Low-Carb Gluten-Free Microwave Lemon Cake!

Oh yum! Oh joy! Oh happiness of cakey goodness! Ever since going Paleo/low-carb, I have missed cake.  Not the overwhelming sweetness, but the delightful, light, soft texture. Moist, spongy cake is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but alas, a low-carb diet leaves little room for cake.

low carb lemon cakeHere’s one that is low carb and gluten free (bonus round), and cooks up in less than three minutes in the microwave. How is cool is that?

My experience before now with low-carb and gluten-free cakes and breads has been that they tend to be either dry and crumbly or dense. Good, but not satisfying in the way I expect baked goods to satisfy. This recipe was a very pleasant surprise (if ‘screeching delight’ can be translated as ‘pleasant surprise’)…it’s as moist and springy as the best pudding-in-the-mix brands (okay, so I heart box cakes…in a previous lifestyle).

Coconut flour and almond flour are excellent replacements for regular wheat flour, inherently low carb and loaded with fiber, especially coconut flour. Coconut flour also bakes up light and fluffy, and without adding a noticeable coconut taste.  Almond flour is a little denser. Both are available online, which is where I get mine; you can find them at places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but at a premium, esp. WF. Online, I pay about $7 per lb.

In place of Splenda (it’s not Paleo, and artificial sweeteners make me feel lousy), I used 2 tsp of fresh orange juice. Yes, I know OJ has carbs, but very little in that amount, and you can use stevia if you prefer to avoid any blood sugar/insulin effects. Even if you don’t add any sweetener at all, if you have been doing low-carb for a while, your sweet-sense is no longer tuned to Extreme Fruit Loops Level. In that case you may find the lemon juice and the lemon zest provide just enough sweetness. I have made it both ways, and it’s good unsweetened too.

Don’t skimp on the lemon zest — it provides tons of yum and texture and lots of lemony goodness. Orange zest is just as good, and a bit sweeter. Lemon extract makes it super intense; almond extract does nicely with the lemon; vanilla extract just provides a little baked-good boost of flavor without being dominant. Extra citrus taste makes up for the lack of sugar, too.

I didn’t add an extra amount of oil/mayo; I found that with the butter and heavy cream the batter was moist enough. Your mileage may vary, of course.

This is a very tiny cake; 4 tiny servings at 60g each, or 2 larger 120g servings, but it’s not Standard Cake Size (umm…that is, a 9 inch x 6 inch birthday sized cake). It’s about 6 inches x 1.5 inch when done. If you want to expand this recipe to feed more humans, use a microwave-safe Bundt pan. The way microwaves cook, the center is the last to set, and the more batter there is, the less likely the middle will cook before the edges are overdone. A Bundt is a must if you scale this up and plan to still use the microwave, unless you don’t mind pudding-in-the-middle (hmm…!).

Oh, and if you don’t have a microwave, make pancakes.  🙂


2 Tbsp  melted butter or coconut oil (remember: Fat is your friend!)
2 beaten eggs
grated zest and juice from ½ lemon
splash vanilla, lemon, or almond extract
1/3 cup Splenda* (or equivalent stevia*, or 2 tsp fresh orange juice, or nothing — to taste)
2 Tbsp coconut flour
2 Tbsp almond flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp oil or mayo for moistness
dash heavy cream (I put in 1 fluid oz)

*see sweetener equivalency chart here.

Mix it all up in a small, lightly oiled bowl (I used a cereal bowl) and microwave in the same bowl for 1 minute 20 seconds. Check. If still moist in the center, continue microwaving on med-high in 20 second intervals (so the edges won’t scorch) until center is cooked. It comes out nice and spongy and citrusy. Eat out of the bowl or upend onto a plate and slice and serve. Very good warm with coffee or tea!

(Coconut oil has a wonderful, delicate, coconutty flavor, though that is lost under the intense lemon in this recipe. It’s delicious for frying chicken in.)

Each piece (approx 60 grams) with OJ, if the cake is cut 4 ways, is:

Calories: 159
Fat: 14g
Protein: 4.8g
Carbs: 4.3g
Fiber: 2.5g
Net Carbs: 1.8g

…Not bad for CAKE!!  Regular, store bought lemon cake has 27g net carbs…in my estimation, this recipe is a total score.

Nutrition Info for the whole cake (2 – 4 servings), according to FitDay:

Calories: 635
Fat: 55g
Protein: 19g
Carbs: 17g
Fiber: 10g
Net Carbs: 7g

Also good after dinner. Or for dinner...

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