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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168 Comments

  1. 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??

  2. 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.

  3. 5 stars
    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.