The BEST Gluten Free Funfetti Cake made with a perfect vanilla sponge. Layered for height, this showstopper of a birthday cake is guaranteed to turn heads. And best of all… No one will EVER know it’s gluten free. (optional dairy free)
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Gluten Free Funfetti Cake – For colourful birthdays and ‘un-birthdays’
There’s no denying it. This Gluten Free Funfetti Cake is a show-stopper. Perfectly balanced layers of vanilla sponge, sandwiched with vanilla buttercream and jam… All completely enrobed in a light covering of butter icing and the most colourful of pretty ‘Unicorn’ sugar confetti.
It’s an old cake on the blog… And one that I originally made as Miss GF’s 13th birthday cake. Or was that an ‘un-birthday’ cake? You see… On the year in question, Miss GF decided she didn’t actually want a birthday. I have no idea why, but that included ‘no birthday cake’.
It made no sense to me. And as a parent I felt somewhat impotent. But birthday or no birthday, I was damn sure I was making cake… My heart was set on making Gluten Free Funfetti Cake, so I let the baking commence. And while it would have made the most gorgeous of birthday cakes, an ‘un-birthday’ cake was good with me.
What is a Funfetti Cake? (aka Confetti Cake)
For the uninitiated, a Funfetti Cake (which is also known as a Confetti Cake) is a sponge cake, with pretty sugar sprinkles baked into the sponge. As the cake bakes, the sprinkles melt into the batter, offering little dots of colour and extra sweetness. For the best rainbow effect, the sponge is usually vanilla flavoured and is light in colour.
Originally introduced as a sponge mix by Pillsbury in 1989, Funfetti cake mix can be baked into large layer cakes, small cupcakes and any other shape you choose. And while it is primarily loved by children for its sheer visual appeal, there are plenty of adults who love it as a birthday cake too.
Funfetti needs the perfect gluten free vanilla cake
A great Gluten Free Funfetti Cake, needs a perfect vanilla sponge… And this sponge is incredibly good. Although the addition of sugar confetti definitely sweetens the end result, the sponge is deep with vanilla and has a texture that is almost better than perfect… Soft, light, tender of crumb and not in the slightest reminiscent of eating ‘gluten free’ cake. Indeed, this sponge fools the hardiest of gluten-eaters… Without a doubt proving that gluten free doesn’t have to be dry, gritty or tasteless.
The recipe is a slight variation on my Best Gluten Free Vanilla Sponge. A super-soft cake that also has great structure… Which makes it perfect for layering as well as for making birthday cakes which need to be cut and shaped. The batter is smooth and silky and when baked, rises to perfection, while also remaining soft for several days.
A two or three layer cake?
The cake pictured here was a bit of a large one. Well… It was a birthday-un-birthday!
But the size and number of layers is up to you. The recipe shared is for a tall cake with three 8 inch (20 cm) layers designed to be cut into thinner slices… Or alternatively will make a lower, two-layer 9 inch (23 cm) cake. (My tin of choice for cake-baking is the non-stick, loose-bottomed Masterclass (8 inch or 9 inch)).
But if you want to make more or less mixture, just use the re-calculation buttons on the recipe card (I like to make things super-easy for you).
Finding safe sugar confetti for a Gluten Free Funfetti Cake
So, now you have a perfect vanilla sponge recipe to bake your cake… But when making a Gluten Free Funfetti Cake, the next challenge is finding sugar confetti that is also gluten free. Be warned… Many cake sprinkles contain wheat starch, so it is crucial you read the labels to be sure the Funfetti you use is Coeliac safe.
The ‘Unicorn’ Confetti Sprinkles that I used are definitely gluten free and made by Dr Oetker (note: Not all Dr Oetker sprinkles are safe). And I think they may just be the prettiest sprinkles I have ever used… Even better, they are available from many supermarkets in the UK.
Getting the Funfetti to stick to the cake
If you are making a full-on coated Funfetti Cake, brace yourself for a messy challenge. While I think the fully side-covered layer cake is the most enchanting, getting from ‘naked’ to ‘funfettied’ is easier said than done.
