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

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

☞ Table of Contents

Paleo Vanilla Cake

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

Prep 25 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 1 hr
Dessert
American
6 servings
403 kcal
4.96 / 49 votes
Print RecipeBuy the My Paleo Patisserie cookbook

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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

Directions
 

  • 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.
Print RecipeBuy the My Paleo Patisserie cookbook

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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.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1serving/sliceCalories: 403kcal (20%)Carbohydrates: 30g (10%)Protein: 10g (20%)Fat: 29g (45%)Saturated Fat: 8g (50%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 119mg (40%)Sodium: 226mg (10%)Potassium: 98mg (3%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 18g (20%)Vitamin A: 135IU (3%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 114mg (11%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

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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.

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.


Originally published January 18, 2017

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Comments

    1. Karen, we haven’t tried freezing it. I think it should work fine so long as you let it cool completely, wrap it tightly in several layers of plastic wrap, and then freeze it for no more than a month or so. And then when you’d like to serve it, try to let it thaw overnight in the fridge or on the counter. Good luck and kindly let us know how it goes!

  1. Going to make soon! Wanted to see if I could substitute coconut oil instead of ghee/palm shortening? Thank you! Can’t wait to try!

    1. Terrific to hear, Ashley! As for substituting coconut oil, I’m 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 a refined coconut oil (as opposed to those labeled extra-virgin) would be really quite nice in this cake, imparting just a little sweetness and hopefully not too much coconutty overtones. 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, use room temperature oil and kindly let us know how it goes?

  2. Hi there, was wondering if you could make and freeze this cake in advance and then get it out to frost when you needed it? Do you know if anyone has had any luck doing this?

    1. Alice, we haven’t tried that with this cake, although your suggested approach should work just fine, as it does with most cakes. Just be certain to wrap it well in several layers of foil or parchment paper and then in plastic wrap or a very large resealable plastic bag. Kindly let us know how it goes…

  3. Hi – curious if you’ve tried substituting a gluten-free or paleo flour mix for this recipe and if you’d think that would be a suitable substitution. Thanks!

    1. Hayley, that’s a terrific question. Actually, we didn’t try it with a flour mix of any sort because we were so taken with the texture of the unusual combination of arrowroot and ground almonds in the recipe. We think that’s what lends the cake its truly unique and ethereally airy texture. If you try gf flour here, kindly let us know how it goes! But perhaps try it first as written, just because she’s really stumbled upon something that works.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this recipe this week and was very happy with it. I used butter instead of ghee/shortening, tapioca starch as I couldn’t get arrowroot flour and honey. It rose beautifully and made for a wonderful Christmas cake with a lovely honey flavour.

    Three-layer vanilla paleo cake covered in red and green frosting and topped with candy globes

    A slice of a three-layer vanilla paleo cake covered in red and green frosting and topped with candy globes

      1. They are made using candy melts and a silicone mould. Mine aren’t paleo but I am sure you could use a paleo chocolate.

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