Paleo Coffee Cake

This grain-free, refined sugar-free coffee cake is a healthier alternative to classic coffee cake, and is great for breakfast or brunch.

Paleo Coffee Cake - grain-free and refined sugar-free made with coconut flour, arrowroot flour, and pure maple syrup | #glutenfree #healthy #breakfast #brunch #recipe

Fluffy, nutty, sweet, cinnamon-y coffee cake. Le sigh…nothing compares (<- sang like Sinead O’Connor).

One of my recent freelance projects was a tutorial on how to make classic coffee cake. Mmmmmm coffeeee caaaaaaaake. Soooo buttery, sugary, and gluten-y. Delicious, right? It’s my favorite breakfast treat next to the cheese danish. In spite of how much I love the stuff, I just couldn’t justify laying mouth on it on account of how un-great it is for you. So I gave the whole dang cake away. But was instantly left with a massive craving…for – you guessed it – coffee cake.

Paleo Coffee Cake - grain-free and refined sugar-free made with coconut flour, arrowroot flour, and pure maple syrup | #glutenfree #healthy #breakfast #brunch #recipe

As soon as the classic version left the house, I put my thing down, flipped it and reversed it and made a healthier grain-free, refined sugar-free coffee cake. where has this been all my life?!

Paleo Coffee Cake - grain-free and refined sugar-free made with coconut flour, arrowroot flour, and pure maple syrup | #glutenfree #healthy #breakfast #brunch #recipe

Is it justlike regular coffee cake? Nay. But it’s pretty close! It turns out surprisingly fluffy for being gluten-free, with the nicest nutty cinnamon crunch. I’ve been heating up big hunks for breakfast and drizzling full-fat coconut milk on top to get my sog on.

 Paleo Coffee Cake - grain-free and refined sugar-free made with coconut flour, arrowroot flour, and pure maple syrup | #glutenfree #healthy #breakfast #brunch #recipe

The nutty topping involves nothing more than walnuts, maple syrup, cinnamon, butter and smidge of coconut flour. The base of the cake is made with coconut flour and arrowroot flour (<- very similar to tapioca flour, which I told you about in my Paleo Raspberry Crumble post).

Arrowroot flour may sound like one of those foreign ingredients only hippies use, but it’s actually very commonly used in grain-free baking. In fact, it is an incredible resource for making baked goods airy and fluffy, which is what it does for this coffee cake. Arrowroot flour comes from the arrowroot plant, and can often be used interchangeably with tapioca flour. If you don’t have arrowroot or tapioca flour on-hand, you can replace it with almond flour, but the cake won’t turn out quite as fluffy.

The recipe listed in this post doesn’t turn out super sweet (just the way I like my baked goods), but you can double up on the maple syrup or simply serve the coffee cake with maple syrup or honey.

Paleo Coffee Cake - grain-free and refined sugar-free made with coconut flour, arrowroot flour, and pure maple syrup | #glutenfree #healthy #breakfast #brunch #recipe

Coffee cake, reloaded.

Paleo Coffee Cake - grain-free and refined sugar-free made with coconut flour, arrowroot flour, and pure maple syrup | #glutenfree #healthy #breakfast #brunch #recipe

Paleo Coffee Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 1 8" x 8" coffee cake
Author: Julia
Recipe adapted from Nourishing Gourmet's Coffee Cake (Grain-Free and Refined Sugar-Free) Recipe updated 6/27/2015


For the Cake:

For the Walnut Topping:


Prepare the walnut topping:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients for the walnut topping in a small bowl. Stir well to combine and set aside.

Prepare the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly butter or oil a 8" x 8" baking dish.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the coconut flour, arrowroot flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, coconut milk, and butter. Pour this wet mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Note: The batter will be thick.
  4. Pour half of the cake batter into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Spread half of the walnut topping over the batter. Repeat for the remaining cake batter and walnut topping.
  5. Bake on the center rack for 28 to 35 minutes or until cake tests clean when poked in the center (Note: mine took 32 minutes).
  6. Allow cake to sit 20 minutes before cutting large chunks and serving.

