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Easy Gluten-Free Allergy-Free Cake
When you have multiple food allergies to consider, baking a cake from scratch can be more than a little daunting. Typical gluten-free flour mixes contain 4, 5, 6, 7 or more different flours in the mix and you can choose from more than 20 types to make your own blend!
This mess, as I think of it (still), put me off baking an allergy-free cake for my son for a long time. I still don’t like getting into it, really, because I’ve seen firsthand that different types of allergy-free baking require different types of mixes. I had a truly disastrous attempt at gluten-free sugar cookies that still lives in infamy.
My son’s 3rd birthday was a turning point in our house when the bakery refused to make him a cake because he had too many allergies. I burst into tears the moment I hung up the phone. My beautiful, vibrant son was too much of a liability for the bakery to take on. He was something to fear, not celebrate.
So we picked a gluten-free chocolate cake mix at our local organic food store. It wasn’t great. For my husband’s birthday a month later we picked a different mix, this time gluten-free vanilla cake. It wasn’t even good. We became disillusioned with those expensive mixes and shied away from cakes.
Until the fall, when we looked on the baking aisle and saw that Betty Crocker had a small section of gluten-free baking that included both Angel Food and Devil’s Food cake mixes and we’ve made 3 delicious cakes so far with some simple substitution and great homemade frosting!
What you'll need:
2 boxes Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mix (Angel or Devil’s Food), available at most grocery stores or online
4 cups powdered sugar
6 eggs or equivalent egg substitute
4 sticks of butter or equivalent butter substitute
4 teaspoons vanilla (gluten-free if needed)
1 ½ cups of water
4-5 tablespoons of your liquid of choice for the buttercream icing
¾ cups powered cocoa (if desired, for chocolate buttercream)
The gluten-free angel food cake is a typical go-to cake. It does require both butter and eggs so some substitutions are likely in order. We substitute ¼ cup of applesauce for each egg. It gives the cake a very moist feel and we prefer to the powdered EnerG (which is great for cookies). The texture of the angel food cake makes me think of something like a pineapple upside down cake. It’s not going to look like what you buy in the bakery at the store. It looks and tastes more like what you’d get if you soaked that cake in a bit of juice. Some of this may have to do with our choice of applesauce to replace the eggs. When it comes to the devil’s food cake, however, the smooth texture you get is heavenly!
My son’s allergy is such that he can have some types of butter so we used Unsalted Land O’Lakes Sweet Cream butter but you may need to consider a butter alternative like Earth Balance Butter Sticks.
Bake the cake according to directions, substituting as needed. We make 2 layers when we do this because it works perfectly with the buttercream icing recipe I use.
Let cake(s) cool completely before icing. The buttercream is very soft anyway and you don’t want it to melt everywhere.
The icing I use is based off this Wilton buttercream icing recipe. Instead of shortening I use all butter, however, (so double the butter) and my liquid of choice at the end is either rice milk or almond milk. Both work great. You can use virtually any liquid for this. Some even use coffee in the chocolate version.
I do not use the clear vanilla that is specified in the recipe. I use the regular pure vanilla extract at the store and have never had trouble with the color. It looks great! When using these icings on a cake you need typically 4 tablespoons of liquid in the regular buttercream and 5 or more in the chocolate. But tread carefully and put in only 1 at a time after the first 2 tablespoons – better to add a little more than have too much. You can quickly take the icing from thick to runny if you go overboard.
I’ve found the chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing to be just as decadent as anything ‘normal’ (allergy-full) you can make. It melts in your mouth! The angel food version is great, and far better than anything else we’ve tried, but it does tend to get clumpy in the fridge so for best results serve and consume right away =)
For a fun kick, either version can be punched up with a flavor extract from the grocery aisle. For my birthday we made the angel food version with white buttercream and orange flavoring and it was quite tasty! We used 1 tablespoon of extract in each layer and another in the frosting. I would say to go a bit further with the extract in the frosting. If you love orange flavor it (like I do!) it may be a little too light for your tastes. I plan to double it next time we make one.
I hope this article helps you as you consider your next gluten-free, allergy-free cake. It’s a quick, easy way to have a freshly baked cake that won’t hurt the sensitive eater in your house.
Snag the cakes in bulk on Amazon for a great price!
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix. This mix gives you a soft, flavorful texture and is easy to modify with extracts for a fun cake that will tickle the taste-buds of any eater. Cover with a rich, creamy buttercream icing and top with sliced fruit for a bakery-like appeal.