Whenever I saw a vanilla cake recipe (like this one, this one and this one), I used to get a little jealous.  They look picture-perfect and absolutely delicious.  I have always wanted to make my own vanilla cake but it is really hard to make that classic recipe gluten free, reduced fat, low sugar and 100% healthy.  After numerous trial and error (and a ton of cake-eating), I healthified this traditional cake.
Yes, I said it:  this cake is healthy!  Yup, no butter, no refined sugar and no bleached flour.
This cake is packed with vanilla.  FOUR sources of vanilla — homemade vanilla sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla flavored yogurt and vanilla paste — so you are sure to please any vanilla lovers out there.
3 bite
This cake is so incredibly moist, sweet and fluffy, it’s hard to believe this is good for you!
Quadruple Vanilla Bean Layer Cake with a Classic Vanilla Bean Frosting [1st version]

Yield: two 6 inch cake layers


    Vanilla Bean Cake:
  • 246g (1 cup) Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 210g (3/4 cup + 2 tbs) Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 184g (3/4 cup) Egg Whites (I used cartoned whites)
  • 96g (1/2 cup) Homemade Vanilla Sugar
  • 14g (1 tbs) Canola Oil (or any other neutral oil)
  • 1 tbs Vanilla Extract (I used homemade)
  • 2 tsp Stevia Extract
  • 1 tsp Almond Flavor
  • 130g (3/4 cup + 1 tbs) Brown Rice Flour
  • 120g (1 cup) Oat Flour
  • 30g (3 tbs) Corn Starch
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbs White Vinegar
  • Vanilla Bean Frosting:
  • 114g (1/2 cup) Vanilla Amande "Yogurt" (other yogurts will probably work, like dairy, soy, coconut, etc)
  • 14g (1 tbs) Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Paste (I used homemade)
  • 1/2 tsp Butter Extract
  • 180g (1+1/2 cups) Powdered Erythritol


    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray two 6"x3" cake pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a stand mixer bowl with whisk attachment, add the applesauce, almond milk, egg whites, vanilla sugar, oil, vanilla extract, stevia extract and almond flavor. Mix on low speed.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, oat flour, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the vinegar to the stand mixer bowl, still on low speed.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients and well it is all incorporated, beat on medium/high speed for ~20 seconds.
  6. Pour the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for ~53 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and surface is firm when tapped.
  7. For the Frosting:
  8. In a microwave-safe bowl, add the yogurt and coconut oil and microwave at 15-second intervals, stirring between each one, until the oil is softened/melted, but not hot.
  9. Scoop mixture into a stand mixer bowl with whisk attachment, and add the vanilla paste and butter extract.
  10. Add the erythritol and beat on high speed for a few minutes, or until fluffy and light.
  11. Frost the cake.


This cake has the best texture the day it is made, so eat up! :)

This recipe is: low fat, low sugar, high protein, gluten free!

I decided to compare the nutrition label of my vanilla cake with vanilla bean frosting to Martha Stewart’s vanilla cake with vanilla frosting.  Martha’s nutrition label is on the left,  DWB’s label is on the right:
nutrition label martha  nutrition label mine
These results are truly shocking.  I can’t even begin to wrap my head around one slice of cake having nearly 700 calories.  My vanilla cake recipe has:
  • 460 less calories
  • 25g less fat (and 17g less saturated fat!)
  • 58g less sugar
  • zero cholesterol

I mean, can you believe that one slice of Martha Stewart’s cake contains 1/3 cup of sugar?  One slice!  That’s insane.  With my vanilla cake recipe you can skip all that butter and sugar and get to the good stuff, like healthy oat flour, egg whites, yogurt, etc.  And you can’t even tell that my recipe is healthy, it tastes surprisingly authentic (aka, unhealthy) to the typical vanilla cakes out there!

