You had us at cake — and then again at ‘grain-free dairy-free’ — but this recipe holds a special place in our hearts for another reason. It comes from Laurel Gallucci, the goddess of almost-too-good-to-be-true clean confections and founder of Sweet Laurel Bakery. As with many wellness leaders we love, Laurel’s story began with a personal health crisis, and evolved in tandem with her own healing journey. Read on as Laurel shares her all too real struggle with Hashimoto’s, food intolerance and medical overwhelm, and the sweet, sweet result of her journey back to health…
Two years after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s), I decided to do something about it. When I was diagnosed in 2012, my doctor immediately put me on synthetic thyroid hormones to stand in for the hormones my body was not creating. Every morning I popped my pill, and went on with my day-to-day activities, all while ignoring my body’s screams for help.
Two years later, I was suffering from extreme IBS, a myriad of digestive issues and secondary ahmenhoria. I came face to face with the realty that I could not put my health off another year; I needed to take action. I met up with a family friend who practices functional medicine and she introduced me to the concept of healing through food.
She suggested I remove inflammatory foods from my body/diet: grains, dairy, refined sugar, soy and legumes. Hashimoto’s disease has a long-standing negative relationship with gluten, which mimics the thyroid hormone in some cases. Removing gluten as well as other inflammatory foods was the first step in taming my thyroid, as well as healing my gut.
I removed foods causing inflammation, as well as processed foods and educated myself in a whole-food approach to eating. I started by eating whole vegetables, fruit, and organic and pasture-raised protein. I quickly learned if I wanted certain foods, like crackers or cookies, I had to make them myself. This was when Sweet Laurel became more then just a thought. I started to work with foods I could eat, like almond flour and coconut oil, as opposed to flour and butter. I fell in love with Himalayan pink salt for balance of flavor in my cooking and baking, and instead of table sugar, I sweetened my baked goods with maple syrup. In most recipes, I used organic and pastured eggs or found they weren’t needed at all! I kept it simple. I discovered the beautiful reality that a whole-food approach to eating doesn’t have to be complicated. In 2015, using these five core ingredients, I launched Sweet Laurel with the goal of sharing this approach to eating with as many people as possible. Here is a simple yet beautiful recipe I love to share with friends on late summer nights. The elegant topping of whipped cream and berries is a classic.
Recipe Note: Make sure to let the coconut milk set in the refrigerator at least 8 hours, or overnight, before making the coconut whipped cream topping. I always keep multiple cans of coconut milk in the back of my fridge so I can whip up this quick and delicious dessert!
Vanilla Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream and Berries
Yields one 8-inch round cake
For the vanilla cake:
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
2 eggs *
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus extra for greasing
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
organic seasonal berries, for topping
* Vegan option – egg replacement:
1 Tbsp freshly ground chia seeds
1 Tbsp freshly ground flax seeds
4 Tbsp water
For the coconut whipped cream:
1 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (I like Let’s Do Organic brand)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the vanilla cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare your 8-inch pan by cutting a circular round of parchment paper to fit the base of your pan. Place the circular parchment round inside the cake pan, then grease the sides of the pan with melted coconut oil.
Place eggs*, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a bowl. Whisk until well incorporated. Add almond flour, salt and baking soda. Mix until batter is formed, then pour into prepared pan.
Bake about 25 minutes (or 35 minutes, if using egg replacement), until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool, then flip cake out of pan onto a cake plate.
For the egg replacement:
Place the freshly ground chia and flax seeds in a bowl, then add water. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes, then add to the batter. This cake will need to bake for 10 additional minutes.
For the coconut whipped cream:
Place can of coconut milk in refrigerator the night before you make your cake.
Before you plan to serve your cake, open the can of refrigerated coconut milk. The fat will have risen to the top of the can, with the liquid at the bottom; scoop out only the solids to your mixing bowl, then add the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk together, then refrigerate whipped cream to keep it firm until you are ready to top your cake.
To frost your cake, place cooled cake on serving plate and top with prepared coconut whipped cream, followed by organic seasonal berries.
Discover more delicious grain-free, dairy-free goodness from Sweet Laurel Bakery here!
Can you use Grapeseed Oil in place of Coconut Oil
Yes! Grapeseed Oil will work just fine.
I made this for my daughter’s birthday, and it is really good! Everyone loved it!
Yay!!! So happy to hear this Anne!
Do you think I use coconut flour instead of almond flour?
Hi Jessica! I wouldn’t recommend swapping coconut flour for almond flour in this recipe as coconut flour is naturally much dryer then almond flour. Hazelnut flour or cashew flour will work as an outstanding 1:1 swap in! xo
I can’t have nut flours and would LOVE to try this cake. Is there a way I could work with a non-grain flour to make it work?
Jessica and Joanna, I’m going to test this cake with coconut flour and report back! Xoxo
My babies 1st birthday is coming up and he can’t have nuts. I was wanting to see if you’ve tried coconut flour yet or not? Thanks!
Grapeseed oil is one of the many junk oils. Use coconut oil instead.
i live dray cake i must try this recipe.
Can honey be used as a replacement for maple syrup? Is there a particular type of syrup you recommend or will any kind due? (I though syrup was loaded with sugar?) Thanks! Looking forward to trying this recipe.
Hello Kris, you can definitely use honey in this recipe. We typically use 100% maple syrup as our sweetener. It is loaded with minerals and provides moisture in this cake. When compared to honey, 100% maple syrup actually contains less fructose per gram.
Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I
guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new
to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for rookie blog writers?
I’d really appreciate it.
Can this cake be made ahead and frozen?
does this work for cupcakes, too?
Just made this. Amazing! And so easy! To others… I would never use coconut flour as a replacement. Any more than 1/3 C in any recipe and it becomes a stodgy, heavy and gross.
Is there a butter cream type frosting I can use for this cake instead of the coconut whip?
This recipe is amazing! I made this for my daughters first birthday yesterday and it was a hit! Everyone loved it! I didn’t have parchment paper so it did stick just a little, but not terribly. I did the egg replacement with just ground chia seeds because that’s all I had, but it worked out great! I used Native Forest, unsweetened organic coconut cream premium, 5.4oz can, instead of the 13.5 oz can of milk because I didn’t have any use for the milk otherwise. People couldn’t get enough of it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
This cake was amazing! Can they be made into cupcakes?
This is my go-to cake recipe and it was also great as cupcakes! Baked about the same amount of time I think, maybe a little less. I added chocolate chips a few times, and have also been adding lemon juice & zest for lemon cake, which is fabulous if you like lemon desserts. No need to look at any other Paleo / grain-free cake recipes, this is The One.
I’ve made this as cupcakes, just cut down on the cooking time a little and they turn out great!
How much lemon juice/zest so you add? That sounds amazing!