Birthday Vanilla Bean Cake with Chocolate Frosting

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! So many August birthday’s this month! I much rather prefer celebrating other people’s birthday, and it’s pretty awesome that my special peoples’ are around this time. There are lots to do in summer months for birthday parties! Sailing, camping, patio bars, beaches, baseball, picnics, pool parties… I appreciate those birthdays! I wondered if parents planned August birthdays for their kids so they can have birthday pool parties. I imagine if you present kids with a delicious cake and a pool they’ll be extremely happy. Maybe? I have a lot to learn.

Paleo Birthday Vanilla Bean Cake

I know I would be happy with a piece of cake sitting by the pool. To me a fluffy moist vanilla yellow cake with fudgy frosting is the classic birthday cake. It seems to be a challenge with grain free cakes but there are tricks to get that poof, but I really pushed the “fluffy factor” with this one. It’s my favorite so far!

You may have noticed by now that I prefer to bake with blends of starches and coconut flour. I’ve done a few with tapioca starch, which is an excellent ingredient for Paleo baking. This one I used arrowroot starch instead of tapioca. They usually are interchangeable with blowing up your cake, but they do have different properties. Tapioca gives some binding and spring and arrowroot gives a major fluff but doesn’t bind as well. However, this cake also has raw honey which provides some binding structure. I used a blend of raw honey and coconut sugar for a balance of sweetness and lift.  Pairing some sticky honey with arrowroot will give a fluffy cake that won’t fall apart too much. Then again, if it tastes amazing, who cares if a crumb falls off the slice? :)

Paleo Birthday Vanilla Bean Cake

Kinda looks like Superman when I have red and blue props next to the yellow cake, doesn’t it? Well, it IS a super cake, so it’s fitting! I also did some mechanical leavening tricks to get as much fluff as I possibly could. I whipped the honey and sugar into the fat on high speed. I also added the dry ingredients in two stages with all the liquids (including yolks) in between. I also separated the egg whites from the yolk, beat the whites into a meringue, and folded it into the batter as the final mixing step. I used the whisk attachment the entire time and flicked the switch all the way to high. Super speed whipping!

Paleo Birthday Vanilla Bean Cake

The cake is best with chocolate fudge frosting. Aren’t most things best with chocolate? The frosting can be sweetened with any type of syrup, such as maple, honey, or combinations. Powdered sugar has some cornstarch which provides the same structural hold in traditional frosting, so I chose to add the arrowroot to provide that same hold. I’m essentially mimicking the powdered sugar and cream in traditional frosting with arrowroot starch and syrup for a grain free and refined sugar free version.

Paleo Birthday Vanilla Bean Cake

Although the cake may be made with coconut oil in place of butter, I usually discourage coconut oil for frosting for the sole fact that it is unstable in warm rooms. I like my cakes at room temperature and my frosting to stay in place. Butter or palm shortening based frosting behaves well and are just easy to manipulate, especially during warmer months. Frosting the entire cake requires some cooling steps, but it’s easy to do:

And that’s it! Chocolaty, sweet, and fluffy cake! Hope you enjoy this birthday classic!

