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Refined Sugar Free Vanilla Cake

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This deliciously moist and fluffy refined sugar free vanilla cake recipe will be your new go-to! 9 simple ingredients come together easily to make the best vanilla flavoured cake you’ll ever have. Paired with a naturally sweetened vanilla buttercream frosting, this cake is perfect for parties, celebrations, weekend afternoon teas, or just anytime you need a good ol’ slice of cake.

a refined sugar free vanilla cake being served on an antique tray with a vase of white flowers and two plates in the background

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The best vanilla cake recipe naturally sweetened with coconut sugar

Your search for the best vanilla cake recipe is over, friend. Seriously, put down the binoculars and dust your hands because this is the only recipe you’ll ever need from here on out!

The texture of this cake is incredible. It has the perfect rise and is fluffy and soft, but the best part is that it’s also super moist! No one likes a dry, dense cake, and thanks to the rapeseed oil and the time we spend aerating the eggs and coconut sugar, this refined sugar free vanilla cake stays moist for days.

It’s also a very easy cake to make – the batter only requires 9 pantry staple ingredients – and is sweetened naturally with coconut sugar! I’ve paired this recipe with my favourite refined sugar free vanilla buttercream frosting as well to enhance the flavour of the vanilla even more.

What’s the difference between white cake and vanilla cake?

The main difference between a white cake and a vanilla cake has to do with colour. A white cake is generally made with egg whites and oil to give it its pristine colour. A vanilla cake, on the other hand, can be made with butter, whole eggs (with yolks), and flavourings (such as vanilla/almond extract), which can all tint the batter a yellow hue.

a slice of sugar free vanilla cake being lifted out of the full cake by a cake slice.

Main ingredients in refined sugar free vanilla cake

Five main ingredients are needed to make this refined sugar free vanilla cake the absolute best. The great part is that you likely already have them to hand, especially if you do a lot of naturally sweet baking:

  • Plain flour: I use regular all-purpose flour for this vanilla cake recipe and find it works beautifully to provide a light and fluffy crumb.
  • Coconut sugar: To sweeten the cake naturally, coconut sugar is required. I tried this recipe with various liquid sweeteners first to avoid tinting the sponge too much, but none of them worked as well texturally as a solid sweetener. So we’re sacrificing colour for flavour and texture – seemed like the right choice!
  • Rapeseed oil: What keeps this cake extra moist and light is using oil instead of butter. Butter weighed the cake down too much and created a dense sponge.
  • Eggs: In a cake, the eggs provide the main structure as well as lend the cake moisture and richness. We’re using 3 large eggs for this easy vanilla cake recipe.
  • Vanilla extract: Can’t have a vanilla flavoured cake without the key ingredient! Be sure to use pure vanilla extract, not essence, for the best flavour.

Other Ingredients

Aside from the above ingredients, we’ll also need a few extra things to make this vanilla cake recipe:

  • Baking powder
  • Sea salt
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Milk
two slices of refined sugar free vanilla cake on plates next to the full cake with pieces missing.

How to make this refined sugar free vanilla cake recipe

This refined sugar free vanilla cake is an incredibly easy cake to make. Prepping the batter shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes and it bakes up in around the same time. The hardest part is waiting for the layers to cool so you can frost! Here’s how to make it:

  1. Preheat the oven and grease, line, and lightly flour three round baking tins.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the coconut sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on a medium speed until airy and slightly paler. Add in the yoghurt and mix well.
  4. On a low speed, and add the dry ingredients and milk to the bowl in 5 alternating parts. Mix between each addition until loosely incorporated. Once everything is in the bowl, mix just until the batter is smooth.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared baking tins and bake for 21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cakes to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely before assembling and frosting with vanilla buttercream.

Full details are in the recipe card at the end of this post.

three plates of the best vanilla cake recipe on a marble table with two glasses of milk between them

What makes a cake light and fluffy?

There are a few different components that go into making a cake light and fluffy. Some concern the ingredients you use and others rely on different preparation methods. Here are a few things that can make or break a fluffy cake:

Oven temperature

Before you even start prepping the batter, make sure your oven is set to preheat to the right temperature. If you forget this step, your cake batter might be sitting out too long and the raising agents will start to work before it’s in the oven. This can cause tunneling or flat, dense cakes.

To ensure your oven is at the correct temperature, I recommend using an oven thermometer as internal oven thermometers are rarely accurate.

