Paleo Vanilla Cake

Paleo vanilla cake. Most are dense and crumbly and disappointing. Not this lovely incarnation that relies on almond flour, beaten egg whites, and baking soda for its towering stature, lovely texture, and birthday cake-worthy magnificence.

A stack of 3 cakes, 2 paleo chocolate and one vanilla with another chocolate cake in front

Say “paleo cake” and most of us think of dense, crumbly, disappointing approximations of what we know to be cake. Not this lovely paleo vanilla cake from My Paleo Patisserie by Jenni Hulet. The recipe relies on almond flour rather than coconut or grain flour and includes the notable addition of baking soda and whipped egg whites, which contribute to the cake’s lofty stature and astoundingly light texture. So much so that we’ve been hearing that folks who swore they’d never do anything paleo swear by this cake and find themselves making it again and again and again. It’s so good, it will even stand in admirably for any birthday cake. And if you’re also craving a paleo chocolate cake recipe, we can help you out there, too.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Paleo Vanilla Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 1 H
  • One 6-inch (15-cm) cake
5/5 - 8 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the My Paleo Patisserie cookbook

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Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (65 g) ghee or palm shortening, plus more for the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups (175 g) almond flour
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) arrowroot flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup or honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Coat a 6-inch round cake pan with palm shortening or ghee and line it with a parchment paper circle cut to fit the pan.
  • 2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the ghee or palm shortening and then set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot flour, and salt until blended.
  • 3. Separate the eggs and place the whites in a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and place the yolks in another bowl along with the melted shortening, maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon juice and whisk to combine.
  • 4. Add the egg yolk mixture to the large bowl with the flour mixture and whisk till the batter is smooth and no lumps remain.
  • 5. Using a hand mixer or the whisk attachment of your stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they look like softly whipped cream and hold soft peaks when you pull out the beaters, about 2 minutes. Set the egg whites aside for a moment.
  • 6. Stir the baking soda into the batter and then, using a rubber spatula, immediately beat 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the batter, mixing just until barely combined and some streaks remain. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites into the batter, mixing until only a few streaks are left. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  • 7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake and turn it onto the rack. Let cool completely.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

This paleo vanilla cake was delicious. It was fragrant, nutty, and amazingly moist. Whereas normally cakes made without wheat flour are very heavy, the almond flour and arrowroot flour produce a slightly dense but very moist cake. The beaten egg whites definitely contributed to the lighter texture of the cake. I used palm shortening and honey. I think the cake would lend itself to lemon curd, chocolate glaze, or any sweetened fruit. I served it with sliced strawberries and softly whipped cream. [Editor's Note: Of course, some of these toppings aren't paleo, but those of you who do keep paleo know who are you and what to do.]

This paleo vanilla cake is fantastic. It was actually easy to make. The last-minute addition of baking soda really does create a lighter texture. I'm a little unhappy about the arrowroot flour as itʻs expensive. Would I make this cake again? Yes. As a personal preference, I avoid things that are labeled paleo unless I need to make something for work. But I would definitely make this again. I might try using baking powder instead of baking soda because it tends to give baked goods a more gentle rise.

Comments

  1. I have had no success making grain-free cupcakes until I’ve found this recipe. I’ve never really liked almond flour because of the dense texture and the after taste but this recipe is really good. Thank you very much!

    1. You are so very welcome, Josey! It’s magnificent to hear that this has filled a void for you! Seriously, you made my day, my week, maybe even my month, Josey. Many thanks for taking the time to let us know!

  2. The photo appears to depict both vanilla and chocolate cakes. What are the changes to the recipe for the chocolate version? Hope to make this for a niece with celiac, and the reviewer results were very encouraging.

    1. Maureen, we actually have the chocolate version in testing at the moment and intend to update the recipe as soon as we can. At the moment we’ve had one person make the chocolate version with success but we always wait until we have at least two spectacular results before we post a recipe. Do we have a little time? Perhaps a week? If not, kindly email me at renee@leitesculinaria.com and I’ll share with you the chocolate version.

