Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Banana Kahlua Coconut Cake Recipe


This post is linked to Friday Foodie Fix–Wine and Spirits.

My new friend, Anali, at Anali’s First Amendment, did a post the other day called A Weekend Mix.  I was reading along enjoying her write-up on her odd dreams involving celebrities (don’t we all have those?), advice regarding African Violets, and some pictures of her charming place, and then I got to the photo of her banana-coconut cake. Banana and coconut! What a wonderful combination, I thought. The picture of her slice of cake made my mouth water. It had that lovely rich, golden brown color that banana always adds to baked goods. Anali included the recipe, which she’d adapted from a banana cake recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours. Anali’s version was dairy free, but not gluten free. I immediately commented that I planned to make a gluten-free version of her recipe soon. So I did, and I’m so glad.

With living more dairy free, I am taking the same approach that I’ve taken with gluten-free living. That means that I am dairy free easily (dfe ;-) , if you will), using ingredients that are naturally dairy free. Anali’s recipe called for Smart Balance; instead, I substituted olive oil. (See substitution chart here.) Her recipe also called for rice milk and banana schnapps. I don’t really plan to keep rice milk on hand, and while I have peppermint schnapps and peach schnapps in the liquor cabinet for certain friends, I don’t stock banana schnapps. However, thinking of liqueurs gave me the idea to substitute Kahlua for both the rice milk and the banana schnapps. I usually have Kahlua on hand and the thought of Kahlua with banana and coconut seemed luscious. (It sure is in liquid form!) Because I wasn’t sure if the Kahlua would be thick enough to be a proper substitute, I decided to add an additional egg to provide the right consistency. The results were very, very good.

How good? Well, tomorrow I will be making this cake for the third time in less than a week. I first made it for a committee meeting last Thursday. My cake was placed on the table right in front of one friend. Every few minutes throughout the meeting, he would lop off a small piece with the cake server. I love to feed people so I was getting a lot of pleasure (and amusement) from his obvious inability to resist the cake. Others enjoyed it as well, so by the end of the evening, most of the cake was gone. (That was saying a lot since there was plenty of fabulous food served, including pepperoni crostini.) The next day I made another one for our monthly support group meeting. I served it to our members that evening and they all raved over it. Everyone was amazed that it was both gluten free and dairy free and could taste so good. Again, despite the table being full of great food, almost all of the cake disappeared.

Tomorrow I am making it in preparation for the arrival of my husband’s cousin on Thursday. We’ll be able to use it as a dessert or for a coffee cake-type breakfast. It’s really quite a treat and another way to use up those “baking bananas”! (See more ideas here.)

By the way, in preparing this post, I went to Anali’s site to copy URLs for links back to her site and her original post. I was both surprised and delighted to discover that she’d given me a Premio Dardos award! As most of you know, I am pretty new to the “blogosphere,” so this award is my first and, therefore, very special. I was not familiar with this award, but you can read more about it here.  Look for another post on the 15 blogs I have selected soon. :-)

Note to Anali: Thanks so very much … I am honored. Hope you enjoy my gfe version of your cake!


Banana Kahlua Coconut Cake
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe.)

2 ripe bananas (about 2/3 cup)
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp Kahlua
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/3 cups gluten-free flour mix*
3/4 tsp xanthan gum (skip if flour mix already contains xanthan gum)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened because that’s what was available at my grocery store)

In a large bowl, mash bananas. Stir in vanilla extract. Add olive oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and Kahlua; mix well. Stir in salt, baking soda, and nutmeg. Gradually stir in flour, then coconut, until well mixed.

Grease a round cake pan well. (Makes a one-layer cake.) Pour batter in pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes. (Test with toothpick to determine if done.) Remove from pan immediately and cool. I’ve served this cake “plain” each time with no complaints, but Anali also suggests that it can be served with whipped cream.

*One option is the gluten-free flour mix that I use most of the time. It consists of three parts Asian white rice flour and two parts cornstarch. I make 5 lbs of this mix at a time. I use three 1-lb bags of Asian white rice flour and two 1-lb boxes of Argo cornstarch. Mix well, but gently in a very large bowl and then transfer to airtight storage containers (like Tupperware).

