Happy Vegan, Gluten Free, Nut Free Birthday!

Carrie Steele whips up a coffee cake that will entice and appease even those with nut allergies.

JUST WHEN I’VE developed a small but reliable repertoire of ‘sweet treats’ to serve up for special occasions, I get thrown a curve ball. I’m happy to say though that my ‘new challenge’ comes in the form of my son’s totally delightful bride to be, and she is definitely worth a little effort. Although not vegan, she is by necessity a ‘gluten free, nut free’ gal, meaning that my lovely raw slices and cakes comprised largely of nuts are a big ‘no-no’, and forcing me to go back to the drawing board when I needed to produce two birthday cakes a few weeks apart.


Coffee Cake_CS_DF


Thankfully though, the internet is a wonderful place for finding recipes, and as it’s my nature to always want to change things just a little, a good source of inspiration to get my creative juices flowing. Hubby loved his chocolate cake, and I’m going to make it again and be sure to photograph it next time and share it with you (the recipe that is, not the cake!). However, my dear son announced that while that was a very good cake, he wasn’t such a big fan of chocolate cake and wondered what I might come up with for his birthday?


So, here it is, “Carrie’s Coffee Cake”, produced with quite a bit of help from all my internet baking pals – none of whom seemed to think of turning a vanilla cake into a coffee one! As for the frosting, it’s to die for, and you’ll be surprised at the ingredients. Be warned though, there’s a lot of sweet stuff in this cake and I’m pretty sure I got my annual allotment of ‘sweet calories’ eating not just a birthday slice but also the left overs next day! Luckily it’s not a huge cake, and there were six of us eating it. Enjoy!



Vegan, Gluten Free, Nut Free Coffee Cake, with Chocolate Frosting


¾ cup (organic if possible) brown rice flour

¾ cup tapioca flour

½ cup organic coconut flour

1 cup raw sugar (I whizzed it in my coffee grinder to make it finer)

½ tsp salt

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Xanthan gum

½ cup plain unsweetened soy milk

3 TB strong coffee (I used a good freeze dried coffee and put 3 heaped teaspoons into the 3 TB of very hot water and mixed well)

1 cup warm water

3 TB coconut oil (I put the oil in a teacup and placed that in a bowl of hot water to gently dissolve, as it was ‘margarine-consistency’ from the pantry.)

1 TB vanilla extract (use the best you can find, not just cheap essence)

1 tsp lemon juice

¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce (I found some in a tin that was 100 percent apple, unsweetened)


  1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. Pour the soy milk (could use other non-dairy milk) into a cup and add the lemon juice, put aside.
  3. Whisk together all dry ingredients.
  4. Add liquid and dry ingredients together and mix with electric beater until smooth.
  5. Divide the mixture between two 7-inch spring-form cake pans. (It will not look like much in the pans but they do rise a bit, and also, they are going to be sandwiched together. Gently spread the mixture around the base of the pans so it is close to the edges. I lined the bottoms only with grease proof paper to make sure they would not stick and this worked well.)
  6. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes. To check it is ready, it will spring back when you press it lightly. Remove from cake pans while still warm and put on a cake rack to cool.


Chocolate-Coffee Frosting:


Flesh of 3 large avocados, must be very ripe

½ cup raw cacao powder (you could use ordinary cocoa I guess)

½ cup good (100 percent) maple syrup (not the cheap syrupy stuff)

2 TB melted coconut oil

2 TB cooled coffee (mix 3 heaping tsp of good freeze dried instant in hot water)

½ tsp of the same good vanilla extract used for the cakes

A pinch of salt


Whizz all this in a blender or food processor, it is ready now to spread between the cakes and on top. I decorated mine with a few blueberries.


A few helpful tips:


  • I buy my xanthan gum (100 percent pure powder natural thickener) and my organic cacao powder from iHerb.com, which is much cheaper than purchasing these items here at home. I also purchase agave nectar that way and it is about half the price.
  • I could not find brown rice flour to purchase, only white rice flour. The helpful lady at my local bulk foods store where I buy my seeds and nuts and spices made the following suggestion and it worked perfectly. Just put ordinary brown rice into your coffee grinder in small batches, and, well, just grind actually! This turned out perfect flour. I only had to do three batches to get enough flour for these cakes, and it only takes a very short time to grind. Genius!
  • I’ve only recently discovered coconut flour and it’s a great product for vegan, gluten free cooks. It has the most delectable smell as well, and judging by the blurb on the outside of the packet, it’s a pretty useful addition to the kitchen pantry. I’m going to give ‘Avalanche’ a plug here, because theirs is the only coconut flour I could find so good on them for covering this little niche in the market. I predict once the word gets around it could be a big seller, and it’s not too expensive either. Just because I’m feeling generous, I’ll also mention that I used ‘Avalanche’ freeze dried coffee too.


Happy vegan, gluten free, nut free baking!




PS, Photo is of my actual cake, I hope you’ll agree it looked pretty good?






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