You’ll be forgiven for thinking that a gluten AND dairy free cake sounds like a party with no music, but trust me on this. My blueberry and coconut cake is light, moist and seductively moreish. You’ll find you can’t help carving off just one more minuscule sliver (you know, just to even it up), until the horror suddenly dawns on you that you’ve just demolished a third of it. I’m speaking from personal experience here, so consider yourselves forewarned.
Everyone and their aunt has been banging on about coconut oil of late, so I thought I’d leap on the bandwagon and extoll praise where praise is due - this stuff really is gloriously coconutty. I’m not quite so bothered by its apparent health virtues and I will never suggest it as a blanket substitute for good old-fashioned butter, but coconut oil is a marvellous addition to any kitchen, whether you’re dairy-free or not. It can actually be quite difficult to pack a coconut cake with enough of the heady aroma of the exotic, without resorting to Malibu buttercream (which I’m certainly not knocking), but I think I’ve found the answer in coconut oil. It looks a bit like lard when at room temperature, but don’t let that put you off. Gently melt it in a saucepan and your whole kitchen will become intoxicated with sunshine and paradise.
I’ve ramped up the coconut hit further with that classic staple from your granny’s larder, desiccated coconut, to add a subtle chewiness to the cake. I’ve also added a not quite so classic ingredient: coconut flour. This stuff can be quite tricky to use. Like a dropped water bottle in the Sahara desert, coconut flour will slurp up every last morsel of moisture in your mixture, which means getting the right balance of fat and liquid is essential if you don’t want to be left with a sandy lump.
I love the fresh, summery addition of blueberries in this cake and the streaky purple prettiness they create. If you’re not a blueberry fan or want the taste of coconut to ring through uninterrupted, by all means leave the berries out, but you’ll need to go down a tin size and bake it in a 6-inch round.
Gluten and Dairy Free Coconut and Blueberry Cake
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line a 7-inch deep round cake tin
125g caster sugar
100g coconut oil, melted
50g coconut flour, sifted
1 tsp. gluten free baking powder
50g desiccated coconut
Icing sugar to dust (optional)
Whisk the sugar and eggs until mousse-y and doubled in volume. This will take some time, so if you have an electric hand whisk, use it. Continue to whisk on a low speed as you add the coconut oil. Fold in the coconut flour, baking powder and desiccated coconut with a large metal spoon. The coconut flour will suck up the moisture like water in sand, but don’t worry, the cake will still be light and moist. Finally, fold in the blueberries and pour the mixture out into your prepared tin. Level the top with a palette knife and pop in the oven. After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (130°C fan)/300°F/Gas Mark 2 and bake for a further 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of its tin. Leave to cool complete on a wire rack, before dusting with icing sugar and transferring to a serving plate.