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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Perfect Vanilla Cake (grain-free/gluten-free)




This is the story of how I stumbled onto a recipe for THE PERFECT CAKE!

It happened one Saturday night when I was home alone and bored. Husband was out of town on a film shoot and friends were all busy. I was browsing recipes online and was seized with a sudden mania for something sweet. I happened to be on Elana's Pantry and her recipe for Chocolate Almond Joy Bars screamed out to me.

I was doomed since, for once, I had all the ingredients on hand (that almost NEVER happens!) I didn't have chocolate chips, but I had unsweetened dark chocolate, which I like better anyway, so I just chopped that up and used it instead. I also reduced the sweetener by about 1/3 and subbed some stevia. I cranked up some Bowie and started baking! The bars turned out fabulous, but much more cake-like that I expected, with a soft, moist, light crumb texture (it reminded me of a cross between fluffy yellow cake and tender, buttery bundt cake) and a thought occurred to me: I could totally tweak this batter into a number of amazing cakes!

So, of course I HAD to make a few cakes to test out my hypothesis (all in the name of culinary science, right?) I made a blueberry breakfast cake and a vanilla cake to use for strawberry shortcake. I had my mom taste both (she gave a big thumbs up) and I brought the vanilla cake over to some friends' for dessert. Again, big huge hit. My friend's husband, who is a little leery of gluten free (not to mention grain free) food even wanted seconds (actually, we all did!)

So, without further adieu, here is my super simple, grain-free cake recipe that can be tweaked into so many possibilities. It makes a light, moist cake (or cupcakes) that would be perfect for making a layer cake with (make 2 batches for that) you could double the recipe to make a taller cake, as this one is on the shorter side (just bake a little longer).

Here's a little music to make your cake baking even more rad:



Perfect Vanilla Cake:
Sorry I didn't post a picture. I didn't happen to take any and I don't dare make a cake right now or I will most certainly eat all of it!

Preheat oven to 350ยบ
4 eggs
3/4 cup coconut milk (canned) or cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract ( you can use l tsp. if you want less vanilla flavor)
1/2 cup palm sugar (or other sugar)
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
Scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Stevia (I like NuNaturals NoCarbs Blend) to further sweeten- judge by tasting the batter. I always make sure the batter is slightly sweeter than I want the final product to be. Some of the sweetness bakes out.

Note on sweetener amount: you can further reduce the sugar and use more stevia, but I recommend using at least a little of some type of real sugar, since sugar contributes to a good crumb texture.

1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, vanilla extract and palm sugar.
2. In a smaller bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, salt and baking soda.
3. Mix dry ingredients into wet with a handheld mixer. Add stevia to taste.
4. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish and pour in batter.

Bake for 30 minutes
Cool for 1 hour

Variations:

-Blueberry cake: use almond extract instead of vanilla and add thawed frozen blueberries (I probably used 2/3 cup.) You can use only 1/3 cup sugar.
-Cinnamon cake: add a generous amount of cinnamon to the basic batter.
-Lemon poppyseed cake: add lemon juice + zest and poppyseeds.
-Apple cake: layer thinly sliced peeled apples on top of cinnamon cake batter.
-Strawberry cake: add fresh or thawed frozen strawberries + a little strawberry juice for a pink cake and frost with strawberry cream cheese frosting.

I haven't made any frostings but it would be really good with chocolate or coconut frosting. I'll leave you with the frosting recipes from Elana's Pantry.

There are just so many things you can do with it! I'm sure it would be great for chocolate (or German chocolate) cake, but that will take more experimenting, since cocoa powder absorbs a lot of liquid. I'm also going to experiment with zucchini bread and banana bread/cake.


If you come up with a fabulous variation, let me know!

Enjoy!
-Erin

48 comments:

  1. This does sound like the perfect recipe! I look forward to trying this out.

    xo,
    SunnyB
    www.andloveittoo.com

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  2. I have a batch of this batter as cupcakes cooling on the counter now! I reduced the sugar slightly (to make them less of a "treat" so my step-daughter can have them for breakfast).

    Fir a variation, I know this isn't strictly primal, but I really love peanut butter and I have made a peanut butter and jelly muffin that is to DIE for I loved it so much. So I'm thinking about substituting the almond flour for peanut flour and putting a dollop of sugar-free jam in the middle...yummy!

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    1. Have you seen PB2 powdered peanut butter? It is fabulous. A little goes a long way as far as flavor. Plus, you can still use the healthy almond flour the recipe calls for. I just pepared a cake using nut butter between two layers and raspberry between another layer of cake. This was delicious and also tasted like a PB&J cake.

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  3. The PB&J muffins sound YUMMY! How did the cupcakes turn out?

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  4. Nice website! Greetings from Glory Foods.

