Whole Wheat Cake Recipe

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This whole wheat cake is perfect for special occasions such as birthdays, graduations or other celebrations.

I’ve been trying to find a way to make a good birthday cake for a long time. I’ve tried many recipes and I’ve had to throw several of them right into the trash.

A single slice of Whole Wheat Cake with raspberry filling on a white plate.

But I finally did it!

I should warn you, this cake is addictive. But if it’s your birthday, at least eating a lot of cake won’t be so bad if the cake you’re eating is clean!

I’m still trying to develop a good frosting recipe. That white frosting that makes any cake look like a birthday celebration. You know what I’m talking about… that stuff you can’t help but dip your finger into a few times while decorating the cake. Ya, that one. I need a clean version of that. And I’ll get it! Yes I will!

But in the mean time, I don’t want to leave you high and dry either. So if you don’t mind putting some chocolate pumpkin frosting on your cake, you can try the frosting I did for my Halloween cupcakes. It’s yummy stuff! A second option would be to try my Homemade Nutella, and lastly, here is a Nut Butter Frosting.

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Clean Eating Birthday Cake Recipe

Whole Wheat Cake

NOTE: This recipe makes 1 layer. Double it (and use 2 cake pans) if you want a layered cake with filling in the middle. Each layer will be approximately 1 inch high, give or take a little.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 131kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry


  • 9 inch cake pan (2 pans if you want a layered cake)


  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (affiliate link)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil (or any light flavored oil)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Then spray the inside of the pan, including the parchment with a light coat of oil from an oil sprayer.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder until well combined.
  • Whisk in all other ingredients.
  • Pour batter in to cake pan and bake for 26-30 minutes. A knife or cake tester should pull our clean.
  • Allow to cool. Run a plastic knife around the edge to separate cake from pan and then remove.
  • If you made a second layer, cover one cake with filling or frosting and place the second cake on top.


Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 131kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 16mg | Potassium: 217mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 7IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1mg

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  1. This looks delicious. I have a carrot cake recipe that is clean, but it usually is heavy. This looks lighter, and I’m sure it is delish! Thanks:)

    1. Anonymous says:

      Anna – This is definitely a lighter cake. Hope you enjoy it!

  2. ooooh I can’t wait to try this. I think I’ll try it with your chocolate pumpkin frosting. We’re chocolate lovers around here. LOL

    “Would you rather enjoy a clean cake like this, or just splurge on the not-so-clean variety on your birthday?” As long as I like the clean cake I wouldn’t mind at all to eat that instead of the not clean cake!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Katrina – You can try my nutella recipe too! Yum!

  3. Christine says:

    Yum, yum, yum! I can’t wait to try this! I bet it would be good with a bit of no-sugar strawberry preserves. I am all for having a clean birthday cake so I don’t undo all of my hard work with one cake – because if it’s in the house, it *will* be eaten, every last crumb! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Christine – Yes, it would! Enjoy!

  4. This sounds yummy! Will definitely have to try it! What about a simple fruit glaze over top instead of icing? Oh, and to answer your question…I’d WAY rather enjoy a clean treat over the ‘unclean’ version!
    Love your blog! Thanks for all of the fabulous recipies!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Kimber – Fruit glaze would be good! I used a 100% fruit spread in the middle on mine. It was yummy!

  5. Thanks Tiffany, this looks good. Curious on what filling you used in the picture?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Jen – It was a raspberry 100% fruit spread. Yum!

  6. Looks good! I’d love a cake like that for my birthday! The single layer size would make a nice treat for dessert on occasion too!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Lynn – Yes it would! Enjoy!

  7. Jandtgreen says:

    Baking powder or soda? It has baking powder listed as ingredient, but baking soda listed as with flower?

    1. Anonymous says:

      JandT – Sorry, it’s Powder. I’ll fix it.

  8. I cannot seem to find whole wheat PASTRY flour. Is it in the regular baking aisle?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Csnb99 – I get mine in the bulk section at Whole Foods. It’s something you would find at a health food store. The most common brand is Bob’s Redmill.

      1. Thank you! I’ll see if I can find it. Carole

  9. I made it 10 minutes after receiving it. It’s almost gone already between just my husband and me! Soooo moist!!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Linda – Hahaha!!! Ya, that was pretty much the story here too….

