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Gluten-Free Candy Cane Cake (Dairy-Free)

Ho ho ho and a holly jolly Christmas. That’s exactly where my mind goes as soon as I see candy canes hitting the grocery store shelves. Tis’ the season for toques, hot chocolate, tobogganing, and everything candy cane! And there will not be a holiday sweet treat more appropriate for the Christmas season than this gluten-free candy cane cake.


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A soft pink cake with a white chocolate drip and topped with crushed candy cane bits.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Candy Cane Cake

Soft layers of vanilla cake loaded with the most beautiful and delicious crushed candy canes stacked high with whipped white chocolate buttercream frosting. The fresh pop of peppermint contrasts gorgeously with the sweet hint of vanilla and the decadence of white chocolate. Topped with a white chocolate ganache drip and an extra sprinkling of crushed candy canes this gluten-free and dairy-free candy cane cake is pure holiday delight in every single bite.

What Makes Up A Candy Cane Cake

With a fresh and sweet combination of mint candy cane, warm vanilla, and sweet white chocolate each element brings a scrumptious addition to this cake:

  • Candy Cane Cake Layers – super soft and fluffy vanilla cake layers speckled gorgeously with crushed candy canes.
  • White Chocolate Frosting – so smooth and fluffy, this dairy-free white chocolate frosting compliments the candy cane cake layers perfectly.
  • White Chocolate Ganache Drip – while not necessary, it is a beautiful design touch that really takes the final presentation to the next level.

Candy Cane Cake Ingredients & Substitutions

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 Co. all-purpose baking mix. If you are not gluten-free, swap the flour with regular cake flour and omit the xanthan gum.
  • 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.
  • Dairy-Free Sour Cream: The market has a handful of fabulous dairy-free sour cream options now. You could also use dairy-free plain or vanilla yogurt. And of course, if you are not dairy-free swap in regular sour cream, full fat is best.

 

  • Crushed Candy Canes: Ensure the candy canes are gluten-free if need be. I found already crushed candy canes at Bulk Barn but you could crush them yourself in a blender, food processor, or the good old-fashioned way with a large Ziploc bag and rolling pin.
  • Vanilla Extract: I will always encourage pure vanilla extract. It’s truly the best but with that said, artificial extract works as well in a pinch or on a budget.
  • Dairy-Free White Chocolate: Pascha chocolate makes a superb vegan white chocolate bar and chips. Use regular white chocolate chips or bar if you are not dairy-free.
  • Pink Gel Food Color: This part is totally optional but I think it gives the cake a super cute look. ChefMaster is my preferred gel food color brand but whatever you have on hand will work.

A soft pink cake with a white chocolate drip and topped with crushed candy cane bits. There is a slice cut into the cake and it is slightly pulled out of the cake.

The Easiest Gluten-Free Candy Cane Cake layers

These butter and oil-based candy cane cake layers are as easy as they come. Full of that lovely rich butter and vanilla flavor with added moisture and fluffiness from the oil. And the fun pops of crushed candy canes peeking through each layer are positively perfect.

Get started by mixing up the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum (if using), and salt in a bowl to combine and set aside. Next up, cream the butter, oil, and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. This step is crucial and should take at least 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until each one is combined. Pour in the sour cream and vanilla extract and again, mix until combined.

With approximately half the dry ingredients, add them to the mixture and mix on low until incorporated. Pour in the milk and again, mix until combined. Finally, add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.

Last, but not least, comes the best part: mixing in the crushed candy canes. With a spatula, gently fold the crushed candy canes into the cake batter. Don’t overmix as the candy canes might begin to bleed out.  Divide the batter evenly into three prepared 6-inch round cake pans and bake away.

Perfectly moist and perfectly delicious gluten-free airy-free candy cane cake layers!