Shirley’s Notes: My version of this cake has evolved, and not necessarily by design. The first time I made the recipe I used an extra large egg and didn’t have quite enough coconut, plus I am pretty sure I left out the brown sugar. It turned out lighter in color than the photo of Anali’s cake, but was still quite good. (Six committee members can’t be wrong!) The second time I made it, I decided to use two large eggs. I had the right amount of coconut, and added it, but I misread the brown sugar amount and added too much. Gasp … such an awful mistake. LOL OMG, the resulting cake was fantastic. When I make this cake tomorrow, I will use two large eggs and an amount of brown sugar between the original amount and my erroneous measurement.  (These amounts are reflected in the recipe shown.) The point is … don’t be afraid to make this cake if you don’t have exactly the right amounts of ingredients on hand, want to emphasize one flavor over another, etc. Next time, I think I might add some mini-chocolate chips. Just about any good baking recipe can be improved by the addition of chocolate, right? ;-)  

UPDATE: When I made the cake this evening with two smaller bananas, it seemed too sweet so I’ve added measurement guidance for the bananas and reduced the brown sugar amount to the original amount that Anali used. Of course, if your mashed bananas equal much more and you want to use the entire amount, you may want to adjust the amount upward slightly.

Shirley Braden
Not just gf, but gfe!

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38 Responses to “Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Banana Kahlua Coconut Cake Recipe”

  1. Anali on April 22nd, 2009 12:14 am

    I love this post Shirley! Your version looks wonderful. I’m so glad that you liked it and that you adapted it. And that you made it three times! Wow!!!! I’m smiling ear to ear. :D

  2. Shirley on April 22nd, 2009 7:21 am

    Anali–Thanks so much! I, truly, will be forever indebted to you for the original recipe. :-) I can’t wait to impress my husband’s cousin (our house guest) and share some with my parents, who love all things coconut. Glad to bring a big smile to your face … too bad I can’t slip you a piece of my version later today. ;-) Virtual feeding … it has to be in our future some day, right? LOL


  3. noble pig on April 22nd, 2009 6:25 pm

    Oh wow I have two ripe bananas. This sounds totally like a cake for me!

    • Shirley on April 22nd, 2009 9:03 pm

      noble pig–Hi, Cathy! I just mixed up the third one a few minutes ago and it’s baking right now. The smell is pure heaven, but the taste will be even better. :-) Enjoy!


  4. Diane-thewholegang on April 23rd, 2009 2:37 pm

    I love bacon and you love to bake. Either way we need to keep sharing all of these treats. Hope everyone enjoyed!

    • Shirley on April 23rd, 2009 10:26 pm

      Okay, it’s a deal, Diane! The latest review from hubby and his cousin was thumbs up. Well, actually, I think they made some little moaning noises first. LOL


  5. glutenfreeforgood on April 23rd, 2009 4:32 pm

    Congrats on your award, Shirley. And thanks for the tip-off to Anali’s blog!

    Okay, now you’ve got to stop with all this incredibly yummy looking food. I’m trying to ease off my cleanse and I think if confronted with this cake of yours, I’d end up lopping off pieces like your friend did. I’d hate to eat a whole cake after no sugar for a month. It could happen though.


    I’ll save it for later though. It looks amazing. Yum — you’re just full of tricks, aren’t you?!


    • Shirley on April 23rd, 2009 10:34 pm

      Thanks, Melissa! See … the possible scenario you mention of eating a whole cake is exactly why I must lead a support group, entertain, and share a LOT. I just can’t stop baking, so I need help with the eating part. So far nobody is refusing my wares. ;-)


  6. Kelly on April 23rd, 2009 4:59 pm

    Oh my goodness! I wish I could reach through my laptop and grab a slice! DFE – I love it!

    • Shirley on April 23rd, 2009 10:38 pm

      Kelly– :-) I wish I could “beam” you a piece! It really is sensational.

      gfe and working on dfe,

  7. Melanie on April 23rd, 2009 10:34 pm

    Looks and sounds wonderful, Shirley! Thanks!

