A few weeks ago, Iris over at The Daily Dietribe posted a Gluten-Free Birthday Cake challenge. My interest was immediately piqued. While birthday cake isn’t really one of my most favorite of desserts, I realize that for some, it’s practically a food group. There is a special place in Iris’s heart for birthday cake, and it’s my belief that no matter what food intolerances or allergies someone has, they should be able to enjoy those foods they love the most. For a special occasion such as a birthday, Iris ought to be able to enjoy a cake that doesn’t cause pain afterwards. I wanted to give her that cake.
So I started in my kitchen, experimenting. At first I tried to bake with stevia as the only sweetener. The first cake was terribly dense, and not sweet at all. I then attempted to increase egg whites in the batter, almost like an angel food cake, but the cake ended up so rubbery and chewy it was destined for the garbage can as well. The third cake showed promise, as I incorporated coconut nectar as a sweetener, but it was still rather coarse and tough in texture. The final cake, the one I’m showing you here, was the best gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free cake I made to date. The texture was still a wee bit more coarse than a traditional white birthday cake – I used coconut palm sugar, and I believe that had something to do with it – but it tasted good. The 100% fruit black cherry jam filling and carob “buttercream” frosting sealed the deal. Four tries later, I finally had something that would truly be considered “birthday cake”.
Like any cake, this still isn’t health food – the flours are refined, and it’s still sweet, but it’s a treat. (Especially the frosting, which I could have eaten by itself, by the spoonful…) I hope Iris likes it, and has a wonderfully happy birthday. (I wanted to ship a slice to her, but I imagine cake doesn’t travel well.)
Happy Birthday, Iris!
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Vanilla Cake
1/3 c coconut milk
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract
6 T virgin coconut oil or palm shortening
1/2 c sweet white rice flour
1/3 c plus 1 T tapioca starch
1/3 c potato starch
1/4 t xanthan gum
3/4 c coconut palm sugar
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan and lightly dust with gluten-free flour. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, extracts, and coconut oil. (warm the coconut oil slightly, if it’s solid, by microwaving for 10 seconds in the microwave.) In a large bowl, combine the sweet white rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, xanthan gum, coconut palm sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix together the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined. Spoon batter into prepared cake pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and frosting.
(This recipe makes 1 layer. For a layered cake, double the recipe.)
Carob “Buttercream” Frosting
1/4 c Earth Balance buttery spread or other vegan butter
2 c powdered coconut palm sugar (you can make this by following a recipe from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free by Amy Green – page 180)
2 T coconut milk
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 T carob powder
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, add the buttery spread, half of the powdered coconut palm sugar, the coconut milk, the vanilla, and the carob powder. Turn the mixer on medium speed and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides, until well blended. Add the rest of the powdered coconut palm sugar in batches, whisking in each addition, until the frosting is stiff enough to hold its shape. Frost cake as desired.