This cake is amazing. It’s such a sweet victory to keto and gluten-free baking, that you can use almond flour and a sugar-free sweetener to produce a cake so fluffy, so flavorful, and so festive.
Last week, my husband celebrated his birthday. I made this cake for him after he told me, a few weeks ago, about one of his fondest childhood memories.
A keto version of a beloved childhood cake
As a kid, his grandma used to make his favorite cake for his birthday each year – a yellow layer cake with chocolate frosting. She added rum extract to that cake and decorated the chocolate frosting with sprinkles. He loved that cake and looked forward to enjoying it every year on his birthday.
Needless to say, after hearing that story, I was on a mission to recreate that experience for him, while keeping his carb count in check! I had to make a few experiments, but the tasty result was well worth it.
This cake is wonderful. The yellow cake layers are tender and fluffy, and the chocolate frosting is super-rich. It’s amazing that we get to enjoy such a wonderful cake on a low-carb diet and it’s not even cheating!
The ingredients you’ll need
Here’s an overview of what you’ll need to make this keto birthday cake. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below.
Eggs: I use large eggs in most of my recipes, this one included.
Whole milk: Just 1/4 cup. If you object to using milk in a keto recipe, you can use heavy cream instead.
Unsalted butter: You could possibly use salted butter and omit the salt. But I haven’t tried that.
Vanilla extract: Try to use the real thing – pure vanilla extract – and not the artificially flavored stuff.
Sweetener: I use stevia. I’m pretty sure you can use a granulated sweetener instead, but I haven’t tested that.
Almond flour: I use blanched, finely ground flour. I don’t recommend using a coarse almond meal in this recipe.
Kosher salt: If using fine salt, use half the amount listed.
Baking powder: Make sure it’s fresh.
For the frosting: Unsalted butter, heavy cream, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and a sweetener.
How to make a keto birthday cake
Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. It’s actually not a difficult recipe. Here are the basic steps:
You mix the cake ingredients by hand, in one bowl (See? Easy!).
Next, divide the mixture evenly between two pans and bake it into two cakes. These will be the layers of your birthday cake.
Allow the cakes to cool completely. This is important. If you try to frost warm cakes, the frosting will melt away.
In the meantime, quickly whip up the chocolate frosting.
When the cake layers are cool, assemble the cake: place one cake on a platter. Frost the top (as shown in the video below). Place the second cake on top of the first one and frost its top as well. Then frost the sides.
How to frost a keto birthday cake
I’m not a professional baker. My cakes have a very homemade look – and I’m absolutely fine with that. If you’re after perfection, the Internet is filled with helpful tutorials on how to frost a cake.
How to flavor the cake
Since I made it for my husband, I used rum extract instead of vanilla extract in the cake batter and in the frosting. But vanilla works too. Another good option is almond extract.
Keto birthday cake troubleshooting and tips
1. It’s important to use nonstick cake pans in this recipe, and grease them well. Butter works better than nonstick spray. I use these pans and replace them once a year, so they are always brand new and super nonstick.
2. If your pans are older, it’s a good idea to line their bottoms with a circle of parchment paper and grease the parchment too.
3. Note that the top of the cakes won’t brown, even though they should be fully baked after about 15 minutes. This is fine, and in this particular case, the lack of browning is not an issue, because we are going to frost the cake anyway.
4. I recommend using Dutch-processed cocoa powder in the frosting (cocoa treated with alkali). It’s milder and less acidic than natural cocoa powder. This is not absolutely necessary, but I tried both options, and I like the frosting better with the Dutched cocoa.
5. Make sure the cake layers are completely cool before frosting the cake, or the frosting will melt as you spread it on the still-warm layers. You can speed up the process by placing them, still on the cooling rack, in the fridge.