The best gluten-free vanilla cake you’ll ever eat. Four fluffy layers of gluten-free vanilla cake covered in a whipped dairy-free buttercream frosting. Every bite is pure delicious vanilla cake heaven and no one will even know it’s gluten and dairy-free.
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The Best Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Recipe
A bold claim to make. But I feel confident that this will be the best and only gluten-free vanilla cake recipe you’ll ever need. Sweet scents of warm vanilla will waft through the kitchen as these gluten-free cake layers bake to fluffy light golden perfection. A smooth vanilla buttercream frosting that practically melts in your mouth with each fork full of cake you eat. This is the perfect gluten-free and dairy-free vanilla cake.
Gluten-Free Celiac Safe Baking
My oldest daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease this past summer in July 2021. It came out of nowhere and blew me out of the water. I remember having the first appointment with the pediatric dietician after her diagnosis and feeling completely overwhelmed with all the information. I mean, I’m a baker. Flour/gluten is my livelihood. But armed with a stack of books, pamphlets, and info packets, we started a celiac-safe gluten-free way of life.
Being a baker, I had the advantage of understanding the basics of general baking. Switching to gluten-free was certainly not without its challenges though. Gluten-free flours, blends, binders, xanthan gum, guar gum, and all these new and foreign terms and items were soon staples in my kitchen as I experimented.
The very first recipe I knew I wanted to perfect was a gluten-free vanilla cake. A basic recipe and staple in every kitchen, it can often be the trickiest to nail down. Perfect vanilla cake criteria are: as fluffy as a bakery-style cake, sturdy enough to stack high, and has to taste like any other “regular” cake. It took a few tries and a few different methods, but I can confidently say I’ve nailed the gluten-free vanilla cake. And I’m happy to report that my daughter, Bree, agrees.
After testing several different flour blends, I have fallen in love with a rice, potato starch, and tapioca blend from Kinnikinnick. It contains guar gum but I have found that adding an extra dash of xanthan gum gives a beautiful bounce and structure to the cake. Gluten-free flour blends can vary greatly and therefore, results can vary greatly. I highly recommend finding an all-purpose baking blend that is rice, potato, and tapioca-based.
How To Make Gluten Free Cake Layers
Using my go-to reverse creaming method, I modified my basic vanilla cake recipe to suit this gluten-free version. The trick to fluffy, and not crumbly, gluten-free cake layers is xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is the proverbial glue in gluten-free baking. It keeps everything together and light and fluffy.
Start by combining all wet ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk together. Set this aside as you begin to prepare the batter. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment combine all of the dry ingredients and mix together to break up any clumps. Slowly add the dairy-free butter, piece by piece, and allow to mix on low until a coarse sand-like texture is achieved.
Adding half the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients comes next. With the mixer running slowly pour in approximately half and allow to mix on low for 2 minutes. After two minutes add in the remaining wet mixture and turn the mixer up to medium. Allow to mix for 30 seconds or so and then stop to scrape down the sides. Turn back to medium and allow to mix for 2 minutes.
After the last 2 minutes of mixing is up, turn off the mixer and give the bowl a gentle scrape with a spatula. The batter should be fluffy, smooth, and look almost like frosting.
How To Know When A Cake Is Baked Properly
Divide this glorious gluten-free vanilla cake batter between the four prepared six-inch round cake pans and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Other signs of a cake being fully baked are golden edges that pull ever so slightly away from the cake pan. When you remove the cake pans from the oven place them on a cooling rack to cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes invert the pans on the rack and allow the cake layers to fully cool.
Tips For Storing/Freezing Cake Layers
Seeing as how these cake layers are super fluffy, they can sometimes be a bit tricky to handle when stacking and frosting a cake. I typically chill, even freeze, the layers before I use them. After the cake layers have cooled, wrap each one in plastic wrap and place it in either the fridge or freezer until you are ready to use them.
I will double plastic them if I plan on freezing them for over a week. To gently defrost the cake layers, simply take them out the night before you plan to stack the cake and allow them to slowly defrost overnight in the fridge.
The Best Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake
Top-notch. Stellar. Everything and a bag of chips, they say. I’m really proud of this cake and after 6 months of experimenting with this whole new world of gluten-free baking, I truly hope you love it as much as my family does. Soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet classic gluten-free vanilla cake layers paired with a smooth whipped dairy-free vanilla buttercream frosting. Classic cake heaven and the perfect cake recipe for the celiac and/or gluten-free person in your life.
Delicious Gluten-Free & Celiac Safe Recipes
Are you gluten-free? Here are some celiac safe recipes I think you’ll enjoy.
- Easy Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Gluten-Free Toffee Gingerbread Cake
- Gluten-Free Mint Nanaimo Bars
- Gluten-Free Coconut Cake
- Gluten-Free Apple Bundt Cake
- Gluten-Free Maple Walnut Cake