A delightful keto birthday cake is made with almond flour. The fluffy yellow cake is frosted with a rich chocolate frosting.
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 keto birthday 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 ¼ 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.
For example, if you want your cake to be perfectly straight, you should shave off the slight dome on top of the cake layers. And for a truly smooth frosting, you should brush away any crumbs and apply a thin layer of frosting (a crumb coat) before frosting your cake.
There are also techniques to smooth out the frosting so that it's completely smooth and perfect.
I don't do any of these things. My cake is imperfect.. and delicious. I mentioned the fact that the cake isn't "perfect" to my husband and he was like, "What are you talking about? My grandma's cake looked exactly like this!" But if you'd like to try, here's an excellent tutorial on how to frost a layer cake.
One tool I do use is an offset spatula (a product link provided in the recipe card below). It simply makes the task of spreading the frosting much easier. So I think it's worth it.
By the way, if you'd like to try lighter frosting, this keto chocolate whipped cream is amazing.
How to sweeten the cake
I use stevia glycerite in this recipe. If you dislike stevia and would like to try a different sweetener, you can use a granulated sweetener in the cake batter, possibly adding a bit of milk (try 2 tablespoons) if the batter becomes too thick.
As for the frosting, you could try using 1 cup of a powdered granulated sweetener instead of the stevia and increasing the heavy cream until you achieve good frosting consistency. By how much? I'm not sure, as I haven't tried it. Perhaps start with adding ¼ cup of heavy cream.
Please keep in mind that I haven't tried any of these stevia alternatives, so they may or may not work.
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 replace my baking pans once a year, so they are always brand new and super nonstick (a link to the pans I use is provided in the recipe card below).
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.
How to store the cake
Store in it in the fridge, covered, for up to 5 days. I don't own a cake dome, so I cover the cake plate with an inverted salad bowl.
Do remember to take the cake out of the fridge at least an hour, and preferably 2 hours, before you plan on enjoying it. Refrigerator cold frosting just doesn't cut it.
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Keto Birthday Cake
- 6 large eggs
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (3 oz)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons stevia glycerite (heaping; equals about ¾ cup sugar)
- 2 ¼ cups blanched finely ground almond flour blanched, finely ground (9 oz)
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or ¼ teaspoon fine salt)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
Bake the cake layers:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Generously butter two round 8-inch nonstick cake pans. If your pans are not brand new and super nonstick, line their bottoms with a parchment circle and grease the parchment too.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter, vanilla, and stevia.
- Add the almond flour, mixing it in with a rubber spatula and then whisking until batter is smooth. Whisk in the kosher salt and baking powder.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. To ensure the cake layers are the same size, it’s best to use your kitchen scales and weigh the batter as you pour it into the pans. I weighed each cake at 360 grams.
- Bake the cakes in the middle of the oven until slightly puffed and set and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15-18 minutes. The tops of the cakes won't brown even when they are fully baked.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and place them on a wire rack. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then invert directly onto the wire rack, as shown in the video. Let cool completely, at least 30 more minutes.
While cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting:
- Place the softened unsalted butter, heavy cream, cocoa powder, vanilla, and stevia in a medium bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat on low to incorporate, then beat on medium about 1 minute, until frosting is light and fluffy.
Assemble and frost the cake:
- Place one of the cake layers on a cake plate, flat side up. To keep the plate clean, you can line the plate with strips of wax paper to protect the plate (let them overhang), then pull them from underneath the cake once you’re done frosting it.
- Place ⅓ cup of frosting in the middle of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread the frosting all over the top of the cake.
- Gently place the second cake layer on top of the first one, flat side up. There’s no need to press on it. Place another ⅓ cup of frosting on top of this second cake, and use the spatula to spread it all over the top of the cake.
- Use the remaining frosting to frost the sides of the cake, as shown in the video.
- Once frosted, you can cut the cake and serve it. Or refrigerate it, covered, until ready to serve. Take it out of the fridge 2 hours before you plan on serving it.