Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake

Tender gluten-free vanilla cake layers with mixed berry frosting and compote.

I’m so excited about this gluten-free vanilla cake with mixed berry frosting!

I’ve had a lot of requests for gluten-free cake recipes. The only gluten-free recipe I have so far is my Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes, which use quinoa instead of flour. Yup, you heard that right, quinoa! You have to try them before you knock them. The quinoa is cooked, blended, and totally disguised in a rich dark chocolate flavor.

Gluten-Free Bias

Up until those cupcakes, I had been fairly hesitant to bake anything gluten-free – mostly because I associated gluten-free with coconut flour based desserts, which are always so dry and bland. (Ugh, no thanks!). However, those cupcakes turned out SO good, I began to have high hopes for all gluten-free desserts.

After the chocolate cupcakes, I began to experiment with gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. I tried a few recipes that didn’t hit the mark for me, but during my research discovered the brand Cup 4 Cup, which makes an all-purpose gluten-free flour. As I read reviews, I  was excited to learn that it was apparently a great alternative to regular all-purpose flour.

I was intrigued and tried it in some chocolate chip cookies. The result? Very impressive substitution, in my opinion! I had tried almond flour, coconut flour, and several other gluten-free alternatives and didn’t think any of them came close to the texture and flavor of good ol’ all-purpose flour.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake

The next step was to try Cup 4 Cup in one of my cake recipes. With my Peach Crisp Cake being my latest obsession, I decided to use the vanilla cake from that recipe as the test run with Cup 4 Cup. I followed the recipe almost exactly, just substituting the Cup 4 Cup flour for my regular all-purpose flour.

I made the cake exactly as if I was using all-purpose flour and found the batter to be just as flavorful and tasty as the regular version. The one difference I noticed was that the batter was somewhat sticky. I feared this meant the texture of the cake would be rubbery, but I was wrong. (Yay for being wrong sometimes!). The cake bakes beautifully and tastes delicious. The layers are tender, moist and full of that wonderful vanilla bean flavor.

Importance of Baking Time

As with any cake, you want to watch the baking time closely. For me, this cake was perfect at 23 minutes. I like to see a little crumb on my toothpick when I give it a poke. I’m always worried I’ve over-baked my cake if the toothpick comes out totally clean. You can also tell that your cake is about done baking when the edges of the cake start to pull away from the pan. Just remember that your cakes continue to bake for about 5 minutes while they cool in the pan.

Having just made the peach filling for my Peach Crisp Cake, I stuck with fresh fruit for this cake as well. This time I made a mixed berry compote and used it for my filling and in my frosting. But don’t feel limited to pairing this cake with fruit. This vanilla cake would be just as yummy with a chocolate buttercream!

Can’t wait to hear your reviews!


Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake with Mixed Berry Frosting

Yield One 3-layer, 8-inch round cake

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake with Mixed Berry Frosting.

Tender gluten-free vanilla cake layers with mixed berry frosting and compote.

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (72.6 g) canola oil
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) salt
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3 cups (444g)  Cup 4 Cup Multi-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (12.6 g) vanilla bean paste

For the Compote

  • 2 cups (250 g) fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup (125 g) fresh raspberries
  • 4 tablespoons (50 g)  granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (2.5 g)  cornstarch, dissolved in 1 teaspoon cold water

For the Frosting

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) (452 g) unsalted butter, slightly chilled
  • 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 1/3 cup (80.6 g) strained mixed berry juice (from compote above)
  • 3 tablespoons (43.3 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra 1/2 batch.

Instructions

FOR THE CAKE

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch pans with non-stick spray, line the bottoms with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter, oil, sugar and salt. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  3. Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition.
  4. With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour and baking powder with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until combined.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and vanilla paste. Mix on low until combined.
  6. Evenly distribute the cake batter in the three pans, about 16 to 17 ounces of batter in each 8-inchpan or 12 ounces in each 6-inch pan. The cake batter will be sticky. Smooth it out with an offset icing spatula or back of a spoon.
  7. Bake the cakes for about 23 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out with only just a few crumbs on it.
  8. Cool the cakes on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cakes onto cooking racks to cool completely. If you don't plan to stack and decorate the cake right away, level the cakes if needed and then immediately wrap each layer in plastic wrap or tin foil and freeze. 
  9. About an hour before assembly, remove the cake layers from the freezer.

FOR THE COMPOTE

  1. Combine the berries and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture while bringing it to a boil and occasionally breaking up the berries to release their juices.
  2. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir until combined. Bring to a boil and then simmer for another 5 minutes.
  3. Strain 1/3 cup of the mixture and reserve for frosting. Refrigerate the strained berry mixture and the remaining compote for at least 4 hours before using. 

FOR THE FROSTING

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar, followed by the mixed berry juice, heavy cream, vanilla extract and dash of salt.
  3. Continue to beat the frosting on medium-high speed for an additional 5 minutes.    
  4. Before frosting your cake, mix the frosting by hand with a wooden spoon to push out the air pockets. This will also help the frosting pull back together if it looks separated from adding the berry juices.

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

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Comments

  1. Do you recommend a brand for gluten free flour I know they are totally not equal Witt the results and your cake looks very fluffy. Thanks a million love you and your cakes ❤️

  2. Holly Mollie,
    I made this cake yesterday, it did not look like yours I put the compote on the top tier. It is Great! My husband is diabetic and I’m celiac. It is not too sweet or rich, but with the compote fresh and delish. Thanks for the recipe.
    Karen, in New Mexico

  3. Hello Courtney! I have tried this recipe once and it tasted AMAZING, but I think it came out a bit too moist (shrunk and sunk a little in the middle). I think I may not have had the right amount of flour due to measurement error. Would you be willing to share the flour measurement in grams?
    Thank you!
    -Chelsea

  4. Hi, this looks like a great recipe. Do you have suggestions for making this also dairy free?
    Thanks
    Susan

  5. Courtney this cake tastes amazing and I love the berry compote and frosting, however I had the same issue as a few other people my cakes puffed up beautifully in the oven then shrank a lot as they cooled. I think the shrinkage caused them to be very dense and gummy… any thoughts?
    Thanks!

  6. Do you think it would still work if I substituted regular whole milk for the buttermilk? I’m trying to make a gluten free Earl Grey cake and I want to flavour the milk with the tea.

  7. Hi-want to make this cake for a friend(she’s gluten free and dairy free)Did you use regular butter or did you use a vegan butter,Can you substitute the butter milk for a dairy free milk.Thanks!

  8. So excited to try this recipe! Is it supposed to be a tablespoon or teaspoon of vanilla paste?!
    The descriptions says tablespoon but has 4.2g beside it! Thank you! 😁

  9. Giving these a 5 out of 5 stars review!!!!

    My brother in law just had to go GF and I was really apprehensive to try and find GF desserts for get togethers. I made these into cupcakes for a pumpkin carving party today and honestly did not have high expectations. Although Courtney’s cake recipes are my go to, I had heard a lot of negative about baking without with GF flour subs and blends.

    These were FANTASTIC and if I didn’t bake them myself, I would have never known that they were GF!

    My only question is that they baked up beautifully…full and rounded, but as they cooled they shrunk tremendously and had a very lumpy appearance compared to the beautiful bake they came out of the oven with. Hopefully you can offer some input as to what I did wrong? Still delish though!!!

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