Healthy Vanilla Coconut Cake (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free) + A Tribute to My Beautiful Mom


This is the story of a very special cake. 


 A cake meticulously tested and frosted with care for the woman who encouraged my creative endeavors from day one. From the moment I could hold a paintbrush to the instant I started my blog back in 2008, she told me that I was talented and more importantly, that if I tried my best, that was enough. Without her support, I might never have grown confident enough to share my recipes and photos with the world.


This cake is a token of my appreciation for the woman who lifted me up with her boundless love, generosity, and unshakeable belief in my abilities. In college, I went through a trying period of personal growth and transformation. Without Mom to talk me through it, it would have been far more difficult to see the light rays peeking through the storm cloud.


This cake is the tastiest sort of thank you note, fit for the woman who taught me that contentment is attained through hard work, loving yourself and others, and finding joy in the small things. Whether it was an impromptu car sing-a-long or bouquet of fresh flowers added to the grocery cart (flowers needed no occasion), my happiest memories don’t stem from exotic trips or lavish gifts, but the mundane moments of daily existence transformed into magical ones. 

Mom loves tea, so I served the cake with this rosy-hued hibiscus tea that complimented the delicate coconut flavor well with its fruitiness. It’s Starbucks Tazo tea in the Passion flavor, and it’s delicious even without sweetener. You find this tea at your local grocery store, or online at the affiliate link above.


Thankfully, the cake worth so many words has a much shorter ingredients list! The batter is a mixture of coconut and almond flour–no fancy gums or exotic flours–along with eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, and sea salt. I added a little gelatin powder (my new favorite gluten-free cake additive) to make the cake a bit more moist, since removing the sugar called for in the original recipe dries out the batter. I also played around with the preparation method. Out of the two mixing methods I tried, grinding the dry ingredients together in the food processor and beating the egg whites separately created the most tender crumb. Following my instructions exactly should yield a perfectly fluffy yet substantial cake with an even texture. If you’d like to substitute ingredients, feel free to experiment and share your results with us in the comments.

I think this cake is a winner. Predictably, Mom does, too. :) 

Coconut Cake (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Low Carb)

Serves 12
This rich yellow can easily be transformed into a coconut cake worthy of a Southern cookout! Simply fill the layers with my sugar-free sour cream filling and top with my vanilla mascarpone frosting.

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Total Time
1 hr

Total Time
1 hr

  1. 1/2 cup melted unsalted organic butter
  2. 2 1/4 cup (235g, 8.4 oz) blanched almond flour, gently packed and leveled
  3. 1/2 cup (64g, 2.2 oz) coconut flour
  4. 3/4 cup homemade stevia blend (140g, 5 oz) OR Truvia
  5. 4 teaspoons baking powder
  6. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  7. 6 eggs
  8. 1/2 cup canned coconut milk (“light” coconut milk is recommended)
  9. 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  10. 1 teaspoon gelatin
  11. 2-3 cups unsweetened dried coconut
  1. 1 batch Vanilla Mascarpone, recipe here at my Busy Day Cake post
  1. 1 cup sour cream (you can use 1/2 Greek yogurt, 1/2 sour cream, if desired)
  2. 1/4 cup coconut milk
  3. 1/2 cup unsweetened, dried coconut
  1. Prepare 2-8 inch cake pans. Trace a circle of parchment using the bottom of the pan, cut it out, and place it in the pan. Lightly spray around inside of pan with coconut oil cooking spray, or grease it with your finger tips
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 degrees Celsius).
  3. In a glass measuring cup or pan, heat butter in microwave or over stove top until melted. Set aside.
  4. To bowl of food processor, add dry ingredients (almond flour, coconut flour, sweetener, baking powder, sea salt) and pulse for 1 minute, or until ingredients start to clump together.
  5. Separate egg whites into a clean bowl while adding the yolks to the food processor. Set aside whites.
  6. Pulse in melted butter, coconut milk, and vanilla in food processor until batter is uniform with no streaks of flour, scraping down sides once.. This could take 20-30 pulses.
  7. Using a mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  8. Add batter from food processor to egg whites. Beat together just until white streaks are gone.
  9. Scrape batter into prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. If making cupcakes, bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into the top of cupcake comes out clean.
  10. When pans are cool enough to handle, run a knife around the edges of cakes and invert them onto cooling racks.
  11. Cool for 1 hour before frosting and serving.
For Filling
  1. Powder sweetener in a Magic Bullet or food processor to grind it to a fine consistency.
  2. Whisk together sour cream (or Greek yogurt), coconut milk.
  3. Whisk in sweetener for 1 minute until it is dissolved.
  4. Spread filling between cake layers.
For Decoration
  1. Frost top and sides of cake.
  2. Press coconut flakes into sides and sprinkle over the top to coat cake.
Adapted from Make It Paleo 2
Adapted from Make It Paleo 2
Healthy Indulgences