Recipe Notes

*You can also use tapioca flour or almond flour
**Use up to 2/3 cup pure maple syrup for a sweeter cake


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  1. Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies

    I just bought arrowroot flour to use in body butter and was wondering what I could do with the extra 8 cups I accidentally bought but don’t need. THISSSSSS. Because once I see coffee cake, time basically drags on at a snail’s pace until I eat coffee cake. Fact.

    1. Julia Post author

      Almond’s a great one too – Next time I bake coffee cake, I’m going to try out the recipe with almond instead of arrowroot…will let ya know how it turns out!

    1. Julia Post author

      I know, hard to believe, right?! I was absolutely dumbfounded when the thing came out of the oven all poofy and delicious.

  2. Christine

    This is incredible. My family enjoyed it so much this morning. Thank you for sharing!
    Asheville NC

  3. Julie

    I tried this recipe today using arrowroot. The topping was chopped fresh strawberries under the streusel, which I made with hazelnut meal because I am out of walnuts. No other changes. Everything looked great, but there is way too much baking soda in this recipe and not enough acidity to neutralize it, so the whole cake tasted bitter from it and was pretty much inedible. Did you mean baking powder by any chance? Next time I’ll try this with either 2 tsp baking powder, or 1/2 tsp soda.

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Julie, my sincere apologies for the coffee cake not turning out! The measurement was supposed to be for baking powder, not baking soda. I made the change in the recipe – I’m so sorry again for the error!

      1. Julie

        No worries. At least my experience will prevent future issues. 🙂 And for the record, using hazelnut meal in the streusel worked out great… it was more wet than crumbly, and I just dolloped it strategically over the strawberries.

  4. Diana

    Hi, I just made your coffee cake today and it was a treat after a month of nothing at all like this. We threw some raspberries in the batter and that was really good, too. When I make it next time, a little extra sweetner will be nice… maybe some stevia, but not too much.

    Thank you so much for posting this!

    (oh, the instructions still say backing soda instead of powder)

  5. Anastasia

    The cake turned out delicious!!! Thank you so much for the recipe! Drizzled with my salted carame itl is perfection ☺️

  6. Robin H

    This looks fantastic. I’ve been looking at a lot of Paleo coffee cake recipes today, trying to decide which one to try. I’m a bit torn on this one. It looks so delicious, but the arrowroot makes me concerned about the glycemic load, especially with the addition of maple syrup. What’s your take on that? By the way, I’m not super low carb, but I do try to be careful to keep insulin from going out of whack.

  7. Polly

    This is darned good, especially for Paleo cake,mwhich is difficult to do. I live in altitude and made some adjustments, but even hubby liked it! I did end up putting more maple syrup (as per your alternative instructiins above). Also, be careful not to overbake, watch carefully.

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  9. ceri

    I’m confused, is this a coffee cake or walnut cake as I can’t find how much coffee to go in the recipe. Thanks

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Ceri. Coffee cake is a type of cake that you enjoy with coffee…there usually isn’t any coffee in the recipe. Let me know if you have any other questions! 😀

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  11. Karen

    Made this tonight, hubby & I totally enjoyed it with a cup of coffee. Used what I had on hand, subsitute coconut oil for butter, xylitol for the syrup & tapioca flour for arrowroot powder and alomonds for walnuts.
    Thank you for a very delish dessert!

    1. Julia Post author

      I’m so happy to hear it, Karen! I like the idea of using xylitol to make it sugar-free – I’ll have to do so soon!

