For me, gluten is friend. For many, gluten is foe. Good news is, I have great recipes for both groups!
I’m going to launch a mini gluten-free series here, sharing a few of my go-to recipes. Some will be naturally gluten-free (think, no flour whatsoever in the first place), and some will use alternatives.
I’ve tested a few of the common flour substitutes, and have found a favourite: Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour (not sponsored, it just works!). This one is great because it’s an all-in-one blend; no need to worry about mixing in the correct proportion of rice flour, cassava flour, almond flour, etc. And no worries about finding xantham gum! It’s ready to go right out of the package.
Unfortunately, it still can’t be used as a direct substitute in a regular old recipe. The make-up is different than all-purpose flour, where the gluten itself plays a major role in the structure of the final product of most recipes. Gluten-free flours require slightly different ratios of ingredients, and small tweaks to procedures to produce successful bakes. Hence why I plan on doing a whole GF series (rather than just telling you to use my “regular” recipes, with a different flour!).
The first chapter in this series is a staple – vanilla cake. One of the biggest complaints I hear from people who can no longer eat gluten is that there are no fluffy, moist options for them. Everything is dense and dry, which is not at all how cakes should be!
So, my food scientist self decided to experiment to see what I could come up with. I am slightly personally motivated, as my sister can’t eat gluten and I love to make her treaties. Win for her, win for you!
This recipe is just the cake – I’m leaving it up to you to device what flavours you’d like for the frosting and the filling. I can share some recommendations though…
- Chocolate buttercream, chocolate ganache filling
- Vanilla bean buttercream, raspberry jam filling
- Homemade salted caramel buttercream, salted caramel filling
Let’s get into it!
A few tips:
- Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature before you start. I like to take them out of the fridge 2-3 hours before I plan to bake, depending on the weather that day.
- Separate your eggs when they are cold, then let them come to room temperature. Egg yolks are more delicate when warm, making them prone to breaking, which can be pretty frustrating.
- Measure your flour by weight (ok, you should really be measuring all ingredients by weight, but flour is most important). Flour is very easy to accidentally pack into a measuring cup, resulting in too much flour and a dense, dry cake.
- Sift your dry ingredients! This one is especially important for gluten-free blends, as they tend to get lumpy.
- Use real vanilla extract, or even better, vanilla bean paste. You want your vanilla cake to taste like vanilla! Not just “plain”.
- Use cake strips to ensure even baking, soft cakes, and flat tops. This will make decorating easier too!
- Let cakes cool FULLY before attempting to decorate. Otherwise, your frosting will just melt off in a soupy mess. Yummy, but not pretty.
Can this be baked in other pan sizes?
- Yes! This recipe is for a 3 layer, 6” cake, but it can easily be doubled to make a 3 layer, 8” cake, or a sheet cake, or adapted for cupcakes… See pan conversion and bake time chart below.
Can I use egg whites from a carton?
- Yes! Just measure by weight instead (25g egg white = 1 egg white from a shell).
Can I use salted butter?
- Yes! Just omit the salt from the dry ingredients.
What are cake strips? Do I really need them?
- Cake strips are a great tool, but no, they aren’t really necessary. I do highly recommend them though. See more about them here: How to Bake FLAT Cake Layers – Cake Strips, Explained!
Recipe Conversion Table – Bake Times
|Recipe Amount||Pan Size||Bake Time*|
|1x||3 x 6”||32 minutes|
|1x||12 cupcakes||24 minutes|
|2x||3 x 8”||42 minutes|
|2x||9×13” sheet||36 minutes|
If you make this recipe, please leave a review down below. And tag me on social media! I love to see your creations.
The BEST Gluten Free Vanilla Cake
- 5 T (70g) butter room temperature
- ¾ cup (150g) white sugar
- ⅙ cup (38g) canola oil
- 1 egg (50g) room temperature
- 2 egg whites (50g) room temperature
- ½ cup (113g) buttermilk room temperature
- 1 T vanilla bean paste (or 2 T vanilla extract)
- 1 cup + 3 T (305g) gluten-free flour blend must include xantham gum
- ¼ t baking soda
- 1 t baking powder
- ½ t salt
- Start soaking your cake strips by placing them in a tupperware full of warm water.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spray 3 6-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottom of each with parchment paper.
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high for 2 minutes until fluffy and lightened in colour. Drizzle in the canola oil while beating.
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition.
- Add vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together (gluten-free flour blend, baking soda, baking powder, and salt).
- Add the dry ingredients to the mixer, alternating with the buttermilk in approximately 3 equal portions. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans. Wrap the pans with cake strips.
- Bake for 32 minutes. Test the cakes for doneness using the toothpick test. They are done when a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs. If it comes out wet, bake for another 5-10 minutes.
- Once done baking, remove the pans from the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the pan for approximately 10 minutes. Then remove them from the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before decorating.
- Note: I like to wrap my layers in plastic wrap after they have cooled for only about 15 minutes, and place them in the freezer. This traps in the moisture, and makes them much easier to stack and decorate.