The ULTIMATE Gluten Free Orange Cake recipe – Moist, heady with the scent and tang of orange and gorgeously sharable. Make into a tall layer cake for birthdays and celebrations. Or dress down as a simple tea-time sponge. Optional dairy free.
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A PERFECT Gluten Free Orange Cake Recipe
I LOVE this Gluten Free Orange Cake. It is moist, heady with the scent and tang of orange and gorgeously sharable. I’ve made (and shared) it many times and the response has always been a silence interspersed with happy ‘Mmmm’s of satisfaction and gratitude. Commonly met with ‘I’d never have known it was gluten free’, I know I’ve done a good job. I would go as far as to say this is the perfect gluten free orange cake.
Gluten Free Birthday Cake, Celebration Cake or Tea Time Cake… The choice is yours
My Gluten Free Orange Cake recipe is super-versatile. The sponge is utterly divine as a simple tea time cake, but is robust and special enough to be dressed to impress. And that makes it the perfect recipe for an orange celebration cake or gluten free birthday cake. Indeed, it has even been used to layer a Chocolate Orange Wedding Cake!
The cake shared here has been sandwiched with sumptuous orange curd buttercream and a home-made orange jelly. But it works equally well as a simple sandwich cake, layered with vanilla butter icing, or spread with chocolate ganache. Or… anything else you might love with orange.
An Orange Layer Cake with two or three layers?
Whether you are a traditional low or tall layer cake fan, this gluten free orange cake works either way… Taller cakes are the perfect show-stoppers for birthdays and celebrations. And I know this sponge layers well.
The cake pictured is a three-layer 7 inch (18 cm) cake. But the recipe also ‘fits’ a two-layer 9 inch (23 cm) sandwich cake, which is often considered better as a basic ‘tea time’ treat. It even works well as cupcakes.
Making a celebratory Gluten Free Orange Cake – Sponge, butter icing and jelly
Although the Orange Cake photographed may look like you need loads of skills, it is actually pretty straight forward… There are three parts of the process. So, what do you need to know?
The orange sponge
Firstly, this cake is made by the standard creaming/beating and folding method. It is not flourless (although we do have a Flourless Orange Cake recipe at Gluten Free Alchemist which is equally delicious, but not ‘layerable’).
The flour used for the sponge is my home-blended GFA white gluten free flour Blend A. This provides balance without the grittiness that comes from so many commercial blends… However, I have no doubt that the cake will rise and bake equally well using one of the better commercial blends such as Doves Freee plain white flour.
It is worth noting too that the orange sponge is made with plenty of ground almonds and some home-made ‘buttermilk’ (using milk and vinegar). This combination means that it stays moist and fresh. Actually, if anything, the crumb improves over a couple of days… Which is far from the often dry and crumbly gluten free offerings you might have tried. And that also means it can be made a couple of days in advance of any celebration without panic.
The Orange Curd Buttercream
To make my gluten free orange cake extra celebratory, it has been filled, coated and decorated with some creamy, decadent orange buttercream, touched with a swirl of orange curd.
While it is possible to keep the filling as two separate layers… (curd and buttercream one on top of the other), I wouldn’t recommend it, particularly if making anything more than a two-layer cake… The double ‘wet’ layer can be slippery to stack and the weight of the cake can quickly push the filling sideways resulting in a ‘bulge’.
It is also recommended that the amount of curd is carefully balanced, so as not to make the buttercream over-soft, as this will have the same effect.
Homemade Orange Jelly
If you are used to making jelly from a packet, panic not. Homemade jelly using juice and sheet gelatine is really no different. The gelatine is melted into warm juice (rather than water) and then left to set.
Be aware however that not all gelatine is created equal. For this recipe I used Platinum Grade Leaf Gelatine (not powder or crystals) for a bright, clear finish.
The oranges used were blood oranges, but of course, these are only available at certain times of the year (late winter in the UK). So, just use the juice from whatever oranges are available. Either way, the jelly layer on top of the cake is a special touch… And it adds a deliciously contrasting texture which marries beautifully against the sponge and velvety buttercream.
To finish the cake, I piped some simple swirls around the top edge (and base) and capped each with a little sugar flower. Bear in mind that any sugar-based decoration placed on the jelly will absorb moisture and dissolve. So, the edible gold heart sprinkles that I used blended into gold trails and streaks. To be honest, it’s a nice effect, but it wasn’t quite what was intended.
Can I make this Gluten Free Orange Cake Recipe dairy free?
With a couple of substitutions, my gluten free orange cake can be made dairy free too. Simply swap the butter and milk in the sponge and the buttercream for a good dairy free alternative (such as Stork or Flora baking blocks). And either find or make a vegan orange curd, or just use straight buttercream.
Key equipment for making Gluten Free Orange Cake
As with all cakes, you’ll need a few basic pieces of kit when making a gluten free orange cake.
