Healthy Pumpkin Orange Velvet Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Healthy Orange Velvet Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I really don’t want to disclose the length of time I’ve spent trying to perfect a healthy Red Velvet Cake recipe, so let’s just leave it at… okay, okay… it’s been a year and a half.


Now that’s off my chest I can get on with the post.  So, my first trial went surprisingly well (surprise surprise!).  I based the recipe off my Citrus Pound Cake recipe, since that is the recipe most requested by friends and family.  However, the red velvet cake didn’t have much flavor (it needed more cocoa and I accidentally left out the vanilla), wasn’t bright red, and the frosting was terr-i-ble.

The second trial was horrendously embarrassing, and I don’t really want to talk about the third trial either.  However, I should mention that trial #3 was gluten-/dairy-/soy-free due to my allergies.  I tried out a new type of natural food coloring but it ended up turning the cake a faded burgundy color… gross.  The fourth trial was close to perfection, however I ran out of food coloring after 1.5 tablespoons.  Seriously.  Why must everything go wrong?  Why is the universe preventing me from perfecting this darn Red Velvet Cake recipe?  Ugh.

Healthy Orange Velvet Cake with Chocolate Frosting

That’s when I peered out the window and looked at the trees.  The leaves were green, yellow, orange, red… it was beautiful.  I glanced down at my Red Velvet recipe and realized I should simply modify it to suit the season.  Instead of applesauce, I used pumpkin…  instead of red food coloring, I used orange…  and then I tossed in some apple pie spice.  The batter was vibrant and beautiful, like those orange leaves scattered around the yard.

Healthy Orange Velvet Cake with Chocolate Frosting

This cake was delicious!  While I would have preferred an extra hint of cinnamon (say, 1/2 teaspoon?), my taste-testers adored the cake as is.  It was dense and a tad bit fudgy in the center, kind of like chocolate cake.  It tasted like it was full of butter, egg yolks and unhealthy stuff when it was comprised of whole grains and natural sweeteners.  The frosting is light and fluffy, which contrasts the cake in the most perfect way, making the cake satisfying with every guilt-free bite!

Healthy Orange Velvet Pumpkin Layer Cake with a Special Chocolate Frosting... like Red Velvet, just ORANGE! (gluten free)

Yield: two 9 inch cake layers


  • 738g (3 cups) 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree, canned
  • 192g (1 cup) Granulated Sweetener (I used 1/2c erythritol, 1/4c sucanat, 1/4c maple sugar)
  • 1+1/2 cups Egg Whites (fresh)
  • 42g (3 tbs) Grapeseed Oil (or any other neutral oil)
  • 2 tbs Natural Orange Food Coloring
  • 1 tbs Stevia Extract
  • 2 tsp Butter Flavor
  • 320g (2 cups) Brown Rice Flour
  • 240g (2 cups) Oat Flour
  • 20g (1/4 cup) Unsweetened Regular Cocoa Powder
  • 5 tsp Apple Pie Spice
  • 2+1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbs White Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tbs Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Frosting:
  • 168g (8 scoops) Chocolate Brown Rice Protein Powder (I used SunWarrior)
  • 10g (2 tbs) Unsweetened Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup + 6 tbs Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 28g (1 tbs + 1 tsp) Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Stevia Extract


    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray two 9" cake pans with cooking spray (I also lined the bottom of the cake pans with parchment paper circles)
  2. Using a stand mixer and whisk attachment, whisk the pumpkin, sweetener, egg whites, oil, food coloring, stevia, butter extract and vanilla extract on medium-low speed.
  3. With mixer still running, gather the brown rice flour, oat flour, cocoa, apple pie spice, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  4. Add the vinegar to the stand mixer bowl, once incorporated, slowly scoop in the dry ingredients.
  5. Add the almond milk and whip on high for about 15 seconds, or until batter is even.
  6. Pour/scoop batter into prepared cake pans, tap pans on the counter to level the batter and bake for ~40 minutes, or until surface springs back when touched. Flip cakes onto wire cooling racks and let cool completely before frosting. Feel free to level the cakes.
  7. For the Frosting:
  8. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the protein powder and cocoa.
  9. In a small bowl, stir together the almond milk, syrup and stevia.
  10. Add the wet to the dry and stir together, then frost!


If you want a stronger chocolate flavor for the frosting, use chocolate-flavored stevia or simply grate chocolate over each slice!

If you want a less dense cake, reduce the pumpkin by one cup and increase the almond milk by one cup.

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

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I sliced the cake into 10 slices, but I would recommend slicing it into 12 or even 16.  Because this cake is high in fiber and protein, it is incredibly filling.  You see that giant slice of cake below?  I would say that has the same fullness factor as two giant bowls of oatmeal!

