vanilla cake + chocolate buttercream frosting

Grain-free birthday cake for a healthy celebration

Last weekend my favorite human turned twenty-three, and in celebratory spirit I baked him a cake. I’ve never really been one to bake, mostly because the need for precise measurements always took the fun out of it for me; but, I felt inspired to create something really special for Neel’s birthday. So, I found myself wandering around Whole Foods the day before looking for all the ingredients for a vanilla paleo cake and homemade chocolate buttercream frosting, and then in Sur La Table looking for cake pans. I got back to my apartment with two 8” cake pans and a bag full of cake ingredients when the overwhelming feeling hit — maybe I am in over my head.

Putzing around in the kitchen puts me at ease, and baking something memorable for Neel’s birthday felt like the best way for me to say i love you. Food and nourishment are definitely one of the ways I show affection. Vanilla cake with chocolate frosting is what I grew up with for birthday celebrations, so putting a healthy twist on this flavor profile felt intuitive. This was my first ever attempt at baking a cake from scratch, and for a paleo and refined sugar free alternative I’m pretty proud of myself for how it turned out. Gaining confidence with recipe creation has been a rewarding journey. Until lately I never felt like I understood food and ingredients enough to walk into the kitchen without a recipe in front of me to go off of. However, lately I’m finding that a little bit of research to understand the gist of ingredients is all the guidance I need. Trusting my instincts has proven solid so far when it comes to cooking and baking. Knock on wood.

Refined sugar free birthday cake

Back to the cake. This vanilla cake is paleo, nut-free, and refined sugar-free, and the chocolate buttercream frosting is made out of only two simple ingredients. Overall I’d say this recipe is fairly simple with little room for error — even for the beginner bakers like yours truly. I also like this recipe because I think it is relatively adaptable as far as incorporating other flavors go. I went against my plant-based inclination and opted for a buttercream frosting because I recently learned about the numerous health benefits of grass-fed butter. I’m working on a post all about the benefits of properly sourced butter, so stay tuned for that. I’ll also definitely be making more adaptations of this cake in the near future, and plan on playing around with some dairy-free alternatives as well. Until then, here is the recipe for this one!

Holistic and healthy birthday cake

Prep time: 25 minutes || Cook Time: 25 minutes || Yield: One 8” double layer cake

cake ingredients:

3/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

9 pastured eggs

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup unfiltered raw honey

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt

Ghee or coconut oil

frosting ingredients:

6 oz. 70% fair trade chocolate chips

1/2 cup salted butter


Preheat your oven to 350. In a high speed blender or food processor, pulse the Celtic sea salt, coconut flour, and baking soda. Then add the eggs, butter, honey, and vanilla extract and blend until the batter is smooth. This batter is quite runny, so don’t be alarmed by that. Grease your cake pans with oil (I used Fourth and Heart vanilla bean ghee), and add 2 cups of batter to each pan. I used 8” cake pans, though you could use a smaller diameter and increase the cook time for a taller cake. Put the cakes in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes.

While the cakes cook, melt the salted butter and chocolate chips on a low heat in a small pot. Be sure to stir constantly to avoid burning. Once melted, stick in the freezer for 5 minutes, and then transfer to fridge until the cakes are cooled and ready to be frosted.

Frost each cake generously and then stack one on top of the other. Decorate the cake as you wish!