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Small Batch Gluten Free Birthday Cake

| | byKat |6 Comments

This small batch gluten free birthday cake is incredibly easy to make and super delicious, with wonderfully moist and soft vanilla sponges, and a rich, velvety-smooth milk chocolate yoghurt frosting. The recipe makes a cute 6 inch, two-layer cake and doesn’t require any special equipment – no stand or hand mixers needed!

Gluten free birthday cake, decorated with sprinkles, on a white cake stand, with a few slices already cut.

I love small batch baking. Running a food blog, I often find myself testing anywhere from two to four or even five recipes at a time, which means that there’s always waaaaay too many desserts in our house. That’s why I usually test recipes (at least in the initial stages) on a smaller scale – typically in batches that only require a single egg or even just half an egg on occasion.

But with the current social distancing still in place, I know that many of you might still be looking for small batch recipes to enjoy. And even beyond the pandemic, sometimes a huge 8 or 9 inch three-layer cake is simply too big, especially if you’re baking for just one or two people.

So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to start a “small batch cake series” – a series of mini cake recipes that serve a small number of people (mostly 4-6) and that will include all the classics. From the good ol’ chocolate and vanilla cakes, to Boston cream pie and Black Forest gateau.

We start with a celebration cake – the classic birthday cake, with a moist and fluffy vanilla “yellow” sponge and a rich, velvety-smooth milk chocolate frosting.

Two slices of gluten free birthday cake on white dessert plates.

This 6 inch cutie of a cake comes together in no time and requires no special equipment. That’s right, you don’t need a stand or hand mixer to make either the sponges or the frosting! Just a couple of bowls, a whisk and a spatula, and you’re good to go.

And it’s gluten free… not that you could possibly tell. The vanilla sponges are wonderfully delicate, moist and fluffy, with a lovely buttery-vanilla flavour. They’re incredibly easy to prepare and bake up golden brown with an even aeration and minimal doming, thanks to the “reverse creaming method” – more on that below.

But for me, the real star of the show is the milk chocolate frosting, made from only two ingredients: milk chocolate and yoghurt. That’s right, this is essentially a ganache frosting, but made with yoghurt rather than cream. And let me tell you: it’s AMAZING.

The tanginess of the yoghurt balances out the sweetness of the milk chocolate, resulting in a chocolatey flavour explosion. I could genuinely eat it by the spoonful, it’s that good. In addition to giving the most wonderful flavour, the yoghurt also makes the frosting super smooth and luscious.

Now, without further ado – let’s make the most delicious small batch gluten free birthday cake!!

Gluten free birthday cake, decorated with sprinkles, on a white cake stand, with a few slices already cut.

Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this wonderful cake – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

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Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

How do you make gluten free vanilla cake sponges?

Making these gluten free vanilla cake sponges truly couldn’t be easier. You don’t even need a stand or a hand mixer (though you can use them if you want). This recipe uses the so-called “reverse creaming method”, pioneered by Rose Levy Beranbaum, which gives the cake a delicate, melt-in-the-mouth crumb and an even aeration, while minimising doming.

Here’s how you make THE BEST gluten free vanilla cake sponges:

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (gluten free flour blend, almond flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt) and sugar. Add the softened butter,
  2. and, using your fingertips, work it into the dry ingredients until you get a mixture resembling breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix together the milk, egg and vanilla, and add half the wet ingredients to the dry.
  4. Whisk well until combined and smooth,
  5. then add the rest of the wet ingredients.
  6. Whisk well until you get a smooth cake batter with no flour clumps.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between two lined 6 inch (15cm) round cake tins and smooth out the top.
  8. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 22-24 minutes,
  9. until golden brown on top
  10. and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Then, allow to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

The first 6 steps of the 10 step process of making gluten free vanilla cake sponges.

The last 4 steps of the 10 step process of making gluten free vanilla cake sponges.

How do you make milk chocolate yoghurt frosting?

Before we get to how you make this frosting (and really, it’s dead easy to make), I have a small confession to make: I’m not a huge fan of buttercream frostings. Don’t get me wrong, they can be delicious, but if I have the choice, I’ll always go for a non-butter-based frosting.

That’s where this milk chocolate yoghurt ganache comes in. I’m sure you’re more familiar with sour-cream-based frostings, but here in the UK, yoghurt is far easier to find than sour cream, so that’s what we’re using.

This frosting has all the richness, creaminess and deliciousness of a buttercream frosting, but it also has a more complex flavour thanks to the tangy yoghurt. It’s also lighter and more refreshing than buttercream frosting, and the slight tanginess pairs beautifully with the vanilla sponges.

The ratio of yoghurt and milk chocolate in this recipe is optimised both for the best flavour and also for ensuring that the frosting doesn’t split or curdle. So, don’t be tempted to deviate from the ingredient quantities as listed in the recipe (and if you increase the amount of frosting, just keep the ratio of yoghurt to chocolate the same).

As a side note: I don’t recommend trying to make this frosting with dark chocolate. As the frosting contains only two ingredients (chocolate and yoghurt) with no sugar added, you definitely need the sweeter milk chocolate to get the right balance of sweetness.