Paleo Birthday Vanilla Bean Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Paleo Vanilla Bean Yellow Birthday Cake Makes two 6x2" Cakes or one 8" cake.
Recipe type: Cake
Serves: 6
For the Cake
  • ½ cup (80g) of Coconut Flour
  • ½ cup (64g) of Arrowroot Flour
  • ½ cup (112g) of Pastured Butter (or Coconut Oil), soft
  • ¼ cup (50g) of Coconut Sugar
  • ¼ cup (84g) of Raw Honey
  • ½ cup of Almond Milk (or Light Coconut Milk)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Vanilla Bean
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar
  • ½ teaspoon of Salt
  • ½ teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • Extra greasing butter/oil
For the Frosting
  • ½ cup of Pastured Butter or Palm Shortening
  • 1 cup of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ¼ cup of Arrowroot Flour
  • ¾ cup of Syrup (either maple or liquid honey or mixtures)
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line the bottom of two 6"x2" round pans with parchment and grease the parchment surface and pan sides with butter/oil.
  3. Optionally pulse the coconut sugar in a food processor if the granules are large. Gently warm the raw honey so it's soft and nearly a liquid state.
  4. Separate the eggs into egg yolks and egg whites.
  5. Combine the egg whites with the cream of tartar and beat on high speed with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks form to form the meringue. Set aside, or place in the refrigerator while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Gently warm the almond milk (or coconut milk). Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and place in the warm milk. Let the beans seep into the milk and scrape if necessary. Remove the pod.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and egg yolks to the warm almond milk. Whisk until combined to make the liquid mixture.
  8. In the mixing bowl with a whisk attachment whip the soft butter (or coconut oil) until fluffy.
  9. Add the coconut sugar and honey to the butter/oil and whip on high speed for about 1 minute to make the butter mixture.
  10. Sift together the coconut flour, arrowroot flour, baking soda, and salt to make the dry flour mixture.
  11. Add half of the dry flour mixture to the butter mixture and whip until the flours absorb into the butter and becomes fluffy again. Scrape the sides with a spatula to incorporate.
  12. Add the whisked liquid ingredients and the rest of the dry flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on high speed with the whisk until combined and fluffy.
  13. Scoop in a heaping of the egg white meringue and hand mix into the batter. Gently fold in the rest of the meringue until combined.
  14. Portion the batter into each cake pan and bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
For the Frosting
  1. Whip the butter (or shortening) on high speed until fluffy.
  2. Sift together the cocoa powder and arrowroot flour and add to the fluffy butter.
  3. Continue to whip while intermittently adding the syrup.
  4. Adjust the syrup level to taste.


SBP Notes

  • Remember coconut sugar is equally interchangeable with granulated sugar or sucanat if you’re cool with that.
  • Powdered sugar and cream in traditional frosting is mimicked by syrup and arrowroot. The combination provides structural hold and fluff to the frosting.
  • The recipe makes two 6 inch cakes or one 9 inch cake. You may double the recipe and frosting for a layered 8 inch cake.
  • Using full fat coconut milk in place of the almond milk will make the cake heavy .”Light coconut milk” may be bought or easily made from a full fat can by diluting it with water.  Measure out 2 tablespoons of full fat coconut milk and add 6 tablespoons of water to get light coconut milk.
  • Honey can over brown cakes fairly easily, however this can be avoided by cooking longer at lower temperatures or by using baking strips.
  • The cake is tastiest at room temperature and may sit out for a few days. You can store it in the fridge, covered, for up to 4-5 days.


Paleo Birthday Vanilla Bean Cake 144E_550x2


  1. says

    Beautiful post and paleo birthday cake recipe, girl! Whipping those whites is always a good method for more spring in cakes–paleo, gluten-free or traditional. Playing around with starches and their ratios in the grain free flour blend is key to achieve desired textures. I, too, like to split the natural sweetening between coconut sugar and agave or honey (as with my paleo chocolate chip cookies) for a lower glycemic load. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Sharon says

      Thank you, dearie! I feel a little bad when I add more ingredients for flour mixtures and sugar mixtures etc… but it’s worth it! 😉

  2. Farrell Topham says

    The vanilla bean gets taken out before you add the milk in right? Also where’s the best place to store the cake once it’s finished? Will the fridge make the butter frosting become too hard?

    • Sharon says

      Hi Farrell! The pod should be removed from the milk before adding the rest of the liquids. I added that into the instructions, thanks for catching that!

      The cake is best when it’s eaten at room temperature. It’s OK to sit out of the fridge but covered for a few days. But you can also seal it well and refrigerate it for 4-5ish days, then let it sit out on the counter for a few hours or so before serving. The frosting will be pretty solid at lower temperatures if you use raw honey, but won’t be as hard if you use all maple.

      Hope this helps 😀

  3. Rochelle says

    This looks really yummy. I’m looking for a paleo cake recipe for my daughters first birthday. I know once they are one it’s okay to give them honey, but do you think I could swap maple for the honey?
    Also I live at a high altitude. Any suggestions on how to keep the cake from falling? I haven’t figured out how to do this when using coconut/almond/tapioca flour.

