This gluten free Christmas Tree Cake is really easy to make. A stunner of a seasonal centre piece, it’s a chocolate mint cake layered with gluten free chocolate sponge and mint buttercream. The kids will love ‘decorating the tree’ and I promise… No one will EVER guess it’s gluten free.
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Gluten Free Christmas Tree Cake – A simple layer cake made festive
This chocolate mint, gluten free Christmas Tree Cake is a fabulous centre piece for any Christmas party or gathering. A basic layer cake made super-festive, it is big enough to feed plenty of cake-loving guests. But it is also really straight forward to bake and build. The kids will love getting involved in helping to make it. And even very little ones will have plenty of fun ‘decorating the tree’.
Better still… Because this Christmas Tree Cake is built on graduating layers, there is no requirement for any fancy piping skills! If you can bake cake, then you can turn it into a decorated Christmas Tree with very little effort!
Gluten Free Chocolate Mint Layer Cake – an epic flavour combo.
Chocolate Mint is always a popular flavour pairing. And because of mint’s association with the colour green, it seemed a natural choice for a Christmas Tree Cake.
This particular chocolate mint cake, is made with a moist gluten free chocolate sponge, layered and covered with cool mint buttercream. And I promise that no-one will EVER guess it’s gluten free. I know, because it’s been tested on lots of unsuspecting people.
In fact, the chocolate sponge is one that has been used before at Gluten Free Alchemist. It was originally developed for a gluten free Chocolate Bundt Cake. But it is such a great sponge, the possibilities for its use are far more varied.
Can I make this Christmas Tree Cake with any sponge recipe?
Chocolate Mint Cake is not compulsory! If you are either not gluten free, or you don’t like chocolate cake, then yes… A layered Christmas Tree Cake can be made with other sponge recipes too. However, an important criteria is that the cake is sturdy enough to take the weight of several layers (as they are not doweled). We also have a great gluten free Vanilla Sponge recipe on the blog. Or our gluten free Orange Cake would be another good alternative.
What tins do I need to turn a layer cake into a Christmas Tree Cake?
The trick to making a layered Christmas Tree Cake that looks like a Christmas Tree and can be decorated easily, is the sizing of the tins. The graduations need to be large enough to create a ‘ledge’ to decorate. About 2 inches (5 cm) between them is perfect. The Christmas Tree Cake pictured is made with the following:
1x 8 inch (20 cm) tin; 1 x 6 inch (15 cm) tin; 1 x 4 inch (10 cm) tin; and lastly, a non-stick large muffin tin… Or just use another small round tin for the remaining mixture, from which you can cut the final two layers using a cookie cutter/freehand (2 inch (5 cm) and 1 inch (2½ cm). All the tins are quite deep.
What gluten free flour is used to make the chocolate sponge?
It’s really important when making gluten free cake to use a gluten free flour blend. Individual gluten free flours are not in themselves a substitute for wheat flour and need to be combined to get the qualities needed for structure and texture. The blend used for this chocolate cake recipe is my Gluten Free Alchemist cake flour blend A (found if you scroll to the bottom of my Flours and Flour Blending page).
I do understand however, that many of you don’t want to blend your own flour (although I thoroughly recommend it, as it’s way better and more versatile than most commercial blends). And that’s fine. For this recipe, just use a good quality, balanced gluten free commercial blend as an alternative. Although I haven’t tried it, Doves Freee plain white flour should be good (although the texture may be a little more dry and gritty).
How to decorate your Christmas Tree Cake
Your gluten free Christmas Tree Cake has been baked, layered and covered in buttercream. How you now decorate it is up to you… Although it may also be dependent on what decorations you can find.
The most important thing to remember for a cake that is safe for people with Coeliac Disease (Celiac Disease), is that every single decoration is checked for its ‘allergen’ safety. Make sure there are NO gluten-containing ingredients or ‘may contain’ warnings. It is not safe to simply ‘pick off’ the decorations if someone cannot eat them. The risk of cross-contamination is too great and too dangerous.
What I used to decorate this Christmas Tree Cake…
I decorated my Christmas Tree Cake using a sparkly bauble and star theme and some traditional candy canes. The mini candy canes were not easy to source, although I eventually found an enormous box for £1 in Poundland.
The ‘baubles’ and stars are made from Aero Chocolate-Peppermint balls and Milky Way Magic Stars. They have been simply brushed with edible glue and dipped in various coloured edible glitters to make them sparkle. I always use the glitter brand Rainbow Dust… because it seems to sparkle brighter than the rest. (They can also be found on Amazon).
I added shimmer truffles that were originally found in Marks and Spencer. And some Quality Street Matchmakers to hang the candy canes from. You could even make some Homemade Marzipan ‘presents’ to arrange around the bottom of the cake.
The piece de resistance is the crisp, homemade sparkly dark chocolate star on top of the tree… Every tree needs a one, right? While there are pre-made chocolate stars made by manufacturers like Dr Oetker, they just aren’t that special. So, I made my own with a Lékué Decopen which makes creating chocolate shapes at home super-easy. (I’ve also used it to make a ‘70’ for a birthday cake, and the chocolate hearts on my Roasted Banana-Chocolate Celebration Cake).
Ready to make my Gluten Free Layered Chocolate Mint Christmas Tree Cake?
Admittedly, this recipe is a bit seasonal, but I hope you love it for the fun it offers. If you make it, let me know with a comment, or a tag on social media (with your amazing Christmas Tree Cake pictures). Find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest).
