I’ve been creating, if I do say so myself, some really pretty nice vanilla cakes lately. I made a classic birthday cake round with chocolate buttercream for E’s half-birthday last month and unfortunately it went so fast I didn’t take any proper photos. So that’s on the agenda for a do-over, and I’m very much looking forward to it! Then I just did a lovely vanilla butter cake adapted from my reliable yellow butter cake recipe and topped it with a beautifully pink raspberry jam frosting, which I’m sharing today. I think it’s so important to have these kinds of cakes in your baking arsenal; you can top with them as many glazes or icings as you can think up, double the recipe for a more involved layer cake, or use as a base for anything else you can think of.
This gluten-free rendition of one of my favorite basic cakes calls for maple sugar, a natural sweetener I know I include often in my bakes because it brings such a lovely, lightly sweet, almost caramelized flavor note that is happy with any flours you choose to go alongside it. I do realize maple sugar is a little pricey compared to granulated sugar, so you can always substitute white sugar in my recipes that call for maple sugar in a 1:1 swap. I buy my maple sugar from amazon in a 3-pound container and you’d be surprised at how long it lasts. I’ve linked it here.
The flour mix calls for four flours — slightly more than usual but I think it’s warranted. Sweet rice flour binds the cake while whole grain oat and sorghum flours bring texture and a hint of natural sweetness. A bit of tapioca starch helps keep the cake light. The result is a tender, very cake-like cake that you’d be hard pressed to tell is gluten-free. And isn’t that the goal of gluten-free baking?! A thick raspberry jam frosting takes it over the top.
The world has been feeling pretty heavy lately; as I get older I find I have absolutely no tolerance for any kind of injustice or violence and it is unbearable to watch it unfolding yet again and in real time. It’s hard to concentrate on things like cake, or work, or even the nice weather when you are all too aware of the suffering going on all around the world. But these things — cake, having work to do, and nice weather — are not to be taken for granted if we are lucky enough to have them.
If you feel as impotent as I do during this latest bout of what a journalist I follow on Instagram calls an “evil, nonsensical conflict” some places to donate include (and of course there are many more):
Til next time – N x
Need substitutions? Swap arrowroot for the sweet rice flour, millet flour for the oat, buckwheat flour for the sorghum, and cornstarch or potato starch for the tapioca starch (note: flavor profile will change!). Try sucanat in place of the maple sugar or just use granulated sugar. For the frosting, use regular powdered sugar for the powdered coconut sugar.
Gluten-Free Butter Cake with Raspberry Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup maple sugar or sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup/75 g cup sweet white rice flour
- ¼ cup + 3 tbsp/50 g gluten-free oat flour
- ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp/40 g sorghum flour
- ½ cup/50 g tapioca flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ⅛ tsp fine sea salt
- ½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½+ cup homemade powdered sugar or powdered sugar
- 3-5 tbsp raspberry jam
- 1-2 tbsp whole milk
- Line the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan with a circle of parchment. I used a heart-shaped pan!
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the butter is lighter in color. Add the maple sugar in a steady stream and scrape down the bowl again. Continue to mix on medium speed until the mixture is very light in color and texture, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to combine. Add the vanilla extract.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt. Give it a very good whisking to aerate the flours.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in four doses, alternating with the milk in three doses. Scrape down the sides of the bowl in between additions.
- Pour the batter into prepared cake pan, and, if possible, let rest, covered, for up to 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 350° F. When oven is ready, place the cake in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes (check frequently after 30 minutes).
- Remove cake from oven, place on a wire rack, and let cool in the pan about 15 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely. Wait until the cake is completely cool to frost it.
- To make the frosting, place the butter in a large bowl and add the sugar. Mix on medium high speed until the sugar is incorporated. Add the jam and milk and continue to mix until the frosting becomes pink and fluffy. Check the consistency u002du002d you may need to add more powdered sugar, jam or milk.
- When cake is cooled, cover with the frosting. The cake will keep, well-covered in the fridge foe 3 days. You can make this in advance, and it's best served near to room temperature if possible.