  4. Alishia says

    I’m hoping you can get back to me quickly. I am using this to make a double layer 9″ round cake.
    Should I also double the frosting amount to cover?
    Thank you! Great recipe!

  5. Laura says

    I made this recipe last night to test it out for my son’s birthday this weekend. I must say WOW! This cake is awesome. I have tried about a dozen other “paleo yellow cake” recipes from other bloggers and have been really disappointed with them. They either use too much almond flour and end up really really dense or only use coconut flour and end up being really eggy. I LOVE the use of arrowroot flour in combination with coconut flour. I also LOVE the combinations of sweeteners. Sometimes when you use just honey it can be overpowering and I think the addition of coconut sugar PLUS the honey makes it taste just right. I also made these into cupcakes instead of a cake. This recipe ended up making about 12 cupcakes. So I will have to quadruple this for the party this weekend…(wish me luck) Thank you so much for creating this! Now I FINALLY have my go to birthday cake recipe!

    • Sharon says

      Hi Laura! Thank you so very much for your kind comments! They really brightened my day! :) So happy you liked them, and Happy Birthday to your little one!

  6. Jill says

    This sounds fantastic! My son has asked for a “white” cake for his birthday this weekend. Since he is turning four, I’m positive that he will get hung up on the color of the cake and not be pleased that this isn’t exactly white. (Preschoolers are awesome.) Do you think it would work if I left out the egg yolks and added more whites?

    • Sharon says

      Well, if you use coconut sugar it won’t give you a white cake. You’ll have to replace the coconut sugar with a white sugar for a white cake. As for the egg yolks, I haven’t tried replacing the yolks for whites. But two egg yolks are generally replaced by a large egg white. So I believe that would be 6 egg whites instead of the four whole eggs. Hope that works! :)

      • Jill says

        Oh yeah, I didn’t think about the coconut sugar making it brown-ish. Crap. Oh well. He’ll have to deal. :) Thanks for the tip on the egg whites. Can’t wait to try this tomorrow!

  7. Debi says

    I have a question about the frosting. My son has asked me to create a “bear” cake for his campout party this weekend. There are pictures on Pinterest, basically it’s a round cake with the frosting piped on in hundreds of little stripes to make fur. (Sounds like tons of fun to do…not.) Do you think this frosting will hold up to being piped into a shape like that? I really don’t want to make a great paleo cake only to have to go with a regular processed sugar frosting.

    • Sharon says

      Hi Debi, The frosting has the same consistency as conventional frosting (canned or homemade). I tuned the recipe to stay firm at room temperature, and at summer too! As long as you don’t replace the shortening with coconut oil, of course :)

  8. Carrie Taaca says

    I don’t have an electric whisk attachment to beat the egg whites with. Is it possible to do it by hand or to use just a regular blender attachment? Sorry for my ignorance, I don’t usually bake and have to fluff egg whites.

    • Sharon says

      Sure, you can use the blender attachment. That step is just to add extra volume to the cake. So if you don’t get it into a fluff it won’t necessarily be a bad thing. :)

      • Carrie Taaca says

        Thanks! And have you ever had a hard time getting the
        coconut flour ground finally in the food processor? I’m having a bit of trouble with it.

        • Sharon says

          Do you mean the coconut sugar? It doesn’t have to be very fine. The smaller the granules the easier it is to “cream” into the butter. The brand I buy has huge granules so I just prefer to give them a whirl in the food processor for about 30 seconds. :)

  9. says

    Do you think this cake is stable enough to stack several layers? I’m attempting a “minion” cake that is several layers high, and I would be over-the-moon if I could actually pull this off with a paleo cake to boot! I will be using fondent to decorate it and just want to make sure it will behave the same way as a traditional cake. Thanks!

    • Sharon says

      Hi Kristen! The cake will have the same spring and structure as a regular wheat cake. I do chill the cakes in the fridge for about 30 min before layering though, just to make things easier. :)

        • Sharon says

          I think arrowroot is way better for cakes than tapioca. It’s drier so it provides a better crumb and texture. I too have trouble finding arrowroot in grocery stores, but lots of brands are available on Amazon. I have a few items in my Amazon “Shop” (menu bar).

