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Gluten free cake making

Gluten free baking

When it comes to baking cakes, there's no need to shy away from making your favourite cakes, cupcakes and brownies because you can't have gluten.

Instead, baking gluten free cupcakes and cakes can be a great way to experiment with different flour, baking aids and flavours. Check out our hints and tips for successful gluten free baking.

What role does gluten have in traditional cake baking?

Gluten is a protein and is found in all standard wheat flours used for cake making.

Gluten traditionally gives cakes their structure. Without gluten, cakes are drier and more crumbly but there are a number of products you can use to try and counter this.

How to bake gluten-free cakes, cupcakes and other bakes without gluten

The key to a great gluten free cake or gluten free cupcake is experimentation. Trying new flours such rice, tapioca or potato are great ways to add texture to your cakes in the absence of gluten. There are plenty of gluten free self raising and plain flours available on the market which will help you make great gluten free cakes.

Xanthan gum is a useful ingredient for baking with gluten free mixes as it improves the texture and shelf life of your baked products. It works very much like gluten by binding ingredients during the baking process to give a conventional texture. When added to gluten free flour mixes, it replaces the gluten 'stretch factor'.

Xanthan gum comes in a powder form which dissolves easily in water. Mix it with the gluten free mix before adding any liquid. You may need to use a bit more liquid as the xanthan gum thickens the mixture quite a lot. It does not need heat to thicken like flour does, but it is not affected by oven temperatures either, making it quite versatile. 

Gluten free sponge cakeGluten free cake recipes

Ready to start baking gluten free cakes? Try our recipe for a gluten free Victoria sponge below:

Gluten free Victoria sponge recipe

Ingredients

  • 110g gluten free self raising flour*
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 110g cooking margarine or butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence or extract
  • Strawberry or raspberry conserve
  • 280g icing sugar (for the icing)
  • 140g butter (for the icing)
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or water (for the icing)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt the butter or cooking margarine until soft - but not runny - in a large mixing bowl
  2. Mix in the caster sugar
  3. Add the flour and eggs, mixing well, then add the vanilla essence
  4. Pour the mixture evenly into two greased and lined cake tins
  5. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cakes have risen and are lightly golden. To test if they are ready, insert a skewer into the middle of the cake – if it comes out clean, the cake is ready
  6. Once cooled, spread the conserve over the top of one of the cakes
  7. To make the icing, beat together the icing sugar and butter, slowly stirring in two or three teaspoons of boiling water or milk. Be careful not to make the icing too runny
  8. Spread the icing over the top of the jam, and then carefully place the other cake on top. Sift the icing sugar over the top of the cake, then serve.

Gluten free birthday cakeGluten free birthday cakes

No matter your age, attending birthday parties can prove tough as there is bound to be a gluten-containing birthday cake on offer.

There are more and more gluten free birthday cakes available, but remember, you can always make your own. The above recipe for gluten free cake can easily be topped with fondant icing to produce a finished gluten free birthday cake everyone will enjoy. All fondant icing is gluten free and it is available at most supermarkets in a range of colours.

Method - making your own gluten free birthday cake:

  1. Follow steps 1-5 of our recipe above, then make the butter icing, doubling the quantities detailed above
  2. Spread the conserve on the top of one of the cakes, then coat this with a thin layer of butter icing
  3. Place the other non iced cake on top so you have one large cake. Spread the remaining butter icing over the top of the cake, chill for 10 minutes in the fridge, then brush with the remaining conserve
  4. Roll out the fondant icing, place over your finished cake and smooth the sides with the palm of your hand, tucking the icing under the cake until you have an even finish
  5. Add your desired decorations and candles, then enjoy.

Gluten free chocolate cakeGluten free chocolate cake recipe

Everyone loves chocolate cake, so why not give our recipe for gluten free chocolate cake a go?

Ingredients

  • 100g gluten free self raising flour*
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 110g cooking margarine or butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence or extract
  • 280g icing sugar (for the icing)
  • 140g butter (for the icing)
  • 75g chocolate (milk or dark), melted* (for the icing)
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or water (for the icing)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4
  2. Melt the butter or cooking margarine until soft - but not runny - in a large mixing bowl
  3. Mix in the caster sugar
  4. Add the flour, cocoa powder and eggs, mixing well, then add the vanilla essence
  5. Pour the mixture evenly into two 20cm round greased and lined cake tins
  6. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cakes have risen and are lightly golden. To test if they are ready, insert a skewer into the middle of the cake – if it comes out clean, the cake is ready
  7. Cool completely
  8. To make the icing, beat together the icing sugar, melted chocolate and butter, slowly stirring in two or three teaspoons of boiling water or milk. Be careful not to make the icing too runny
  9. Spread the chocolate icing over the top of one of the cakes, then carefully place the other cake on top. Cover the top with more icing, then serve.

Gluten free brownies

Gluten free brownies

Chocolate brownies are a popular treat and can be easily adapted to make gluten free brownies. To make yours gluten free, switch the gluten containing plain flour for gluten free plain flour – check your Food and Drink Directory to find a suitable flour. You’ll also need to make sure the chocolate you use is suitable for a gluten free diet.

With thanks to Aaron Bosdet-Kitchener, Up and Coming Gluten-free Chef of the Year 2013 finalist, for this recipe:

Ingredients

  • 200g butter
  • 300g dark chocolate*
  • 200g gluten free plain flour*
  • 200g chopped hazelnuts or walnuts (optional)
  • 400g sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder*

Method

  1. Gently melt together the butter and chocolate
  2. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar
  3. Beat in the eggs followed by the melted butter and chocolate mixture
  4. Stir in the nuts (if using)
  5. Pour into a 150 x 200mm oiled and lined baking tray and bake at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 30 mins
  6. Cut into slices before serving warm.  

Gluten free cheesecakeGluten free cheesecake

Traditional cheesecake can be transformed into gluten free cheesecake with one simple change; swapping the gluten-containing biscuits for the base to gluten free biscuits. Check your Food and Drink Directory for suitable gluten free biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 1 150-200g packet of gluten free shortbread biscuits*
  • 75g butter
  • 200g soft cheese*
  • 150ml double cream
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon 

Method

  1. Place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush into crumbs
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. When the butter has melted, stir in the biscuit crumbs and coat them in the butter
  3. Place the mixture into an eight inch loose bottomed tin or six ramekins and press down to make an even surface
  4. Put the tin or ramekins in the fridge for 10 minutes
  5. Whisk the cream in a large mixing bowl until it forms soft peaks
  6. Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth
  7. Add the sugar and lemon juice and whisk again until smooth
  8. Place the mixture on top of the biscuit base and level the top
  9. Cover with cling film and place back in the fridge for 4 to 5 hours (or overnight) to allow the topping to set.

*Check your Food and Drink Directory for suitable products.

In recent competitions, we asked you to come up with your most inventive gluten free cupcake recipe to be crowned the best gluten free cupcake. Take a look at the winning entries below.

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