Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Best Gluten Free Vanilla Sponge - #G2BGF

This Vanilla Sponge is a perfect all-round bake for celebration cakes. It is the result of a long line of Gluten Free Alchemist test cakes that I made, attempting to get the best texture and crumb to be decorated, stacked, cut, poked and prodded, yet stay soft, moist and delicious. With the amount of testing I have done, I am happy to call it my BEST Vanilla Sponge.

It started its journey back in November after I was asked to make an 18th birthday cake for the daughter of a dear friend of mine. Wanting the design to remain firmly in their control, I left the decisions about flavour and style completely to them..... but after they requested a vanilla sponge, I realised I didn't have one which was suitable to the task at hand (three layers, filled with jam and butter cream and covered in vanilla buttercream roses).

I was quite surprised that there wasn't already one on the blog, but I seem to be a chocolate birthday cake girl! The situation needed rectifying..... quick...... so I developed a base recipe and then set to work, tweaking and playing with it until I was happy with the weight, moistness, texture and crumb.

The proof of the pudding of course, is in the eating and I am happy to report that the cake was a success with all who ate it...... Good job, because I have a 60th wedding anniversary cake to make in April.....

Although I developed this sponge for a celebratory birthday cake, the same cake would be perfect as a special Mother's Day treat... I have only included the sponge recipe below, but you can fill and decorate with jam, buttercream, ganache or anything else you choose. If you would like to cover in buttercream roses, there is a really helpful tutorial for piping roses here.

I managed to get plenty of photos of the original rose-covered cake before it was delivered to the birthday girl, but it was not possible to get any photos of the sponge that would properly show the crumb.

I will be honest, it is a bit of a bug-bear of mine when I see a gluten free cake recipe on the internet with no photo of the inside...... So many gluten free cakes are either really dry or quite stodgy and tight, so I like to be able to see what I am getting, or the recipe get's side-lined.

To avoid the criticism of pots and black kettles, I 'forced' myself to make another cake and eat it in the interests of letting you see the sponge. Life can be pretty hard sometimes. Perfectly risen, soft and full of aromatic vanilla, I can verify this sponge is amazingly good.

Whilst I have your ear (or is it your eye?), I would also like to give a HUGE shout out to my lovely blogging friend Rebecca over at Glutarama. If you read my Amaretti Cookie post, you will know that 2018 did not start well for me as I sadly (and quite unexpectedly) lost my mother. Rebecca has been an incredible friend not only for checking in on me whilst I am going through a really difficult time, but also because she has been a total star in covering my absence from my planned joint hosting of our Got To Be Gluten Free #G2BGF linky. I had enthusiastically agreed, just before Christmas, to pair up with Rebecca in this adventure and feel like I have been totally useless since. As soon as I am back on track, I will be a full part of the party..... I promise!

In the mean time, if you have any gluten free goodies you can link up, we would LOVE you to join us over at Glutarama.

I am sharing my Gluten Free Alchemist Best Vanilla Sponge with :

Got To Be Gluten Free #G2BGF with Glutarama (Who is doing a stirling job of holding the fort whilst I am trying to get myself back on track after much recent upheaval.... Thank you SO much Rebecca)

Love Cake with Jibber Jabber

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice

Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel and Free From Farmhouse

Cook Blog Share with Everyday Healthy Recipes

Bake of the Week with Casa Costello and Mummy Mishaps

Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Fiesta Friday #213

The Best Vanilla Sponge (makes 1 x 9 inch (23 cm) sandwich cake)


320g plain GF flour blend (I used blend A from this post)
160g ground almonds
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
330 ml (g) milk
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
170g unsalted butter - softened
360g caster sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs - room temperature


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 and base-line two 9 inch (23 cm) round non-stick baking tins with baking paper.
  2. Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, making sure the ingredients are fully combined and all lumps are broken down (I weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
  3. In a jug, stir together the milk and vinegar and leave to stand for 10 minutes (it will become clumpy).
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar with a whisk until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add and beat in the vanilla extract.
  6. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat together with a fork to break up the egg. Add a little at a time to the butter mixture, beating thoroughly between each addition until smooth.
  7. Finally alternate folding in the liquid and flour mix to the batter about a third at a time, gently and quickly until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix.
  8. Divide the mixture between the two baking tins and smooth the tops.
  9. Bake for approx 30 minutes until golden and the top springs back to the touch.  
  10. Cool for 10 minutes in the tins, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated


  1. It looks like a beautiful cake and would indeed be perfect for Mother's Day. I love your piping too and need to watch the tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing with #CookOnceEatTwice x

    1. Thanks Corina. The piping is so much easier than it looks..... But I think I still have plenty of room for improvement x

  2. Gorgeous cake, Kate, the roses all around it are great, it wouldn't be the same if they only covered the top. Thank you for bringing it to #CookBlogShare:)

    1. Thanks Monika. I agree..... the roses on the top only just looked top heavy! x

  3. What a gorgeous cake but you do only make beautiful things! I hope life is getting back on track on some ways for you but I know it will never be the same.

    1. Awww thanks Ness. That's so kind of you. I think things will take a while to feel level again x

  4. Gorgeous cake my lovely, as always! sending much love xxx

  5. Haha, you don't have to keep saying that darling, it's my pleasure. Loving your persistence in.getting this just right, I'm the same, it bugs me beyond belief otherwise! And your beautiful rose icing, it's gorgeous xxx

    1. Thanks Rebecca..... I can't help it! I always hate when I feel like I am putting on people. And I do really appreciate the support you have given me x

  6. Oh that looks so pretty, I keep meaning to try making a cake like this. #bakeoftheweek

    1. Thanks Louise. Go for it! It's much more straight forward than it looks x

  7. I have been gluten free for about a year, but I have not attempted a sponge cake from scratch. Those flowers look incredible!

    1. Thank you Kat. You must have a go at baking gluten free..... It feels a little different to start with (the batters and doughs are not like glutenous stuff) but once you have tried a few, it becomes as normal as any other baking! x

  8. What a beautiful cake, Kate! I think it was a great move to make the cake again and show the sponge. It looks spectacular and nothing like a gluten-free cake.... in fact, it looks just perfect! x Thanks for joining in with #FreeFromFridays. Mel

    1. Thanks Mel. I'm glad I managed to make another for the sponge pics. It's so important in my book xx

  9. your roses look so gorgeous - that is the sort of icing that makes me quiver in terror at the idea of doing it so I admire your piping skills so much. And the sponge looks just great. I was surprised you haven't done a vanilla sponge before - I prefer chocolate birthday cakes - though live with a vanilla family

    1. Thanks Johanna. It was so strange that I didn't have a basic vanilla sponge recipe. I did have a Vic Sponge, but I needed something with better structural qualities. I am so pleased with this one..... It's worked well so far...... x

  10. ...Oh and btw, I'm making this for my mother in law this weekend, thank you for the inspiration xxx

  11. What a gorgeous cake (or should that be cakes) Kate - both the pretty rosette covered one and the simpler one. And yeah ... what a task to 'force' yourself to bake another cake so you can get the all important image of the crumb - it looks amazing! Thanks for sharing with #BakingCrumbs,
    Angela x

    1. Ha ha! Thanks Angela. Being forced to make cake was tough!!!!! x

  12. Absolutely stunning - so so pretty!

  13. You are an absolute star baker! I am not sure I will be able to make a cake like this. Very nice Kate well done!


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