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This healthy vanilla cake is made with whole wheat flour, yogurt and maple syrup. It’s more nutrient-dense and lower in sugar when compared to traditional cake, but still just as delicious!
If you’re looking for a healthier version of a classic vanilla cake look no further!
Classic vanilla cake recipes are usually made with white flour, refined sugar and lots of oil or butter, but in true EBF fashion I made a few healthier swaps. For this cake, we’re using whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour, maple syrup instead of granulated sugar, avocado oil instead of butter or canola oil (and less of it) and Greek yogurt to replace some of the oil, which also adds a bit of protein!
This cake is still super fluffy and delicious! Nobody will even notice it’s made with healthier ingredients, trust me!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Made with better-for-you ingredients: This cake is made with whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, avocado oil and maple syrup. No white flour, butter or refined sugar required!
- Easy to make: This vanilla cake recipe comes together quickly with just 10 simple ingredients (plus the frosting) that you probably already have in your pantry!
- Customizable: This is a great base recipe that can be customized to your liking.
- Perfect for special occasions: Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, holiday or just a weekday dessert, this cake is perfect for celebrations.
- whole wheat pastry flour – this lighter and finer form of whole wheat flour adds a delicate texture to the cake while keeping it nutritious. My go-to brand is Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour.
- baking powder & baking soda – leavening agents to help the cake to rise and be fluffy.
- sea salt – brings all the flavors together.
- cinnamon – a nice warming spice.
- eggs – helps to bind the ingredients together and gives the cake structure.
- Greek yogurt – adds some protein and moisture, replacing some of the oil.
- avocado oil – a heart-healthy oil that contributes to the moist texture of the cake. My favorite brand is the Chosen Foods avocado oil.
- maple syrup – the perfect natural sweetener for this cake. Just make sure you’re using pure maple syrup and not pancake syrup, which is loaded with corn syrup and artificial ingredients.
- vanilla extract – what gives the cake its classic vanilla flavor.
- vanilla buttercream frosting – I used a simple homemade vanilla buttercream frosting for this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite type of frosting. See some more ideas below!
How to Make
Prep: Preheat your oven to 350°F and generously spray three 6-inch pans with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
Mix dry ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon.
Whisk wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, Greek yogurt, avocado oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
Combine: Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir until the mixture is just combined. Remember to not over-mix, as this can make the cake dense!
Bake: Divide the batter evenly among the prepared baking pans. Place the pans in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. You’ll know the cake layers are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool: Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 5-10 minutes. Then, remove and let them cool completely on a wire rack. This prevents them from continuing to cook and possibly becoming dry.
Decorate & Serve: Once the cakes have completely cooled, it’s time to get creative! Frost and decorate as you like and serve!
Substitutions & Notes
- Flour: If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour on hand, you can use all-purpose flour. You can also use a combination of half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour.
- Greek Yogurt: Feel free to use your favorite variety of yogurt if you don’t have Greek yogurt on hand. I would just avoid using flavored yogurt as those usually have a lot of added sugars and can change the flavor of this cake.
- Oil: Olive oil or melted coconut oil or butter will all work as substitutes.
- Maple syrup: Honey or agave syrup can be used as a substitute for maple syrup. I haven’t tested this cake with a dry sugar like coconut sugar so I’m not sure how it would turn out.
- Low-sugar: If you’re looking for a low-sugar alternative to maple syrup you could try a sugar-free maple like this Lakanto Sugar Free Maple Syrup.
- Gluten-free: If you’re looking for a gluten-free vanilla cake try my healthy birthday cake!
- Dairy-free: If you need this cake to be dairy-free use a dairy-free yogurt instead of Greek yogurt.
- Egg-free: I haven’t tested this cake with an egg substitute, but I bet it would work with flax eggs seed or chia eggs. If you try either of these let me know how the cake turns out in the comments below!
- Add mix-ins: I kept this cake plain, but feel free to mix-in sprinkles, berries, nuts and/or chocolate chips to the batter. I’d start with 1/2 cup and go from there!
There are so many options when it comes to frosting this vanilla cake and I’ve got lots of ideas for you:
- Buttercream frosting – for more of a real deal frosting make my vanilla buttercream frosting or strawberry buttercream frosting.
- Cream cheese frosting – if you’re a cream cheese fan try my healthy cream cheese frosting, which is made with maple syrup, Greek yogurt, cream cheese and vanilla.
- Chocolate frosting – you can never go wrong with a chocolate frosting! My healthy chocolate frosting is super easy to whip up and requires only 3 simple ingredients. No butter or powdered sugar required!
