This Gluten Free Birthday Cake Recipe is sponsored by Bob's Red Mill.
Three layers of buttery caramel cake are slathered with salted caramel Italian meringue buttercream, and topped with salted caramel sauce and almond pralines for a gluten free birthday cake that will spoil the socks off any birthday guy or gal.
One of the most popular recipes on this blog is for this Caramel Cake with Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream.
This Gluten Free Birthday Cake is the gluten-free version of that Caramel Cake, and I don't know what took me so long to make it. It's the perfect special occasion cake because everyone - gluten free or otherwise - will LOVE it.
A few years ago, I discovered that I have a bit of an intolerance for wheat flour.
It's not a gluten allergy... it's just that for some reason, my body decided that it would periodically let me know that it didn't appreciate my eating wheat-based foods with an all out assault on my general well-being.
I was offended by this development. I mean... I am a baker. Bakers gotta bake. Bread. Cookies. Cake, Muffins. Scones. Biscuits. Brownies. ALL require wheat flour.
Pancakes. Waffles. Tortillas! SERIOUSLY. There is just no way I am going to give up baking, or eating, all of that.
NO. Way. So, I rebelled.
I bought, like, 27 different kinds of flour.
I am not kidding you. This is when I really became familiar with all the different varieties of awesome flour coming out of Bob's Red Mill. If it grows and you can make flour from it, they do. Corn, soy, almond, rice, oat, teft, amaranth, coconut, chickpea, millet, quinoa…
So. Many. Different. Types. Of flour. I bought them all. I even devoted an entire drawer in my kitchen to storing all these different varieties of flour.
It's hard to tell in the picture, but those bags are stacked 5 deep.
Not everyone on a gluten free diet is as obsessive about baking as I am.
I get it. Thankfully, for those of you who don't want to fill an entire drawer or cupboard of your kitchen with a gazillion different kinds of flour, Bob's Red Mill makes a Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
This is awesome, because most gluten free baking recipes require several different types of flour. You can't just take a recipe calling for wheat flour and substitute any other kind of flour, willy nilly. The lack of gluten in gluten-free recipes requires some seriously fancy footwork to create baked goods that aren't flat as a hockey puck or hard as a rock.
Unless, of course, you have a bag of Bob's Gluten Free Flour. Everything you need for gluten free baking is right there, inside that one - count 'em! - ONE bag of flour.
Gluten-free eaters deserve awesome birthday cakes too
When you're gluten free, the problem with birthdays, holidays and other gatherings is that there's always a lot of delicious looking treats that you can't eat. And, just because you're on a gluten-free diet, doesn't mean you don't want to eat the birthday cake.
Especially if it's yours!
But, chances are, most of the other guests are not on a gluten free diet. A lot of times this means two cakes - a gluten free birthday cake and a regular birthday cake. You can stop doing that now because this gluten-free birthday cake is the only cake you need.
No one - and I mean no one - will be able to tell that this rich caramel cake is gluten-free. Trust me. I tested it on adults, teenagers and kids, and all anyone ever said, was, "Is there more?"
Gluten Free Birthday Cake Recipe Notes
1. If you've never made Italian Meringue Buttercream, the recipe can seem kind of daunting. Please, please, please don't let that deter you from trying it. It's much simpler to make than you might think on first glance, and it's SOOOO good that you might not ever make another kind of frosting again.
This is true even if you, like me, don't really like frosting. Plus, it's easy to work with and will keep for a week in the refrigerator or a few months in the freezer.
I love every flavor of Italian Meringue Buttercream, but the salted caramel version is my all-time favorite. It's exceptionally smooth with a rich caramel flavor that strikes the perfect balance between sweet and salty. And it makes this gluten free birthday cake completely over the top delicious.
2. The xanthan gum in this gluten free birthday cake recipe is optional. Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour Mix contains xanthan gum already. However, I found that adding a bit more to this recipe gave each layer of cake a bit more structure. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I live in a high-altitude part of the country. Those of you at seal level can probably just leave it out.
3. As impressive as it looks, this gluten free birthday cake is pretty simple to make, especially with a bit of advance planning. The salted caramel sauce, which is both whipped into the Italian Meringue Buttercream and drizzled over the cakes top, can be made a few weeks in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Before using, warm it in the microwave at 50% poser in 20 second increments, stopping to stir often.
