Hands up if you remember those popsicle packs that came with revellos, fudgsicles, and creamsicles as a kid? I vividly recall racing my sisters to the freezer on a hot summer day in hopes to score a creamsicle. A bright burst of orange citrus with that creamy vanilla ice cream center. Summer in every single bite and that’s what I’ve re-created with this gluten-free and dairy-free orange creamsicle cake.
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Gluten-Free Orange Creamsicle Cake (Dairy-Free)
Soft fluffy layers of bright orange cake made with freshly squeezed orange juice and a healthy dash of orange zest. Filled with a sweet vanilla pastry cream reminiscent of ice cream. All stacked and slathered with a whipped orange buttercream frosting that will tempt you to grab a spoon and dive straight in. This gluten-free and dairy-free orange creamsicle is the perfect summer celebration slice!
What Makes Up An Orange Creamsicle Cake
With a sweet and zesty flavor profile, this orange creamsicle cake is made up of 3 components:
- Orange cake layers – super soft and fluffy orange cake layers made with freshly squeezed orange juice and zest.
- Vanilla pastry cream – this vanilla pastry cream is so incredibly smooth and rich. It’s the perfect filling for a tangy orange cake.
- Orange frosting – the fluffiest whipped orange buttercream made with orange zest, a splash of pure orange extract, and some extra orange food color if desired.
Orange Creamsicle Cake Ingredients
As always this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free. That said, I do test each recipe with “regular” ingredients and make notes of alternatives or swaps so that everyone can enjoy it.
Here are a few key ingredients for this cake but make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom recipe card for the complete ingredient list.
- Gluten-Free Flour: Check to see if your blend contains xanthan gum. This can also be swapped for regular cake flour if you are not gluten-free. Note that gluten-free flour blends can vary in weight so I recommend measuring by the cup. I made this cake with XO Baking all-purpose flour blend.
- Dairy-Free Butter: I enjoy baking with BECEL plant-based bricks but any dairy-free butter substitute will work. You can also use regular butter if you are not dairy-free.
- Dairy-Free Milk: I love to bake with unsweetened almond milk but this recipe will work with any type of dairy-free or dairy milk.
- Oil: Use canola or vegetable oil for best results.
- Orange Juice & Zest: Fresh is best, that’s at least my motto when it comes to fruit juices and zest. I highly encourage you to use freshly squeezed and zested oranges for this cake but storebought juice will totally work in a pinch or on a budget.
- Orange Extract: This recipe calls for some orange extract. While not necessary, it does add an extra flavor punch to the orange juice and zest. Feel free to either leave it out completely or swap in extra vanilla extract. I used LorAnn orange extract.
The Best Dairy-Free Vanilla Pastry Cream
What would an orange creamsicle cake be without creamy smooth dairy-free vanilla pastry cream filling? It feels and tastes so luxurious and indulgent and truly compliments the zippy orange. Don’t get intimidated, pastry cream is quite easy to make. A few simple steps and you’ll be enjoying a spoon of this silky creamy filling in no time.
A successful and scrumptious pastry cream comes down to one key thing: prep! Have everything prepped and ready before you start making it. Read through the recipe, gather the ingredients, and then start.
How To Make Dairy-Free Vanilla Pastry Cream
Place the sugar, egg yolks, egg, cornstarch, and vanilla extract in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth. Set this aside. Pour the milk (I used unsweetened almond milk) into a medium pot and begin to heat it on medium-high heat. Keep an eye on it because as soon as it starts to simmer remove it from the heat and slowly pour half of it into to egg mixture. Be sure to whisk the egg mixture as you pour in half the milk. This is called tempering your eggs.
Slowly pour the tempered eggs back into the pot with the rest of the hot milk, again making sure to whisk as you pour, and place it back over the heat. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the mixture to come to a boil and thicken. This should take approximately 2-3 minutes. Make sure to whisk continuously and remove it from the heat when it has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
After you have removed the vanilla pastry cream from the heat, add in the dairy-free butter and stir until fully melted and smooth. With a fine-mesh sieve, strain the pastry cream into a shallow dish and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Allow the pastry cream to fully cool before using it in the cake.
