Recipe Collection: White Bean Vanilla Cake

**This post has been entered in Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet and Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist!**

This is one for the history books.  It’s a delicious, rich, amazing vanilla cake that is entirely grain- and refined- sugar free and GAPS-friendly!  I needed a cake for my daughter’s birthday right after we started GAPS and didn’t want to compromise (last year I allowed a gluten-free cake).  This cake is just moist and amazing.  We asked all our guests (most of whom eat SAD) to guess what the cake was made of — no one could.  They loved it.  We got many compliments and kids asked for second pieces.  We didn’t hesitate to give them, either — this is one of the healthiest cakes out there!  Not to mention that it could not be simpler to prepare.

Top it with some fresh or frozen sliced strawberries and it’s just delicious.  I actually used strawberries with a custard recipe (but if you want that, you’ll have to wait for my next cookbook!).  I wasn’t able to perfect a frosting recipe, but it didn’t matter.  The cake was still great.  (And I’m still working on frosting for next time!  My birthday’s coming up too!)

Here it is.  And this is really epic in its healthiness and simplicity!!




Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on medium, then high until smooth.  Pour into two well-greased  9″ pans and bake at 350 for 35 – 40 min.  Once cooled, remove from the pans carefully and serve plain, with fresh jam (fruit blended with honey), fresh fruit, or however you like!


  1. rachael says

    I am irritated because i am 20 wks and i stil lcant feel kicking -although i always have had weird pains/feelings in my stomach my whole life so i am beginning to wonderif i am just chalking up baby kicks to 'gas' or something else lol.. but it is very frustrating!

    I am going to try that cake recipe. .does it actually taste like cake? i actually don't like cake but it sounds interesting so i wil ltry it.. what is the difference between honey and raw honey.. where do i get coconut oil? sounds expensive…

  2. ModernAMama says


    LOL…I didn't feel my first baby until 23 weeks and second until around 20. And then not until I relaxed and waited for it! I still don't feel this one much at almost 15 weeks and I know what it's like now!

    This tastes like a rather dense cake, not as light or fluffy as a boxed mix would. Raw honey isn't heated or pasteurized, any health food store or farmer's market would have it (It's about $3.50/lb. not that bad). Coconut oil IS expensive in a health food store ($15 for a 20 oz. jar) but I buy mine on Amazon…got a 54-oz. jar for about $18 lol. It's good for a lot of things, too. Any type of cooking, as a lotion, etc. (It does taste a bit like coconut so just be warned!)

  3. ModernAMama says


    3 cups of cooked beans. :) I'm not sure how that translates to dried, I usually just dump in more than I think I need and use the extra in soups or something!

  4. Erin says

    Serving this to SAD eaters, you could just call it Vanilla Bean Cake. :) I'm going to try this – I have canned beans (thankfully BPA-free) that I didn't have a plan for…

  5. Aimee says

    Just wondering if this would work as cupcakes? I am scheduled to make cupcakes this weekend and it looks like a nice treat.

  6. ModernAMama says


    I used white navy beans because they're GAPS-friendly. If you try another kind (it will probably work but I can't say for sure), let us know!


    I don't see why not. I was going to try it out for a party this week but we all got sick and didn't get to go! Let us know if you do it!

  7. Brittany says

    Thanks for the recipe! I can't wait to try this! After trying and loving Black Bean Brownies, I toyed around with some white bean recipes. Most of them were palatable, but I was never able to create something my family loved. If it satisfies, I'll definitely be using this for my little guy's first birthday that 's coming up soon (Where does time go?). :)

  8. Aimee says

    Made the cupcakes this morning to test them out. Great! Three thumbs up (one from us all). Next time I will use baking cups, because even though it was well-greased they were difficult to get out. I baked the mini ones for about 15 minutes and the full-size ones needed a little more time, maybe closer to 20 minutes? I am at altitude in Denver though. I made a cream cheese frosting with vanilla and honey, it tasted good, but didn't didn't look great (couldn't get it beaten smooth!) Next I will try a maple syrup cream cheese frosting with some maple extract. We shall see. Great recipe, thanks for sharing!