How To Make Dairy-Free White Chocolate Frosting

White chocolate buttercream frosting is smooth, silky, sweet, and undeniably luxurious. It’s the perfect pair to the minty layers in this candy cane cake. Don’t get scared to make homemade buttercream, it’s really quite simple. The key to an ultra-smooth frosting is to fully cream the butter first by itself until it’s light and fluffy. This step is crucial and cannot be skipped or skimped on.

Here are a few more tricks to ensure dairy-free white chocolate frosting success:

  • Make sure the butter is at room temperature and cream it on high speed until it is light and fluffy. This step should take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.
  • Melt the white chocolate in 30-second intervals until it’s fully melted and smooth. Pour the melted chocolate into the frosting while the mixer is on low.
  • Don’t add any additional liquid – that means we aren’t even adding vanilla extract.
  • Add the gel food color, if using, slowly. You can always put more in but you can never reduce the saturation once it’s been added.

These tips will help you create not just a delicious dairy-free white chocolate frosting, but one that will stack and pipe gorgeously.

A pice of cake laying on a white plate. The cake is a candy cane cake and has three layers. Each cake layer is speckled with red candy cane bits.

Candy Cane 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, and oil until light and fluffy

Step 3: Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until fully combined.

Step 4: Pour in the sour cream and vanilla and mix again until combined.

Step 5: Combine half the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Step 6: Pour in the milk and mix until combined.

Step 7: Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix the batter until combined and smooth. Be careful to not overmix the batter at this stage.

Step 8: Gently fold in the crushed candy canes with a spatula.

Step 9: Divide the cake batter into three 6-inch cake pans that have been prepared with baking spray and parchment paper and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes. Cool cakes on a cooling rack.

Step 10: Cream the butter in a mixer on high speed for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar and salt and mix until combined.

Step 11: Melt the white chocolate and slowly mix it into the frosting.

Step 12: Add the pink gel food color, if using, and mix on high speed for 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary.

A light pink candy cane cake with a white chocolate ganache drip on it. There is a large piece taken out of the cake allowing you to see the inside cake layers. They are speckled pink and red with candy cane bits.

Cake Assembly Tips

Stacking a layer cake can feel a bit scary. 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: even if a tiny bit warm, layers will slip when warm. Ensure that each cake layer is 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.
  • 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. Remember, don’t rush it. Take your time.

A pice of cake laying on a white plate. The cake is a candy cane cake and has three layers. Each cake layer is speckled with red candy cane bits. There is a large bite taken out of the slice of cake.

How To Decorate A Candy Cane Cake

“As you desire” is often how I refer to cake decoration. 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 quickly break down this gluten-free and dairy-free candy cane cake decor for you.

Step 1: Crumb-coat the 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 and top edge with a cake smoother. Allow the cake to chill for another 20 minutes.

Step 3: Prepare the white chocolate ganache drip and with a piping bag, spoon, or drip bottle, slowly drip it over the top of the cake edges. Immediately put the cake back into the fridge to chill for another 20 minutes.

Step 4: Carefully spoon on some crushed candy cane along the top of the cake edge where the white chocolate drip is.

Step 5: Chill the cake until ready to serve.

A soft pink cake with a white chocolate drip and topped with crushed candy cane bits. There is a slice cut into the cake and it is slightly pulled out of the cake.

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.

If you want to bake these layers a few days in advance, you most certainly can. Allow the cake layers to cool, cover them tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze until you a ready to stack and decorate the cake. Remove the cake layers from the freezer approximately 1 hour before you plan to stack and decorate and allow them to thaw slightly at room temperature.

This cake can also be frozen fully stacked and decorated. Special occasions are often busy and I will sometimes freeze an entire finished cake a few days in advance to save time and stress. The night before you plan to serve the cake, remove it from the freezer and place it in the fridge to slowly thaw overnight. Do not take it straight from the freezer to room temperature. Doing so will cause condensation and you will risk the cake toppling.