For lots of other Christmas recipe inspiration, we also have an extensive gluten free Christmas Recipe Index to help… All shared for FREE with my love. Merry Christmas. 🎄🎄🎄
Layered Chocolate Mint Christmas Tree Cake (gluten free)
- 1 x 8 inch/20 cm; 1 x 6 inch/15 cm; 1 x 4 inch/10 cm; and additional small round cake tin)
- microwave or hob and saucepan
Chocolate Sponge Cakes
- 435 g plain gluten free flour blend eg. Gluten Free Alchemist Blend A – See NOTES
- 120 g ground almonds almond meal
- 90 g cocoa powder
- 1½ tbsp baking powder gluten free
- 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¾ tsp fine sea salt
- 1½ tsp xanthan gum
- 225 g caster sugar
- 225 g soft light brown sugar
- 5 large eggs At room temperature – UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 115 g unsalted butter melted
- 2 tsp espresso powder optional
- 100 ml/g boiling water
- 560 ml plain yoghurt
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 200 g dark chocolate chips (optional)
- 250 g unsalted butter softened
- 500 g icing sugar powdered/confectioners sugar
- 1 to 2 tbsp milk to loosen as necessary
- peppermint extract – to taste
- green food colouring paste
Tree Decorations (as you wish) – Check all are gluten free
- mini candy canes
- GF mint chocolate sticks I used Matchmakers
- GF chocolate-mint balls I used Aero Peppermint Balls
- GF chocolate mini stars I used Milky Way Stars
- GF shimmer-coated chocolate truffles
- edible food glue
- edible glitter – various colours
- a little dark chocolate for the star
Preparation of tree decorations ahead of time
- If planning on using glitter-covered chocolates, it's advisable to prepare these in advance, so they have time to dry ready to place on the cake when iced and before the icing hardens.
'Glitterizing' chocolates etc
- Place a little glitter of the chosen colours in tiny dishes (I use soy sauce dishes).
- Use a clean paint brush (I keep one especially for food use) and smear a very thin layer of food glue on areas of chocolate balls, stars, etc that need to be 'glitterized'.
- Dip the glued areas into the glitter to cover and then carefully place on a sheet of baking paper (on a tray/plate) to dry. Set aside.
Chocolate Star (if making)
- Melt a little dark chocolate in the microwave (medium setting) in a glass bowl for 30 second bursts, stirring between each. (I tempered mine, but if you are adding glitter, any ‘blooming’ will not show).
- Use a chocolate decoration kit (see main blog post) or very carefully drizzle the chocolate into a sturdy star shape on non-stick baking paper.
- Immediately add a good sprinkle of glitter to the surface. Set aside to set.
Chocolate Sponge Cakes
- Base-line the round, loose-bottomed cake tins – You will need the following : 1 x 8 inch/20 cm; 1 x 6 inch/15 cm; 1 x 4 inch/10 cm; and a non-stick large muffin tin (or additional small round cake tin) for the remaining mixture (from which the top 2 layers will be cut).
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.
- Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and xanthan gum, making sure any lumps are completely broken down. (TIP: Weigh into a large airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
- In a very large bowl, whisk together the sugars and eggs until well-blended, pale and thickened.
- Melt the butter either in the microwave or in a small bowl over steaming water. Set aside.
- Mix the espresso powder with the boiling water to dissolve.
- Add the yoghurt, melted butter, coffee and vanilla extract to the egg mix and whisk again to blend.
- Add the flour/dry blend and lightly fold into the mixture until just combined.
- Add the chocolate chips last and fold through until evenly distributed, but be careful not to over-mix.
- Distribute your batter between your tins to a depth of 4 to 5 cm (1½ to 2 inches), using any remaining batter in a muffin tin/additional cake tin.
- Bake your cakes for between 20 and 40 minutes (dependent on depth and size), arranging them in the oven so that the smaller ones are at the front for easy removal without significantly disturbing the larger ones that need longer. They will be ready when a skewer inserted comes out clean. These cakes do not massively sink if a little air gets into the oven, but try to avoid opening the door too often or for too long!
- As the cakes come out of the oven, remove from the tins (after about 10 minutes cooling) and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Mint Buttercream – make while the cakes are cooling
- Place your softened butter in a large mixing bowl and beat well until pale and creamy.
- Gradually whisk the icing sugar into the butter, a little at a time, until the icing is smooth and soft.
- Add a very little milk as the mixture thickens, to loosen if necessary.
- Add peppermint extract and green food colouring a little at a time until you have your desired mint flavour and colour, whisking as you go.
Layer and fill the cakes
- Starting with the largest 8 inch/20 cm sponge (placed on the serving dish/cake board), carefully spread a layer of icing on to the top and sides, to cover completely, using an icing spreader or palette knife. It's good if it looks a bit rough!
- Place the next largest sponge (6 inch/15 cm) on top of the first iced sponge and repeat the icing process to completely cover.
- Repeat again with the 4 inch/10 cm sponge.
- For the top two layers, take the remaining sponge(s) and use cookie cutters (2 inch (5 cm) and 1 inch (2½ cm) to cut cake rounds. If necessary, square off the the top of the sponge (if is has domed) to flatten for stacking.
- Repeat the icing and stacking process for these two layers – (Be extra careful to avoid too many crumbs getting mixed into the icing layer. Or if easier, add a thin ‘crumb’ coat of icing to each small cake (chilling to firm up) before you put them on the main cake, and then add a second icing layer when placed on the main cake).
To decorate the tree
- Decorate the cake with glittery sweets, truffles, candy canes and the chocolate star, as you wish. Use the 'ledges' between each cake layer to sit baubles and push stars into the icing round the sides of the cake levels.
- Store at room temperature and eat within about 5 to 6 days. Once cut, try to cover the cut areas to avoid drying.
© 2019-2024 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