  10. Shanfun11 says:

    Have you thought about plain greek yogurt mixed with chocolate protein powder and maybe a little honey for the frosting! It may be close to that yummy cream cheese frosting my mom always does. I’m addicted to it as a snack, but I do choc protein powder, a little natural peanut butter & the plain greek ~ so yummy!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Shanfun11 – I would love to, but I can’t have the dairy. 🙁 Others here may like the idea though, so thank you for sharing!

  11. Thanks for this simply sounding delicious cake recipe!! Do you think this would be enough ingredients for a bundt cake pan, too? That way I don’t need an icing.
    In answer to the question, I would rather splurge on a clean eating cake!!! And thanks to you, I will!!!! BTW, I love your new photo of you!!!!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Laurie – Thanks so much! Honestly, I’m not sure about the bundt cake. I’d have to try it and see if it bakes well when the batter is thicker (as in, more of it). These cake layers are only about 1 inch high, so they bake pretty easily. I’ll give it a try and see what I can come up with for you.

      1. That would be great. If you don’t have time, please just give me the changes for the recipe and I’ll try it.

        1. Anonymous says:

          I’ll see what I can do!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm…. I’m not sure about that “Better than milk” powder. Not sure what that is. But the idea is intriguing! Thanks!

  13. Hey Tiffany I made this yesterday as an apple cake – I just threw in some chopped apple pieces and some cinnamon. It was amazing. Such a simple recipe – I love it!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Lisa – Fantastic!! Might have to try that myself!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Awwww, just a tad too late for my birthday, but I’ll definately give this a try one of these days. I was bad and just made a boxed mix cake for my birthday. Too much to do and didn’t have enough time to hunt down a clean or healthier recipe. Can’t wait to give this a try though!

    Now, I need a substitute for that sickeningly sweet buttercream frosting I love so much!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Anon – Ya, that’s what I want to “clean up” to use with this cake. I’ll get it. It’ll just take me some time to figure it out.

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  16. Raegan Brown says:

    One of my girlfriends is doing a fitness competition on 2 weeks and today was her birthday. I made this cake, double layer, with the Halloween Icing suggestion. The only thing I substituted was flax meal for the egg whites, cause I only had one egg white. This cake smells great in the oven. Looks great on the cake plate. The best part was watching the whole thing get eaten with smiles all around. Great Recipe!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Raegan – That is soooooo awesome!!! And what a great way to support your friend!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Jane – Sounds great! thanks for sharing!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Jane – Yum! Thank you! This sounds wonderful! I don’t have much experience with making custard, but that may have to change here shortly. Thanks!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Marybeth – Oh my! 1 cup would be FAAAAAR too much! Perhaps 2-3 tablespoons would be more than enough. You could even remove a tablespoon or two of flour so you are replacing instead of adding.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Lori – if it doesn’t work, make 2 layers and bake them separately.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Christina – What a wonderful way to improvise! Glad it worked out!

  22. do you think would be okay in cupcakes? i want to make them for a child’s birthday party.

    1. Anonymous says:

      e4hand – Sure! They may not bake as long though, so keep an eye on them.

  23. graciouspantry says:

    Lynn – Sounds yummy!

  24. graciouspantry says:

    Nicole – Sounds interesting! Let me know how it turns out!

  25. graciouspantry says:

    Akratledge – Sounds wonderful! Glad you enjoyed it!

  26. graciouspantry says:

    Nicole – Wow! Sounds wonderful! Enjoy!

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    1. graciouspantry says:

      Katiem – Let me know how you like it!

  30. Jamersd13 says:

    This was a HUGE hit at my son’s 1st birthday…I also made frosting from yogurt cheese, vanilla, and powdered turbinado (sp) sugar.

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Jamersd – Fantastic!!!

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  32. graciouspantry says:

    I would use some pure orange extract and some fresh orange zest. Orange juice would give this too much liquid.

  33. Christina says:

    My daughter just read the book Pinkalicious and asked me to make pink cupcakes! Any recommendations on what I could use to turn this cake pink?! Any frosting recommendations? Thanks!

    1. graciouspantry says:

      The only thing I can think of would be either raspberry juice, pomegranate juice or beet juice. Probably not the pink you are looking for though. I have a Peanut Butter Dip that makes great icing, but you’d have the same problem with the pink. Good luck!

  34. Cleanfitinspiration (Kris) says:

    Just put this in the oven for my husband’s bday, added cocoa for a chocolate flavor….hope it comes out! 🙂

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Me too! Let me know…

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  36. i goofed and made this with regular whole wheat flour – will that not be as good? Its for my daughter’s birthday and I want a nice fluffy cake.

    1. graciouspantry says:

      It will be more dense. Not as light and fluffy. But the flavor will be about the same.

