Summer Celebration Cake | Gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, migraine-friendly, low-sodium | Recipe Renovator
Happy summer and happy 4th Blogiversary to Recipe Renovator! I wanted to celebrate with a lovely, fresh cake to thank you all for reading for past four years. It took several attempts, but I managed to create a vanilla sponge cake that follows the migraine AND low-sodium rules and is also grain-free. You can make this completely dairy-free by using coconut whipped cream for the topping, or go decadent with regular whipped cream. Both are sweetened with stevia and complement the fresh berries perfectly!

This was inspired by an article on hot milk sponge cake, three ways, in Eating Well. The cakes were developed by master baker Nick Malgieri, and got me thinking about how important it is to celebrate life, even if we have eating challenges. My birthday and anniversary kick off the summer, so I played around with the cake recipe, making it a few times to get a result I was happy with. Once there, topping it with whipped cream and berries is fast and easy.

If you want to make this with coconut whipped cream, make sure you put the cans in the fridge the night before!

The recipe renovation

I looked at Nick’s recipe, and referred to my copy of Gluten-Free Baking For Dummies for a cake recipe that might work as a starting point. That was helpful for the flour ratio (50% starch to protein), but my first try, made with butter, wasn’t the texture I was looking for. For my second try I switched to olive oil, using beautiful blood orange olive oil from the Temecula Olive Oil Company; it added wonderful flavor to the cake. I reduced the amount of oil in the second try, adding sparkling water for some lift and folding in the whipped egg whites to lighten the batter as much as I could. Note that blood orange olive oil is not suitable for the migraine diet (I have already tested it for myself), so if you’re making this on the migraine diet use regular, high-quality olive oil.
Heart-shaped summer celebration cake on Recipe Renovator
Since I can’t use nuts on the migraine diet, I ground sunflower seeds into flour, pairing them with tapioca for the starch and coconut flour for the rest. I use Ener-G Baking Soda Substitute, 5.3 oz, which is sodium-free, but you have to use more of it. And not too much baking stevia, or you get an aftertaste.

I always make half recipes when testing, just in case it needs to be tossed altogether. This is my second try, with whipped coconut cream and the mint and strawberries folded into the cream. Equally delish.Summer Celebration Cake Test | Recipe Renovator
Thanks again for reading and supporting me for four years on this crazy ride through special diets.

Happy summer!

Suitable for:
low-sodium, migraine, vegetarian, gluten-free, reduced-sugar, GFCF, grain-free, paleo diets

Not for:
vegan diets

You might also like:
Light Yet Luscious Cakes by Nick Malgieri for Eating Well
Strawberry shortcake layer cake by Chocolate Moosey (traditional)
Coconut cake with lemon curd, strawberries, and whipped cream by Deliciously Organic (paleo, grain-free, reduced natural sugars)
Strawberry layer cake with cream cheese frosting from Cooking Light

Summer Celebration Cake | Gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, migraine-friendly, low-sodium | Recipe Renovator

Summer Celebration Cake | Gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, migraine-friendly, low-sodium | Recipe Renovator

Summer celebration cake

Vanilla sponge cake topped with whipped cream and fresh berries
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 20 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 20 servings


Vanilla sponge cake

  • 2 cups water (sparkling) not mineral water, which may have sodium
  • 7.05 ounces sunflower seeds raw (200 g)
  • 14.1 ounces tapioca flour can substitute arrowroot flour (I have not tested this) (400 g)
  • 7.05 ounces coconut flour (200 g)
  • 2 tbsp baking soda (sodium-free) Ener-G baking soda substitute
  • 4 eggs separated, pastured & certified humane
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin) citrus-infused if not on the migraine diets
  • 1 cup stevia (organic) for baking (NOT) packets
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened) unsweetened
  • 1-1/2 cups coconut milk LIGHT

Whipped cream topping

  • 2 cans coconut milk REGULAR, organic if possible, OR 4 ounces organic heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pint strawberries blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries (not raspberries for migraine diet)
  • 6 sprigs mint leaves (fresh)


Vanilla sponge cake

  • Measure the sparkling water and set aside. You don't want it to be too fizzy or it does weird things to the batter.
  • Prepare two round, square, or heart-shaped 8" (20 cm) cake pans by cutting parchment paper to fit the bottoms. Lightly spray the pans with coconut oil on the sides.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 4.
  • Grind the sunflower seeds to a flour in the blender. Do not overblend, stop as soon as you see the flour begin to fly around.
  • Put the sunflower seed flour into a large bowl and use the back of a big spoon to press out any lumps. Whisk the sunflower seed flour with the tapioca flour, coconut flour, and baking soda substitute until all one color.
  • Separate the eggs, setting aside the yolks. Beat the egg whites with a hand or stand mixer, adding the cream of tartar gradually, until stiff peaks form. Set aside. (If using a stand mixer, remove the egg whites to another bowl. Leave the wire whisk on the machine.)
  • In a large bowl (or the stand mixer bowl), beat the egg yolks with the olive oil, stevia, and vanilla until lightened in color. Add the applesauce and beat until well mixed.
  • Add the flour mixture and coconut milk in thirds, beating well with each addition. The batter will be very stiff. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  • With the machine off, add the sparkling water. Turn on low, gradually increasing in speed until the batter is smooth and pourable.
  • Fold in the egg whites by hand until evenly distributed.
  • Pour the batter into the two pans as evenly as possible. Rap each pan sharply on the counter 2-3 times to remove any air bubbles.
  • Bake for 35-38 minutes, until they are golden at the edges and just starting to crack slightly on top.
  • Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then loosen the cakes and flip them onto the wire racks. Cool completely before assembling.

Whipped cream

  • To make the whipped cream: Beat cold whipping cream with two packets of organic stevia until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat or it will turn into butter.
  • To make whipped coconut cream: You'll need to refrigerate the coconut milk overnight. I store mine in the fridge, a tip I picked up from Liv Life Too. Use a spoon to remove as much of the firmed-up coconut milk as possible. It may not separate completely. I strain the milky water into a storage jar, adding any lumps of the coconut milkfat from the strainer into the bowl. Beat on high, gradually adding in two packets of stevia until it turns into fluffy whipped cream, about 3-5 minutes..

Assembling the cake

  • Place the bottom layer right side up on a cake plate or stand.
  • Hull most of the strawberries, saving the prettiest ones for the top layer. Mince strawberries until you have about a cup.
  • Spread a layer of whipped cream on top of the cake , just about to the edges. Sprinkle with minced strawberries and finely chopped mint if you like.
  • Add the second layer, and top as the first, but use sliced strawberries and whole mint leaves for garnish.
  • This cake is best the day it's made, but can be stored in the refrigerator overnight.


Per serving (using whipped cream):
  • 289 calories
  • 19 g fat
  • 7 g saturated fat
  • 6 g monounsaturated fat
  • 1 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 57 g cholesterol
  • 44 mg sodium
  • 153 mg potassium
  • 24 g carbohydrate
  • 5 g fiber
  • 3 g sugars
  • 5 g protein
  • 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus
Other flavor combinations:
Blueberries and lemon zest
Blackberries and fresh oregano
Raspberries and orange or lime zest
Here are Liv Life Too's excellent how-to instructions for coconut whipped cream.
Thanks to Brandon at Kitchen Konfidence for the loan of his beautiful cake stand.
You can make just one layer and cut it in half crosswise if you have a long serrated knife and a steady hand. Make a half recipe of the cake, but the same amount of whipped cream and berries to fill it up.