Okay… I’m no expert on cake decorating, but I learned a lot from my first ‘funfettiing’ attempt. There’s nothing that harnesses problem-solving more than funfetti all over the floor, way too much swearing and the hoover doing overtime. So, this is what I learned…
Tips for ‘funfettiing’
- Your best option is to coat the cake with sugar sprinkles by hand. (I’ve tried rolling cakes side-on into sprinkles and it is a disaster waiting to happen).
- It’s really important to give the cake a full crumb-coat of butter-icing and let it harden in the fridge before adding a soft layer to which the sprinkles can be stuck. This will offer the cake better structure and ensure the layers are less prone to ‘sliding’ when being handled and pushed. You’ll need an angled palette knife and a cake scraper for this.
- If at all possible, place the cake securely on a cake icing turntable to decorate, as this will enable the easiest flow of motion round the cake.
- Cover the butter icing bowl when not using to prevent drying. And try to maintain at a coolish room temperature if possible, for best ‘spreadability’.
- When ‘funfettiing’, do it in a large tray or container with deep sides to ‘catch’ all the sprinkles you will inevitably drop. It saves wasting them to the hoover (or the dog).
- When sticking the sprinkles, work quickly and immediately after the top-coat of icing has been spread and before it starts to set.
- Pick up large handfuls of sprinkles and brush them lightly from the bottom of the cake upwards in a sweeping motion. Work round the cake until it is covered.
- Tidy up the base with a flat knife or palette knife before serving (or transferring to a serving plate).
- I found this Video on You Tube which may be helpful to you.
- After chilling the cake to ‘set’ the butter icing, store at room temperature to maintain best texture (or bring back to room temperature before serving if kept in the fridge). A Tall (adjustable) Cake Carrier is ideal for storage.
Can I make Gluten Free Funfetti Cake dairy free?
If you are dairy-intolerant, then it’s fine to make my Gluten Free Funfetti Cake dairy free. With some simple subs for the butter and milk in the sponge and the butter in the butter icing, the cake can be made without dairy too. Just be sure to use a good dairy free butter such as Stork or Flora baking blocks. And preferably a richer dairy free milk alternative.
And don’t forget to check the ‘dairy-status’ of the sprinkles too…
Made my Gluten Free Funfetti Cake?
I hope you love my Gluten Free Funfetti Cake. Whether you make it for a birthday, an ‘un-birthday’, another celebration or just because it’s beautiful and delicious, leave a comment to let me know. If you take any photos, please share them on social media and remember to tag me in so that I get to see how they turned out.
And if you rate the recipe, hopefully Google will share with lots of other people too 😃.
For other gluten free inspiration, head over to the Gluten Free Recipe Index… and if you haven’t joined our mailing list yet, fill in the box below or on the Home Page so you never miss a new recipe again.
Other Celebration Cakes on Gluten Free Alchemist
- Coffee and Walnut Cake
- Best Gluten Free Carrot Cake
- A Celebratory Orange Cake
- Chocolate Kiss Cake
- Mocha Celebration Cake
- Roasted Banana and Chocolate Cake
- Coconut Cake with Marshmallow Flowers
- Chocolate Birthday Bundt
- Vanilla Sponge with Buttercream Roses
- Layered Banoffee Cake
- Chocolate Orange Celebration Cake
Gluten Free Funfetti Cake (or Confetti Cake)
- Kitchen scales
- measuring spoons
- 3 x 8 inch (20 cm) loose-bottomed non-stick baking tins (for three layer)
- baking paper
- Mixing bowls
- electric whisk
- measuring jug
- mixing spoon/spatula
- wire rack
- cake board/preparation board
- icing turn table
- angled palette knife
- Cake scraper
- large container/tray
- piping bag and nozzle – optional
- cake storage container
Vanilla Funfetti Sponge
- 320 g plain gluten free flour blend I use GFA Blend A (see NOTES)
- 160 g ground almonds (almond meal)
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 2 tsp baking powder check gluten free
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 330 ml milk dairy free if needed (preferably a 'richer' variety)
- 1½ tbsp white wine vinegar
- 170 g unsalted butter softened (or good dairy free alternative)
- 360 g caster sugar fine sugar
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs at room temperature – lightly beaten (UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 100 g Funfetti sugar sprinkles (check gluten free)
Butter Icing & Decoration
- 230 g unsalted butter softened (or good dairy free alternative)
- 460 g icing sugar (confectioners/powdered sugar)
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 200 g jam of choice (approximate weight)
- 80 to 100 g extra Funfetti sprinkles to decorate
Vanilla Funfetti Sponge
- Base-line the non-stick baking tins with baking paper.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- 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 (TIP: weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
- In a measuring jug, stir together the milk and vinegar and leave to stand for 10 minutes (it should become clumpy).
