Even when work fills all my time, I still like to have a sweet little something on the counter for my family and I to nibble on during the day. Lately, I’ve been turning to this quick and easy coconut tea cake (some might call it a quick “bread,” but I like the sound of cake better!). It’s a recipe I like a lot because it’s incredibly easy to mix together (just two bowls if you are weighing your ingredients), and most, if not all, of the ingredients are pantry staples. (You’ll just have to stock up on coconut milk and shredded sweetened coconut).    

Susie Middleton

In this cinnamon-scented cake, I find chopped chocolate to be a perfect flavor addition. But I've also enjoyed the cake with diced apples, my next favorite add-in. (I like to use a peeled, firm-crisp apple like Yellow Delicious or Cortland but I’ve also used leftover sautéed apples with great success.) You can find other flavor twists in my tips below.

Slices from an apple version, baked in a loaf pan
Susie Middleton

In the master recipe, I’ve doubled-down on the coconut flavor by adding shredded coconut for some chewy-crunchy texture and by using canned coconut milk in place of more traditional liquids like milk, buttermilk or even soy or oat milk (which you could, by the way, also use in this recipe). I’ve also given you the option to add a little coconut extract if you like.

Another fun thing about this tea cake is that you can make it in a variety of baking pans – a six-cup loaf, an 8 or 9-inch round or an 8 or 9-inch square. The baking time will vary depending on the vessel so pay attention to the doneness clues in the recipe and keep in mind that the thinner the layer (as in the 9-inch pan), the shorter the cooking time.

I use a neutral flavored oil (canola, vegetable or corn) in this recipe. It keeps the cake moist for days but you can substitute 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) melted unsalted butter. The cake will be yummy but might dry out faster. You can also experiment with stronger oils like olive or even flavored versions of olive oils (blood orange or lemon are two of my faves). As you experiment, begin by adding 25% of olive or specialty oil keeping the remainder in your neutral oil so you can taste and gradually increase as you like.

Take a look at some of the flavor swaps that I suggest and see if any of them spark joy. If not, I strongly encourage you to dream up your own perfect pairings and get baking. Give us the scoop in the comments section below the recipe and we will all learn from each other and Baking Together (it’s our 13th, if you can believe it) here on Cook the Vineyard.

If you’re new to our Baking Together column, be sure to check out our other recipes: One Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting; Pumpkin Cream Cheese Tart with Crushed Pretzel Crust, Butter Pecan Slice-and-Bake Cookies, Lemon Rosemary Parmesan Scones, Pie Plate Chocolate Chippers, Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, Lemony Blueberry Bars with Chunky Almond Crumble, Make-Ahead S’mores Squares, Streusel-Topped Ginger Pear Coffee Cake, Classic Apple Crumb PieVanilla Rice Pudding for Two, and The Ultimate Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Tips for Success:

  • To assure the softest texture and crumb, fold the batter just until the liquids and dry ingredients are blended. A heavier hand will result in a denser texture.
  • Room temperature ingredients are always best for an even blended batter but, if you are short on time, the cake can handle cooler ingredients with success.


Flavor Twists

Susie Middleton
  • Want to go with fruit but don't have apples? No problem. You can swap in another fruit. Pears or any ripe fruit will work. Right about now, I’m dreaming of all of those summer fruits that will be coming soon. The first chance I get, I’ll make a sugar-topped blueberry version with the shredded coconut and grated lemon zest using buttermilk. Yum. I can almost smell it baking now.
  • As I mentioned, chopped chocolate is my favorite addition and comes in handy when the crisper is empty. White or bitter/semisweet plays well with the cinnamon flavor and has a similar taste to a coffee cake streusel filling. Mini chips are an easy substitution if a bar isn’t on hand.
  • Nut additions are cool too. Feel free to replace the chocolate or fruit with your choice of chopped nuts.
  • Topping your batter makes a pretty presentation and adds a crunchy goodness to the cake. I like to scatter some coarse sanding sugar (like Sugar in the Raw) on top of the batter before baking but you can also use a couple of tablespoons of medium-fine chopped nuts to the top. And shredded coconut, of course! Of you can dress your tea cake up with a little glaze (recipe follows).


Creamy Sugar Glaze

If you want to turn up the fancy on your tea cake, feel free to drizzle this quick glaze over the cooled cake.

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream, plus more as needed
  • 1/8  teaspoon pure vanilla, almond or citrus (lemon or orange) extract

1. Put the confectioners’ sugar, cream and extract in a small bowl and stir until well blended. Add a drop or two more cream until the glaze is smooth, very thick, and shiny.

2. Using a teaspoon, drizzle over the top of the cooled cake.