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Ashley Alexander's Toasted Coconut & Vanilla Cake

Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, Gather & Feast founder Ashley Alexander shares her recipe for a classic toasted coconut and vanilla cake.

When it comes to hosting the ultimate picnic we recommend these two things: first, create a beautiful tablescape, which you can do with our Build-Your-Own-Table-Bundle and second, impress your guests with delicious food.

But it doesn't have to be complicated and you don't need to spend half a day in the kitchen. Just 70 minutes in fact to recreate Ashley Alexander's classic vanilla cake. And who doesn't love a classic?

It's fluffy and light with notes of vanilla, coconut and lemon and not only tastes delicious but looks the part too, so make sure to save yourself a slice.

Makes 1 x 23cm round cake

Time: 70 minutes, plus cooling time (20-minutes hands-on, 50 minutes baking)

Dietary: Dairy-free without the frosting


For the cake:

  • 1 cup (190g / 250ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 11⁄2 cups (300g) raw sugar
  • 2 tbs (15g) vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups (280g) plain flour
  • 1 cup (60g) shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp bi-carb soda
  • 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup (195g) thick unsweetened coconut yoghurt

For the vanilla cream cheese frosting:

  • 375g cream cheese
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 2 tbs vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1⁄2 cup coconut flakes, toasted, for sprinkling on top


Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F (fan forced) and grease and line a 23cm (9inch) round springform cake tin.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the olive oil, sugar, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Then add the flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and yoghurt, and gently fold to combine before pouring the mixture into the pre-lined tin.

Bake at 180°C/350°F for 50 minutes.

While the cake is baking, make the frosting.

Add the cream cheese, vanilla, icing sugar, and lemon zest, to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or you can use hand beaters or a spatula in a medium-sized mixing bowl).

Beat the ingredients until super smooth and set aside until ready to use.

Remove the cake the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the tin and placing onto a serving plate.

You can serve the cake warm dusted with icing sugar OR allow the cake to cool completely and frost with the vanilla cream cheese frosting.

If frosting, dollop the frosting into the middle of the cake and using ‘swooshing’ motions with the back of a spoon, spread the frosting to the edges of the cake.

Sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes and serve.

And while we doubt there will be any leftovers, store the cake in the fridge to enjoy later.

Shop Ashley's look with our White Tablecloth, Petrol Placemats and Lavender Napkins.

Shop all of the below looks using our fully customisable Build Your Own Table Bundle function.

For more from Ashley, follow her on Instagram at @gatherandfeast.

Hungry for more? Explore more recipes from our favourite home cooks here.

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