  3. Hello and Happy Friday! Is it possibly to sub the arrowroot flour with tapioca flour as I have that on hand? I cannot wait to make this in my new 6 Cup Nordicware Bundt pan. Many thanks!!

    1. Happy Friday to you, Diane! And yes, absolutely, subbing arrowroot flour with tapioca flour should work magnificently. And I envy you your new Bundt pan—I’ve had my sights set on one but have yet to pull the trigger. Kindly let us know how it goes!

        1. Well, the cake come out really well, but next time I’ll flour the Bundt pan as buttering it wasn’t enough for it to release perfectly. It took a lot of cajoling to get it out without breaking. There were a few spots that stuck, a reason to taste I say, and it was divine. I made 1 1/2 the recipe to fill the 6-cup Bundt and it was pretty perfect. It did exceed the rim a little but it didn’t over flow. THANK YOU for a wonderful recipe. Next time it’ll be the chocolate!!

          1. Magnficent, Diane! And thank you so much for taking the time to let us know! And I love that you included your measurements so others, too, can try this as a Bundt cake. I think your suggestion of buttering and flouring the pan is a good one if using a Bundt pan given the extra nooks and crannies. Again, thank you!

  4. Could I use butter instead of ghee? How many cupcakes do you think this recipe would make and how long would they take to bake?
    Thank you for this amazing looking recipe!!

    1. Hi Sarah, it should be fine to use butter instead of ghee. As far as the cupcakes, this recipe produces a 6 inch cake so I’m thinking you would get around 10 cupcakes which should be done in 18 to 20 minutes. Since we only tested the cake recipe, not cupcakes, I would use a cake tester or toothpick to confirm the timing. Hope this helps.

  5. Truly fantastic. Even my cake hating husband (I know…who hates cake!) loved it. Doubled the recipe and it made 24 cupcakes for my son’s bday. My daughter is on the autism spectrum and has a hard time with gluten. This is by far the BEST vanilla cake recipe I’ve found. I did use Tapioca flour and a very finely ground almond flour with real butter but otherwise followed the recipe as directed. Thank you!! The recipe is bookmarked!

  6. I would love to try this cake recipe, but am wondering a couple things. First of all, would it turn out okay if I made a double recipe and poured it into two 8-inch cake pans for a layered cake? Should I make adjustments to the temperature/cooking time at all?

    Also, I am not a fan of lemon-tasting desserts. Can you taste the lemon juice at all in the finished cake? I know lemon juice used in whole wheat bread doesn’t make the finished bread taste like lemon, but I wasn’t sure about this cake. Thanks!

    1. Chloe, because you’d be doubling the recipe and using different size pans, I really can’t say how it will turn out. Too many variables that we didn’t cover in testing. I do know that the layers would be thinner, as you’re using the same amount of batter in one 8-inch pan that you’d be using in a 6-inch pan. And, no, you wouldn’t taste the lemon. Too little!

      1. I doubled the recipe, but then put it into a 9×13 pan. I didn’t change the temp or the cooking time, and it turned out miraculously well! I frosted it with Italian Meringue frosting (also paleo), and the family was really impressed with it overall! Thanks for an awesome recipe.

    1. Sarah, baking is a precise science, and paleo baking even more so since there are a lot of substitutions. That being said, Chloe (above) made a 9-x-13 cake and it turned out perfectly.

      1. So, I doubled the recipe and put it into a 9×13 pan. It took quite a bit longer to bake (maybe 25 minutes extra), but it filled the pan perfectly, cooked nicely all the way through, and tasted delicious! I am also at a high altitude, so that probably impacted my results as well. Still, thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Angela, lovely question! I am tempted to say yes but we haven’t tested it that way so I can’t promise you with absolute certainty that it will work. I do think the mild flavor of coconut oil would be really quite nice in this cake, I’m just a little concerned about any textural differences the coconut oil may bring to the cake. If you do try the cake with coconut oil, could you kindly let us know how it goes? Thank you for urging us to think outside the box!