The Yummiest Gluten-Free Candy Cane Cake

A piece of Christmas cheer, this fantastic gluten-free and dairy-free candy cane cake is a delicious combo of sweet and fresh peppermint in every single bite. Soft moist candy cane cake layers with silky whipped white chocolate frosting. This holiday candy cane cake is a delight in every scrumptious bite.

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 it!

A soft pink cake with a white chocolate drip and topped with crushed candy cane bits.

Christmas Baking Inspiration

Here are a few other festive holiday baking recipes that I think you’ll enjoy:

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Gluten-Free Candy Cane Cake (Dairy-Free)


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  • Author: Katie Stymiest
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes
  • Yield: 10 Slices 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Three fluffy layers of delicious gluten-free candy cane cake covered with whipped white chocolate frosting and finished with a white chocolate drip and crushed candy canes.


Ingredients

Scale

Candy Cane Cake

  • 2 1/4 (288g) cups gluten-free flour blend *
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum **
  • ¼ cup (56g) dairy-free salted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup (118mL) vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (170g) dairy-free sour cream  or plain yogurt, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (177mL) dairy-free milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup (185g) gluten-free crushed candy canes

White Chocolate Buttercream

  • 2 cups (450g) salted dairy-free butter, room temperature
  • 5 ½ cups (660g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 bar (100g) dairy-free white chocolate
  • optional: pink gel food color
  • optional: crushed candy canes for decor

White Chocolate Ganache


Instructions

Candy Cane Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare three 6-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum (if using) and set aside
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer, cream together butter, oil, and granulated sugar on high for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on medium speed until each egg is fully incorporated.
  5. Add the sour cream or plain yogurt and vanilla extract and mix just until combined.
  6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Pour in the milk and mix on low. Followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  7. Gently fold in the crushed candy canes with a spatula.
  8. Divide the cake batter evenly among the three prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean and the cake edges will pull away from the pan when fully baked.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes and then invert to fully cool.

White Chocolate Buttercream

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter on high for 5-10 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 melted white chocolate and pink gel food color (if using) and mix on low until combined.
  4. Turn the mixer to high and allow to beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

White Chocolate Ganache Drip

  1. Chop the white chocolate bar or chips as fine as you can and place them in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Pour in the heavy cream and heat in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring after each burst until fully melted and smooth.
  3. Whiten the chocolate ganache if desired, then cool to room temperature. This could take 5-20 minutes depending on the kitchen temperature.

Assembly

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

  2. Place one layer of cake on a cake board, plate, and/or cake turntable and top with approximately 1 ½ cups of white chocolate buttercream.

  3. Repeat with the remaining layers and apply a thin coat of buttercream all over the cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Remember that if at any time the cake or frosting feels soft or unstable, stop what you are doing and place both in the fridge to chill.

  4. Cover the cake with a final layer of buttercream and smooth the side and top with a cake smoother. allow the cake to chill in the fridge for approximately 20 minutes while the white chocolate ganache drip is prepared.
  5. With a spoon, piping bag, or drip bottle, drip the white chocolate ganache over the top edges of the cake and immediately place it back in the refrigerator for it to set.
  6. Decorate as you please. I placed crushed candy cane along the top edge where I had piped the white chocolate ganache drip. Enjoy!
  7. Store leftovers 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. Omit entirely if using regular flour.

  • Prep Time: 60 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 Minutes
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 902
  • Sugar: 71 Grams
  • Sodium: 195 Miligrams
  • Fat: 54 Grams
  • Saturated Fat: 32 Grams
  • Carbohydrates: 87 Grams
  • Protein: 8 Grams
  • Cholesterol: 170 Miligrams

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2 Comments

  1. I tried it. It was really yummy for the people who doesn’t like too much sweet it will be too sweet for them because in the cake has sugar and the cream too . The decorations makes you feel in Christmas mood ? thank you Katie for the lovely cake






    1. There’s going to be sugar in all my cakes! That’s what makes them yummy ? So glad you gave this recipe a shot.

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