Home Cooking: Pumpkin Cake with Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

I had planned to make a Bacardi rum cake last week, but a couple of days before baking day I realized I had forgotten to pick up the cake mix and instant pudding necessary for the recipe. We love our little bit of dessert after dinner, but I didn’t want to run to the store for just those two items, so decided to check the pantry and see what I could rustle up instead. I discovered two items of interest: a can of pumpkin puree, and a can of coconut milk, and decided to find out if there was some way I could use those.

I thought about making pumpkin bread, but did a quick search for pumpkin cake and found a recipe on the Sally’s Baking Addiction site claiming to be the “best pumpkin cake ever.” I’ve had good luck with recipes from this site, and we had all the pantry staples on hand to make it. The cake went together quickly, and honestly is as good as the website calls it. It’s very moist, very flavorful, and very easy to make. Raisins or chopped nuts would have made a nice addition but we had no raisins and I’ll need the chopped nuts for the Bacardi cake.

We did not have the ingredients to make the cream cheese frosting the recipe recommends. However, I remembered that a whipped cream substitute could be made from coconut milk, and figured this was the time to give it a try. It turned out to be very, very easy to make (only three ingredients) and once again everything needed was on hand in the pantry. The result is very close to whipped cream, although there is a very slight coconut taste to it and it has a slightly different mouth feel than dairy whipped cream. It also has more calories than dairy whipped cream, but it’s a great substitute (it’s also vegan).

In the end we ended up with a wonderful, low-cost dessert that was easy to make and used up items we had on hand. I have picked up a cake mix and box of instant pudding since then, so when the yummy pumpkin cake is finished I’m ready to make the Bacardi rum cake for our next dessert!

In a large mixing bowl, beat together oil, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin puree until creamy.

Mix in the brown and white sugars and beat until well blended.

In another large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.

Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until they are well mixed – the batter will be thick.

Pour the batter into a well-oiled 9″ x 13″ baking pan. The cake can also be baked in a Bundt pan.

Bake for 30-36 minutes at 350°, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely if you will add frosting.

To make the whipped coconut cream, remove the chilled coconut cream from a can of full-fat coconut milk that has been chilled for 18-24 hours and place into a chilled mixing bowl. (The small amount of leftover coconut water can be used in other dishes – Brett used it in his oatmeal, for example.)

Beat the coconut cream on medium high speed for 2-4 minutes, until soft peaks form. Gently add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extra.

Store uneaten whipped coconut cream in the refrigerator – it will hold its peaks, and actually tastes better the second day and onward.


  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  •  1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp each ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice OR 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9″ x 13″ baking pan, or use non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and set aside. In another bowl, blend together oil and eggs until creamy, then mix in sugars, pumpkin puree, and vanilla until smooth. 

Add liquid mixture in batches to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until well blended. The batter will be thick. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-36 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cook completely, and frost if desired.


  • 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (addition 1/4 cup can be added, if needed)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat softened cream cheese and butter together until creamy; add powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until blended, and then on high speed for two minutes, or until frosting is light and fluffy. Spread evenly on cooled cake.


  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (do not use low fat!)
  • 1-3 TBSP powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chill a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for 18-24 hours ahead of when you want to make the whipped cream. It takes this long for the cream to congeal and separate from the coconut water.

About five minutes or so before making the whipped cream, chill the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer. A cold bowl and whisk will give you a better result.

Carefully open the can of cold coconut milk, and scoop out the congealed cream at the top of the can and put into the cold mixing bowl (the water at the bottom can be saved and used in smoothies or other dishes, if desired. There isn’t a whole lot of it left).

Beat the cold coconut milk for 2-4 minutes on a medium-high speed. The coconut milk will expand in volume and develop soft peaks, just like dairy cream does. Slowly add in powdered sugar to taste (I added 2 TBSP which was OK, but think I would go with 3 TBSP next time) followed by the vanilla extract. 

Serve the whipped cream immediately, and store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator.


4 thoughts on “Home Cooking: Pumpkin Cake with Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

  1. I made your egg roll in a bowl and the fried rice recipes. I had no meat or tofu. They were excellent. I will make them again for sure-with tofu. Thanks for the great recipes.


    1. I heard about it a few years ago in passing but had never tried it. It was easy and tastes good too, and I was surprised that it kept well in the fridge for several days (better than dairy whipped cream). The only surprise was the different mouth feel, but it wasn’t a deal killer. I will definitely be making it again as we also have a couple more cans of coconut milk in the pantry.


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