Orange Creamsicle Cake: Step By Step Instructions
Step 1: Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum (if using) together and set aside.
Step 2: Cream together the butter, sugar, oil, and orange zest until light and fluffy, and then add in the eggs and vanilla extract.
Step 3: Combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and begin to mix.
Step 4: Slowly pour in the orange juice and milk and mix until just combined.
Step 6: Divide the cake batter into three 8-inch cake pans that have been prepared with baking spray and parchment paper and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes. Cool cakes on a cooling rack.
Step 7: Prepare the vanilla pastry cream and allow it to fully cool before using it in the cake.
Step 8: Cream the butter and orange zest in a mixer on high for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar and salt and mix until combined. Add in the orange extract (if using) and orange gel food color and mix until combined.
Cake Assembly Tips
Stacking a cake with a soft filling such as this orange creamsicle cake with vanilla pastry cream can feel a bit daunting. But, as they say, slow and steady wins the race. Let’s set you up for cake success with a few tips and tricks.
Here are a few assembly tips:
- Fully cooled cake layers and filling: even if a tiny bit warm, layers and/or filling will slip when warm. Ensure that each cake layer and the pastry cream are fully cooled if not even a bit chilled. I will even work with semi-frozen cake layers if I had to bake them a few days before stacking.
- Leveled cake layers: flat and level cake layers will sit far easier than crooked ones. I use this super easy cake tool to ensure each cake layer is perfectly level.
- Create a frosting border: this piped frosting border between each cake layer acts as a dam to keep that delicious vanilla pastry cream in.
- Keep the cake chilled: if at any point you begin to feel the cake slip or the frosting is too soft to work with, pop the cake and the frosting back into the fridge to chill.
How To Decorate A Orange Creamsicle Cake
As you desire is often how I refer to cake decorating. It’s not that I don’t want you to make the exact same cake as I did, it’s simply that I don’t want you to feel like you *have* to make the exact same cake. We all have an inner cake artist and I always want to encourage you to let it shine. That said, I break down this gluten-free orange creamsicle cake decor for you real quick.
Step 1: Crumb coat the entire cake and allow it to chill for 20 minutes. See the above section for stacking tips and tricks.
Step 2: Put a final “beauty” coat of frosting on the cake and smooth the sides with a cake smoother. Note that due to the orange zest, there may be a few orange bits and speckles that inhibit the frosting from being 100% smooth. With an offset spatula, clean the top edge off to produce clean sharp edges.
Step 3: Place gluten-free and dairy-free sugar cookies (here’s my recipe but make sure to sub-in gluten-free flour and leave out the sprinkles) around the top border of the cake leaving approximately 1 inch in between each cookie and gently press down to anchor them in the buttercream.
Step 4: Fit a piping bag with a Wilton 1M piping tip and fill the bag halfway with orange buttercream. Pipe a tall swirl in between each cookie. To pipe a swirl, gently squeeze the bag and, starting in the center in a circular motion, move the bag around and up.
Step 5: Chill the cake until ready to serve.
Storing and Freezing Instructions
This cake can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. It can also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. With that said, pastry cream is never quite as creamy after it has been frozen and thawed.
If you want to bake these layers a few days in advance, you most certainly can. I recommend allowing the cake layers to cool, wrap them in plastic wrap, and freeze until you a ready to stack and decorate the cake. Simply remove the layers from the freezer approximately 1 hour before to thaw slightly.
The Yummiest Gluten-Free Orange Creamsicle Cake
A nod to nostalgia, this amazing gluten-free and dairy-free orange creamsicle cake is a blast from the past in every single bite. Bright orange cake layers filled with sweet smooth vanilla pastry cream and covered in a zesty orange buttercream frosting. This summer orange creamsicle cake is fresh, fruity, and definitely a must-bake!
Make sure you tag me on social media @cakedbykatie and leave me a rating and review below if you make it. Can’t wait to see!
Here are a few other cake recipes that practically scream summer:
- Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake
- Gluten-Free Coconut Cake
- Pina Colada Cake
- Orange Blossom Cake
- Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake
- S’Mores Cake
- Grape Cake