Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Creamy Vanilla Coconut Sauce (Grand Prize Winner!)


The Grand Prize Winner of The Spring Fling Dairy-Free Recipe Contest, sponsored by So Delicious Dairy Free, is Jenny Dunklee of The Lazy Vegan Baker. She won us over with her light and fluffy vegan Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake.

Our tasters found Jenny’s recipe to be perfectly sweet and nicely tart. The vanilla coconut sauce adds a sweet and creamy drizzle, but it is still amazing without. We noted that Jenny was the only entrant to tackle this stubborn vegetable, and she did it with finesse. Her rhubarb coffee cake intrigued and delivered, while making great use of coconut milk yogurt in place of eggs, coconut milk beverage rather than dairy milk, and Culinary coconut milk instead of cream.

Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Creamy Vanilla Coconut Sauce (Grand Prize Winning Recipe) - #vegan #dairyfree #eggfree #soyfree

This Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake is dairy-free, vegan, and delicious on it’s own.

Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Creamy Vanilla Coconut Sauce (Grand Prize Winning Recipe) - #vegan #dairyfree #eggfree #soyfree

This easy Creamy Vanilla Coconut Sauce is optional, but a nice sweet touch.

Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Creamy Vanilla Coconut Sauce (Grand Prize Winning Recipe) - #vegan #dairyfree #eggfree #soyfree

We admit, the cake and sauce are irresistible when paired.

Jenny says, “Last weekend, my dad brought me rhubarb, freshly cut from his garden in Vermont. I love rhubarb season. For me, it is the marker of Spring really arriving; it is the first fruit/vegetable that demands to be baked into something delicious. On it’s own, this rhubarb coffee cake is really really good and a perfect Sunday morning treat with coffee or tea. Adding the Vanilla Coconut Sauce turns it into a rich, decadent, indulgence.” We at Go Dairy Free couldn’t agree more.

Congratulations to Jenny! She will be enjoying a $1000 gift card to Whole Foods or Amazon (her choice!) for making this award-wising Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake.

Our Testing

This recipe is included in the Sarah’s Recipes and Alisa’s Recipes categories because we tested and approved this recipe in our kitchens! But the recipe and image were created by Jenny Dunklee.

In 2018, Sarah made this recipe again, at the request of her milk-allergic daughter, over spring break. She added a touch of salt, and everyone approved. So we added it to the recipe. And she also took this photo of the cinnamon rhubarb coffee cake.

Prize-Winning Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake Recipe with Vanilla Sauce (Dairy-free and Vegan!)

Special Diet Notes: Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Go Dairy Free - The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein-Free LivingBy ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.

Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Creamy Vanilla Coconut Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Sarah, our Associate Editor, made this recipe one more time, and decided to add a little salt. Her family was happy with this addition, so we've modified Jenny's recipe slightly to include salt, and to clarify the instructions.
Serves: 9
Rhubarb Cinnamon Coffee Cake:
Vanilla Coconut Sauce
  • 1 11-ounce package So Delicious Original Culinary Coconut Milk (equivalent of canned full-fat coconut milk or cream)
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
Rhubarb Cinnamon Coffee Cake:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and lightly grease an 8×8 baking pan.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk beverage, zest, and vanilla.
  4. In a mixing bowl, cream the 1¼ cups sugar and margarine with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the yogurt and mix well.
  5. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture, mixing after each addition until the ingredients are just combined.
  6. Fold in the rhubarb. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and even it out.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture evenly on top of the cake.
  8. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool completely before serving or garnishing with the sauce.
Vanilla Coconut Sauce
  1. While the cake is cooking, combine the coconut milk, brown sugar, agave nectar, and salt in a small pan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, checking on it every 5 to 10 minutes to give it a whisk and make sure it’s not going to bubble over.
  3. You will know it’s done when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. It should reduce down to about ½ of the original.
  4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Let cool completely.
  5. Drizzle the cooled sauce over the cooled cake. Store leftover sauce tightly sealed in a jar or container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Coconut Milk Note: Culinary Coconut Milk is equivalent to canned coconut milk or coconut cream, but comes in a handy little aseptic package with a spout and is all-natural / made without tons of additives (like many other brands!).
Cinnamon Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Creamy Vanilla Sauce: This grand prize winning recipe is shockingly dairy-free, vegan and a top mom pick!

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


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  6. The instructions don’t say when the coconut milk, orange zest, and vanilla are added. Presume these are combined with the creamed margarine and sugar mixture, right? Thanks.

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