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  5. Thank you! Glad you are enjoying it:-)

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  6. Thank you!!!!! i am eating a piece of the cake now (i did it with the blueberry variation) and it really IS the best primal cake i have tried :)

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  7. I'm so glad to hear you liked it! I've gotten good feedback from everyone who's tried it:-)

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  8. LOVE these - I added 2 scoops of protein powder, reduced the sugar to 2 tbsp coconut sugar and did the blueberry variation - soooooo yum.
    I actually baked them as little cookies for about 12min and they are perfect little protein treats!
    Thanks for an awesome recipe - very versatile!

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  9. This looks awesome! can't wait to try it out :-)

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  10. Made this for my mother's birthday since she is on the paleo diet. she loved it! thank you for the recipe :)

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  11. This cake is awesome! I included it in my link farm of all-time favorite paleo recipes. I love your paleo philosophy, as well. Very similar to ours. Thanks again for this awesome recipe! http://peytsisland.blogspot.com/2012/05/paleo-link-farm.html

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  12. Do you think it would work if I doubled the recipe (baked it in a heart-shape pan), then cut it in three? I want a cake with 2 different fillings in it.

    This sounds the best paleo cake recipe I have found. Thanks!

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    1. I think it might work, if the layers are sliced on the thin side (it doesn't make a high cake). You'd just have to adjust the baking time. Let me know how it turns out if you do it!

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  13. It worked great! I doubled the recipe (I also used a little bit less coconut flour and tried to make it fluffier by whipping sugar and eggs well - don't know if it helped or not) and used heart pan (9"x2"), and the batter filled it up nicely. No overflowing. I baked it for 45 minutes. After cooling I cut the cake in three layers, and it was really easy to cut since this cake is not crumbly. I used coconut/pineapple filling, which was yummy.

    All my guests liked it, and this cake recipe will be my trusted one in the future. Thank you so much!!

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    1. You're so welcome! I'm so glad to hear that it worked! Yay!

      -Erin

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  14. Hi! Thanks for the great recipe! I want to make this in bunt cake form for my son's birthday, but two of his friends have almond allergies. Could I just replace the almond flour with coconut flour? I'm really new to baking without wheat or grains, so I'm not very knowledgeable yet on what works. I'm really excited to try this, though!

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    1. Hi, Shareyah!

      Almond and coconut flours have very different properties and are not interchangeable cup for cup (coconut is much drier and absorbs a lot more liquid than almond flour does. It tends to also have a more sponge cake type texture on its own.)

      If his friends are only allergic to almonds but not other nuts, some alternatives would be hazelnut or chestnut flour, which would both be yummy in a bundt cake.

      You might check out http://www.thespunkycoconut.com/ to see if there are any coconut flour only cake recipes.

      PS- I almost always end up adding a little extra liquid to coconut flour recipes. When you mix the batter, let it sit a few minutes to see how much moisture it absorbs and then add more if needed.

      Good luck!
      -Erin

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  15. these were definitely the best paleo vanilla cupcakes i've tried! i made a similar version with all coconut flour, and it was very soggy. these were crumbly and the perfect sweetness. used maple sugar as the sweetener, and no stevia was needed. thanks for this!!! add a pic to the post so we can pin it to pinterest :)

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    1. Thanks for the great feedback, Kristin!
      I really do need to add a proper pic :)

      -Erin

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  16. Made this for my son's first bday. Nice moist, sweet, cake-y cake that's easy to work with. I still yearn for traditional wheat flour-based cake when eating this one, but this is a tasty and dependable go-to if you can't have wheat.

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  17. Can't wait to try this! i googled "paleo yellow cake" and this recipe seemed the most promising. It will be the 1st time i bake with coconut flour and almond flour so it's exciting for sure and judging from all the positive comments i think it will work out well!

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  18. I have made this cake several times and now have a slight variation for you all to try. I add one drop of my food grade therapeutic essential lavender oil. The cake goes from great to absolutely amazing with one drop of lavender. Don't go use regular lavender there is a BIG DIFFERENCE, it must be food grade ready. I have even glazed it with a peppermint chocolate glaze (again using food grade peppermint). To learn more and get more recipes contact me at toneguzz@gmail.com or visit my webpage to order www.melanietoneguzzo.younglivingworld.com. I'm also on Facebook with everyday tips on how to use these great oils - Melanie Toneguzzo.

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    1. Mel, that sounds FABULOUS! Thanks so much for the wonderful suggestion!
      -Erin

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  19. Um, HELP! I attempted the strawberry version of this cake last night using 2/3 cup of blended frozen strawberries + 2 Tbsp strawberry jam, cooked it for 45 minutes at 350. Although it passed the toothpick test, and got good reviews for flavor, it was far too moist. I'm trying to make a cake for my son's 3rd birthday in two days. Any suggestions on what I need to change? I can use more jam/ less strawberries but I'm just not sure what a good balance since I'm new to gluten-free baking. - Dana

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    1. Hi Dana, somehow I missed this comment- I'm sorry I wasn't able to answer before your son's b-day.
      I made it once with thawed frozen strawberries and it also turned out rather too moist. I bet freeze dried strawberries would work well in place of frozen.

