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’ll 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.–Jenni Hulet

A paleo vanilla cake stacked between two chocolate cakes on a wire rack.

Paleo Vanilla Cake

4.94 / 65 votes
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.
David Leite
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican
Servings6 servings
Calories403 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour

Ingredients 

  • 1/3 cup ghee or palm shortening, plus more for the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour*
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Add the egg yolk mixture to the large bowl with the flour mixture and whisk till the batter is smooth and no lumps remain.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Notes

*What’s the difference between almond flour and almond meal?

Both are made from ground almonds and can sometimes be interchanged in recipes, so how much difference is there? Almond flour is made from blanched almonds, with skins removed, and has been quite finely ground. On the other hand, almond meal is (typically) ground with the skins still on and has a coarser grind. They both work well in baking but almond flour is preferred for cakes because it’s lighter in texture and gives you a loftier rise.
My Paleo Patisserie Cookbook

Adapted From

My Paleo Patisserie

Buy On Amazon

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving/sliceCalories: 403 kcalCarbohydrates: 30 gProtein: 10 gFat: 29 gSaturated Fat: 8 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 119 mgSodium: 226 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 18 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Jenni Hulet. Photo © 2015 Jenni Hulet. All rights reserved.

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.

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. I’m a little unhappy about the arrowroot flour as itʻs expensive.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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166 Comments

  1. Thank you for this delicious recipe. I’ve made it before and it was a big hit with my family but this time I don’t have arrowroot. What can I substitute with?

    1. Heather, several of our readers have had success using tapioca starch instead of arrowroot.

    1. TG, we haven’t tried them as mini bundt cakes, but some readers have had success making them as cupcakes, so I think it would work. I don’t know what the timing would be, but I’d keep a close eye on them and start checking them after 20 minutes.

      1. Would you happen to have a recommendation for a good frosting that doesn’t use vegan butter or palm oil, and with no refined sugar?

        1. Unfortunately, I don’t, TG. We have plenty of great frosting recipes that don’t include vegan butter or palm oil, but they all contain refined sugar. I know that there are many recipes available online that use agave or maple syrup together with a thickening agent to create a fluffy frosting, but I’ve never tried it myself, so I can’t recommend any particular recipe.

  2. Thank you for this recipe. Would coconut oil work instead of the palm shortening/ghee? Thank you.

    1. You’re welcome, Tina. Many readers have had success using coconut oil in the cake, so I think it’s fine to go ahead with that swap.