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Grain Free Birthday Layer Cake

Grain Free Birthday Layer Cake

My daughter turned four this past weekend, and for the third year in a row, I made her a two-layer birthday cake with frosting and candles—just like you see in the story books.

But this is not just any birthday cake, you see, because my daughter is not just any little girl. For her sake, this cake (and its frosting) are grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, cane sugar-free, GAPS / Paleo diet-friendly, and oh, so delicious!

Dense, moist, and rich, cake made with coconut flour is a marvelous treat. While both its texture and flavor is similar to that of classic yellow cake, this cake is considerably more nourishing thanks to the nutrients in both coconut flour and fresh pasture-raised eggs.

We make this cake on special occasions like birthdays.

This year, my daughter wanted a strawberry cake with chocolate frosting, so first I folded some fresh, minced strawberries into the batter. Then, I doubled this recipe for Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse, and used it as an allergen-free, exquisitely decadent cake frosting.

Finally, I embedded a layer of thinly sliced strawberries in the frosting between the cakes, and then used more sliced strawberries to decorate the top of the cake once it was fully frosted. Yum!

This cake always disappears pretty quickly at our house, and I’m pretty sure it will at yours, too.

Grain-Free Birthday Layer Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen eggs, preferably from pasture-raised hens
  • 2 cups coconut milk (make your own with this recipe)
  • ½–¾ cup honey, to taste  -OR-  ¼–1/3 cup honey plus 2 tsp. liquid or powdered stevia, to taste
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. flavoring extract of your choice (cinnamon, orange, coffee, almond, etc. OPTIONAL)
  • 2 cups coconut flour, plus extra for flouring the pan
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • Coconut oil, for greasing the pan
  • ¼–½ cup finely chopped nuts, chocolate chips, minced fruit, etc. (OPTIONAL)
  • Double batch of Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse (frosting; OPTIONAL)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Beat the eggs, coconut milk, honey and stevia (if using) together with vanilla and any flavor extracts until smooth, creamy and uniform in both color and texture.
  3. Sift together the coconut flour, baking powder and sea salt, and add to the egg mixture. Continue to beat until a smooth batter forms.
  4. Gently fold nuts, cacao nibs, diced fruit, etc. into the batter, if using.
  5. Grease and flour two 8-inch, round cake pans.
  6. Spoon the cake batter into the greased and floured pans. Shake them to even out the batter and smooth it out with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cool completely before assembling and frosting your cake.
  9. Enjoy with friends and family!

What delicious flavor combination can you come up with?

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33 Comments

  1. I want to make this for my baby’s first birthday and want to skip the honey do you think I can just omit it or maybe I can use some maple syrup instead?

  2. I love your recipes!.

  3. Good job on not using gluten. However this desert is way, way high in sugar from chocolate, honey, coconut milk and the coconut flour itself.

    I did a desert like this for my daughters when they were younger for a birthday and then I woke up a realized the damage that sugar does.

    I know there are different versions of “paleo” like there are different versions of religion and this highly processed food desert doesn’t fit my version.

    • I ran this cake through the USDA nutrition calculator and it is only 25g of carb/sugar per LARGE (1/8 of the cake) slice. That’s less than 6 teaspoons of sugar per serving, much of it in the form of complex carbs. By comparison, a large, whole apple has about 23g of sugar. That’s not a lot of sugar for a once a year treat that helps my kid feel like she’s not so different from the other kids.

      This is not a Paleo cake, it is a grain-free cake that fits the criteria for GAPS, Paleo and gluten-free/dairy-free diets. If by processed you mean someone ground the coconut flour, pressed the coconut milk/oil and powdered the raw cacao beans, then yes, I suppose it is a processed food dessert. But by that definition, anything fermented, cured, dehydrated or made with nuts or seeds would be a processed food too.

      If you are trying to be totally unprocessed Paleo, there is no such thing as a birthday layer cake you could eat. But if you don’t eat grains, dairy or refined sugar for health reasons, and you miss the fun, familiarity and taste of a good birthday layer cake, this will surely fill the bill.

    • Neal – maybe think about passing by when you feel the urge to leave a comment like this? Blogs are full of recipes that we might not agree with or wish to eat and you’re always free to make your own adjustments to anything you find on the internet. Being uptight about food can be just as damaging as eating a little too much honey once in a while!