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So, in the trials and trials leading up to the most amazing healthy Vanilla Layer Cake recipe above, I made this cake.  This cake is just as moist and vanilla-y as the cake above, just baked in 8″ cake pans rather than 6″ cake pans.  I like tall cakes though, that’s why I bought some 6″ cake pans and made the version above.
The other difference between this cake and the cake above is the frosting.  I made this frosting with protein powder and this new dried rice milk I found, since I can no longer have dried (dairy) milk.
This cake is also packed with vanilla flavor.  My entire family loved this cake, no one else could believe this cake was healthy either!
Quadruple Vanilla Layer Cake with a Special Vanilla Bean Frosting [2nd version]

Yield: two 8 inch cake layers


    Vanilla Cake:
  • 246g (1 cup) Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 3/4 cup Egg Whites (I used cartoned whites)
  • 28g (2 tbs) Grapeseed Oil (or any other neutral oil)
  • 1 tbs Vanilla Extract (I used homemade)
  • 2 tsp Stevia Extract
  • 1 tsp Butter Extract
  • 1 tsp Almond Flavor
  • 130g (3/4 cup + 1 tbs) Brown Rice Flour
  • 120g (1 cup) Oat Flour
  • 32g (1/4 cup) Arrowroot Starch
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp White Vinegar
  • Special Vanilla Bean Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup Light Coconut Milk, canned
  • 24g (2 tbs) Butter Flavor Spectrum Organics Shortening
  • 1 tbs Vanilla Paste (I used homemade)
  • 1 tsp Stevia Extract
  • 42g (2 scoops) Vanilla Brown Rice Protein Powder
  • 140g (1+1/3 cups) Powdered Erythritol
  • 93g (~1 cup) Vanilla Rice Milk Powder


    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray two 8" cake pans with cooking spray (I also lined the pans with circles of parchment paper)
  2. In a stand mixer bowl with beater attachment, add the applesauce, almond milk, egg whites, oil and extracts. Mix on medium-low speed while you gather the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, oat flour, starch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the vinegar to the stand mixer.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer. When all is incorporated, whip the batter on high speed for ~20 seconds.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for ~20 minutes, or until the surface springs back when touched. Flip cakes onto a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.
  7. For the Frosting:
  8. In a large microwave-safe bowl, add the coconut milk and shortening. Microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each one, until shortening is melted.
  9. Stir in the vanilla paste and stevia extract.
  10. Stir in the protein powder, then the erythritol, then the rice milk powder. Frost the cake!


This recipe is: low fat, low sugar, high protein, gluten free!

Again, I compared my vanilla cake with a special vanilla frosting nutrition label with Martha Stewart’s vanilla cake with vanilla frosting nutrition label.  Martha’s label is on the left,  the DWB label is on the right:
nutrition label martha  nutrition label mine
I still can’t get over the 700-calorie slice of cake.  My recipe has:
  • 430 less calories
  • 23g less fat (and 14g less saturated fat!)
  • 58g less sugar
  • 4g more protein
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It’s hard to believe that both of my vanilla cake recipes are healthy.  They are moist, springy, fluffy and vanilla-y.  The frostings are sweet, creamy and so very similar to the frostings you would taste at a bakery.  I am so glad I finally healthified this classic cake.  I am no longer jealous of the vanilla cake recipes I see for now I have my own  :)
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Labels: Applesauce, Brown-Rice-Flour, Brown-Rice-Protein, Cakes-and-Cupcakes, Coconut-Milk, Egg-Whites, Erythritol, Gluten-Free, High-Protein, Icings-Frostings-and-Spreads, Low-Fat, Low-Sugar, Nutrition-Label, Oat-Flour, Yogurt

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Comments (24)

  1. Ahhhh as always so awesome-this cake is gorgeous

  2. ProGait Gait Analysis: March 6, 2013

    Wow! This looks stunning! Can’t wait to give the recipe a try!

  3. Brooke Wolf: March 6, 2013

    I love your blog and all of your recipes! You have an amazing talent. I would love to make this recipe for my daughter’s 1st birthday but she can’t have eggs…do you have any suggestions for what I could sub the egg whites with? Thanks in advance!

  4. dessertswithbenefits: March 6, 2013

    Hi Brooke,
    I’m not sure of any good replacement because this recipe calls for egg whites rather than whole eggs, and most egg replacers out there are designed to replace whole eggs. However, you can give Ener-G egg replacer a try, that’s the egg replacer I use sometimes and most often I get good results. I would whisk together 2 tbs Ener-G egg replacer + 1/2 cup water in a small bowl, and add that to the stand mixer with the other wet ingredients instead of the egg whites. I have not tried this but I’m crossing my fingers that it works! Good luck, and I hope your daughter has an awesome first birthday!