The above recipe was adapted from a beautiful new cookbook called Make It Paleo 2. Bill and Hayley’s gorgeous food styling caught my eye while perusing recipe round-ups (I’m a sucker for eye candy), and I wanted to see more of their work. Their paleo “Wedding Cake” was easily adapted to be low carb and diabetic-friendly, and I see plenty of other recipes with the potential to fit into a keto eating plan. I don’t eat paleo, but can appreciate the attention that the movement has brought to ingredients like almond and coconut flours. 

I hope that this cake will inspire to express your appreciation for a loved one with a healthier treat.


10 Comments on Healthy Vanilla Coconut Cake (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free) + A Tribute to My Beautiful Mom

  1. Pam
    May 13, 2015 at 10:46 am (7 months ago)

    Wow! I want to eat this right now! I have never enjoyed baking, but have always enjoyed eating! I will definitely give this a try! If I use Swerve instead of Truvia, do I still use 3/4ths a cup? Thanks for posting this beautiful cake!

    • Lauren B.
      May 13, 2015 at 8:37 pm (7 months ago)

      Haha, I like what you said about enjoying eating! That’s why I bake so much. 😉 If you use Swerve, you might need to add a little stevia extract. I’d start add the amount listed in the recipe (works out to be 1 1/2 teaspoons pure stevia powder) if you’re using the Trader Joe’s brand. You could always start with a little less stevia (1 tsp?) and taste the batter to see if it’s sweet enough before baking it. Hope that helps!

  2. Dita MacDonald
    May 15, 2015 at 5:29 am (7 months ago)

    Do you have the nutrition values, specifically the carb and fiber counts for the Beautiful Cake?? Thanks for all your hard work.

    • Lauren B.
      May 19, 2015 at 9:23 am (6 months ago)

      Sure, Dita! Here you go–

      Per 1/14 of a cake (makes a 2 layered cake as the recipe is written), no frosting–
      455 Calories; 42g Fat; 10g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 109mg Cholesterol; 326mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

      Per 1/14 batch of frosting–
      Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 172 Calories; 18g Fat (93.2% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; 0g Dietary Fiber; 62mg Cholesterol; 20mg Sodium.

      There’s usually frosting and filling left over, so take that into account if you are counting calories. I even used fat free greek yogurt in place of the sour cream because I was out of sour cream, and it came out well. You could get away with making 1/2 batch. It’s a very rich cake! If you can eat some oats, my Busy Day Cake is very good in this coconut cake, and is a bit lighter–

      Hope that helps, Dita!

  3. Brenda
    May 20, 2015 at 5:49 pm (6 months ago)

    Lauren, what a beautiful, beautiful tribute to your Mom! Congratulations to you and your family getting to your milestone of college graduation with all the growth it required along the way. (and the cake looks beautiful too!)

    • Lauren B.
      May 25, 2015 at 10:12 pm (6 months ago)

      Brenda, thanks for the kind words! Nice to see you commenting. :) Mom enjoyed the post, too. She teared up a bit!

  4. song
    June 7, 2015 at 8:05 am (6 months ago)

    hello, this looks brilliant, what do I do with the gelatin? I don’t see where this is added

    • Wendy
      August 25, 2015 at 5:26 pm (3 months ago)

      I need direction on when to add the gelatin and how much sweetener should be in the filling. My filling was soupy. Would the amount of sweetener take care of that?

      I made the crunchy chocolate bars and they are fabulous. I’m addicted. I have a lot of erythitol now. can you tell me how to substitute that for the stevia in the cake? Stevia tastes bitter to me and I don’t like using it.

  5. Lala
    June 13, 2015 at 2:22 pm (6 months ago)

    hey how much sweetener should be in the filling? i don’t see it on the recipes

  6. Whitney
    August 21, 2015 at 2:20 am (3 months ago)

    This cake, like everything else you make, looks delicious! And as a mother I’m touched that you made it for her.

    I was reading back through the blog, and excited to see that you were going to release some new pamphlets of recipes. Did that ever happen?

    Good luck at med school and in all your endeavors!

    -A True Fan


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