    • Shirley on April 23rd, 2009 10:42 pm

      Hey, Melanie–Thank you, my dear! It is really wonderful. Even after making it three times and sharing it with others, each time I have a small piece I am amazed how good it is. :-)


  8. CoconutGal on April 24th, 2009 1:36 am

    Well as you know, I have a thing for bananas and coconut, so this title caught my attention. Sounds fab!!
    Hope you are well Shirley :-D

    • Shirley on April 24th, 2009 7:30 am

      I admit I did think of you when I first made Anali’s recipe, CoconutGal. ;-) I still want to make your banana-coconut “ice cream” … just need to pick up some coconut milk when I go to “town” again. ;-) (It’s not something my local grocery store carries.)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting … I’ll try to do more posts that meet your fancy! :-)

  9. Ali (Whole Life Nutrition) on April 24th, 2009 2:13 am

    Wow Shirley this cake sounds too good. I am glad I don’t live near you otherwise I’d end up wanting a slice or 2 or 3 and I don’t need any more baked goods! I have plenty around these days with this cookbook project! -Ali :)

    • Shirley on April 24th, 2009 7:39 am

      Hi, Ali!–Thanks! Too good is right. LOL But, I can’t even imagine the food temptations when developing a cookbook! With a failed recipe though, not so much. LOL However, I bet you have very few if any of those. ;-) Usually even failed recipes can turn into something wonderful. Like the pumpkin bars, I forgot to add the sugar to (I know … clearly, I was not thinking … I thought they looked a little flat!) . . . They will be reincarnated as a pumpkin crust soon. Just need to crush and add a little brown sugar and olive oil I think. Maybe you need some type of group to feed!? Hubby just came home last from handbell choir practice to tell me they had full attendance, so he promised them some of my treats next week. LOL Maybe I’ll try something new on them. That’s the ideal solution—I get one test bite and then out the door the goodies go. :-) I am sure your four little ones help a lot with eating all your test runs though.


  10. Ali (Whole Life Nutrition) on April 26th, 2009 9:35 pm

    Oh yes, much of my creations get given away. I do have some help with the little ones though! But I still need to try my creations hot out of the oven, cooled, and then also the next day to see if anything has changed (usually the texture). It gets to be quite a lot of taste testing some weeks!!

    -Ali :)

    • Shirley on April 27th, 2009 11:05 pm

      Ali–That’s an excellent comment about all that goes into cookbook development. Testing the recipes at all different phases would definitely require a lot of testing. I made a recipe tonight I didn’t even get to taste, so I am asking the recipients for a report back. It’s a new creation, so I am hoping it will be blog worthy. :-)


  11. kathie on June 10th, 2010 4:18 pm

    I must have had too many ripe (maybe over ripe) bananas in the house. I made this and the molasses banana bread in the same week.

    I did “tweak” it a bit. I don’t usually have Kahlua in the house. So I substituted Rum for the Kahlua. I called it a Pina Colada cake (rum, bananas and coconut). The rum did not add much to the flavor. It is very yummy though.

    • Shirley on June 11th, 2010 8:00 am

      Hi kathie–You know you are making me very happy by sharing your gfe baking successes, don’t you? ;-) IMHO, there’s no such thing as too many ripe or overripe bananas. Usually my freezer is full of bananas that have passed their prime for eating, but would be perfect for an upcoming recipe. Sadly, I’ve been making so many smoothies that my freezer is completely empty of bananas at the moment. :-(

      Hey, tweaking is a good thing. Make the recipe work for you according to tastes and/or what you have on hand. I love the sound of Pina Colada cake! Maybe a darker rum would impart more flavor. It really doesn’t matter if you use another liquor … the main goal was to make the cake dairy free. Anyway, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’ll try a dark or stronger rum next time and make your Pina Colada cake. ;-)


  12. Deanna on August 25th, 2012 12:12 pm

    Ooo – this looks spectacular. I don’t care much for cakes, but banana and coconut and kahlua? that’s not mere cake. That’s like banana bread turned up to 11. :)

    • Shirley on August 25th, 2012 8:01 pm

      Deanna–That’s a perfect description of this cake–thank you!! Honestly, I had forgotten how good it is. Really outstanding. I made a few changes this time around. I used all almond flour, omitted the xanthan gum, used coconut sugar only (and slightly less than the total of the granulated sugar and brown sugar that I subbed it for), and used only 1/3 cup of coconut flakes (all I had) so I added 1 1/2 tsp coconut flour, which worked well as I was a wee bit heavy handed with the vanilla and Kahlua. I’m not a big cake eater either, and neither is Mr. GFE, but Mom and Dad (I made this for their 57th anniversary) are big cake fans. Happily all of us loved this cake for dessert today! I’d even thought about adding some icing (even made it up), but this cake it just too good “as is” and I saved the icing for something else. (Still trying to figure out what that might be.)