  9. says

    Just made this this afternoon and oh my goodness, is it good! My husband had major doubts about a cake made with beans, but went back for seconds! I did a blueberry sauce (blueberries, honey, a little lemon juice, and a bit of water) on the stove and spooned it over the pieces and it tasted amazing. Thanks so much for this recipe! I'm going to make it again this next weekend for my in-laws!

  10. Jessica says

    Yep, made this last night topped with some homemade ice cream and cherries. It was delicious. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. The whole family loved it.

  11. Megan says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it today with my toddler and we cut in small heart shaped pieces and then frosted with a naturally sweetened strawberry cream cheese frosting (that ended up a little runny but it was still pretty and pink :) I prefer all of our grains to be sourdough so this was a nice option!

  12. KristinaD says

    I don't suppose this could be made egg free? I have tried a couple of bean brownie recipes (not yours though) and they never cook in the middle. I usually use chia seeds but I have a feeling this one won't work out the same.

  13. AmyJo says

    THANK YOU! (that was me yelling)

    I cooked dried white northern beans.

    I made these into cupcakes. Got 2 dozen. Took about 22 minutes to bake.

    So moist and delicious!!!

  14. says

    I just made it for the kids and I and we really enjoyed it. Thanks for the great recipe! Is cooking with baking soda GAPS legal? Oh, and for the frosting I just put a cup of frozen raspberries and a tablespoon of honey in my processor and blended them. Yum!!!!!!

  15. ModernAMama says


    Glad you liked it!

    Baking soda is "discouraged" on GAPS, but many people do use it once they're well established and are healing. At least from time to time. I haven't tried without, though I suspect it would work anyway.

  16. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this – it's fantastic! Mine came out pretty dense and moist, more like a sponge cake than a regular cake, but we loved it. I spooned some strawberry-balsamic jam on top and served with a dollop of whipped cream. Will definitely be making this again! :0)

  17. Lauren says

    Hey Kate!
    I see how many people on here have had success with this recipe, but I can't seem to get it right! I've tried it twice now and both times were complete failures (and I promise I am an accomplished cook and baker!). I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong : ( They won't cook in the middle very much and are very very moist and spongy and not at all appetizing…. Any thoughts on what I might be doing wrong? It is 9 tablespoons of coconut oil, right? I even tested my baking soda to make sure it still had fizz in it! Could using canned organic navy beans be the culprit? I drain off all of the extra bean juice before putting them in the blender… I'm stumped!

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Tina says

      I tried it the first time a few days ago.

      I used canned organic BPA-free organic navy beans, drained.

      FIrst, there is no way my blender could handle this amount. I ended up mixing back and forth with a pitcher and blending in between. Messy.

      Secondly, I believe it was my fault, but also the recipe was a bit nebulous. I mis-read for one. I THOUGHT It said 9″ pan and since there was no frosting or ‘stacking’ evident, I assumed 9″ square pan. And I figured “Ok, I ‘ll squeeze it into an 8″ square pan.” I had to bake it for about an hour, and thus it over-browned around the edges and on the bottom. It would be clearer to state that you need two 9″ round cake pans.

      So, other than ugly and over-browned, it tasted good.

      I am not up to date on the GAPS eating issues, but I am gluten free and try to stay as vegan as possible. I keep pure organic coconut oil and use it for everything anyway – after a bath, cooking – you name it. However, the sugar content on this, even though it is a yummy raw honey, is pretty alarming. After all, it is STILL sugar. The calories are around 600 for the entire cake in honey alone, not to mention the eggs.

      I’m going to try it soon substituting chia seed / water mixture for eggs, and then, will try using stevia but have to work on my equivalent measures for that.

