The impossibly light, moist and tender crumb of this cake makes it (yes, really) the very best gluten free vanilla cake you’ve ever had.
Really, I think it makes it the best vanilla cake recipe, period. But it does happen to be gluten free, after all.
Between September and February of any given year, there are birthdays upon birthdays in my family. Everybody gets to choose what sort of cake they’d like to celebrate with, but if you drag your feet—then I choose.
But a chocolate cake as rich and fudgy as that flourless cake is only appropriate if the birthday boy or girl is a true chocolate lover.
Like that gorgeous one bowl chocolate cake, the ingredients to the best gluten free vanilla cake are simple pantry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Unlike chocolate cake, to get the best vanilla cake you’re going to have sift the dry ingredients (yes, you really do have to if you want that super tender, non-grainy crumb), and beat the heck out of the butter and sugar before you even think about adding anything else.
A stand mixer is great, but a handheld mixer works just as well provided you’re willing to stand there, beating and beating for at least 3 minutes.
I’ve tried this cake every which way (except with an egg substitute, which I’m afraid I just can’t see working out very well since this cake is very egg-dependent), and this is truly the best. If you need to modify the ingredients, of course the cake will be different.
For dairy-free, I recommend Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening in place of butter. Try 1:1 by weight.
You’ll also need and some sort of soured almond milk situation in place of buttermilk. Try almond milk by volume in place of the buttermilk, but replace 1 tablespoon of the milk with 1 tablespoon of mild vinegar. The acid really helps tenderize the crumb.
P.S. Have you seen my super simple gluten free cake mixes? They’re the perfect dry mixes for gluten free chocolate cake or cupcakes and gluten free vanilla cupcakes. Or for dump cakes. And cake mix cookies. You name it!
10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 egg whites (100 g) + 1 whole egg (50 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature**
1 1/3 cups (10 2/3 fluid ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature
*A note about flours: If you are using a higher starch all purpose gluten free flour blend like Cup4Cup (or my mock Cup4Cup), replace the cornstarch in this recipe with an additional 54 grams of your flour blend.
**To halve the recipe, use 3 egg whites (75 g) in place of the 4 egg whites and 1 whole egg.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper (trace the perimeter of the cake pan on the parchment, then cut out the circle). Set the pans aside.
Into a medium-size bowl, sift (yes, you have to sift!) the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder. Add the salt, and whisk to combine well. Set the dry ingredients aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed for at least 3 minutes, stopping at least once to scrape the entire mixture off the sides and bottom of the bowl, or until very light and fluffy. Combine the egg whites, egg and buttermilk in a small bowl, and whisk to combine well. To the large bowl with the butter and sugar mixture, add the dry ingredients in 4 equal portions, alternating with the buttermilk and egg mixture in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing to combine in between additions. The batter will sometimes look a bit curdled. Once all of the ingredients have been added, beat for another minute on medium speed to ensure that everything is combined, then turn over the batter a few times by hand. It should be very thickly pourable and relatively smooth.
Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared baking pans and smooth each into an even layer with an offset spatula. Place the baking pans in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pans, and continue to bake until the cakes are lightly golden brown all over, have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan and do not jiggle in the center at all (about another 10 minutes). I find that these tests for doneness are more useful than the toothpick test.
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack (and removing the parchment paper liners) to cool completely before frosting and serving. I frosted with 3 cups of a cream cheese buttercream frosting.