Vanilla Gluten Free Cake Recipe

Gluten free buttercream cake recipe with fondant and buttercream

I normally don’t share many dessert recipes, but that is because I don’t often make dessert. My husband and I don’t really like most sweet foods, and while the kids would probably eat dessert whenever we serve it, we try not to have sweets very often and to focus on quality proteins, vegetables and fruits instead.

This recipe was born because I was trying to create a vanilla cake recipe that I loved and could use for making a friend’s baby shower cake.

The kids were, of course, willing taste testers, but I knew the cake was a winner when my husband liked it too. He isn’t a dessert guy at all, and the only dessert he will normally even eat is chocolate chip cookies, so the fact that he raved about this cake was a big deal.

Vanilla Gluten Free Cake Recipe

This recipe is grain-free, gluten free, and dairy optional with a coconut and almond flour base. It does use some natural sweeteners, but is free of refined sugar and food dyes.

Even though this would fall in the “healthy” spectrum of desserts, this is absolutely not an everyday recipe!

As good as this cake was, a better option would still be a protein packed meal with some fresh fruit for dessert, but if you feel like splurging, this is a good alternative to most other cakes!

Gluten free buttercream cake recipe with fondant and buttercream

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Vanilla Gluten Free Cake Recipe

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix coconut flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  3. Beat the melted coconut oil/butter, coconut sugar, almond/coconut milk, vanilla and eggs for about 2 minutes or until well mixed and fluffy.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients as they continue to mix.
  5. Mix until well incorporated spread into two round 8-inch pans (if not making a layer cake, you can also make as cupcakes or a 9x13 cake. It makes about 24 cupcakes.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm to the touch in the middle.
  7. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  8. Frost with buttercream (if desired- see recipe below) and cover with fondant (completely optional).

Notes

Coconut flour varies a lot by brand. You may need to add slightly more flour if the batter is too thin or add slightly more coconut/almond milk if the mixture is too thick. This can be served without any type of frosting, or with fresh cream and berries or lemon zest. Though I included a recipe for fondant, we didn't actually eat the fondant and I just used it for decorating.

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Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Again, this cake doesn’t need frosting, but if you want to add frosting, this recipe turned out great:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar (or put coconut sugar in a high-powered blender to powder it- though it won’t be white)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. Beat the butter for 2-3 minutes or until fluffy.
  2. Add the sugar and other ingredients and beat for an additional 1 minute or until completely smooth.
  3. Use icing right away.

Fondant Frosting Recipe

We used this purely for decoration since the texture was great but it was too sweet for me! You could add natural food coloring to this to make any color you want for decoration.

Ingredients:

  • two (7 ounce) bags of organic marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 pounds of organic powdered sugar
  • Coconut oil for hands and counter top

Instructions:

  1. Melt the marshmallows in the microwave or double boiler on stovetop with the water.
  2. Add most of the powdered sugar to the melted marshmallow mixture.
  3. Mix with a spoon or the kneading hook on a mixer for 1-2 minutes or until well incorporated and thick
  4. At this point, add some of the rest of the sugar.
  5. Grease hands with coconut oil and knead the icing. Keep mixing until smooth and elastic.
  6. Refrigerate for a few hours (optional) or roll out using a rolling pin. Carefully drape over cake, or use knife or cookie cutters to cut desired shapes.

Pulling it All Together

Personally, I preferred the cake by itself with some fresh berries on top, but if you are making for a special event and want it to look more fancy, this is what I did for the picture:

  1. Let cakes cool completely. Placed one on a flat baking sheet and iced with a thin layer of buttercream on top.
  2. Added the second layer and iced the top and sides.
  3. Rolled the fondant into a thin (1/8-1/4 inch) layer and placed carefully on top of the cake. I wanted more of a draped look, so I let the layers fall as they naturally did.
  4. I cut a “bow” out of the remaining fondant for decoration, but you could use any shape for this.

Ever made a (somewhat) healthier version of a treat? 

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Reader Comments

  1. I am so eager to try this recipe, but wanted to double check on the 9 eggs listed. I’ve never seen a cake with 9 eggs before! Can you tell me what they do specifically in relation to the grain free flour? TIA.

    • It’s the coconut flour… it DRINKS moisture.

  2. Is there a reason you didn’t make your healthy marshmallows for fondue. I looked excitedlyrics to c if thrive had marshmallows comparable to your homemade ones and I didn’t c where they would be even close. But not sure??

    • They don’t have quite the same properties and it is much harder to roll out with homemade. It is definitely possible, but won’t be quite the same for decorating. I have made my homemade ones and spread over a cake like icing while it was still soft and let it harden and that worked well.

  3. We are a nut-free family due to allergies. Could you suggest a substitute for almond flour?

    • I’ve heard that sunflower seeds can be grinded into flour with a food processor. It swaps exactly with almond flour. I’ve never tried it myself though. It’d be worth a try.