  18. Pam says

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!! I made these this morning for a picnic, and they were a hit!! We're gluten-free and almost completely grain-free at our house, but the other guests at the picnic aren't; they were shocked at how delicious grain-free can be! Thank you for your site and for making a difference! :)

  19. says

    I made this last week for my son's first birthday, mostly because I was looking for something dairy-free, and I had bookmarked this months ago while looking for gluten-free recipes for a friend. Let me tell you something:
    Best Cake Ever! I loved this, and I've been singing your praises to anyone who will listen! And even to those who ignore me 😉 The moist texture is perfect, and the taste was perfection, although I *may* have added a bit more vanilla than the recipe called for ;D I made an icing out of:
    * Coconut oil
    * Coconut cream (the thick stuff in the container; I used the runny liquid in my tea)
    * honey
    * vanilla
    * dried coconut (re-hydrated in water and vanilla)
    * arrowroot powder (added at the last minute to thicken a bit, but I don't think it helped)

    After spreading on the cake, I put the whole thing in the freezer to firm up, and then I just stored the leftovers in the fridge so it wouldn't melt.

  20. Melissa says

    Let me just say that I really appreciate the concept of a bean cake, but I'm not sure this works out as is. I halved this recipe to try it out and baked about 35 min. The end product reminded me a bit of a jelly roll cake (heavy on the eggs) but was more like a custard than a cake. It's a delicious custard, nonetheless, and would be great with fresh berries (and whip cream, if you can take it).
    So, overall a nice dessert, but not cake-like enough to satisfy that urge.

  21. says

    I saw this when you originally posted it and I'm going to try it today/tomorrow as a test before my son's 1st birthday party. Most, 99% of our families are SAD eaters but there are a few who are REAL eaters so I'm hoping this works for both.

  22. says

    My newly minted five y.o. really wanted a strawberry cake with chocolate frosting. I used this recipe, subbing half a bag of thawed out strawberries for 3 of the eggs and swapping 1/2 T. of the vanilla for lemon juice. (All of the reading I had been doing recommended adding lemon juice to help the strawberry flavor pop.

    I had some of the problems mentioned by others: cakes not releasing from the bottom of the pan and cakes not seeming to get all of the way done in the center, but the flavor was OH-LA-LA amazing! Instead of having a layer cake as planned, we used this ( to top one of the cakes and then just had a smooshed (but oh-so-tasty!) mess in a bowl. There were no complaints about appearance and oh so many compliments. Thanks for providing the base to a healthy birthday cake!!! 😀

  23. Sarah says

    My family LOVES this cake!!!! I’ve made it for 2 birthdays so far, once just vanilla, the second chocolate. It’s so moist & my dad’s comment was that the vanilla version tastes like bread pudding (one of his favorite deserts). So that’s a big plus! Thanks so much for coming up with this recipe, it’s fantastic!!!

  24. Amber says

    Someone who has lots of experience with this recipe help me out — I’ve made it three times and have come out each time needing to bake this far longer (at least I thought I did) than the recipe calls for because the center didn’t look done at all. I’m not sure what I’m looking for to determine “doneness” if it is more like custard or cheesecake. How can I be sure it will set up? HELP!!! I feel like a total failure at this recipe =(

    • Kate Tietje says

      Hi Amber — When I’ve made this, it’s been basically like a “real” cake. Are you using pans that are too small? Is your oven cooler than mine (temps vary even if you set it correctly)? Try baking it longer, until it looks really golden brown, almost like you’re afraid it’s too long. Then it should set up nicely.

      • Amber says

        *sigh* — I am just realizing JUST now that I should have been using TWO 9″ pans — TWO!!! Cripes! I’ll give that try next time — One more question — anyone tried this sprouting the beans first? I heard that sprouting them tends to take some of the beany flavor out.

        • Tina says

          Amber, as I wrote previously, it’s not very clear in the recipe. Also it helps if it had said 9″ cake ROUNDS.

          I never tasted the beans at all in the cake.

    • Kate Tietje says

      Hi Kara, so far we haven’t found a way to successfully make it egg-free. One blogger (Humbled Homemaker) tried it with a flax seed replacement, but it came out more custard-like than cake-like. She said it still tasted good. She might have other ideas for you, though, I’m not sure if she’s tried it again.

  25. Kirsten says

    Wow, looks soooo good. Wondering if I can use another type of bean or are the white beans neccessary? We’re not doing any special GAP diet or anything, but I like to experiment with different grain-free recipes. Thanks so much. I love your blog. And for what you stand for; admirable. May the Lord bless you with the strength to stand by your convictions and minister to those of us who share them. 😉

  26. Saliah says

    This turned out great! I did sub half of the coconut oil with Spectrum Palm Shortening. Next time I will try subbing all of it and see how that turns out. Thanks for the recipe!