    1. Ira, we didn’t test it that way, and changing fat can change the recipe, as each reacts differently. If you do make it with either of those oils, let us know how it turns out.

  7. This recipe turned out well for me! In fact, we are adopting it as our standard family birthday-cake recipe! It was very soft and light. The flavor was great. We could only finish a 1/4 of it so I’m interested in seeing how it is the second and third day.

    I could see adding crushed freeze-dried fruit depending on the season or mood to tweak it or at least to the frosting to add variation.

    Also-question: I only had a 9-inch pan. Do you think this will make a difference in the texture or is it more to have a bigger height per layer?

    1. Kristina, so delighted you and your family enjoyed the cake. The size of the pan is more for height than anything else. As you can see above, many readers made tons of size variations.

  8. Hi. I would like to know if can I replace the eggs for something different (no egg replacer) my daughter is allergic to eggs. She can’t also have corn starch, potato starch, apple cider vinegar and apples.

    Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Yadira, though we haven’t tested it, I’ve heard of replacing an egg in baking recipes with a gelatin “egg” which uses gelatin and water.

  9. I made the cake this weekend. Doubled it, and used 9X13 inch pan (per other commentators), followed the recipe exactly. Seriously, I don’t see how they made the beautiful cakes in the pictures. Mine didn’t rise to but 1 inch (in a 2 inch pan). My family liked the taste, but the texture was terrible, it had big air holes and was fairly dense. I’ve made better paleo cakes, I do think the arrowroot flour made it more tender than other almond flour cakes I’ve made.

    1. Hi Nikki, I’m sorry that you did not enjoy the cake. The original recipe calls for 6 inch pans. Although we had a number of readers that used a 9×13 pan and doubled the recipe, our testers followed the recipe as written and had great success. The difference in pan size and doubling the recipe might be causing some of the issues that you encountered?

      1. Hi Beth!

        Six inch pans are not the norm for me since I have a big family (normally we have 25 at a birthday party. I’d get laughed out of the room if I showed up with 6 inch cake (Crocodile Dundee style: “Here’s my six in paleo cake” ( Family member laughs) “That’s not a cake” (produces a sheet cake) “That’s a cake!”). At any rate I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve made Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake and altered it by folding in stiffly beaten egg whites and have gotten a nice “lift” so I was expecting it to work with this recipe, but sadly it didn’t. I did think the arrowroot flour gave it a nice ‘soft’ texture so I’ll be experimenting by adding that to my other almond flour cakes! All was not lost! And isn’t that the fun in cooking anyway??

  10. I’m going to try this for my daughter’s 1st birthday cake :) Can you suggest a paleo/healthy-ish frosting that will take food coloring well and not melt too quickly—party will be outdoors in July. Thanks!

    1. Moose, we don’t have such a recipe on the site but here are a couple from the author of the cookbook in which we found this magnificent cake recipe. Everything we’ve tried from her has been magnificent, so we have no reason to believe these frosting recipes wouldn’t be splendid. With this chocolate frosting recipe, you can omit the cocoa and replace it with a little food coloring or try the plain frosting recipe that you can fancy up with berries or other coloring agents. Good luck and happy birthday to your daughter from all of us!

  11. Hi, I would love to make this cake ahead of time and pop it in the freezer for a few days before the party. Will this cake freeze well?

    1. Hi Marie, we did not freeze this cake during our testing so I can’t say for sure. Most cakes freeze well however the lack of a gluten structure in this particular cake might affect the texture after freezing.

  12. Best Paleo cake I’ve made. I used vanilla ghee because that’s what I had on hand. It tasted similar to a pound cake. Definitely recommend!

    One layer of paleo vanilla cake topped with whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries.

    1. Connie, we didn’t test it that way, and because paleo baking is so specific, I don’t want to willy nilly say yes, and then have it not work.

      Does anyone out there have experience with this swap?

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