Simple Vegan Cake, Gluten and Nut Free

by HEAB on May 24, 2015

Edited to Add:  After speaking with Summer’s teacher, I added xanthan gum and flax seed meal to the recipe below as my cake kept turning out really crumbly.  I’d taken a photo of the handwritten recipe, and her teacher had forgotten that the xanthan gum and flax seed meal were omitted from the original.  She told me the cake turns out even better if you double the recipe, and so I’m going to try that next time.

Summer started school this past January, and birthdays are considered pretty big deals there.  Since her class missed celebrating Summer’s birthday this past November, her teacher decided to celebrate her half birthday.  So, last week, we all joined in a sweet little ceremony to honor 4.5 years of Summer’s life.  I’ve never celebrated a half birthday before, but I think our family should start as it’s a good excuse to eat cake, especially if it’s this cake…

6 family members x 2 birthday celebrations per person = 12 pieces of birthday cake annually.  Brilliant!

The above cake is the recipe Summer’s teacher uses for every birthday.  The kids work hard making it together in the morning, and then right before their mid-day dismissal, they share it in honor of the birthday boy/girl along with stories from the family, songs, birthday candles, and a gift.  Summer’s party reminded me how much we love her school – it’s a really special place.

Anyway, about that cake – It’s gluten free and vegan (Just like the cupcakes we ate for school birthdays 20 years ago, right?  Speaking of birthdays of years past, anyone remember attending parties at McDonald’s?  Oh, how times have changed!).  This cake doesn’t come with a side of fries, but it’s yummy nonetheless.


Applesauce Birthday Cake


  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used coconut)
  • 3/4 cup honey (or maple syrup if you don’t consider honey vegan)
  • 2 cups applesauce


  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Grease 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  • In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.  Stir all wet ingredients together and then quickly combine with dry ingredients.
  • Pour into baking dish and bake at least thirty minutes.  If inserted toothpick does not come out clean, bake until it does.





Kristin June 4, 2015 at 3:37 am

Great cake recipe, looks yummy.Can’t wait to try this out. Thanks for sharing.

HEAB June 4, 2015 at 6:55 am

You’re welcome. Thanks for reading Kristin. 🙂

Michelle June 3, 2015 at 2:36 pm

What can I use in place of the flax seed meal? I have an adverse reaction to flax. 🙁 This cake sounds yummy!

HEAB June 3, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Hi Michelle,
Chia seeds or an egg should work in place of the flax seed meal. I haven’t tried either, but you just need some sort of binder. Hope this helps!

Tori Lorvig May 30, 2015 at 1:47 pm

What type of school does your daughter go to? Sounds like the type of celebrations my Waldorf school had when I was little.

HEAB May 30, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Hi Tori,
Summer attends a Waldorf school here in Nashville – it’s an amazing place, and we’re grateful to be there. Looking back, did you enjoy your time at your Waldorf school? I’m always interested in hearing about former Waldorf students’ experiences as we’re thinking of sending all our children to Summer’s school.

Tori Lorvig May 30, 2015 at 4:36 pm


I attended Waldorf school for two years of kindergarten then up to eighth grade, after that I went to public high school. I loved Pine Hill and I truly believe that Waldorf cultivates a way of learning that public schools don’t. I was, however, glad to go to public school as a teenager because at that time I needed the competitive attitude. While some people are skeptical about Waldorf not teaching the right subjects, when I entered 9th grade at the local school school I was a year ahead in math, writing and reading ( I couldn’t fully read until 3rd grade) and at a French 3 and German 2 level. I also could say I performed in a circus and Shakespeare play. In my high school the top four students had either attended Waldorf or been home schooled until middle school.

HEAB May 31, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Wow, thanks for your response Tori – sounds like you enjoyed your Waldorf experience, and it’s helpful for my husband and I read stories like yours as we navigate this whole school decision thing. Definitely leaning towards Waldorf. 🙂

Purelytwins May 26, 2015 at 2:33 pm

We didn’t do McDonalds birthdays, we did more pool parties with pizza and cookie cakes 🙂 This cake sounds like a better option

HEAB May 30, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Lori & Michelle,
Since Charlie and Katie have a June bday, I see many pool parties in our future. Sounds good to me! 🙂

BarbaraG May 25, 2015 at 7:29 pm

A half-year birthday celebration what a wonderful idea. Summer almost 5. Happy birthday. The cake looks great I’m going to try it.

