April 30, 2012

Vegan Pina Colada Cake

It's another rainy, chilly Monday here in Ontario, so what better way to start off the week than with a tropical cake!

I know I left you with a teaser last week of the cake that I made for my birthday and I meant to share the recipe with you sooner, but I ended up being pretty busy with a couple of family events this weekend so I never found the time to post the recipe.  Hopefully you'll forgive me for the long wait when you see how good this cake was!

I mentioned in my last post that my twin sister Natalie and I each like to make our own cakes for our shared birthday.  This year, Nat set out to make a banana cake and served us this delicious banana layer cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting.  I had tropical flavours on my mind, so when I came across a recipe for a pina colada cake on Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had found my birthday cake!

The recipe sounded perfect, but I still wanted to make some changes to suit my personal preferences, like adding a layer of toasted coconut on top and using Malibu coconut rum instead of regular rum.  To make the cake vegan, I replaced the butter with Earth Balance Coconut Spread, and I used a powdered egg replacer instead of actual eggs.

Veganizing the recipe was easy enough, but the difficult part came when I tried to find the cream of coconut.  I had read that cream of coconut is essential for the recipe and you can't just substitute coconut milk. But I searched at least three different stores and couldn't find it anywhere (maybe it's only available in the summer months?).

I was running out of time, so I knew I would have to improvise.  Then I came up with the idea to use pina colada cocktail mix instead of the cream of coconut.  I figured it would give the cake an even stronger pina colada flavour, and it has a pretty thick consistency that would be similar enough to the cream of coconut.  I actually found a brand that was low-calorie with no added sugar, and it even had creamed coconut in the ingredients. So I bought it and hoped for the best!

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous that the cake wouldn't turn out.  Not only was I worried that the pina colada mix might cause some kind of strange chemical reaction, but it was also my first time using a powdered egg replacer, so I wasn't too sure how that would work in the recipe either.  Plus I realized when I went to bake the cake that I didn't have a 9 inch regular cake pan, so I had to use a glass pan instead.

Well, I must have had some birthday luck on my side, because the cake ended up even better than I could have hoped!  It had lots of coconut flavour, with just enough sweetness from the cake and the glaze.  I thought the mix of pineapple and coconut did make it taste like a pina colada, but personally I would have liked just a touch more of the rum flavour to come through (which may have been because I used a flavoured rum, which doesn't have a strong alcohol taste).

I also loved the texture of the cake itself - it was so moist and had a nice thick crumb.  This definitely wasn't a fluffy or airy cake, but I thought the denser texture actually worked really well.  I also liked that it wasn't too rich and didn't sit heavy in my stomach afterwards like some cakes can.

I would say that when it comes to birthday cakes, this one was more on the lighter side, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a healthy cake - it definitely still qualifies as a sweet dessert (although I did come very close to eating the last slice for breakfast the next day)!

Everyone I served the cake to loved it as well, and they were quite willing to take leftovers home with them, so I knew it was a success!  I think this would also be a great cake to make for Mother's Day coming up in a couple of weeks, or for anyone who loves coconut!

Vegan Pina Colada Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
*Note: the instructions below are for a regular cake pan. If you use a glass baking pan like I did, reduce the oven temperature to 325° and bake for about 5 minutes longer.

2 tsp powdered egg replacer + 1/4 cup water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz Earth Balance Coconut Spread, softened (or another vegan butter substitute)
1/4 cup organic cane sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tbsp Malibu coconut rum, divided (or regular rum)
1 tsp vanilla extract (can subsitute coconut extract for a stronger coconut flavor)
1 cup pina colada cocktail mix (check the ingredients to make sure it’s vegan)
heaping 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple

1 cup icing sugar
2-3 tbsp pineapple juice
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp lime zest

~ 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
~ 1/4 cup unsweetened large flake coconut

To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350° and prepare a 9-inch cake pan by spraying with cooking spray or lining the bottom with parchment paper.

First, make your egg replacer by mixing the powder with the water. Set aside.

Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through to salt) in a large bowl.

Place the Earth Balance and cane sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Beat in 1 tbsp of the rum and the vanilla extract.  Next, beat or whisk in the pina colada mix – the mixture will look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it’s supposed to look that way!

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in two additions, stirring gently until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Fold in the pineapple.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing out the top with a spatula. Place in preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the outside is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Carefully invert the pan to release the cake onto a wire rack to finish cooling.  While it is still warm, brush the remaining 1 tbsp of rum over the top and edges of the cake.

To make the glaze and topping:
Make the glaze by stirring together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Add the pineapple juice 1 tbsp at a time, until the glaze is thin enough to spread but still thick enough that it is not runny.

Toast the coconut in a large skillet over medium heat until it begins to turn golden and fragrant, shaking the pan frequently (be careful not to burn it!).

Once the cake is completely cooled, pour the glaze slowly over the cake, starting in the center. The glaze should start spreading out to the edges on its own, but you can use a spatula to help spread it if necessary.

Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the icing (be sure to do this before the icing has set). I sprinkled an even layer of the flaked coconut over the whole cake, then a layer of the large flaked coconut over the centre of the cake for different textures.

Store in the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8-10 slices. 


  1. This was so yummy! Dense and moist cakes are my favourite, and I even liked the coconut in it :) It was nice to have a lighter single layer option for our birthday!

    1. Thanks, I agree! And I'm happy that I'm slowly turning you into a fan of coconut too!

  2. Yum! That looks delish! Happy bday to you and your sis!

  3. Such a perfect birthday cake!

    The cream of coconut it stocked year round in NH right by the coconut milk - it sounds like your substitution worked even better :)

    1. I really loved this cake, but for the record, I'm pretty sure I would have loved your strawberry pistchio cake too ;)
      I checked by the cocktail mixes and by the coconut milk, and no luck...unless my eyes are getting worse along with my increasing age! haha

  4. Yay, I love when you take a risk and worry how something will turn out and then it ends up being better than you expected! The flavors of pina colada always make me think of summer, which is perfect because it's in the 90s here this week! :)

    1. I love when that happens too - much better than the alternative haha...I'm jealous of your warm weather - it's still too cold to be sipping on pina coladas up here!

  5. Ohhh I was in the store (Kroger) a couple of days ago and noticed "cream of coconut" next to the canned coconut milk in the international isle. I had never heard of it before. I'm excited to give it a try in this recipe! Perhaps I'll give it a shot for Mother's day, as you suggested :)

    1. I'm happy I could give you a recipe idea for the cream of coconut you found! Let me know how it turns out if you end up giving it a try!

  6. What a beautiful cake! Baking is so fun when everything ends up working properly !:)

    1. Thank you! That's definitely true...I've had my share of baking disasters so I'm pretty much always scared when things come out of the oven! But I also appreciate it more when they do turn out well!

  7. What a fantastic looking cake! Mmmm! Pineapple and coconut are sooooo delicious together :) Looks like you had one tasty birthday cake :)

    1. Thanks! I love that combination...it wasn't an overly fancy or extravagant birthday cake, but it was perfect for my tastes!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...