  5. Brooke Wolf: March 6, 2013

    Thank you, Jess! I will give it a try!

  6. Ashley: March 8, 2013

    I receive your updates via email, and am always excited to see a “healthified” dessert recipe! Thanks for sharing your trials & errors, and the wonderful end result.

    I feel compelled to ask: you repeatedly refer to butter as an unhealthy ingredient–why? I can see that typical store-bought butter is not the best, but good, high-quality butter from properly fed cows (especially in it’s raw form) is a wonderful source of healthy fat, vitamin D, and other beneficial nutrients. Would love to hear your take on this.

    Cheers! :)

  7. dessertswithbenefits: March 15, 2013

    It really depends on where you are coming from… from my standpoint, butter is a no-no because it contains a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) runs in my family, I had high LDL levels back in high school but now I have low LDLs and high HDLs (the good cholesterol), which I believe is due to me avoiding butter, lard and other animal products high in fat. However, you can have the lucky genes and be less sensitive to these kinds of things :)
    From what I learned in my Dietetics program, butter doesn’t really bring anything to the table. Dairy can block the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals (like the iron in spinach, for example). While butter contains vitamin A and trace amounts of other vitamins, our bodies would fare better if those vitamins came from plant sources like kale, carrots and pumpkin. I haven’t done much research on raw butter (now that I am allergic to dairy) but if it is lower in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol and higher in vitamins and minerals, I don’t see what could be so bad! For the normal person butter can be consumed in moderation (not Paula Deen style), just like everything else ;)
    I hope I answered your question!

  8. jenny: March 27, 2013

    Whats the consistency of this frosting like? Does it thin out after being out a while/next day? A thick frosting would be ideal for me, my cake needs to be fit for a cute boy =]

  9. dessertswithbenefits: March 28, 2013

    The frosting is thick and stays on the cake, but I always refrigerate large cakes so that they keep longer. This cake is best served the day it is frosted. I hope you like the cake and that boy too! ;)

  10. plasterers in bristol: April 14, 2013

    Wow this is incredible, and best recipe ever

  11. Francesca: May 28, 2013

    Hi Jessica, I just found your blog and I wanted to tell you that this cake is AMAZING!!! I have just started using erythritol in my recipes and I was struggling to find great people like you who use it to make incredible desserts!!!! I am definitely going to try this out- along with all the other recipes on your blog!!! xxxxxx Thankyou so much!

  12. dessertswithbenefits: May 30, 2013

    Hi Francesca! Thanks so much, I’m so glad you liked the cake :D
    I hope you get to try out some more recipes!

  13. Camille: June 9, 2013

    Oh GOD, thank you so much for creating this recipe !
    It’s going to be my birthday next week, I love to cook but i’m also really concerned about eating healthy. I wanted to make a layer cake, but the recipes were always containing way too much fat and sugar… My project was to do a vanilla cake with a red berries frosting. Your 1st recipe sounds so good and not that difficult to make ! I’m going to try your vanilla cake asap !
    For the frosting (i’m going to put some only between the layers, not on the side) i was thinking about only using vanilla yoghourt and berries… Do you think it will work and taste good ? Especially for the “will-it-work” part because I could always improve the taste if it’s too bad ;)

    Hope my english was great, i’m French ;)
    Have a nice day !

  14. dessertswithbenefits: June 11, 2013

    Yay I’m so glad you appreciate the recipe! A strawberry/raspberry frosting sounds absolutely delicious. If you use only yogurt and berries the frosting might be too wet so you might need some dry ingredients to thicken it up. It might also be not very sweet, but whatever suits your taste, it’s your birthday!
    And Happy early Birthday Camille!

  15. Camille: June 12, 2013

    Thank you so much :D
    Would you have any not-so-fat dry ingredients to tell me please ? I’m quite lacking of imagination right now… Maybe powdered milk ? Waiting for your suggestions ! :P

  16. dessertswithbenefits: June 16, 2013

    Hi Camille, I’m not really sure what you mean by “not-so-fat dry ingredients” … If you can clarify please let me know, sorry!

