My daughter’s school has a fantastic Parent-Friends Association (PFA) which works really hard putting on events to raise funds for the school. The money goes towards the extras like play equipment, which are outside the school budget, but that really make a difference to children’s development and enjoyment of school.
Every year on school sports day, the PFA invites parents to donate cakes for their cake stall and there is always an amazing array of gorgeous home-baked cakes and biscuits on offer.
Parents are invited to join their children for a picnic lunch, which means extra trade as they buy the freshly baked treats to go with their sandwiches and sausage rolls. By the end of the day, the cakes have been devoured and the school gets a bit more cash towards their latest goal.
Unfortunately, the average cake, by its very nature contains gluten, so there is always very little on offer for the kids that can’t eat it. And in a school of 600 plus children, that’s likely to be quite a few children who feel ‘left out’ yet again………………… So I always make the effort to make a big cake that looks just as delicious amongst all the others and can be cut into lots of slices and clearly labelled ‘gluten free’. I make sure it has been cut before I leave home and is already on its own cake base to avoid cross-contamination and hope that it will put a smile on the faces of the gluten-free kids to see that they can eat cake after all!
Because of the allergy risks and strict rules around not having nuts in school, I always use a recipe that avoids peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and the like……… I would be mortified if I managed to avoid gluten, but gave some poor child an anaphylactic shock from the nuts! Maybe next year I will try and avoid dairy too………..
This year I made a double chocolate cake. A rich, dark, deep chocolate sponge which uses chestnut flour in the mix, layered and topped with white chocolate butter icing (frosting). The sponge is moist, but not too sweet and is decadently complimented by the white-chocolaty sweet richness of the butter icing.
You can’t go wrong with a chocolate cake, but the problem is that it often looks so tempting, all the gluten-eaters want a piece too.
I have to admit that I made the cake in a bit of a rush, so it does look particularly ‘home-made’, but I like to think that (especially for a cake stall), the imperfections in decoration add to the charm.
Chocolate Sponge (makes one 8 inch sandwich cake)
120g unsalted butter – room temperature
175g light brown sugar
55g dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon glycerin
175g gluten free flour (I used Blend A from this post)
55g chestnut flour
1¼ teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch fine sea salt
55g cocoa powder
200 ml milk
- Base-line two 8 inch non-stick cake tins with baking paper.
- Preheat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4.
- Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl until light, fluffy and pale in colour.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully combined and then add and beat in the vanilla extract and glycerin.
- In a separate bowl, weigh, sift and mix together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder.
- Fold the flour mix into the butter-egg mix alternately with the milk, about a third at a time, until you have a smooth, combined batter.
- Divide the mixture equally between the two cake tins and smooth the tops evenly.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the tops are firm, but spring back to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
White Chocolate Butter Icing (Frosting)
120g white chocolate, broken into small pieces
75g unsalted butter – cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk / almond milk / rice milk
500g icing sugar – sifted
- Carefully melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof glass bowl by either placing over a gently simmering saucepan of water (water not touching the bowl), whilst stirring frequently, or in the microwave using a medium setting for 30 second bursts, stirring thoroughly in between each until fully melted and combined. Be very careful not to overheat on either method or the chocolate will ‘seize’.
- Add the milk and vanilla extract and stir thoroughly.
- Gradually add the icing sugar about 50g at a time, beating between each addition with a wooden or silicone spoon or with a mixer until completely blended and smooth. If the icing becomes too thick, add a splash more milk. If the icing is too soft, add a little more icing sugar.
- Once the sponge is completely cold, place one layer top down on a serving plate and spread about half of the butter icing across the flat side.
- Place the second cake flat-side down on top of the first, and spread the remaining butter icing on the top.
- Decorate the cake as you wish – I used large chocolate buttons, grated chocolate and sparkly sprinkles.