Sugar Free Vanilla Cake – sugar free vanilla cake layers with sugar free Swiss meringue buttercream.
Why Sugar Free?
The new year is off to a good start around here and I’m excited to re-share with you a 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 ¼ 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.
Sugar Free Vanilla Cake
Sugar free vanilla cake with a sugar free swiss meringue buttercream.
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 50 mins
FOR THE CAKE
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (350 g) Lakanto monkfruit sweetener Use THIS brand
- 1/3 cup (72.6 g) grapeseed oil
- 3 large whole eggs at room temperature
- 3 large egg whites at room temperature
- 3 1/4 cups (373 g) cake flour
- 3 teaspoons (12 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) salt
- 1 tablespoon (12 g) vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60 g) sour cream at room temperature
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- 1/2 cup (115 g) egg whites
- 1 1/3 cups (280 g) Lakanto monkfuit powdered sugar or, you can use a blender or food processor to blend the monkfruit granules to create a monkfruit powdered sugar.
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (12 g) vanilla extract
- *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra ½ batch.
FOR THE DRIP
- 1 cup (150 g) white chocolate chips I prefer Guittard White Cookie Drops (Orson Gygi(
- ¼ cup (57.75 g) heavy whipping cream
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch or three 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, and another coat of spray. Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, oil, and monkfruit on high until fluffy and smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs and the egg whites, one at a time and beating well between each addition, to the bowl and beat on medium until well incorporated. It may look curdled, don't stress.
- Turn the mixer on low and add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until fully incorporated. Then add half of the buttermilk and blend well, followed by another ⅓ of the flour mixture, the second half of the buttermilk and lastly, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until incorporated.
- Add the vanilla extract and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on low for another 30 seconds. Fold in the sour cream.
- Evenly distribute the cake batter among the two 8-inch or three 6-inch pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it.
- Remove cakes from the oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks.
- When cakes are completely cooled, I like to wrap each cake layer individually with plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator or freezer until I’m ready to frost. The cake will be easier to work with if it’s cooled a bit. If I’m making the cake a day or two before I actually need to frost it, I put it in the freezer to ensure freshness. If I’m frosting same-day, I’ll just put it in the refrigerator to chill until needed.
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM:
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, or any heat proof bowl, combine the egg whites and monkfruit. Whisk until combined.
- Heat about 1 to 2 inches of water in a medium pot over medium heat. Place the metal mixing bowl, or other heat proof bowl, over the pot to create a double boiler. Stir continuously, until the mixture because smooth, light in color, frothy and reaches 160 – 170 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
- Once the mixture has reached the desired consistency, use a whisk attachment to beat the mixture until you reach medium-stiff peaks, about 10 minutes. It takes a bit of time, so be patient. You'll know it's ready for the next step when you touch the outside of the bowl with your inner wrist and it's room temperature. If it's still warm, keep beating until there's no heat coming off the bowl.
- Once you've reached medium-stiff peaks, change to the paddle attachment and then gradually add the butter in small squares, followed by the vanilla. Continue to beat for about 3 to 5 minutes until smooth and silky.
- Place the first cake layer, top side up. Add about 1 cup of frosting. Spread over the cake layer as evenly as possible. Make sure to get eye level with the cake to ensure the frosting is spread evenly over the cake.
- Place second cake layer on top and apply a thin coat of frosting around the entire cake to lock in the crumbs. Freeze for about 10 minutes.
- After the crumb coat is set, continue frosting and decorating the cake.