Gluten free champagne cake. A light, fluffy yellow cake made with champagne in the batter, and a super easy 7-minute frosting. Try a nonalcoholic version with ginger ale, and share it with the kids.
Okay, before you get all upset with me that I’m suggesting you feed champagne to your underage children with this gluten free champagne cake, you can easily make these kid-friendly by substituting ginger ale for the sparkling wine. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk champagne cake.
This recipe was requested by one lovely reader (we’re all looking at you Michelle Moses Beck!), who was tired of living with just the memory of her local bakery’s cake. She wanted something special and fancy to ring in the New Year.
So do I! And I’m betting that you do, too. Or you’re at least willing to play along.
Since I had never heard of much less made champagne cake, I had only Michelle’s description to go by: a light and fluffy yellow cake, made with champagne. I made it as a small layer cake (topped with some toasted coconut, because I think it’s pretty), using ginger ale in place of sparkling wine, and it was fabulous.
The frosting on the cake is a 7-minute frosting, made with ginger ale (or sparkling wine) in place of water. So easy, and so delicious.
It’s almost like marshmallow fluff, but a bit thicker and glossier (and the egg whites are cooked to 160°F). Personally, I love love love it just like that.
Then I made it as cupcakes (twice), made with sparkling wine. Even better, because sparkling wine just, well, tastes better than ginger ale. The frosting on the cupcakes is swiss meringue buttercream, which is just, basically, 7-minute frosting with butter beaten into it.
I used this post by Sweetapolita as my guide, as she’s just all up in the frosting business. She solved a lot of the mystery surrounding swiss meringue buttercream, and even has a nickname for it (“SMB” – so clever).
The cake (or cupcake) batter is so light and fluffy, and I’m gonna have to insist that you follow the instructions to the letter (or as close are you’re willing to get to that – you know you hate being told what to do!). I tried more than one method (since I was making the whole thing up, ‘course), and following a method similar to the one I use to make gluten free sponge cake makes all the difference.
And, yes, you really do need to use a gum-free basic flour blend, and add just a bit of xanthan gum or the cake is kind of tough. If you just won’t do that, I can’t vouch for the results so don’t yell at me!
These are some of the best yellow cupcakes I’ve ever had, in fact. Light and fluffy, and still really moist, these cupcakes are really something special to ring in the New Year. Read the whole recipe through and through, though, before you begin. Promise?
Gluten Free Champagne Cake
FOR THE CAKE/CUPCAKES
1 3/4 cup (245 g) basic gum-free gluten free flour (162 g superfine white rice flour + 54 g potato starch + 29 g tapioca starch/flour)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons (18 g) cornstarch (can’t have cornstarch? try arrowroot and let us know how it goes!)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 egg (60 g, out of shell), separated + 1 egg white, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (5 1/3 fluid ounces) sparkling wine (can substitute ginger ale for an alcohol-free version)
FOR CHAMPAGNE FROSTING
1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sparkling wine (can substitute ginger ale for an alcohol-free version)
5 egg whites (150 g total)
24 tablespoons (336 g) unsalted butter, cubed and kept cool (but not cold)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
First, make the cake or cupcakes. Preheat your oven to 350°F. If making a cake, grease a 9-inch round baking pan and set it aside. If making cupcakes, grease or line the wells of a standard 12-cup muffin tin and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the gum-free flour blend, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 3/4 cup (150 g) of the granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Set the bowl of dry ingredients aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the 2 egg whites and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar, and beat again on medium speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Still using the whisk attachment, beat in the egg yolk and butter on medium speed. The mixture will be thick and the egg whites will deflate a bit, but the mixture will still be fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and the sparkling wine, alternating one and then the other, and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. The batter will be pale yellow and fluffy.
If making a cake, transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and spread and shake into an even layer. If making cupcakes, divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin tins (filling them about 3/4 of the way full). Place the cake or cupcakes in the center of the preheated oven and bake until pale golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 19 minutes for cupcakes, 25 minutes for a cake). Remove the cake or cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before transferring a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cake or cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Clean the bowl of your stand mixer, place the sugar, cream of tartar, and sparkling wine and egg whites, and whisk to combine well. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl, making sure the tip of the thermometer is in the liquid and not on the bottom of the bowl or you will get an inaccurate reading. The bowl should be just above the simmering (but not boiling water) without touching it. Cook the sugar mixture, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 160°F. Remove the bowl from the heat, and place it in the stand mixer. Beat, with the whisk attachment for about 7 minutes or until the mixture is white, glossy and thick (and about tripled in size). Right now, this is your 7-minute frosting, and it can be used as is to frost your cooled cake or cupcakes. If you would like to make swiss meringue buttercream, continue with the next step.
To make swiss meringue buttercream from your 7-minute frosting, once the side of the mixing bowl is cool to the touch on the outside of the bowl, switch to the paddle attachment and begin adding the cubed, cool butter while the mixer is on medium speed. Continue to beat until all of the butter is added and the mixture is silky smooth and thick. If the mixture looks curdled, continue to beat for a while longer until the butter is smooth (the “curdles” are actually butter that is too cold). If the mixture is runny, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and beat again. Add the salt, and beat to combine.
Frost the cake or cupcakes with the champagne frosting as desired, and serve.