  17. April: June 17, 2013

    Hi Jessica! I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while and I decided to try it for my Dad’s birthday- which was also Father’s Day (!!!)- and it completely bombed! I was so disappointed… the resulting cake was more like a soft, slightly less chewy mochi. My family is asian and enjoys mochi, so we ate it gladly (it tasted good :)) but I’m hoping that you might have an idea of what went wrong. I ground my own oat flour, and used avocado oil instead of almond oil since I was out of the latter. I subsituted normal erythritol with a small amount of vanilla paste for the vanilla sugar since I didn’t have any, and I used So delicious coconut milk instead of almond milk (I usually do in all recipes and it doesn’t make a difference) I substituted arrowroot starch for corn starch, which also usually does not make a difference. I blended my own applesauce because I don’t like the packaged sort- I didn’t think it would make a difference because it didn’t in your chocolate cake recipe. Everything else I did the same. Is there anything that shouts out to you about why I got a sticky rice cake instead of fluffy vanilla goodness? Oh and I also made the frosting, but it turned out more like a glaze, even after refrigeration, and was overwhelmingly sweet. I did use plain amande yogurt instead of vanilla. I would be really grateful if you could give me some advice, because I want to give this cake another shot! Thanks! :)

  18. dessertswithbenefits: June 17, 2013

    Oh no! I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you! My first (and most important) question is, did you weigh out the ingredients using a kitchen scale? Second, the recipe does not call for almond oil, did you use avocado oil instead of almond milk? It depends on how thick the coconut milk was, if you used coconut creamer it would have made a difference but coconut milk shouldn’t have made that big of a difference. In my personal experience, arrowroot starch doesn’t provide as much firming capabilities as corn starch. Homemade applesauce shouldn’t have made much of a difference either, especially if it is smooth enough. Another question I have is, did you use an oven thermometer? Ovens are notorious for not being 100% accurate.
    I’m not really sure why the frosting was so thin, I’ve made this frosting quite a few times without a problem.
    Sorry again for the cake flop, hopefully it works out better next time!

  19. sophie: June 21, 2013

    Hi there,

    I’ve been asked to make a cake for a friend with celiac disease…and want to make this one…

    Can you please tell me if this will still work with regular sugar and regular powdered sugar?

    Also – she cannot have nuts or dairy, so the yogurt is out. Do you think coconut milk/cream will work in its place?


  20. dessertswithbenefits: June 21, 2013

    This cake will work just fine with regular sugar and regular powdered sugar.
    You can use soymilk, rice milk, oat milk or coconut milk instead of the almond milk. And you can use yogurt substitutes, like soy yogurt, rice milk yogurt, coconut yogurt, etc.
    PS: If your friend has celiac disease make sure that your baking powder is gluten free! Many aren’t. Hope you and your friend love the cake :)

  21. April Grace Paik: June 22, 2013

    Hi Jessica, thanks for the reply. I meant to say that I substituted avocado oil for the canola oil. (I got confused because I was going to use almond oil but was out so ended up with avocado oil as default). I didn’t weigh the ingredients- I’ll definitely do that next time. I used cartoned coconut milk, so I don’t think that was the issue. No one in my house is very comfortable with corn, and potato starch tends to yield chewier textures, so arrowroot was my default… I guess I’ll give it another go after weighing everything and if it doesn’t work I’ll go with organic cornstarch! After all, it is a treat. :) In your experience, has home ground oat flour acted any differently than the packaged kind? I’ve always ground my own (using Bob’s red mill oats) and every recipe I’ve tried has yielded a denser, chewier baked good than what the online picture promised. Thanks again!

  22. dessertswithbenefits: June 28, 2013

    April- I’m not sure why but homemade oat flour is never as good as the storebought kinds! I can blend and blend and blend and it will never be as fine, and when I bake with it the texture gets gummy and dense… not sure why… maybe the storebought flours are sifted before packaging? After a few failed batches of recipes using homemade oat flour I just ended up buying the stuff ;)

  23. April: November 5, 2013

    I finally went to whole foods and bought some oat flour. I’ll try this recipe again and see how much of a difference it makes. I guess this is just another lifelong mystery-like why socks go missing in the dryer. :) Ah well.

  24. Kelsey: November 29, 2013

    Just found your blog and I am so happy right now. Writing down tons of your cake recipes!! But I just want to ask if I can sub more oat flour or other flour for the brown rice flour (i only have coconut, oat, wheat, white rice flour in my pantry) :0

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