Sugar Free Vanilla Cake – sugar free vanilla cake layers with sugar free Swiss meringue buttercream.
Why Sugar Free?
Happy Monday, friends! I’m excited to share with you a new recipe that has been frequently requested over the years – a sugar free cake!
To be honest, I’ve pushed this request to the back burner for a while because I didn’t want to come across as if I was making a “diet friendly” cake. I whole-heartedly believe in balance and moderation, and that cake, in it’s full fat, full sugar, full carb form, should be part of that balance.
However, I realize there are many cake lovers reading this who want to have cake in its truest form, but can’t due to health reasons. So, today, this cake is for you!
Sugar Replacements for Baking
As I started out on this cake, I knew from previous experiments with sugar replacements that I wasn’t a fan of Splenda or Stevia. I find they leave an after taste and are definitely noticeable in the recipe.
Just like when I made my Dairy Free and Egg Free Vanilla Cake, I wanted to make sure this cake taste as close to the real deal as possible. I just don’t think flavor and texture should ever be compromised, even in a healthier version.
So, with Splenda and Stevia already a no for me, I grabbed coconut sugar (which isn’t sugar free but is lower on the glycemic index) and monk fruit.
What is Monk Fruit?
Monk fruit is a small round fruit in the gourd family. It is considered a healing herb in Eastern medicine and has been used since its discovery to treat all kinds of ailments. Unlike other fruits, monk fruit’s sweetness comes from antioxidants called mogrosides. Monk fruit extract is all-natural, so there are not the same drawbacks of other artificial sweeteners.
Monk fruit extract is rated a zero on the glycemic index and has zero calories and zero carbs, so it won’t spike blood sugar. Diabetics can incorporate it into their diet more easily than sugar.
In my first attempt, I thought about just doing a low-sugar cake and used a combination of coconut sugar and monk fruit. The result was a slightly golden brown colored cake that had a bit of a brown sugar flavor to it. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t the classic vanilla cake flavor I was going for. I do think coconut sugar would make a great substitute in any of my cakes that call for brown sugar, like my Biscoff Cake.
Round 2 and 3
For my second round, I used all monk fruit. Unfortunately, in this round, the cake sunk a bit. So, in round three, I increased the amount of cake flour by 1/4 cup to help stabilize the cake more. It baked beautifully!
You’ll find that the “crumb” of this cake is quite fine, but isn’t not super airy. It’s a really nice, tender, flavorful cake.
How to Make a Sugar Free Cake
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Lakanto sugar free monk fruit sweetener and powdered sugar version – this brand is specifically important because there are fewer additives compared to other monk fruit sweeteners.
- Unsalted butter
- Cake flour
- Vanilla extract
- Baking powder
- Sour cream
- Grapeseed oil
To make this Sugar Free Vanilla Cake, you’ll start by beating the butter, monk fruit, and oil together on medium-high speed until it becomes light and fluffy. You’ll then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition and then adding vanilla.
You’ll then turn the mixer to low speed and alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, followed by folding in the sour cream.
How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a buttercream made by heating egg whites and sugar together over a double boiler, whipping them until medium-stiff peaks form, and then adding butter and flavoring.
While SMB is a bit more involved than my usual American Buttercream, and can sometimes be a little tricky, once you master the steps to a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, you’ll love it. It’s a lot lighter in texture and flavor than an American Buttercream, which is why I don’t often use it. My family and I love the richness of an American Buttercream.
And before we get into some of the key points for making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I have to introduce you to Tessa Huff of Style Sweet. She is a dear friend and taught me everything I know about SMB!
Tips for Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Make sure your mixing bowl is completely clean and dry before making this buttercream.
- Egg whites should be completely free of any yolk.
- Whisk the sugar and egg whites together before heating over the double boiler.
- Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the egg and sugar mixture. It’s ready when the thermometer reaches 160 – 170 degrees F.
- Use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites and sugar mixture.
- Switch to the paddle attachment when you add the butter and flavoring.
- You’ll know the meringue is ready for butter when the outside of the mixing bowl is no longer warm to the touch. Use your inner wrist to check.
- Butter should be room temperature when you add it. If it’s not, and it’s too cold, the meringue will start to curdle.
- If the buttercream looks soupy, refrigerate it for about 10 to 15 minutes and then mix again.
Cake Making Tips
Don’t forget to follow my go-to tips for getting your cakes to rise and bake well:
- Preheat your oven for 30 minutes prior to baking.
- Beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.
- Use good quality pans like Fat Daddio.
- Spray your pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
- Don’t overmix your cake batter once you add the dry ingredients.
- Use room temperature wet ingredients.
- Use fresh baking powder.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.