- Cake tins – I use Masterclass non-stick, loose-bottomed sandwich tins which come in various sizes.
- A good electric hand whisk – Sadly, Kenwood don’t make my old K-Mix anymore, but this Kenwood 450W hand mixer is the current equivalent.
- Some Mixing Bowls.
- Good quality non-stick baking parchment – I always use Lakeland Baking Parchment as it has never let me down.
- A large mixing spoon for folding – I love my Zing Silicone Spoon-Spatula as it is perfect for mixing and for scraping every last bit of mixture from the bowl (sorry kids!).
- Wire racks to cool the sponges – If you bake a lot, it’s definitely worth investing in the Lakeland stacking racks. They store small and take up so much less kitchen space.
- An angled palette knife and a cake scraper are really handy.
- A cake decorating turntable makes life a whole lot easier and offers the best motion round the cake when coating and piping.
- And for piping… a piping bag and nozzle. I use the Lakeland ‘grippy’ disposable piping bags and for this piping, an open star tip large nozzle.
Ready to make Gluten Free Orange Cake?
Whether made as a tea time treat or for a full-on celebration, I really hope you love this cake as much as we do. If you make it, please let me know… And leave a comment and rate the recipe. Hearing from you guys really makes my day. I love to know how your bakes and cakes turn out and get super-excited when I see photos of them on social media.
Thanks for visiting Gluten Free Alchemist. Happy Baking
Other Celebration Cakes to bake at Gluten Free Alchemist
Gluten Free Orange Cake (perfect for celebrations)
- round, non-stick baking tins (3 x 7 inch / 2 x 9 inch)
- measuring jug
- angled palette knife
- piping bag and nozzle – optional
- microwave or hob and saucepan
- 300 g plain gluten free flour blend I use GFA Blend A (see NOTES)
- 2 tsp baking powder gluten free
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda baking soda
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 175 g ground almonds almond meal
- 330 ml/g milk dairy free if required
- 1½ tbsp white wine vinegar
- 150 g unsalted butter (or dairy free alternative) softened
- 400 g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature – lightly beaten (UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 1 orange zest finely grated
Orange Curd Buttercream
- 190 g unsalted butter (or dairy free alternative) softened
- 400 g icing sugar confectioners/powdered sugar – sifted
- pinch fine sea salt
- ½ tsp orange extract
- 3 to 4 tsp orange curd
- 120 ml/g sieved orange juice I used freshly squeezed blood orange
- 1 tbsp icing sugar confectioners/powdered sugar
- 3 g sheet gelatine platinum grade
Additional Decorations (optional)
- sugar flowers and gold stars
- Base-line two 9 inch or three 7 inch cake tins with non-stick baking paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Weigh and thoroughly mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum, salt and almonds. (TIP: weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
- Pour the milk and vinegar into a jug and stir. Set aside. (The liquid becomes clumpy making 'buttermilk').
- Use an electric whisk to cream together the butter and sugar until light, pale and fluffy.
- Gradually add the egg a little at a time and beat thoroughly between each addition until fully amalgamated.
- Add and beat in the vanilla and orange extracts and orange zest.
- Gently fold in about a third of the milk mix followed by a third of the flour mix and repeat in thirds until all the dry mix and liquid have been just incorporated into the cake batter. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the tins and smooth the surface.
- Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Orange Curd Buttercream
- Beat the softened butter until smooth.
- Then gradually add and beat in the icing sugar, salt, orange extract and curd until well-blended, light and creamy.
- Sandwich together the sponge cakes with a generous layer of buttercream.
- Chill for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the buttercream to firm.
- Use a large palette knife and cake scraper to spread a thin layer of butter icing around the sides and top of the cake.
- Next pipe rosettes tightly-together around the top edge using a large open star tip. Make sure there are no gaps, as this will form the 'wall' that will prevent the jelly escaping.
- Pipe (optionally) also round the base of the cake.
- Place the cake in the fridge for 30 to 40 minutes to allow the buttercream to completely firm up and chill.
Orange Jelly (make while the cake is chilling)
- Hydrate the gelatine (as per pack instructions) by placing the sheets flat, in cold water, for 10 minutes.
- Heat the juice either in a small saucepan or in a jug in the microwave.
- Add the icing sugar to the juice and stir until dissolved.
- Whilst the juice is still hot, add the soaked gelatine and stir until completely dissolved.
- Set aside at room temperature, stirring frequently until the liquid is cold and just beginning to thicken very slightly (but is still liquid and pourable).
- Pour the jelly onto the top of the chilled cake (inside the icing surround) and place in the fridge to set.
- Decorate with sparkles and sugar flowers and serve.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
Gluten Free Orange Cake shared with
- Full Plate Thursday #541 with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
- What’s for Dinner #319 with The Lazy Gastronome
- Sundays on Silverado #45 with The House on Silverado