Healthy Orange Velvet Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll perfect that Red Velvet soon enough  🙂

EDIT:  I perfected the Red Velvet!

19 comments on “Healthy Pumpkin Orange Velvet Cake with Chocolate Frosting

  1. what a great colour! love it! I`ve never seen orange velvet cake before, but yours looks divine 🙂

  2. Love this, the apples and cinnamon sticks make great props too, lovely photos!

  3. Protein frosting?! So that means I can eat it with a spoon and it’s okay, right? 😀 I totally think this was worth the year and a half of perfecting!

  4. Um, yum! That might be my new breakfast 😀

  5. This looks yummy! But in terms of the red velvet cake dilemma, couldn’t you base one off beets? That red is very potent, as I’m sure you know!

    • Good idea! I’ve actually tried using beets, but it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. Maybe because I used canned beets (I’m kinda scared of fresh beets…), so the cake turned brown. However, it was soooo good!
      I think I need to do some MORE research (ugh) on how the batter should be and then I will be on my next trial. Fun fun fun 😉

  6. The texture of this cake looks absolutely incredible! So dense and chewy, just the way I like ’em. Have to give that one a try!

    Funny, I wanted to start working on a red velvet cake myself. After reading your post, I’m not quite sure I want to go ahead with that project… And I just made a Beet / Chocolate Cake and it turned out really dark, rich chocolate brown, without so much as a hint of red. So I’m guessing beets wouldn’t work. Need to think of something else!

    • Yup, this cake is definitely the dense type! No “light and fluffy” cupcake texture here 😉

      I wish the typical red food coloring wasn’t artificial and didn’t cause health problems, otherwise I would have been done with this recipe already! 🙁

      And that Beet & Chocolate cake sounds awesome (especially the chocolate part). I used to hate beets but now I’m starting to like them… can’t wait until you post the recipe!

  7. Wow! This looks amazing! You always make everything look so delicious! 🙂

  8. Is it possible to substitution the almond milk? I have an allergy to nuts and wanted to know if this recipe can carry milk or skim milk instead of almond milk?

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  10. Can I substitute plain sugar for the 1 cup sugar?
    I am at high altitude. Any suggestions?

    • Sue-
      Yup, any granulated sweetener will work in this recipe so you can use sugar (preferably organic or fair-trade though).
      Honestly, I have never had a stroke of luck with converting sea-level recipes to high-altitude recipes. In my experience though, recipes that are really moist at sea-level tend to be dryer at high-altitude. I am actually at a high altitude right now and made another blogger’s cake last week that was as dry as cardboard 🙁 This cake is pretty moist so you might be able to pull it off without getting a dry cake.
      If you do try this cake and it ends up dry, you can always fix it by docking the surface of the cake with a fork and pouring on so pure maple syrup. If the cake ends up too dense, you can always fix it by making cake pops or making a pumpkin cake milkshake. I have PLENTY of solutions to cake fails, but I am crossing my fingers that this recipe works for you!!

  11. wendy olmstead

    Sorry to sound dance but I have a question about the egg whites is it 1 egg white plus one half cup egg white … OR is it. 1 1/2 cups egg whites? Seemed Luke a lot so wanted to ask.
    Also, what is Stevie extract? Is it a liquid?
    Butter extract?
    Can i substitute Stevie granules and butter?
    Thank you!!

    • Wendy-
      Sorry for the confusion! It’s 1.5 cups of egg whites 🙂
      (I just found out the other day how to type 1½ on the computer… I’m so slow with technology sometimes, haha)
      Stevia extract is liquid, kind of like vanilla extract. It’s an all-natural sweetener that replaces sugar. 1 tsp of stevia extract has the sweetness of 1 tsp of sugar. And it’s important to measure, because using too much will make things taste bitter.
      Butter extract is a flavoring, just like vanilla extract. I now use this brand:
      It’s all-natural, gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan — it doesn’t contain any dairy 🙂
      There are a lot of granulated stevias out there so I’m not sure if the one you’re using can replace the 1 cup of granulated sweetener called for in the recipe. Stevia in the Raw won’t work, though Jay Robb’s stevia powder or Stevita might work, but I haven’t tried it.
      You can replace the grapeseed oil with butter (preferably and organic/grass-fed butter!) 🙂
      Hope the substitutions work out for you, and I hope you like the cake!!

  12. Hi, I’m loving your recipes and I feel like I want to try them all! And I think this cake will be the first one.
    Do you think it would work if I substitute the egg whites for hydrated ground flax/chia seeds?

    • Larissa-
      I’m afraid flax and/or chia eggs won’t work in this recipe. The cake is very moist and just slightly dense (in a good way), and when you omit the egg whites the cake will bake without any lift or fluffiness. I’ve tried using flax/chia eggs in place of egg whites and it just doesn’t work… sadly 🙁

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