Gluten-Free Vegan Vanilla Cake

By Sara McGlothlin

Baking a Healthified birthday cake is one of my favorite things. My husband’s birthday falls just two weeks after mine, so when I asked what kind of cake he wanted, he replied “the normal birthday cake kind.” While I tend to choose something a little more specific, I interpreted that as “vanilla.” He would be good with the mix from the box, but since I care about his blood sugar just as much as I do my own, I still opted to bake a gluten-free, vegan variation, keeping it low-glycemic of course. Plus, he will eat whatever I make him!

Gluten-Free Vegan Vanilla Cake

With subtle hints of vanilla, a nutty taste, and moist texture, this gluten-free vegan vanilla cake is sure to please even traditional cake eaters. Despite it being free of eggs and dairy, the applesauce provides a natural moisture. It is made with low-glycemic sweeteners to keep blood sugar balance, and the "buttercream" frosting completes the cake's deliciousness.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Cooling Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 55 mins
Course Dessert


  • 2 (8-inch) round springform cake pans
  • hand mixer or stand mixer


For the cake

  • 4 flax eggs (4 tablespoons ground flax plus 8 tablespoons water)
  • 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider or white vinegar
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons coconut nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 1 cup coconut oil room temperature
  • 1 cup vegan butter, palm oil shortening, or grass-fed butter room temperature
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot starch or tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 2 (8-inch) round springform cake pans with cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, prepare the flax eggs by whisking together the ground flax and water. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the coconut milk and vinegar. Whisk and set aside.
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the almond flour, brown rice flour, coconut sugar, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to blend.
  • To the bowl with the coconut milk and vinegar, add the flax eggs, applesauce, coconut nectar or maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk until blended.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture and while beating on medium speed, incorporate the melted coconut oil. Continue to beat, increasing the speed to high if needed, until a batter is formed.
  • Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared cake pans, smoothing on top with a spatula until it reaches the sides. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or the internal temperature reaches 200°F. Allow the cakes to completely cool in the cake pans before frosting.
  • To make the frosting, combine the coconut oil and vegan butter (or palm oil shortening or grass-fed butter) in a large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer or immersion blender with the whisk tool until fluffy, about 1 minute.
  • Add the arrowroot starch or tapioca flour and beat again. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until everything is combined, using a spatula to scrape down the sides as you need to.
  • Using a spatula, mix the frosting. Frost the cooled cake immediately or transfer the frosting to the refrigerator for 10 minutes for a denser texture. Spread one-third of the frosting on top of one cake. Place the second cake on top and add the remaining frosting on top and around the sides.


Storage: Store the frosted cake in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 4 days or wrap unfrosted cakes tightly in plastic wrap and store them at room temperature for up to 3 days, then frost when ready to serve. The frosting can be made up to 4 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Stir before using.
I have made the frosting with all options listed above (vegan butter, palm oil shortening, grass-fed butter). If you can tolerate dairy, I recommend the grass-fed butter, but of course choose the former two if needing completely plant-based 
Keyword Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Soy-free

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CategoriesDessert Dessert Food

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