- Yogurt frosting – for more of a unique flavor try my peanut butter Greek yogurt frosting.
- Store-bought frosting – For a shortcut use your favorite store-bought frosting. I really like the Simple Mills vanilla frosting and Miss Jones Organic Buttercream Frosting, which are both healthier alternatives when it comes to store-bought frosting. Both are thick so you will need to soften them up a bit before icing the cake. I usually pop it in the microwave for a few seconds.
How to Decorate
I love keeping this cake simple with just frosting and sprinkles, but here are some other fun ideas of how you could decorate this cake:
- Sprinkles: I love Supernatural rainbow sprinkles, which are free of artificial dyes, gluten-free and vegan.
- Jam swirls: Add a burst of strawberry flavor by swirling some strawberry jam (you can use store-bought or make this strawberry chia jam) into the frosting.
- Chocolate chips: Scatter some chocolate chips over the frosting for a delicious chocolate addition that’s hard to resist.
- Fresh berries: Arrange fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and/or raspberries on top of the cake for a beautiful, fresh decoration that also adds a burst of fruity flavor.
- Date caramel: Drizzle my date caramel sauce on top of this cake! It’s naturally sweetened with medjool dates and would look so pretty drizzled on top.
Using Different Size Cake Pans or a Cupcake Tin
- 8-inch pans: This batter will make enough to fill two 8-inch round cake pans. The layers might need a few extra minutes to bake, but just keep an eye on them!
- Cupcakes: This recipe should make about 15 cupcakes. You’ll want to bake these for 15-20 minutes in paper or silicone liners.
- Rectangular pan: If you prefer a sheet cake, you should be able to use a 9×13-inch pan. The baking time might differ, so keep an eye on the cake and test for doneness as it bakes.
- Square pan: I haven’t tested it, but I bet you could also make this cake in an 8×8 or 9×9 inch cake pan. I’m not sure about the bake time, but I’m guessing 20-30 minutes.
How to Make in Advance
This cake can be made 1-3 days in advance. To make ahead of time, let the cake layers cool completely and store them covered in the fridge. Alternatively, you can frost and decorate the cake and store it covered in the fridge until ready to serve!
If you’re making this cake ahead of time and want to store it in the freezer, I would store the layers separately. You can wrap them in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container or bag (I love my Stasher bags). The day before you’re ready to serve, let the layers thaw in the fridge then assemble and decorate as desired!
How to Store Leftovers
At room temperature: This cake will stay fresh for 1-2 days at room temperature. Just be sure to cover it with plastic wrap or tin foil or store it in an airtight container.
In the fridge: Store this cake in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
In the freezer: For longer storage, store leftovers in the freezer for up to 3 months. If storing in the freezer, I would slice the cake and store the individual pieces in a freezer-safe container. That way you can easily pull out however many pieces of cake you want at a time. Just let the slices thaw in the fridge overnight.
More Cake Recipes to Try
- Almond Flour Cupcakes
- Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Easy Berry Cake
- Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes
- Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes
- Easy Strawberry Cake
- Healthy Birthday Cake
- Oatmeal Carrot Cake
- Healthy Smash Cake
Be sure to check out all of the dessert recipes here on EBF!
Healthy Vanilla Cake
- 2 ⅔ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 3 large eggs , at room temperature
- 1 ½ cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt
- ⅓ cup avocado oil
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Vanilla buttercream frosting, or frosting of choice
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray three 6-inch pans with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, Greek yogurt, oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- Pour the dry into the wet and stir until mixture is just combined. Don’t over-mix!
- Divide the mixture evenly into prepared baking pans
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove so they don’t continue to cook and let cool completely on a wire rack. One cool, frost and decorate as desired.
- Flour: If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour on hand, you can use all-purpose flour or a combination of half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour.
- Greek Yogurt: If you don’t have Greek yogurt on hand or prefer a different type of yogurt feel free to use your favorite variety of yogurt. I would just avoid using a flavored yogurt as those usually have a lot of added sugars and can change the flavor of this cake.
- Oil: If you don’t have avocado oil on hand, olive oil or melted coconut oil or butter will all work as substitutes.
- Maple syrup: Honey or agave syrup can be used as a substitute for maple syrup if you prefer a different kind of natural sweetener. I haven’t tested this cake with a dry sugar like coconut sugar so I’m not sure how it would turn out.
- Gluten-free: If you’re looking for a gluten-free vanilla cake try making my healthy birthday cake, which is made with a combination of oat flour and almond flour.
- Dairy-free: If you need this cake to be dairy-free use a dairy-free yogurt instead of Greek yogurt.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.