HEAB May 30, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Thanks Barbara,
I know – I can’t believe she’s almost five either. Those years went by way too fast! I just made the cake again today, but it came out so crumbly. Not sure where I went wrong – might have been the brand of brown rice flower I was using? Oh well, just means I need to make another one, right? 🙂

Tracy May 25, 2015 at 12:15 pm

The cake sounds delicious! I think it would be really good with almond or another extract (lemon?) too!

We always celebrate half birthdays in our house! It’s also a good time to choose some toys to give away instead of receive 🙂

4.5 years! A little lady! Hard to believe. Happy half birthday, Summer! And happy summer to all of your family! xoxo

HEAB May 30, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Oooh yes, I’m thinking perhaps a little lemon zest? good call! And I love the thought of giving away toys for a half birthday party. You’re so full of great ideas!!!

Christine (The Raw Project) May 25, 2015 at 9:49 am

Great cake recipe, looks wonderful. I actually don’t think I ever went to a McDonald’s party as a kid. But yes, times have changed!

Sarah May 25, 2015 at 12:29 am

Love it! I’ll be having my big girls make this with me this week. 🙂

HEAB May 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Hi Sarah,
How did your cake turn out? I just made another one, and it totally fell apart. Not sure what happened. I’m thinking it was the brand of brown rice flour I used? Still edible if used as a topping for ice-cream. 😉

Sarah May 30, 2015 at 3:21 pm

So funny that you responded today because I JUST made this for the second time last night for a playdate that is currently underway. Note that I said “last night,” because that’s the trick! When I made the cake last week for our home group, we cut into it while it was still warm and like you said, pretty crumbly<–but oh, those crumbles were delicious…everyone wanted the recipe! So I figured this time I would make it the night before, let it cool completely, and then refrigerate it. It worked like a charm! The kids were eating it today like a snack cake and it stayed in tact…didn't even need plates and forks. I also reduced the maple syrup (my honey sub) down to 1/3 c. and it was still plenty sweet and not dry at all (I intentionally avoided the "m" word right there), and they may have helped the texture too.

Geez…maybe I should just start a food blog myself.

Sarah May 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm

*that, not they

Forget what I said about that blog thing. 🙂

HEAB May 31, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Haha, you make me laugh. 🙂
So, I refrigerated our remaining crumbly cake, and although it held up a little better, we still had crumbs. So, I spoke with Summer’s teacher at a picnic today, and she told me she’d left off the xanthan gum and flax seed meal from the original handwritten recipe (I’d snapped a photo of it with my phone), and that they always double the recipe. Definitely trying the new version soon (edited recipe above) as we LOVE the taste.

Healthy Bee May 24, 2015 at 11:41 pm

The cake looks delicious. I love the half birthday idea! Will definitely celebrate the half birthday in my family now. 😀

Liz S. May 24, 2015 at 11:22 pm

Hello, deliciousness! Perfect celebration cake. And oh yes – I attended many McDonald’s party room events as a child. It was fun, not gonna lie! You’re right, those parties never happen anymore (do McDonald’s locations even have party rooms anymore? Haha).

Enjoy the long weekend! xx

HEAB May 30, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Hey Liz,
Haha – the party room!!! Yeah, I think those are probably gone. 🙁 Not gonna lie either – still love me some McDonalds soft serve! 😉

Cherie May 24, 2015 at 11:07 pm

Sounds like a fun way for the children to celebrate and refreshing to hear of a teacher not loading them up on sugar, like our poor kids went through! Can’t wait to try the recipe.

HEAB May 30, 2015 at 3:08 pm

It was a constant train of sugar when I was growing up – bday and holiday parties always involved cupcakes or candy. I’m fine with a little sugar or some bday cake, but the holiday candy just about kills me. So many Reese’s. 😉

Susan May 24, 2015 at 7:17 pm

I do remember attending friends’ Birthday parties at McDonald’s but my mom never offered for me to have one there. Now I can see why! LOL. The recipe for this cake is perfect timing as we are having a BBQ w/ family tomorrow and my dad is celiac. All I need to get is applesauce and then I have everything I need to make this which I am going to do tomorrow. It will be wonderful. Thank you and so happy to see more blogs from you, Heather.

HEAB May 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm

Thanks Susan, and I hope you and your family enjoyed the cake. I just made another one today, and it turned out so crumbly. Not sure where I went wrong – still yummy though. Perfect ice-cream topper, right? 😉

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