Ingredient temperature

For all the ingredients to emulsify into one batter, it’s best that they’re all at the same temperature. If your eggs or butter are added at different temperatures, this can cause curdling or splitting, which can affect the overall rise and crumb of the cake.

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Oil versus butter

Ah, the age old dilemma. You can achieve a moist and fluffy crumb using both, but I find cakes, like this refined sugar free vanilla cake, tend to be fluffier when I use oil. It’s lighter than butter, which can help create a fluffier cake.

The creaming method

The creaming method (beating butter and sugar together) traps tiny air bubbles within the batter which helps the cake to rise in the oven. If this isn’t done correctly or for long enough, the batter might not have enough air inside it to rise properly, resulting in a dense cake.

Aerating your eggs

Similar to the creaming method, making sure you spend time beating air into your batter once you add the eggs is crucial. For this refined sugar free vanilla cake recipe, I recommend beating the wet ingredients together until aerated and pale before adding the rest of the ingredients. This will ensure a fluffier cake.

a slice of refined sugar free vanilla cake on a white plate with a fork taking a piece out of the corner

Overworking the batter

Once you add the flour to the batter, don’t go crazy with the mixing. This can break down the air bubbles you’ve painstakingly created and develop the gluten in the flour, which will result in a tough cake. It’s best to mix the dry ingredients in slowly, in a few parts, and only mix until the batter is smooth.

Underbaking the cake

Not baking a cake long enough can result in a flat, dense cake. To avoid this, bake the cake until it’s risen and set (about two-thirds of the baking time) and then start testing it with a toothpick or skewer. If the toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs, it’s done. If there is batter stuck to it, keep baking it for 2-3 minutes at a time until done. And ALWAYS let cake layers cool completely – they keep cooking as they cool.

How to store refined sugar free vanilla cake

Frosted vanilla cakes will generally last about 48 hours at room temperature if kept in a sealed, airtight container.

To refrigerate: Place the refined sugar free vanilla cake in an airtight container and keep it on the bottom or middle shelf. It will last up to 4 days.

To freeze: Slice the cake into portions and wrap each piece in a layer of clingfilm. Stack the pieces gently in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature.

a refined sugar free vanilla cake being served on an antique tray with a vase of white flowers and two plates in the background

Vanilla Cake FAQ

Have a question about making refined sugar free vanilla cakes? Let’s get you some answers! If your question isn’t answered here, feel free to leave a comment below.

Is vanilla cake white or yellow?

Technically, vanilla cakes are a variety of yellow cake because they use egg yolks in the batter. However, a true yellow cake has more of a custardy flavour and will generally include more eggs (and yolks) to make it richer.

What ingredients make a cake moist?

Typically it’s the fat and liquid components that give a cake it’s moisture. For example, butter, oil, milk, yoghurt or sour cream, and eggs all contribute to making a cake more moist.

What frosting should I use for refined sugar free vanilla cake?

For this refined sugar free vanilla cake, I love using a vanilla buttercream frosting. However, the beauty of a vanilla cake is that it’s basically a blank canvas. You can go crazy and pair it with dozens of different frosting flavours. Here are just a few of my favourites:

a slice of sugar free vanilla cake being lifted out of the full cake by a cake slice.

What filling should I use for vanilla cake?

A vanilla cake pairs well with any kind of filling. My personal favourites are lemon curd or fresh raspberries, because I love the sharp contrast against the sweetness of the frosting. These are also excellent vanilla cake fillers:

Why is my refined sugar free vanilla cake dry?

Dry cakes tend to occur when there’s too much flour in a cake. The balance between wet and dry ingredients is key, so always follow the recipe directions and use the ingredients and measurements called for.

Another reason your vanilla cake could be dry is because it was overbaked. Overbaking really dries cakes out and can only take 30 seconds. I would recommend checking the cake 2-3 minutes before the suggested bake time because your oven could run hot.

FIX IT: If your cake is really dry and you can’t bake another one, you can always brush your cooled cake layers with some simple syrup to add moisture.

This deliciously moist and fluffy refined sugar free vanilla cake recipe will be your new go-to! 9 simple ingredients come together easily to make the best vanilla flavoured cake you’ll ever have. Paired with a naturally sweetened vanilla buttercream frosting, this cake is perfect for parties, celebrations, and weekend afternoon teas!

