Gluten-Free Cakes

Taking your first steps in wheat-free baking? There are plenty of recipes and guidelines on the internet. As well as flour replacements there are many delicious flourless cakes to start with. Here’s our guide to gluten-free cakes.

About Gluten Intolerance

Gluten intolerance is a negative response to wheat, oats and rye, which rules out bread, cakes, beer, and pasta, among other things. You can buy gluten-free flour, which is potato or rice flour, or you can use alternatives such as polenta and ground almonds. If you’re baking for someone with a gluten intolerance (a coeliac), be very careful to use spotlessly clean, or even new, equipment and open a new packet of margarine or butter, to make sure that no errant breadcrumbs find their way into the cake.

Flourless Cakes

Baking without flour isn’t as terrifying as it first sounds. Look around and you’ll find a wide array of rich, inviting cakes that anyone with a sweet tooth will just adore…

Totally Chocolate Torte

This divinely wicked chocolate truffle cake comes from Green & Black’s, the name synonymous with chocolate expertise. Use dark chocolate and, if you’re making it for a special occasion, sprinkle Gold Dust over your finished work!

Ingredients:

  • 285g (10½oz) dark chocolate, broken up
  • 275g (10oz) caster sugar
  • 160g (5½oz) butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1tbsp ground almonds

To make:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 130°C.
  • Melt the chocolate with the sugar and butter over a very low heat.
  • Meanwhile, beat the eggs until pale and fluffy.
  • Fold in the ground almonds, then – very gently – fold in the molten chocolate and salt.
  • Pour the batter into an 8” round cake tin, and slide into the oven, and bake for about 35 minutes.
  • Serve cold with gold dust, fresh raspberries and crème fraiche.

Almond and Raspberry Roulade

The Meringue is the perfect base for an easy and impressive cake. Vary this according to the seasons: exchange the almonds for ground hazelnuts in winter and finish with Baileys-flavoured whipped cream. In summer, fold lemon curd through the cream filling and sprinkle with lemon zest and icing sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 5 egg whites
  • 275g (10oz) caster sugar
  • 110g (4oz) ground almonds
  • 150ml (5fl oz) double cream
  • 150ml (5fl oz) crème fraiche
  • 50g (2oz) icing sugar, sifted
  • 225g (8oz) raspberries, washed

To make:

  • Whisk the egg whites until they’re standing in soft peaks, then add the caster sugar – do this a tablespoon at a time, whisking in between.
  • When all the caster sugar’s in, fold in the almonds using a spatula or a metal spoon.
  • Spread the mixture into a greased and lined 10 x 14” Swiss Roll tin, taking it right to the edges.
  • Bake at 190°C for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a clean tea-towel.
  • For the filling, whip the double cream and fold in the crème fraiche and icing sugar, whisking thoroughly to combine.
  • Peel the paper from your meringue base and spread the cream over it.
  • Sprinkle the raspberries over this, and you’re ready to roll.
  • Using the tea-towel to help you, roll the meringue away from you into a roll.
  • Chill until you’re ready to serve, dusted with icing sugar.

Using Flour Substitutes

Quick-cook polenta and ground almonds make suitable substitutes for flour in cake recipes, although the result will be slightly denser than usual. Cakes made in this way are best served fresh and warm – preferably with a large spoonful of whipped or Clotted Cream!

Lemon Polenta Sponge

Try this simple lemon polenta cake. You could also replace the lemon juice with blood orange juice, lime juice, espresso or rosewater. And how about folding through some chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit?

Ingredients:

  • 225g (8oz) butter
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 110g (4oz) ground almonds
  • 225g (8oz) ‘quick-cooking’ polenta
  • Zest and juice of one lemon

To make:

  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time (or use a food processor to make this quicker).
  • Fold in the almonds and polenta, then the lemon juice, to form a stiff batter.
  • Pour into a greased and lined 8” cake tin and bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve with ice-cream or whipped double cream.

Finding More Recipes…

Several food writers, like Barbara Cousins and Rose Elliot, specialise in baking ‘without’ – offering tested recipes for cakes that are vegetarian, gluten-free and sugar-free. You’ll also find plenty of information on the Coeliac UK website, on Gluten Free Life and the BBC has interesting ideas for gluten-free baking, too. Plus, there’s a tasty recipe for Gluten-Free Cupcakes on this site. Happy experimenting!

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