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  20. I have this cake in the oven right now. The batter tasted incredible, even though it's now only slightly paleo. I only had real cane sugar on hand. I'm hellbent on turning this into a gluten free Italian Rum Cake for my husband's birthday, so even though that makes it even less paleo, should still be delicious. Thanks for the recipe to save me from both cake mixes and glutens!

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  21. not sure what happened but my cake separated in the oven, leaving a gel like egg bottom and a almond cakey top. The bottom was quite inedible. The top is okay but not great...strange!

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    1. I've never had that happen with this recipe, although I had a similar thing happen once with my Yorkshire pudding batter when I used almond meal that was too coarsely ground. Could that be the issue?

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  22. If I substitute the palm sugar with 1/3cup Maple Syrup, do you think this will theoretically alter the cake, physically, such that it dramatically diverts from the cake that this recipe produces?

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    1. It will make the cake more wet, so you may need to add a pinch more coconut flour to soak up some of the extra moisture. I think maple syrup would taste lovely, though. Let me know how it turns out!

      -Erin

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  23. We love this cake! Made it last night, adding wild blueberries that we picked from the forest ourselves. The cake is moist and buttery (even though there's no butter in it). I slathered it with a chocolate-avocado-coconut oil frosting, which is very good, but I find myself scraping off the frosting so that I can just have the cake. Thank you for sharing this excellent recipe, which I'm sure to make again. xo

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  24. I admire your passionate pursuit for the perfect vanilla cake that's gluten free.

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  25. I made this as a "smash cake" for my one year old son last year. He loved it and so did everyone else (I also made a larger version for the adults). They couldn't believe that it was paleo! I'm making it again for his second birthday. This really is one of the best cake recipes I've come across. Super easy to make and tastes delicious!

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  26. This was incredible!! I tripled it to make a 9x13 cake and 12 cupcakes. I made it without stevia and about 1/8 cup (per recipe) more coconut sugar. I also did a strawberry frosting which was so yummy! Thank you for the great recipe!

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  27. This was delicious, and it was one of my main components for my Sherry English Trifle that I made for Easter Dinner, http://peacefulfoodie.com/recipe/paleo-sherried-english-trifle/, Don't worry I gave you credit.

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    1. I'm so pleased that you liked it! Thanks for linking to my recipe :)
      -Erin

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  28. I tried it a couple of weeks ago for the first time and i'm hooked!

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  29. Can I add extra coconut flour to make this a nut free recipe?

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    1. I'm not sure what the proportions would be, since coconut flour and almond flour have very different textures and coconut absorbs much more moisture and yields a much spongier/springy texture on its own. I recommend finding a nut free cake recipe, ideally with a combination of coconut flour and something starchy and light like arrowroot.

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  30. I would like to make a banana cake; do I need to reduce or add other ingredients if I add mashed banana?

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    1. I would try reducing the coconut milk a little so the batter isn't too wet. You'll have to play around with it.
      Good luck!

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  31. Hello! I'm the only paleo person in my family of 4.. so I compromised for dessert and decided to use the nutella we bought w/ a coupon.. lol Made this recipe into cupcakes.. Made a mixed berry jam for the inside and used the nutella with So delicious' coconut whipped cream to make a frosting of sorts. I was super impressed when I could visibly see the batter starting to puff up which is the first time I've seen that happen with a paleo recipe. The batter tasted pretty yummy.. The cupcakes smelled fabulous during baking.. and lastly.. I am beyond impressed by this recipe.. This is THE recipe here out. I love that its so adaptable too.. P.S. Neither of my kids even realized it was a paleo cake until I told them!

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  32. Hello! Just made this for my daughter's birthday and it was fantastic. My husband said it was his favorite cake I've ever made! I'd like to try it again with honey for the sweetener. Does anyone have tips on substituting honey on this recipe since it is liquid?

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    1. Here are some tips for using honey, including adjusting the oven temp so the cake doesn't burn or brown too quickly:

      http://wholenewmom.com/whole-new-budget/baking-with-honey-sugar-for-baking/

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  33. I'm going to try this for a young lady who just found out she is allergic to SO MANY things. She hasnt had a cake-like snack in over a year. Last birthday her dad ordered a store cake and everyone enjoyed it except the Birthday Girl. I feel sad for he, So I am going to find a cake she can eat and have for her birthday in a few months. Thank you for all of your posts.. now I need to find a pancake recipe!

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