  27. Clair says

    I’m going to make this for my daughter’s 6th bday as cupcakes. How do you think it would taste with homemade “Nutella” Buttercream frosting? Any other frosting suggestions? I can’t wait to see how everyone likes it – most of the crowd around us eats SAD. (hee hee)

  28. Kaila says

    We LOVED this! Finally a healthy alternative to typical desserts that my husband loved! I made a chocolate frosting with strained yogurt, coconut sugar and raw cacoa. Wonderful!

  29. says

    Great cake but I have to tell you about my “mistake” that ended up turning out fabulous! I used canned beans (which I had my doubts about since I know they can’t be used for falafel), and I forgot to put the eggs in the first time. At 20 minutes checked on it and I had a caramel-like bubbling substance. I immediately knew I’d forgotten the eggs and took it out of the oven. I got to stirring it because it smelled heavenly and I tasted a small amount on a spoon. It had the exact consistency of thick apple butter so I added a teaspoon of cinnamon to it and put it in a bowl. We dip apples in it and have discovered it makes a great spread on top of this cake as well.

  30. Melissa says

    This is fabulous!!! Made these as cupcakes twice. First batch was a test run and second batch was for my daughter’s fourth birthday party. They are light and sweet. A real crowd pleaser. Everyone was amazed they were made with beans.

  31. Renee N. says

    Thank you SO SO SO much, Kate! This cake is fantastic!!

    I tasted the batter before I baked the cake, and it reminded me a bit of manjuu (a Japanese dessert) because of the beans. My husband and I spent three years in Japan, so that was really nice. :)

    However! Once I actually baked the cake, I couldn’t taste the beans at all! It was really moist, dense, and delicious! I paired it with your buttercream frosting, and I sprinkled some broken bits of almond roca without the chocolate ( over the frosting on the bottom layer. It gave it a nice crunch in the middle. :)

    In a word, fantastic!! I am VERY grateful for your blog. Thank you again!

  32. mllrbb says

    I tried this recipe a few days ago and it was delicious and also very easy to make. I was a little hesitant because I’ve made black bean brownies in the past and I can taste the beans and find the texture odd. But this was perfect, with a moist texture and no bean taste at all. I halved the recipe and made just one layer, then frosted it with cream cheese frosting. It was divine. Something about the flavor made me think that it would be good as a spice cake…next time I’ll add some cinnamon and other spices to it. I’ll also use less honey as I don’t often eat sweets and have lost my taste for very sweet things. Thank you so much for this creative recipe.

  33. Renee N. says

    I made this cake back in July and it is so delicious that I’m in serious need of making it again.

    What do you think of making a pumpkin version? Do you think the beans could be replaced with pumpkin, or half of them or something? I’m dying for a GAPS pumpkin cake…

    • Renee N. says

      I ended up making this again with 1 1/2 c. white beans and 1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree. I also added some pumpkin pie spices. Yumm!!! It’s really good!! I love the white bean cake, but I also love it as pumpkin cake. :)

      • Tabitha says

        Oooh! Great idea! This has been my favorite cake for over a year now. I’ve made it a few times w/ black beans and added cocoa powder for a chocolate cake (but vanilla is still my favorite). I just took a small container of black beans out of my freezer, but it’s only 2 cups, not 3, so I’m going to use some of my already-cooked Hubbard squash and make it pumpkin-y!

    • Christy says

      Thanks for asking, I was just about to ask that but was searching the comments to see if anyone had beat me to it! I am thinking of making this for my daughter’s first birthday cake and don’t think I want to give her honey just yet.

  34. Christy says

    Any chance this would work as a layer cake or is it too dense? Or maybe if I used half this batter and half something lighter like a coconut flour cake? Thoughts? I want to use this for my daughter’s first birthday cake and I kind of had my heart set on a pretty layer cake, but I don’t want to ruin her pristine little baby diet all at once with a white flour/sugar cake. I’ll admit we don’t have a super great diet, but I try not to completely bombard my children with white flour and sugar!