The almond pralines and Italian meringue buttercream can also be made in advance. The recipe for the Italian Meringue Buttercream includes detailed instructions for how to thaw and reconstitute frozen buttercream.
And, the cakes themselves can also be made in advance, wrapped tightly, and frozen. In fact, frozen cake layers are a lot easier to decorate. Just make sure to allow the cake about 6 hours at room temperature to thaw completely before serving.
- 1 ½ cups (255 grams/ 9 ounces) white chocolate chips
- 12 tablespoons (6 ounces/ 170 grams) butter cut into 12 pieces, at room temperature
- 16.5 oz. (3 cups plus 1 tsp) Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour (plus more for dusting the inside of the pan)
- 1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 6 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (160 grams) light or dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (227 grams)buttermilk (No buttermilk? How to make a buttermilk substitute)
FOR ICING AND DECORATION:
- 1 recipe Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream - follow instructions for the salted caramel version
- Almond Pralines, for decoration (see notes for how to make them)
- Heat oven to 325 degrees F (176 degrees C) Grease three 8 or 9-inch round cake pans with shortening or butter. Line the bottom of each pan with a piece of parchment paper, and cut to fit the bottom exactly. Grease the parchment paper. Dust the entire inside of the pan with a few tablespoons of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour. Shake out any excess flour and set pans aside.
- Add the chocolate and butter to a small bowl and melt in the microwave in 1-minute increments at 50% power, stirring after each minute, until melted. (Alternatively, melt in a small saucepan over very low heat on the stovetop.)
- Add the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda to a bowl and stir with a wire whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until the whites begin to get foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the whites just begin to form soft peaks. With the mixer running, pour in the granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Continue to beat until glossy, stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the beaten egg whites to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and brown sugar to the mixer bowl. (There is no need to wash it out.) Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is lightened and thick enough to form ribbons if you lift the beater away from the mixture, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chocolate mixture and the buttermilk and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently stir ⅓ of the egg whites into the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whites. Be careful to not over mix. The egg whites should be incorporated, but a small streak of egg white here and there is ok.
- Add the batter evenly to the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the tops of the cakes are golden brown and are starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove from the oven, set on wire racks, and allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 5 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto wire racks. Prick the cakes several times with a fork, being careful to not poke all the way through to the bottom of each cake. Warm about ½ cup of salted caramel sauce in the microwave or on the stovetop until it's a thin, pourable consistency. Using a pastry brush, coat the top and sides of each cake with a layer of warm salted caramel sauce. Allow to cool completely on the wire racks.
- *If assembling the cake immediately, please proceed. If you need to store the cake layers for assembly the following day, cut out 3 circles of parchment or wax paper that are about 1 inch wider than the size of each cake layer. Lay the parchment rounds on a flat surface - the counter or baking sheets. Using a large metal spatula, gently slide the cakes from the wire racks onto the parchment rounds. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
- Lay one cake layer on a cake platter and spread with a ½ inch layer of Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream. Top with another cake layer, spread with additional buttercream, and top with the third cake layer. Frost the entire cake with buttercream.
- Decorate with broken pieces of Almond Pralines. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
This recipe makes a lot of batter and is best made using a 6-quart mixer. If you have a smaller mixer, you may need to mix the batter in two batches.
How to Make Almond Praline:
- 1 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped into large pieces
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Heat almonds, sugar, cinnamon, butter, and salt in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
- Cook, stirring constantly until almonds are toasted and sugar is completely melted and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Spread on aluminum foil or parchment paper and let cool completely before breaking into chunks.
A reader recently informed me that ground cinnamon (in the almond pralines) may also sometimes contain gluten. This is due to cross-contamination in factories where the ground cinnamon is packaged. For many people suffering from Celiac disease, the trace amount won't be an issue. However, those with a very high sensitivity to gluten might have issues. Just make sure to read the packaging and always ask the intended consumer!
A big THANKS to Bob’s Red Mill - makers of Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour - for partnering with me on this post and making this Gluten Free Caramel Cake a reality.
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