  4. sorry im really new to baking and was wondering if i am supposed to leave room at the top of the pans for the cake to rise?
    thanks.

    • The cakes don’t rise much at all and are about an inch thick. I think you will find that once you’ve split the batter into two halves, you will have plenty of room in the pans. Depending on how tall you like your layer cake, consider using a smaller set of pans, or making more batter to fill the pans higher. Good luck!!

      • Hi Dawn ,

        Thanks for the recipe and advice. I made it today for my daughter’s first birthday (I waited an extra couple of weeks to make sure she was okay to have honey). I really liked it but I just had a couple of newbie baker problems. After 35 minutes the centre of the cakes were still very doughy. I checked every 5-10 min after for an additional 30 min until the toothpick was clean and the edges pulled away. But then the cake ended up being dry.
        Is the centre supposed to be a bit mushy and will firm up as it cools? Or is this cake a more dry type because of the coconut flour?

        Either way my daughter absolutely loved it, especially paired with your vegan cacao mousse recipe. Thanks, I will definitely make this again and again!

  5. Thanks for this recipe! We determined our 2 year old is either gluten-intolerant or has Celiac disease, so we’ve made her gluten-free this year. I know there are gluten-free cake mixes out, but I’d rather make something from scratch and this sounds like just the thing!

    • I’m so glad! I posted this recipe exactly for families like yours and mine. Happy birthday to your little one!

  6. Looks fun and delicious! Thanks for linking up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday….hope to see you back next week! :)

  7. This looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing on Allergy-Free Wednesday! Hope you’ll join us again this week with another great recipe!

  8. What a lovely cake! I love how flexible the recipe is. I look forward to trying it.

  9. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

  10. I have friends with gluten allergies. I honestly don’t really know what gluten is, but does grain-free equal gluten-free? This looks fabulous. As a runner, I go through coconuts a lot, and have to admit that I have tossed so much coconut meat in the past. After obtaining your coconut milk recipe I have been making the stuff every week. I will now add coconut flour to the list! Thank you so much for your time and information.

  11. Thanks for the recipe. I’ve bookmarked it and will definitely try it out.

  12. Wow- this cake looks so delicious! I’ve not tasted coconut flour before and am keen to try this recipe out! Thank you so much for sharing it with us on Natural Mothers Network’s Seasonal Celebration.
    Warmly, Rebecca x

  13. Stopping by from the Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Wednesday Blog Hop! http://queenofsavings.com

  14. Wow, this recipe actually looks very delicious. A great alternative for sure. Thanks, for sharing it.

  15. THANKS, just found this through your link to Butter Believer.
    My twins’ first birthday is coming up and I was trying to figure out how to give them birthday cake without grains. Bingo.

  16. This looks great!! My birthday is tomorrow! Yum!! :)

  17. Yum! Thank you so much for posting this. I just love finding treats like this that fit within our Paleo diet. I pinned it here: http://pinterest.com/pin/91690542383599494/

  18. Yum, yum, YUM! The cake looks stunning… if I could only reach into the screen and eat it up! Thanks for bring this gorgeous recipe to Sugar Free Sunday!

  19. This is AWESOME! Thank you!

  20. That looks so good! I will have to try baking with coconut flour, your recipe looks so much less involved than other gluten free baking recipes. I might try it with freshly whipped cream, either coconut cream or raw dairy cream :-P (<- this is me licking my chops)

    • I really dislike involved recipes and elaborate kitchen chemistry experiments these days, so I try to make all my recipes as easy as they are yummy. I hope you agree!

      Last year, when my daughter wanted a pink cake, we used coconut cream colored with beet juice and strawberry purée to frost the cake. It was outstanding!

  21. This looks so moist and rich tasting, but I would have to find a substitute for the eggs. That would be a tough challenge, I think. I’ll have to work on it and let you know ?

    • Coconut flour is typically dependent on eggs to create the cake texture you want. If you find a way to make it work with “flax goo” or some other egg substitute, let me know!

  22. This recipe looks awesome, and easy enough for someone who can’t bake (which is definitely me).

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