    • Kate Tietje says

      I have done it as a layer cake, yes. I filled the middle with strawberries and although at the time I hadn’t developed it yet, I would do the buttercream frosting now.

  35. says

    I just made this. It’s really good! Very dense and moist. I can see a lot of experimenting with spices in my future (we’re a recently gluten-free household and I really, really missed having gingerbread over Christmas!)

    • Kate Tietje says

      It should make 8 – 10 cupcakes if a single batch (3 c. beans) and closer to 18 if a double batch (6 c. beans). I use white navy beans for it, I believe others have used other types.

    • Rachel says

      I got 12 cupcakes out of half of the recipe (1 and 1/2 cups of beans), but as another commenter said, they did seem to sink after a little bit. I cooked the cupcakes for 15 minutes, and they still seemed pretty wet/oily, so I put them back in for 3 more minutes, which didn’t seem to change them still.

      Kate, do you have any suggestions for the wetness/oiliness? My thoughts were to use less oil; bake at a lower temp for longer; use liners instead of oiling the pan. My SIL suggested that if I make a cake instead of cupcakes, people won’t notice the wetness as much b/c they will be eating with a fork and not their hands.

      ALLLL that being said, I was pleased with the consistency. I want to make these for my son’s first birthday party in a week. I gave some of the test-batch cupcakes to my SIL and nephews (3.5 years and 2 years) to scrutinize and got great reviews!

  36. Sujata says

    Hi, Nice recipe. I want to try these today, are these 3 cups cooked beans or 3 cups dry beans?
    Thanks, Sujata

  37. Caroline Benzel says

    Great idea except it seems really expensive. 2 dollars for that amount of honey, plus about 5 for that much coconut oil. I tried it with lard instead of coco oil, but I think it needs that coco flavor. I also substituted bananas for honey. I’m curious to try it the right way because I bet it’s really good. I need some affordable paleo recipes!! Thanks!

    • Kate Tietje says

      Well, we usually make it for a special treat. :) I’m working on more frugal recipes, though, some of which will be paleo.

  38. Laura says

    Is there a way to substitute rapadura/coconut oil for the honey? It seems like it would make it a little more frugal.

  39. Allison says

    Made this today with my kids, and they loved it! I halved the recipe, used butter in place of the coconut oil, and it turned out lovely.

  40. Lauren says

    I made these, following the recipe exactly, and they sank like souffles. What did I do wrong?? I was really excited about these, and when they came out of the oven I was utterly crushed because I was baking them with my niece.

    • Veronica says

      I’ve made this cake a few times now, mine sinks a bit and tends to separate some too, unfortunately. I wouldn’t call it as bad as what a soufflé does though. And it is very, very delicious!
      You could try baking powder instead of soda if that’s something you eat. Make sure the cake is cooked at a high enough temperature and that you don’t peek or take it out too early and definitely definitely definitely don’t thud it when taking it out or cut it or remove it from the pan when it’s still warm. Also could try not blending but mashing by hand if you’ve got a good masher.

  41. Sondra twine says

    I just made this recipe into cupcakes for my daughters birthday. One batch yielded 15 cupcakes, which took 20 minutes to bake at 350 and were a nice golden brown. I made 48 and had absolutely no problem, none of them sunk and the consistency was great. I always make sure the coconut oil is melted when I add the 9 tablespoons, I feel like some people dealing with wetness could be adding that in when it’s solid.

  42. Katya says

    I made this cake for my son’s birthday. The original seemed that it would be too sweet, though, so I used exactly half the amount of honey, and it turned out fantastic! Nobody suspected that it wasn’t a SAD cake (even family members who saw white beans cooking on the stove.)

    I used Paleo Orange Frosting (modified recipe from the Paleo Baking Company – online).

    Thanks, Kate!


  1. […] I’m not gonna lie… we like sweets in our household. We try to limit them, however, and find “better” ways to make things by soaking, fermenting, or using switching to natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. I often convert a recipe with grains to soak it overnight, like I did with Irene’s Famous Chocolate Cake. And my family (including my super-sweet loving husband) loves Modern Alternative Mama’s White Bean Cake. […]

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