Healthy Vanilla Bean Cake – Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Grain-Free

I’ve made this delicious, easy and healthy cake 7 times in the past 25 days! Besides YUM, all I have to say  is thank you  Kelly Brozyna of The Spunky Coconut for the recipe!

I always feel like a Smokin’ Hot Mom when I put a cake on the table that  I know is healthy and that everyone loves!

This cake has a lovely moist texture, is so easy to make, and is totally versatile. You can see from my pics that you can dress it up or down.

I’ve had such fun serving this cake to guests. After they Ooh and Aah and ask for seconds, I pop the question: “There’s an unusual, secret ingredient in this cake, what do you think it is?” Besides my fabulous food-y cousin Sharon, no-one has guessed.

The secret ingredient is….white beans! There are 2 cups of white beans in this cake, and you would never know it. They give the cake a wonderful texture, as well as adding a ton of fiber and protein.

The reactions to the secret ingredient are priceless.

  • “That’s crazy, it’s so good, that’s really crazy!” – my 21 year old niece.
  • “Whoa, that’s freaky” – an 11 year old boy at my son’s birthday party
  • Speechless and huge wide eyes – a 12 year old girl at my sons birthday (who enjoyed seconds). I later found out she had never tasted beans before.
  • “Seriously?” – a grownup
  • “Can you make another one?” – my husband
Before I get to the recipe, let me give you a visual tour of our 25 days of cakes!
We started with my son’s 12th birthday. It was a big hit so….
I made it again for the birthday party he had with his friends. This was supposed to look like a pottery bowl filled with fruit (to go with the theme of the party – they were working with clay at the party). It ended up looking like a yummy cake with fruit. Oh well, I’m a health coach not a pastry chef.
I made it again for my father-in-law’s 82nd birthday.
Then I followed Kelly’s coffee cake variation in her fun recipe book. So tasty, and a good excuse to have cake on a non-birthday.
Then I dumped frozen blueberries (which I picked last summer) and raspberries on top of the batter. But, my husband missed the nutty coffee cake topping so…
I made it with both the coffee cake crumble and the fruit.
Wow! That’s a lot of cake! I think we may be done for a while. I’ll keep you posted.
Here’s Kelly’s recipe with my comments added in italics.

Vanilla Bean Cake:

Add to food processor:
  • 2 cups cooked white beans, room temperature, so they don’t cook the eggs or congeal the coconut oil (either canned or soaked and cooked at home)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp Vanilla liquid Stevia I’ve never liked using Stevia because it left an icky aftertaste in my mouth. But after reading Kelly’s blog for a year, I was persuaded to try it and it’s delicious and undetectable in this recipe. Stevia is a low-glycemic natural sweetener made from the Stevia plant.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup honey
Puree well.
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, liquified
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder 
Puree well.
  • Pour into springform pan (I used a regular pan and it worked out fine) lined with unbleached parchment paper on the bottom, and greased all around.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. Check to see if it’s done by inserting a knife into the middle. If it’s comes out mostly clean, it’s done. (It’s always taken more like 40 – 50 minutes in my oven)
Here’s a word about frosting. I’ve experimented with several different frostings for these cakes. They were lovely, but not quite dependable enough to blog about yet.
A simple coconut milk frosting is perfect with this cake, when topped with a mound of fruit.

Coconut Milk Frosting:

healthy strawberry shortcake

  • 2 cans of coconut milk (I like Native Forest because it’s BPA free)
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 5 drops of vanilla Stevia
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
How to:
  • Refrigerate the coconut milk cans anywhere from 2 hours to overnight.
  • Scoop the solid-thick coconut milk out of the can (put the liquid in a jar and add it to a smoothie)
  • Whip the thick coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla stevia and vanilla extract together until smooth.
  • Refrigerate for 2 or more hours.
  • Spread on cake and top with heaps of fruit!
Update 2011: I made the gluten-free cake more and more and made it into lemon poppyseed cake! Check it out here.


Nina Manolson, MA, CHC, certified Health Coach and Psychology of Eating Coach believes that every women deserves to feel good in their own body. She helps women create a healthy and positive relationship with their food and body so they can love their body and life!  She’s the founder of and 

She helps busy women look and feel their best, and helps them feed their kids well in a world that doesn’t.

She’s the author of “Feed Your Kids Well In A World That Doesn’t: an everyday guide to make healthy food happen in your home and beyond”. She’s also the recipient of the prestigious Health Leadership Award from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

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18 thoughts on “Healthy Vanilla Bean Cake – Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Grain-Free

  1. Sharon Abra Hanen

    I loved this cake & love all its versatility (and I also love that I was the only one who guessed the secret ingredient!)

    May have to make it when I get home – something sweet & bakery-ish after “Paris sans patiseries”.

    Thanks for the celebratory cake reminder!

    love and vanilla-scented wonders,


    Nina, can you help me find a way to replace eggs as we are vegans at home? but definetely would love to try it vegan-version!

    1. wellfedpoet

      Hi Ana,

      I haven’t tried this recipe vegan yet (and Nina may have other great suggestions), but when I do vegan baking, I usually use “flax eggs”, a spoonful of ground flax seed mixed with an egg-sized amount of water (let stand til sticky, then mix into recipe as you would a beaten egg). Sometimes it helps to add a pinch of extra leavening. It doesn’t usually change the taste much, though I might try it first with the coffee cake version where a touch of more density and nutty flavor undertones would be appreciated more than with a super-fluffy vanilla birthday party version.

      Looking forward to hearing how it works for you!


  3. Pingback: Healthy Lemon or Lemon Poppyseed Cake – Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Dairy-free « Nina Mmm's Blog

  4. leorat

    Made this cake today. I substituted agave and coconut sugar for the honey. Added a bit of almond extract. Drizzled the top with walnuts and choc sauce made with agave. Yum! My teenage son even liked it and he knew it was made with beans!

  5. Pingback: Pomegranate Coconut Parfait | Smokin Hot Mom

  6. Teresa Barker

    This cake says it is dairy free… why are there 6 eggs in it? My soon to be daughter-in-law is allergic to eggs… which is a dairy product???

    1. Michelle

      Something that is dairy would be milk or anything of a milk by-product. Yes, eggs are found in the dairy section of the grocery store but that is only because it needs to be in a refrigerator. Orange juice is also in that cooler – which is also not dairy. BTW, did you know Mayo is also dairy free? Yup, eggs and oil. No dairy.

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  8. Erin

    Any ideas on baking time for cupcakes? Also, could the stevia be replaced with agave nectar?

    I’m going to try this for my son’s 1st bday smash cake!

  9. Cheryl Groulx

    Hi, I really want to make this but would have to substitute the honey and the vanilla stevia. What would you suggest for substitutes?

    1. ninamanolson Post author

      Hi Cheryl, I’ve never tried the recipe with substitutes for the honey or vanilla stevia, but I imagine that maple syrup or coconut sugar would work. You might need to tweak the recipe so that it’s not too liquid or too dry.


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