  37. Laurel Steele says:

    Wow! I am so happy I found your blog! I am allergic to refined sugar. I just made your cinnamon rolls. YUM!!! Can’t wait to try this on my birthday,

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Fantastic! Welcome!

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  40. graciouspantry says:

    Gosh, I’m not sure. I’ve never tried that with this recipe. I would say check them after 15 minutes, and then every 3 minutes after that.

  41. Jacquelyn says:

    Can you use coconut flour instead?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      No. You’d have to reformulate the entire recipe. Coconut flour is very different.

  42. Can I use the whole egg? I hate separating egg whites! Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Sure. I use 1 whole egg for every 2 egg whites.

  43. Hi there! I’d like to make this cake but chocolate flavoured! Would you recommend maybe adding raw cacao powder? If so then how much?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      I would say about a 1/2 cup. Just watch the liquid content as cocoa powder tends to really soak up the liquids. Make the batch first and THEN add the cocoa powder just so you can monitor the change in consistency.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      No, but thanks for sharing!

  44. Can I use agave instead of honey? I’m thinking of using this for my sons first birthday but I know honey is a no no until 2.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Brittany – Agave isn’t clean, but yes, you can use it in equal amounts.

  45. In reference to one of the comments regarding Agave. Agave is actually “clean.” I have been following a no to low sugar, very clean diet for years. Agave is a sugar but it is not process or refined and keeps you body’s blood sugars at an even level. It is a viable choice and good substitution for honey.

  46. Can anyone tell me how best to make this a chocolate cake? My guess is coco powder but wouldn’t be sure how much to use….want to layer the eat clean Nutella in between and the nut frosting on top to make a chocolate extravaganza!!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Emma – Depends on how chocolatey you want it to be. If you just want color and a mild chocolate flavor, you can simply add 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. But if you want more than that, I would reduce the flour as you add cocoa powder.

  47. I’m trying this today with cupcakes and mini cupcakes. I used melted coconut oil in place of the safflower and it solidified in little chunks by the time it went into the oven so I’m really hoping it still turns out… 😛 I’m guessing it’ll melt pretty quick and hopefully incorporate a bit before it bakes.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Melissa – Let me know how they turn out!

  48. I just made this today. It’s only about an inch thick (and I saw a note about that in one of the comments). I doubled the recipe to make 2 tiers. I thought I did something wrong, but I guess it’s supposed to be an inch thick? Haven’t tasted yet, but reviews can get one excited!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Robin – Ya, it’s not a very tall cake. 1 inch is about right, give or take. I think mine may have come out a tad bit taller, but that could be just basic differences in ingredients or ovens.

  49. The cupcakes were great! They were a little more dense than a traditional cake, but definitely worth it to avoid refined sugar! They tasted like honey. I used a whipped cream frosting (also made with a bit of honey) and topped them with fresh berries. Mmmm…

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Melissa – Fantastic!!! So glad you enjoyed them! 😀

  50. How dense is this cake. My sister is going to decorate with fondant (not clean, I know) but she says the cake needs to be kind of dense to do more than one layer.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Britnee – It should hold up fine. It’s not terribly dense, but it will stand up.

  51. Tofutti cream cheese is supposed to be a good frosting replacement to use.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Maddie – Is it clean?

  52. hey! possible to replace the eggwhites with something else?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Nav – To get rid of them completely or because you don’t want to throw out the yolk?

  53. to get rid of them completely? anything you can substitute them with?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Nav – You could try unsweetened apple sauce, but I’m not sure you’d get the same result.

  54. What extract do you use? Most of the natural extracts I find have Propylene glycol in them…is that considered clean? I’d like to try it with a caramel extract…

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Amanda – Most health food stores will have extracts without that. I get mine at whole foods or a local health food store.

  55. Suggestions for replacing the honey? I would like to make this for my baby’s 1st b-day but I know she’s not supposed to eat honey yet…

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Alaina – I would try maple syrup. It may not taste quite as sweet, but for a 1 year old, that’s not a big deal. They have overly sensitive taste buds anyway. 🙂

  56. Hello! Thank you very much for this wonderful blog. I never use soda or baking powder, so I wonder if I can do without either of those in this recipe; will the cake bake well? I also tend not to use vinegar substituting it with lemon juice.
    I will be grateful for your reply!
    Thank you!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Alla – No, the cake would not turn out the same without soda or powder. It would not rise very well. The vinegar/lemon juice is up to you. 🙂

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