      • Thank you! My son has a nut allergy as well. One reason Paleo recipes are difficult. Thanks for the tip!! I’ve read that when grinding coconut sugar you should add cornstarch or arrowroot powder, since there’s a little moisture in the sugar? It wouldn’t be grain-free anymore, but curious.

      • Note: When using sunflower seed flour in a recipe with baking soda, you may notice tiny green specks in your baked goods. This is a result of chemical reaction between the two ingredients, and it’s perfectly safe to eat.

        • Yes, sunflower seeds Ground into flour will work. The chlorophyll in the seeds will react with baking soda & turn green. It is normal, doesn’t change the flavor. IF, however, you are making the cake for something fancy & you don’t want green specks, use cacao powder as a disguise & for flavor.

  4. This look great, but with ingredients as variable as coconut flour and almond flour, it’d be great to have the weights listed instead of volume measurements. Pastry chefs always bake by weight and it’s quickly gaining popularity in the gluten- and grain-free community because your recipe is WAY more likely come out the way you want it to! I’m not sure I’d be willing to risk wasting all that expensive coconut and almond flour without the weight measurements for this recipe 🙁

  5. I make a gluten free chocolate cake, with quinoa. My family loves it. My husband still likes his “evil” (?), packaged, treats. But this he likes better than a regular chocolate cake. When I serve it to others, they can’t believe it’s gluten free. And Elysia is right, weight is much more dependable. My cake is not, and I never know if it’ll turn out for sure. But thanks for this recipe, I will for sure try it,I love that it doesn’t have any weird ingredients

  6. Ideas for natural coloring that tastes okay? Would beet powder work? Other ideas? Thanks!

    • Raspberry juice for red or pink, blueberry for purple, turmeric for yellow and orange

  7. I’ve made this but instead of vanilla I added a few drops of lavender essential oil. I love the taste of lavender!

  8. Only 2 words to say: thank you!

  9. do i need to butter or oil the cake pans?

  10. I think it is really important to specify that the eggs and milk need to be at room temperature if you are working with the melted coconut oil. I learned the hard way and had to put my bowl in a bain marie because the oil turned to chunks when I added the milk. Haven’t finished yet. I will let you know how the thing tastes at the end!

    • I think this cake is mediocre at best. If you are going to use coconut oil, flour, and milk you have a coconut cake, not a vanilla cake, despite using 2 tablespoons of vanilla. Also not a fan of the almond flour in this recipe. It makes it mealy…I made it for my niece’s birthday party, and the guests liked it. It just isn’t what I would consider a dessert cake. The only reason it would be considered a dessert cake is because of the buttercream frosting. I personally think the taste is off-putting. Won’t make again. Thank you for the recipe though.

      • Coconut flour, oil, or milk does not make this a coconut cake. Putting coconut extract inside and sweetened shredded coconut outside would. Personally I won’t eat coconut cakes as I don’t enjoy them, never have. This cake, on the other hand, sounds great.
        If you didn’t like the mealy texture you attribute to the almond flour, you may want to consider another brand, or grinding it more in a blender or food processor.
        I do have a couple questions…
        1) If the people who ate the cake enjoyed it, what are you complaining about?!
        2) From just about any perspective, is there another type of cake besides dessert?!

  11. My husband has a coconut allergy (eating Paleo for almost 3 years has been difficult) can you suggest an alternative to the flour? I use avocado oil instead of coconut oil and it’s usually ok but coconut flour has been more challenging.

  12. Just tried this recipe. Thanks so much Katie! Very good cake. I love the flavor! I made mine as cupcakes.

    The batter was thick as the coconut flour absorbed so much of the liquid. I’m new to baking with coconut flour so I baked a test cupcake first (20min. for 1 cupcake, 25 min for the whole pan). It turned out just fine so I didn’t add more liquid to the batter. Also the test cupcake didn’t rise as much as a “traditional” American cake so i made sure to fill the rest of the cupcakes quite full. It made 17 cupcakes.

    The texture was grainier than traditional American cakes, but lighter/fluffier than the Norwegian almond flour cakes I’m used to. I can see that some people may be put off by the texture if they are not expecting it. Personally it doesn’t bother me at all. I enjoy it 🙂

    Also, I made mine in cupcake liners. The cake stuck to the liner quite a bit. It didn’t pull of cleanly. Maybe baking in a greased pan is better?

    I would definitely make this cake again! Absolutely Delicious!

  13. I would love to try this, but I can’t eat eggs.
    Can I use something else?

  14. I’m looking for a butter free icing (milk & egg allergy) for a wheat free cake. Any suggestions before I try a coconut oil based one?

  15. I am looking for a yellow cake type cake (making a birthday cake). Is this something similar? Is it yellow cake like??