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  15. IZZY


  16. Glynnis

    This turned out yummy with a little change of 1/2 cup ground almonds as I didnt have much arrowroot, a real winner, but am I missing something? I couldn’t find coffee in the recipe so it ended up a walnut cake (scrummy anyway)
    Will try again with coffee in it just to experiment…

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Glynnis,

      OH good, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Coffee cake typically doesn’t have coffee in it – it’s named “coffee cake” because it’s a traditional treat to serve with coffee. BUT I bet coffee would taste AMAZING in the cake nonetheless! Let me know if you try it!

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  18. Jessa

    This is DELICIOUS! I made a few alterations: I only used 3 eggs, I substituted pecans for walnuts, I used 1/2 maple syrup in the batter and substituted coconut sugar for maple syrup in the topping. I’ve tried several paleo coffee cake recipes and this is, by far, the best! It seriously rivals a sugar-filled coffee cake. This is a keeper! Thank you!

    1. Julia Post author

      I’m so happy you like the coffee cake, Jessa!! It’s definitely one of my favorite treats 😀 Your alterations sound great! I’ll have to try your version soon! xo

  19. Donna

    This was a delicious, lightly sweetened coffee cake that was light and fluffy. I will make it with 1/2 c maple syrup next time because I would have preferred it just a little sweeter. It had the perfect amount of sweetness for my husband though. Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Julia Post author

      I’m so glad you and your husband enjoyed the coffee cake! My little secret when I’m in the mood for something sweeter, is I’ll sprinkle the coffee cake with coconut sugar or drizzle with pure maple syrup just before eating it 😉 Kind of defeats the purpose of adding less sugar in the first place, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, you know? 😉 Thanks so much for the feedback! xo

  20. Willow

    Hi! I tried your coffee cake and my family and I really enjoyed it! The texture kinda amazed me. Do you think I could tweak the recipe a bit and bake in a loaf pan to make bread? I would probably leave off the topping. How long do you think it would bake for?

    Thanks a bunch!

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Willow,

      I’m so happy to hear you like the coffee cake! I bet you could bake it in a loaf pan without any issues. My guess is it would take between 45 and 55 minutes to bake all the way through. I would set the timer for 40 and if it looks done, I’d turn the oven off and leave the loaf in the hot oven for another 5 – 10 minutes to be sure it’s baked through. Let me know if you end up trying it!! And thank you kindly for the feedback! xo

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  22. Holly

    Can you swap out coconut flour for fresh ground flax seed? the Paleo wheat bread is arrowroot and flax seed, it is a total ‘bread’ combo, would that be wrong for this type of ‘cake’?

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Holly,

      I wouldn’t recommend swapping the coconut flour for anything since it’s such a finicky flour – it absorbs 4 times more liquid than any other flour, so you’d need to play with the measurements quite a bit. Sorry about that!

  23. Adelle

    I made this with almond flour (instead of arrowroot), cut down the butter by 1/2 and added a teaspoon of vanilla to the cake batter. Came out very well, thanks for sharing!

  24. Nadine

    Making for my niece for Christmas, as she can only eat Paleo & this is my first attempt at baking for her. My ? is can you freeze this coffee cake, if so for how long. when it defrost does it still taste the same. As I have never baked with these flours any advice you can give me is greatly appreciated! Many thanks!

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Nadine!

      You can definitely freeze the coffee cake, no problem! What I do is allow the cake to cool to room temperature and then wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and seal it in a zip lock bag – this way you avoid freezer burn. It should be fine for up to 1 month in the freezer. Generally, I think baked goods are at their absolute best when fresh, but it will still be nice and fluffy after it has thawed. You can either thaw the whole coffee cake and then reheat it in the oven, or slice off pieces and microwave them for 45 – 60 seconds. Other than that, my only advice would be to pour the coconut flour into the measuring cup versus packing it, as coconut flour is very absorbent. So in essence, it’s a loose measurement rather than a packed measurement if that makes sense 🙂 Let me know if you have any other questions!!

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  32. Trish

    Hi! This is the healthy coffee cake recipe I have been searching for..I love baking with maple syrup in place of sugar too. Thank you for the recipe, can’t wait to try it.

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