Tips for making this refined sugar free vanilla cake recipe perfectly

  • Whip up your wet ingredients well. Adding extra air into your eggs at this stage will produce a fluffier crumb, so make sure to beat these together for at least 2-3 minutes. The batter should be foamy and slightly paler.
  • Don’t have yoghurt? Sour cream will also work!
  • Mix your dry ingredients on a low speed. This will help ensure you don’t overwork the flour and end up with a dense, tough cake.
  • If possible, bake all the cake layers at the same time on the middle rack of the oven. This will ensure they all bake evenly.

More easy refined sugar free cakes

Natural Red Velvet Cake
Lemon Courgette Loaf Cake
Black Forest Cake
Coffee Layer Cake
Chocolate Sheet Cake
Mandarin Orange Cake
Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Loaf Cake
Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cake
Apricot Upside Down Cake
Carrot Cake
Apple Chai Cake
White Chocolate Raspberry Ripple Cake

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If you make this recipe, let me know by snapping a picture and tagging me on Instagram @naturallysweet_kitchen. I love seeing your creations and sharing them in my Stories. Or let me know you love this refined sugar free vanilla cake recipe by leaving a comment and rating below!

Best Refined Sugar Free Vanilla Cake Recipe

This deliciously moist and fluffy refined sugar free vanilla cake recipe will be your new go-to! 9 simple ingredients come together easily to make the best vanilla flavoured cake you’ll ever have. Paired with a naturally sweetened vanilla buttercream frosting, this cake is perfect for parties, celebrations, weekend afternoon teas, or just anytime you need a good ol’ slice of cake.

Category Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American, British, Canadian, French
Keyword best vanilla cake recipe, easy vanilla cake recipe, sugar free vanilla cake, vanilla cake, vanilla cake recipe uk
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Author Amanda | Naturally Sweet Kitchen

Ingredients

Vanilla cake:

  • 350 g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 325 g coconut sugar
  • 120 ml rapeseed oil
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½ tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 120 g Greek yoghurt, room temperature
  • 280 ml milk, room temperature

Vanilla buttercream:

  • 270 ml agave syrup
  • 300 ml milk
  • 55 g plain flour
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • 300 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Method

Vanilla cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease, line, and lightly flour three 20cm (8 inch) round baking tins.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in another large bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), combine the coconut sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on a medium speed until airy and slightly paler. Add in the yoghurt and mix well to combine.
  4. Turn the mixer down to a low speed and add the dry ingredients and milk to the bowl in 5 alternating parts, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix for 15 seconds between each addition or until loosely incorporated. Once everything is in the bowl, mix just until all the dry ingredients have disappeared and the batter is smooth.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared baking tins and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 21-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cakes to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely before assembling and decorating.

Vanilla buttercream:

  1. Make the pudding first by adding the agave syrup, milk, flour, and salt to a medium saucepan. Place the pan over a medium heat and whisk well to dissolve the flour. As the mixture heats up, keep whisking to prevent it sticking to the bottom.
  2. Once it starts to bubble, keep an eye on it and keep whisking. It will eventually begin to thicken. Once it reaches a thick pudding consistency, remove the pan from the heat and decant the pudding onto a large platter. Spread it out evenly and let it cool to room temperature before starting the next step.
  3. To make the frosting, add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale. You may have to stop and scrape down the butter from the sides of the bowl a few times.
  4. Once the butter is pale, turn the mixer to a low speed and start adding your cooled pudding mixture one tablespoon at a time. After adding all the pudding, turn the mixer up to a high speed and give it a good whip up for 30-60 seconds or until fluffy.
  5. Turn the mixer down to medium and add in the vanilla extract and keep whipping to incorporate it throughout. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and give the frosting a good scrape up to make sure all the butter was incorporated from the bottom of the bowl.

Assembly:

  1. Level any domed areas off of the sponges and then crumb coat the cake. Place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to firm up the frosting and lock in the cake crumbs.
  2. Complete the outer layer of frosting. Place the remaining frosting into a piping bag fitted with a ruffle nozzle (Wilton #2D) and then pipe small ruffles around the edges of the cake. Top each ruffle with white pearl sprinkles if desired.
  3. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • This cake will keep covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • The sponges can be made separately, up to 24 hours in advance. Keep the sponges covered and refrigerated until assembly.
  • You can make the frosting pudding up to 2 days in advance, just be sure to store it in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature and stir it well before adding to the butter.
  • For more tips on making the frosting, see my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting post.
  • Never crumb coated a cake before? Watch this video for a demonstration.

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