Healthy Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
This sweet and buttery Yellow Cake is so light, fluffy, and moist, you’d never know it’s sugar free, low fat, gluten free, and dairy free too! And as a surprise bonus, it’s only 120 calories per slice!
*jaw drops to floor*
What’s the difference between a “white cake”, “vanilla cake”, and a “yellow cake”?
Yes, the final color of the cake is most of the differentiation, but the true difference between the cakes comes down to the ingredients:
- a White Cake uses egg whites, shortening, and clear vanilla extract to keep the cake as white as possible, as egg yolks, butter, and regular vanilla extract can tint the cake a yellow-tan.
- a Yellow Cake uses whole eggs (sometimes with extra egg yolks added), butter, and regular vanilla extract.
And what about Vanilla Cake? Trick question, both White Cakes and Yellow Cakes are Vanilla Cakes, since both of the cakes are flavored with vanilla 😉
You can also sometimes tell the difference between cakes just by looking at their frostings. White Cakes are generally frosted with a Meringue Frosting and Yellow Cakes are usually frosted with a Chocolate Frosting, as seen here in this post!
But really, you can use whateeeever frosting your heart desires 🙂
My number one goal on the blog is to make classic dessert recipes healthier.
And after 8 years of blogging, I’d like to think I have been pretty successful at it! I’ve healthified Soft Sugar Cookies, Fudge Brownies, Vanilla Cake, and Red Velvet Cake. Even a VEGAN Red Velvet Cake! But it took me years to get the kitchen confidence to make these classic recipes. I steered clear of them because, to put it simply, they kind of intimidated me.
Would my healthified version taste remotely like the real thing?
Would my cookies taste just as buttery?
Would my brownies be just as fudgy?
Would my cakes turn out just as fluffy and moist?
After a good run of successful recipe testing (chewy Peanut Butter Cookies being the latest feat!), I thought, why not make a Yellow Cake?
I did some research and found a few recipes online. I remembered why healthifying this cake seemed especially daunting — typical recipes call for 1½ cups of sugar, up to 8 egg yolks, and 1 cup of butter. Those 3 ingredients alone have 2930 calories, 232g fat, and 192g of sugar! Replacing those ingredients seemed like a difficult task, but I tried anyways. I settled on a recipe I found online and tried swapping out the unhealthy ingredients with healthier substitutes.
For round #1, I:
- replaced the white flour with sorghum flour and oat flour
- replaced the white sugar with granulated erythritol + stevia extract
- replaced the butter with coconut oil + applesauce (a healthy butter/oil substitute)
It was a COMPLETE. FAIL.
The cake rose nicely in the oven but sunk as it cooled on the counter. The flavor was alright, but definitely could have used more vanilla extract and a tad bit more stevia extract. Whenever my gluten-free cakes sink, it’s usually because the flours are too “heavy” and there isn’t enough “lift.”
For round #2, I:
- replaced some oat flour with arrowroot starch
- added 2 egg whites
- reduced the coconut oil
- increased the applesauce
- increased the vanilla extract
- increased the stevia extract
The cake texture and flavor definitely improved this time around, but it was still a bit dense and didn’t have that vanilla “oomph.”
For round #3, I:
- replaced more oat flour with arrowroot starch
- added 1 egg white
- omitted the coconut oil
- increased the applesauce
- used Vanilla Paste instead of vanilla extract
3rd time was the charm!!
This Yellow Cake turned out light and fluffy, perfectly sweet, and FULL of vanilla flavor!
Since Yellow Cakes are usually frosted with Chocolate Frosting, I whipped up a healthy (and fudgy) Chocolate Frosting for my cake. I blended cottage cheese with cream cheese for the base, used stevia extract instead of powdered sugar to sweeten, added cocoa powder for flavor, and tossed in some chocolate protein powder to thicken it all up without losing that chocolate flavor. It sounds like a strange blend of ingredients, but I really enjoyed the frosting’s flavor and texture!
You can use whatever frosting you like, though. Try my other Chocolate Protein Frosting, or to keep the entire cake dairy-free, try this frosting recipe!
Healthy Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
- 136g (1 cup) Sweet White Sorghum Flour
- 60g (½ cup) Oat Flour
- 60g (½ cup) Arrowroot Starch
- 1 tsp Double-Acting Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- ¼ tsp Salt
- 246g (1 cup) Unsweetened Applesauce
- ¾ cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
- 96g (½ cup) Granulated Erythritol
- 5 Large Egg Whites (fresh, not cartoned)
- 2 tsp Vanilla Crème-Flavored Stevia Extract
- 2 tsp Natural Butter Flavor
- 1 tsp Vanilla Paste
- 1 tsp Ground Turmeric
- 1 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1½ cups Fat Free Cottage Cheese
- 4 oz Neufchâtel Cream Cheese (room temperature)
- 1 tsp Vanilla Paste
- 1 tsp Vanilla Crème-Flavored Stevia Extract
- 90g (1 cup) Chocolate Whey Protein Powder
- 3 tbs Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder
For the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray two 8" cake pans with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sorghum flour, oat flour, arrowroot starch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce, almond milk, erythritol, egg whites, stevia extract, butter flavor, vanilla paste, and turmeric. Whisk until completely even.
- Dump the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.
- Lastly, whisk in the vinegar.
- Pour the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for ~20-25 minutes, or until the surface of the cakes are firm and spring back when tapped. Let cool completely.
For the Frosting:
- In a high-speed blender (I used my NutriBullet), add the cottage cheese and cream cheese. Blend until smooth.
- Add the vanilla paste and stevia extract and blend again.