          Here is an affiliate link:

          However the difference isn’t too significant, so yes you can use tapioca starch in place of the arrowroot. Since arrow root is a bit drier you need to use 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of tapioca to replace.

  10. Ashley says

    Hi there! Can’t see how much coconut sugar you use. Can you please let me know what te measurement is? Thank you!!

  11. Roser says

    I TRIPLED the recipe to make a 3-layer cake, using 9″ round cake pans. I weighed my eggs (in the shell) because they were HUGE; turns out they were 2 eggs heavier than a regular dozen of large eggs, so I used 10 of my eggs. Glad I did because the cake was heavenly light yet plenty moist. I also whipped the egg white again after the sat while I did steps 6-12 because they had separated some. Getting a good meringue is key to a light cake. Triple batch of frosting was PLENTY (I used real maple syrup for the sweetener. Enough frosting to be thick on/in the cake and still a 1/2 cup or so leftover. It’s in my freezer waiting for that perfect day when chocolate frosting is just what I need!
    THANK YOU for this terrific recipe — it turnout perfectly and was the centerpiece of our birthday/christmas celebration for my sister. I decorated the cake with silver non-pareils and fresh flowers. Outstanding! Wish I could post a picture because you’d all love it! My sister said is was one of the best cakes she’s ever tasted. Happy Birthday!

  12. Maya says

    Made this as a practice run bday cake for my son’s 1st birthday. It is SOOOOOOOO good!! My husband was ambivalent about it, but says it’s delicious. Thanks for sharing!!

  13. Melissa says

    I made this cake for myself for my birthday yesterday. I haven’t had birthday cake in 3 years. This cake was delicious. This will be my go to recipe from now on for cupcakes or birthday cakes. Thank you so much for posting this. I couldn’t find whole vanilla beans so I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk. It worked out fine. The texture of this cake is slightly grainy, It sort of reminds me of the texture of carrot cake. I didn’t mind the texture at all. The cake is a little denser than its wheat alternative, but still moist and delicious. The frosting was spot on. I doubled the recipe to make two 8″ round cakes. When I doubled the frosting I ended up using 1 1/2 cups of liquid sweetener. So I used a combination of 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup light amber maple syrup, and 1/2 cup agave. The frosting was sweet, smooth and creamy. Delicious! I have gluten and refined sugar sensitivities. I did not get the usual headache or stomach upset after eating this. I should also mention I am a well seasoned cook but not so much a baker. The list of ingredients was a little intimidating at first. I just followed the directions exactly and it turned out better than I expected. Thank you for this recipe!

  14. Elese says

    This cake looks awesome ! I am going to make it today, but i have only vanilla extract and no vanilla bean. How much extra vanilla extract should i add? And do you think it would be okay if i used coconut butter (earth balance) instead of pastured butter?

    • Sharon says

      Awesome! You can use up to a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I don’t know about coconut butter from earth balance. A more reliable substitution for butter would be coconut oil :)

  15. Lydia Strand says

    It seems that many of these comments are coming from mom’s who are baking cakes for their child’s first birthday. This is also my plan and I can’t wait to eat it, it sounds scrumptious!! I did have one question though. Can I do this same recipe into cupcakes and just skip the layering part?

      • Sharon says

        Full fat is too heavy, so yes it will need to be light. You don’t need to buy a can of light coconut milk though, you can dilute the full fat milk. So use 1/4 cup of full fat coconut milk and 1/4 cup of water or coconut water. :)

  16. says

    Can I substitute the eggs with something else? Maybe flax or tapioca? The only thing is the meringue part. Can I skip that part or do you think it’s necessary for the cake to form properly?

  17. Melissa says

    Hi! I wanted to make this tomorrow for my brothers birthday and was wondering since I don’t have a mixer can i use a food processor instead? Also so if I use tapioca it will turn out okay? I’m not sure if what I have is arrowroot or tapioca cuz I accidently threw out the bag it came in and forgot to write what it was on the ziplock bag I put it then so now I’m unsure as to what’s in it :/ Thanks! I’m excited to make this! :)

    • Sharon says

      Well if you don’t whip the egg whites into a meringue, the cake won’t be as fluffy. But not a big deal :) Tapioca would be ok instead of arrowroot, too.

