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Gluten-Free Orange Creamsicle Cake (Dairy-Free)

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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A gluten-free orange creamsicle cake covered in a light orange frosting topped with white sugar cookies and buttercream swirls. There is a slice cut out of the cake and it's on a white plate to the front of the cake.

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.

A slice of orange creamsicle cake sitting on a white plate. There are three cake layers with orange frosting between each layer.

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 ButterI 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.

A gluten-free orange creamsicle cake covered in a light orange frosting topped with white sugar cookies and buttercream swirls.

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.

A gluten-free orange creamsicle cake covered in a light orange frosting topped with white sugar cookies and buttercream swirls. There are two large slices cut out of the cake and sitting on a white plate to the side of it.

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.

A slice of orange creamsicle cake sitting on a white plate. There are three cake layers with orange frosting between each layer. There is a large bite taken out of the slice.

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.

A gluten-free orange creamsicle cake covered in a light orange frosting topped with white sugar cookies and buttercream swirls.

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!

A gluten-free orange creamsicle cake covered in a light orange frosting topped with white sugar cookies and buttercream swirls.

Summer Cakes

Here are a few other cake recipes that practically scream summer:

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A gluten-free orange creamsicle cake covered in a light orange frosting topped with white sugar cookies and buttercream swirls.

Gluten-Free Orange Creamsicle Cake (Dairy-Free)


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5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Katie Stymiest
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 25 Minutes
  • Yield: 14 Slices 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

A fresh and fruity gluten-free and dairy-free orange creamsicle cake filled with vanilla pastry cream and covered with a light whipped orange buttercream frosting. A delicious cake inspired by the frozen summer treat.


Ingredients

Scale

Orange Cake

  • 2 ½ cups (320 g) gluten-free flour blend *
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum **
  • ¾ cup (168g) dairy-free salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperatures
  • ¼ cup (59ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) orange juice, freshly squeezed & room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60ml) dairy-free milk, room temperature

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cup (300 ml) dairy-free milk
  • ¼ cup (56g) dairy-free salted butter, room temperature

Orange Buttercream

  • 3 cups (672g) dairy-free salted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ¼ cups (990g) icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract ***
  • 34 drops orange food color

Instructions

Orange Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare three 8-inch round baking pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper.
  2. In a small mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum (if using), and salt, and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl with an electric handheld mixer, cream the butter, sugar, oil, and orange zest on high speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix on high for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add in the dry ingredients from step 2 and turn the mixer on low.
  6. While the mixer is on low slowly pour in the orange juice and milk. Mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  7. Divide the cake batter evenly into the three prepared 8-inch round baking pans and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cake layers on the cooling rack and allow them to fully cool. If freezing the cake layers for a later time, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, egg, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  2. In a medium pot over medium-high heat bring the milk to a boil.

  3. As soon as the milk comes to a boil remove it from the heat and slowly pour half of it into the egg mixture while continually whisking.

  4. Pour the tempered egg and milk mixture back into the pot while continually whisking and begin to cook it again over medium heat. The mixture should start to thicken in 1-2 minutes.

  5. Allow the mixture to come back to a boil, while still whisking, and boil for another 1-2 minutes.

  6. Remove the vanilla pastry cream from the heat and add in the butter. Mix until fully melted and smooth.

  7. With a fine-mesh sieve, strain the vanilla pastry cream into a shallow dish and directly cover the surface with plastic wrap.

  8. Allow it to fully cool to room temperature before filling the cake.

Orange Buttercream

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter and orange zest together on high for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  2. Add in the icing sugar and salt and mix on low until combined.
  3. Add in the orange extract and orange gel food color and mix on low until combined.
  4. Turn the mixer to high and allow to beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Cake Assembly

  1. Level each fully cooled orange cake layer with a cake leveler or knife if needed.

  2. Place one leveled layer of cake on a cake board, plate, and/or cake turntable and top with approximately 2 cups of orange buttercream.

  3. Pipe a buttercream border around the edge and fill with approximately ¾ cup of vanilla pastry cream.
  4. Place another layer of leveled orange cake on top and very gently apply a thin coat of buttercream to all of the cake. If the cake feels unstable or the buttercream is soft, stop here and chill the cake for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cake from the fridge and repeat step 3. Top with the remaining orange cake layer and apply a thin coat of buttercream all over the exposed cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  6. Cover the cake with a final layer of buttercream and smooth the sides and top with a cake smoother and/or offset spatula.

  7. Decorate the cake as you please. I topped the cake with some sugar cookies and piped a Wilton 1M swirl in between each cookie. Enjoy!

  8. Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Notes

* Check to see if the gluten-free flour blend contains xanthan gum.

** Omit xanthan gum if the gluten-free flour blend already contains it.

*** Replace orange extract with vanilla extract if desired

  • Prep Time: 60 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 Minutes
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 924
  • Sugar: 113 Grams
  • Sodium: 245 Miligrams
  • Fat: 39 Grams
  • Saturated Fat: 20 Grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 11 Grams
  • Trans Fat: 2 Grams
  • Carbohydrates: 138 Grams
  • Fiber: 4 Grams
  • Protein: 7 Grams
  • Cholesterol: 140 Miligrams

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16 Comments

  1. This cake was so easy to make! Katie provides clear instructions so that even a beginner baker can create a masterpiece! I’ve never made an orange cake before, but this recipe is so incredibly tasty. I’m also not a huge fan of American buttercream, but her version is so smooth. Thanks for sharing, Katie!






    1. Thank you so very much for baking this one up and sharing about it Sara. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

  2. I tried this for my daughters birthday and it turned out great. I could have eaten that pastry cream in its own all by myself.






    1. Why not ? I only use salted butter in baking. It’s what I grew up with and have always enjoyed the flavor.

  3. Well balanced sweetness andflavors, pastry cream is a nice complement to the fluffy orange cake. It was a hit!






  4. Question: would this cake hold up in the freezer for a month or so? I’m making this as an option for guests at a wedding.

    1. Hi Corinna, the cake layers and frosting will. The pastry cream, however, will not. Are you able to freeze the cake and frosting and then make the filling the day before assembly?

  5. Hello, I would like to make this cake for my daughter but looking to do more of a little smash type cake. Would this work of I halved the recipe and used 4″ pans?
    Thanks!

      1. Hi Katie! What dairy free butter did you use? I’ve tried oat butter for icing recipes in past and didn’t work well at all, it melted

        1. I love to bake with plant based bricks by becel. The dairy free butter must be in brick form, not spreadable like margarine.

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