- Add the protein powder and cocoa powder and blend until smooth. If it's too thick to blend, scrape it all into a bowl and whisk by hand, or use a hand mixer. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled throughout.
- Frost the cake, refrigerate for ~1 hour for the frosting to firm, then slice, serve, and enjoy!
One bite and you’ll be so surprised to know that this cake is healthy. I would even call it guilt free!
This cake is everything you’d expect from a Yellow Cake — it’s moist, buttery and rich, just without the butter, flour, egg yolks, and sugar. Because really, who needs those ingredients? No one 😉
Make this healthy Yellow Cake for birthdays, holidays, get-togethers, or as a special treat for no reason at all!
With love and good eats,
My favorite gluten-free ingredient is almond flour.
I love coconut flour though it’s finicky. Sweet potato and mashed plantain are good starches in cake!
My favorite gluten free ingredients are GF oats or almond flour.
This cake looks delicious, even though I’m not a huge cake person. I have to do something with my sorghum flour and I wasn’t quite sure how to use it. Does the brown rice flour add any grittiness to the cake? I used it in banana bread and it was quite gritty but maybe it just needs to be combined with something.
The brown rice flour doesn’t add any grittiness at all, usually baked goods with 100% brown rice flour will taste gritty but this cake is soft, moist and delicious 🙂
Looks wonderful! Too high carb for me, but definitely a healthier version than most!
That’s too bad, I might try a version with almond flour but after so many trials to perfect this particular recipe, I am definitely sticking with this version for now 😉
My favourite gluten-free ingredient is coconut flour! Full of fibre and it’s so sweet!
Love it! Thanks for recipe 🙂
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Almond and Peanut Flour
my sisters chocolate chip cookies
Probably oat flour, because it’s easy to make!
is there a reason that your two cakes (the cake itself, not the frostings) look different? the cake with frosting 1 looks more moist and authentic and the cake with frosting 2 looks a bit more more dense to me. either way, they both look very delicious! and what would you recommend as a substitute for sweet white sorghum flour?
The cakes are two different cakes. The more dense cake with the darker frosting was my first trial where it wasn’t much of a success, however the frosting definitely was! I was just trying to show the difference in the frostings 🙂
As for the sorghum flour replacement, I’m not 100% sure of what to replace it with (I don’t have that much experience with sorghum). I am hesitant to recommend anything else because all gluten-free flours are extremely different. Please try to keep the sorghum if you can, but if you are allergic or can’t eat it I would hope that more brown rice flour will work!
Wow, that cake looks really amazing, especially with frosting #1!!!
YES thank you i have been looking for this!! can’t wait to make it!
I just wanted to say how much I love your blog- I make one of your microwave bakes almost every morning! I also super appreciate your intent to make desserts healthy. I recently lost 40 pounds and your recipes kept me sane throughout the process :). I was looking for a lemon layer cake to make for my mom’s birthday, but I can’t find a good one anywhere! I was wondering what your recommendations would be… I was thinking that I could basically use this recipe, but replace the white vinegar with lemon juice, then replace the food coloring with lemon extract, and possibly add the zest of one lemon. It should still work, right? Obviously, you can’t be sure until you try it, but I’d like to get a more experienced baker’s opinion first!
Wow, BIG congrats on your weight loss… that’s incredible!!
I’m so glad you like my recipes, it makes me so happy that someone out there really appreciates what I do on this blog. You just made my day!!
You are spot on for making a lemon version of this cake. Lemon juice should replace the vinegar just fine, lemon extract can replace the food coloring (you could probably increase it to 1 tsp if you want a strong lemon flavor) and you can add the lemon zest, no problem!
Now I’m craving lemon cake… 😉
I used to make my stepfather a lemon cake – I used regular yellow cake as the cake part and then used a lemon pie filling between the layers. If you want to enhance the lemon flavor without adding too much liquid, try the True Lemon crystals. I carry them with me and add them to my water bottle – good lemon flavor without the mess of lemon juice!
I would love to make this, but I’m vegan. Do you have an egg replacer that you like to work with in baking?
The egg whites are crucial in this recipe… I’ve tried making this vegan and it turned out really dense and rubbery 🙁
I’m excited to make this cake for my son’s first birthday . Unfortunately I don’t have a week to make the vanilla sugar. Any suggestions?
You can use any other granulated sweetener in place of the homemade vanilla sugar (granulated erythritol, sucanat, coconut sugar, date sugar, ec.). Happy birthday to your son!! 🙂
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Hello Jessica, I always read through all of the comments before I make a recipe and while reading through the comments there are several mentions of brown rice flour. I do not see this as an ingredient in this recipe. Can you clarify? Thank you so much!
Hi Holly! I revamped the recipe (and photography) as this is one of the earlier posts on my blog from 2013 (!!!) 🙂
Thank you for your reply. Do you have any recommendations for a dairy free (healthier version) of a really yummy frosting either chocolate or vanilla?
***We do use butter
I have a ton of icings and frosting recipes on the blog! Here are some of my faves:
And if you wanna check out more, here’s the link:
The frosting isn’t dairy free. Can’t have cream cheese.
I stated the CAKE as dairy free, not the frosting. I have a ton of frosting recipes on the blog you can check out!
Ok just pointing it out to others. If they are going by the search words it is listed as dairy free.
Is this recipe safe for 1 year old babies? I’d like to make this recipe for my son’s 1st birthday.
I don’t know anything about babies as I don’t have one. Please ask your doctor what’s safe for babies!! 🙂
How many calories would the cake be without the frosting?