  18. kiley says

    If i wanted to make this with vanilla icing ,would i have to change anything in the recipe when removing the cocoa powder?

  19. kiley says

    thnk you so much :) is there anyway to make this into chocolate cake ?? sorry couldnt find one on your site. need to make 2 cakes to feed everyone haha

  20. kiley says

    Thank you so much.I used the cupcake recipe , doubled it and made an 8″ round cake. I whipped the egg whites seperate to try and make it as fluffy as possible. Turned out perfectly. No one would even know its grain and refined sugar free. Thank you so much for all the hard work you do and share all of recipes with the public. you are AMAZING!!

  21. Erin says

    I did a test run with this last week as I want to make it for my daughter’s birthday and it was amazing! The last two years have been failures in the paleo cake department, so I was so happy to have a success on my hands. I am looking forward to everyone finally having a piece of yummy cake! :-)

  22. Samantha says

    I have never left a comment about a recipe before no matter how good or bad it turned out. I just had to say that this is the best paleo cake or baked good recipe I have ever made. Did a test run of cupcakes for my sons upcoming birthday, and they turned out perfectly. My husband, who isn’t too thrilled that we eat paleo, said he loved them and liked them better than regular cupcakes. Thanks so much for a wonderful recipe. So glad I have something to make for my son’s party that won’t stand out to the other kids as being different.

  23. Hannah says

    Hi! I’m about to make this cake for my daughter’s 3rd birthday, but I need to make a sheet cake (because i’m turning it into a minion!), i’m worried about the amount, if i double it, do you think that will be too much?

  24. Amanda says

    Are there any good egg substitutes for this recipe? I cannot have eggs, but eggs seem to be so essential in cake-making! And I do miss my cakes…

  25. Chelsea says

    HOLY MOLY! This came out so beautifully! I have made many Paleo cakes that have been dry, dense, crumbly and a little funky tasting. This was biting into an amazing birthday cake. I followed everything to a “T” except added a little vanilla and salt to the frosting. Even the frosting was outrageous!! My kids had no idea that they were eating a Paleo dessert. THANK YOU so much for this recipe!!
    I do have one question…could I make this into a chocolate cake by adding cocoa to the batter or do you have any recommendations or advice on how I could do that?

    Many thanks again!

    • Sharon says

      Thank you so very much, Chelsea! It’s so nice to hear such glowing compliment! :) I’m glad you and your family enjoyed the cake! 😉

  26. Rebecca says

    Hi there :)

    This looks great! Thanks so much for your hard work developing such a fab recipe :) A quick question – we have raw cow’s milk, but no coconut milk. Would diluting this with water as you’ve done for full-fat coconut milk (to make it the light equivalent) be a similar consistency? We love the idea of the light, fluffy cake!

    Rebecca :)

  27. Juliet says

    This looks wonderful–I’m so excited to make it! I’m an advanced baker, but new to the Paleo world of baking! I can do some pretty elaborate decorating on my cakes, and I was wondering if this icing work well for piping decorations on the cake? I also don’t eat chocolate right now, so what would you suggest I use in place of the cocoa powder in the icing? Thanks!

  28. Aria says

    This is hands down the best paleo vanilla cake! You would never know it was gluten-free and dairy-free ( I made the dairy-free version). I had a problem with the chocolate frosting, but I think it was due to the cocoa I had on hand. I was short on time, so I couldn`t go and get another kind. Thus, I used another frosting which worked very well.
    I wanted to mention that your idea to mix flours and sugars is genius. This truly results in a cake that isn’t overpowered by coconut flavors or any other for that matter! Thank you for sharing this with us!

    • Sharon says

      That is so great to hear, Aria! Thank you so very much for the kind comments and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  29. says

    would it be okay to use ghee (purity farms) or brown butter ghee (tinstar foods) instead of butter? Also, would it be okay to use 8 egg yolks instead of 4 eggs?

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