. Set your eggs and butter on the counter top a few hours before you start baking.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 8 inch cake pans and line with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and coconut flavor and beat for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. In a smaller bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well and slowly blend into the larger mixing bowl. Do not over mix. Fold in the milk just until combined evenly.
  5. Split into the two cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center of the cake.
  6. Cool for 1 hour. Move to wire racks and cool for another hour. Slice off the cake top to make an even top, wrap with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
  7. Make the frosting: blend together confectioners sugar, heavy cream, cream cheese and butter (softened to room temperature). Blend in coconut essence and vanilla extract.
  8. Spread on the cake with an offset spatula. Press shredded coconut flakes on the top and sides of the cake. Enjoy!