      Maybe I’ll see a Deanna version of this recipe? Btw, did you see I adopted you this month? I’ve got pysillium powder AND husks, so I’m set in that regard … just have to pick out one of your recipes. ;-)


      • Deanna on August 25th, 2012 10:46 pm

        I DID see you adopted me this month. Thank you so much!

        Maybe I should adopt you and make this cake!

        • Shirley on August 25th, 2012 10:51 pm

          My pleasure, Deanna! And that would be so much fun to have an adoption “swap” (is that the right term?), but no pressure, dear. ;-)


  13. Angela Sommers on August 27th, 2012 1:49 pm

    I simply could not resist this recipe and headed to the kitchen just as soon as I read it. It’s a very dangerous recipe at that – pure genius! Since you mentioned trying almond flour, I used 1 cup of that and the rest your GF mix, and no xanthan gum either. Used coconut sugar just like you said you would. :)
    Bummer was, someone (no names) had thrown out ALL the coconut I had – this is serious business, nobody messes with my coconut!!! At any rate, I was pretty much at a loss – when I saw a jar of nutella – and the rest is history – glorious, insanely moist, unbelievably good – almost like pound cake….but with this subtle mix of kaluha and nutella….stellar ! Thanks for such an incredible recipe!

    • Shirley on August 28th, 2012 6:19 am

      Angela–I love that you improvised, and so successfully, too! All the Nutella lovers will be throwing out my recipe and going for your version. ;-) No kidding. I love that you had such success! Now I am reminded that I must share your version on Facebook. Now if I can just remember to do that a little later today …

      Thanks so much, dear!

  14. Lisa on August 28th, 2012 8:04 am

    Can the GF flour mix be substituted with coconut and/or almond flour instead? If so, at what ratio? I know coconut flour is more absorbent than other flours, so less is generally used. Thanks!

    • Shirley on August 28th, 2012 4:27 pm

      Hi Lisa–Welcome to gfe! :-) I actually made this recipe using almond flour this weekend. I used exactly the same amount of almond flour as the gf ap flour and omitted the xanthan gum. It worked beautifully! I would not recommend coconut flour as the main flour in this recipe as it’s written; more eggs would be needed. I did use 2 tsp of coconut flour in the version I made this past weekend, but only because I was short on coconut flakes and had been a little heavy handed when I added my liquids. But I recommend just going with the one-for-one almond flour substitution. Good luck! Let us know what you think after you give this recipe a try!


  15. kathie on August 8th, 2013 6:23 pm

    Made this again for a pot luck lunch at work. Only had the light/white rum at the house. That is probably best since so many higher-ups were at the lunch. When I started to eat it people gave me very interesting looks. I explained I made it and knew it was GF. Huge hit and no one even noticed it was GF (or DF).

    The entire time I was baking it I could hear Johnny Depp yelling “the rum, why did you have to burn the rum?”

    • Shirley on August 10th, 2013 10:33 am

      Hi Kathie–It’s good to see you again! First, I love that the folks you work with are educated/tuned in enough to give you quizzical looks when you started eating what they thought was a regular cake. Second, I love that they love it and you made me laugh out loud with your Johnny Depp reference! When Captain Jack Sparrow/Johnny is right, Johnny is right! Rum makes so many things much better. ;-) Great job again on this recipe, dear, and thanks so much for being willing to share! I’m going to share your comment on Facebook so others can discover this recipe, too. :-)


  16. Linda on April 15th, 2014 11:56 pm

    Congratulations on the award. What a beautiful cake. I don’t use alcohol and was wondering what else I could use, maybe pineapple juice? Thank you.

    • Shirley on April 16th, 2014 4:16 pm

      Hi Linda–Welcome to gfe and thank you on all! :-) You can really substitute most any liquid that will work flavor wise, even milk. I think your idea of subbing pineapple juice would yield yummy results though! You might use slightly less than the recipe calls for as I *think* Kahlua is a little thicker in consistency. (I haven’t had any in a while so my memory is a bit weak on that fact.) Please let us know how your cake comes out when you make it! ;-)


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