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a whisk, until pale and fluffy.
- Add and beat in the vanilla extract.
- Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat together with a fork to break up.
- Add a little egg at a time to the butter mixture, beating thoroughly between each addition until smooth and creamy.
- Fold the milk-vinegar liquid (homemade buttermilk) and the flour-mix into the batter about a third at a time, working gently and quickly until just combined.
- As the mix starts to even out, add the Funfetti sprinkles and fold through. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the baking tins and smooth the tops. The tins should be no more than two-thirds full.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden and the tops spring back to the touch. A skewer inserted should come out clean.
- Cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the tins, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Vanilla Butter Icing
- In a large bowl, beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy.
- Add the icing sugar a little at a time and continue to beat so that it remains smooth.
- Add and beat in the vanilla extract. The mix should be smooth and thick, but spreadable. If it needs to be loosened, add a tiny drop of milk and beat again until you have reached the desired consistency.
Layer the sponges
- To layer the sponge cakes – Place a couple of dabs of butter icing on a cake board and secure the first layer of sponge in position.
- Spread a thin layer of buttercream across the top of the base-layer cake. Then spread a layer of jam on the underside of the next sponge before positioning it on top of the first (so that you have a layer of buttercream topped with jam).
- Repeat for the additional layer of a three layer cake. (Do not spread anything on the top of the cake yet).
- Place the layered cake in the fridge for about 45 minutes to an hour to firm up slightly. (Cover the remaining butter icing in the bowl to prevent it hardening).
Crumb Coat the Cake
- Remove the cake from the fridge and set the board on an icing turntable for ease of working round it.
- Place 3 to 4 tablespoons butter icing in a separate bowl. This will be for the crumb coat. (If kept separate, it will avoid 'contaminating' the decorating icing with crumbs). Cover the rest of the icing while you work, to prevent hardening.
- Using an angled palette knife, spread a thin layer of 'crumb coat' butter icing across the top of the cake.
- Next spread a thin layer of icing around the sides, so that the cake is completely covered.
- Working quickly (while the icing is still soft), use a cake scraper to 'scrape' the excess butter icing from the top and sides of the cake (turning the table as you go). Try to scrape evenly, but it doesn't need to be perfect.
- Place the cake in the fridge for a further 45 minutes to an hour for the crumb coat to set.
Decorating with Butter Icing and Funfetti
- Remove the cake from the fridge and place back on the turntable.
- Using the angled palette knife, spread a new coat of butter icing in an even layer across the top of the cake, followed by the sides.
- Working quickly while the butter icing is still soft, lightly smooth the sides (but don't scrape too hard) with the cake spreader.
- Still working quickly, decorate the sides of the cake with Funfetti. It helps to do this while the cake (and turntable) are placed in a large tray or container with deep sides, to catch the sprinkles that fall when working.
- Pick up large handfuls of sprinkles and brush them lightly from the bottom of the cake upwards in a sweeping motion. Work round the cake until it is covered. (It may help to wear vinyl gloves)
- Check the cake and carefully 'patch' any areas that are missing sprinkles (although it really doesn't need to be perfect).
- Pipe decoration around the top edge of the cake as you wish and sprinkle a little more Funfetti across the surface.
- Place back in the fridge for about 30 minutes to 'set' the butter icing, after which the cake can be stored at room temperature in a cake container/carrier. If stored in the fridge, bring back to room temperature before serving.
© 2019-2021 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
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