With all that covered, here’s how you make this milk chocolate yoghurt frosting:

  1. Start with room temperature full-fat plain Greek-style yoghurt and melted warm milk chocolate.
  2. Pour the milk chocolate into the yoghurt
  3. and mix the two together until combined.
  4. You’ll end up with a glossy, luscious ganache-like frosting.

Yes, it’s really that simple. No stand or hand mixers, no whisking – just stir the two together and that’s it.

The 4-step process of making milk chocolate yoghurt frosting.

Assembling the small batch gluten free birthday cake

Before assembling and decorating the cake, allow the frosting to cool slightly at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes with occasional stirring. This will firm it up slightly, so it will be easier to frost the cake.

Once you start frosting the cake, I recommend you work relatively quickly. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to rush like crazy, but just keep in mind that the frosting will start setting and firming up after a while (much like a ganache).

To assemble the gluten free birthday cake:

  1. Level off the sponges (if necessary) with a sharp serrated knife.
  2. Place the bottom sponge on a cake stand or serving plate of choice.
  3. Dollop some of the frosting on top and smooth it out into an even layer.
  4. Place the other sponge on top, bottom side up (this will give you a nice flat top).
  5. Use the remaining frosting to cover and decorate the outside of the cake.

I decorated my cake with simple swirls of frosting and, of course, lots and lots of colourful sprinkles – because you can’t have a birthday cake without an explosion of sprinkles. It’s a fact.

Gluten free birthday cake, decorated with sprinkles, on a white cake stand, with a few slices already cut.

And there you have it, friends! A super easy and super delicious recipe for a small batch 6 inch gluten free birthday cake with wonderfully moist and soft vanilla sponges, and the most delicious milk chocolate frosting.

It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It’s just the cutest, most cheerful cake – and it’s as much fun to make as it is to eat.

I really hope you’ll love it.

Happy baking!

Signature of the author, Kat.

Slices of gluten free birthday cake on white dessert plates.

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Small Batch Gluten Free Birthday Cake

This small batch gluten free birthday cake is incredibly easy to make and super delicious, with wonderfully moist and soft vanilla sponges, and a rich, velvety-smooth milk chocolate yoghurt frosting. The recipe makes a cute 6 inch, two-layer cake and doesn’t require any special equipment – no stand or hand mixers needed! 
Print Rate
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook/Bake Time 22 mins
Total Time 1 hr 7 mins
Servings 6

Ingredients

For gluten free vanilla sponges:

  • 150 g (1 ¼ cups) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour, which doesn't contain xanthan gum. You can also mix your own blend from 50% white rice flour, 30% potato starch and 20% maize flour by weight.)
  • 20 g (3 ½ tbsp) almond flour (You can substitute it with an equal weight of the GF flour blend if you're allergic to nuts, but note that the cake will dry out a bit faster.)
  • 150 g (¾ cup) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum (Omit if your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum.)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 85 g (¾ stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 UK medium/US large egg, room temperature
  • 135 g (½ cup + 1 tbsp) whole milk, room temperature
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

For milk chocolate yoghurt frosting:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) milk chocolate, melted and cooled until warm
  • 125 g (½ cup + 1 tbsp) full-fat plain Greek-style yoghurt, room temperature
  • sprinkles for decoration

Instructions

For gluten free vanilla sponges:

  • Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line two 6 inch (15cm) round cake tins with baking/greaseproof paper.
  • In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if using it), sift together the gluten free flour blend, almond flour, caster/superfine (or granulated) sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt.
  • Add the softened butter and, using your fingertips, work it into the dry ingredients until you get a mixture resembling breadcrumbs. You can also use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters.
    Tip: This order of adding the ingredients (that is, working the butter into the dry ingredients plus sugar before adding the wet) is known as the “reverse creaming method”. It gives the cakes a very even aeration, a delicate melt-in-the-mouth texture and a uniform rise (with minimal doming).
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, milk and vanilla bean paste, and add them to the flour-butter mixture in two batches, whisking well after each addition, until you get a smooth cake batter with no flour clumps. (Again, you can do this by hand using a balloon whisk, or using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters.)
  • Evenly divide the cake batter between the two lined cake tins and smooth out the top.
  • Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 22-24 minutes or until well risen, golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the cake tins for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For milk chocolate yoghurt frosting:

  • Start with room temperature full-fat plain Greek-style yoghurt and melted warm milk chocolate.
  • Pour the milk chocolate into the yoghurt and mix the two together until combined. You’ll end up with a glossy, luscious ganache-like frosting.
  • Before assembling and decorating the cake, allow the frosting to cool slightly at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes with occasional stirring. This will firm it up slightly, so it will be easier to frost the cake.
    Tip: Once you start frosting the cake, I recommend you work relatively quickly. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to rush like crazy, but just keep in mind that the frosting will start setting and firming up after a while (much like a ganache).

Assembling the cake:

  • If necessary, level off the sponges with a sharp serrated knife.
  • Place the bottom sponge on a cake stand or serving plate of choice.
  • Dollop some of the frosting on top and smooth it out into an even layer, using a small offset spatula.
  • Place the other sponge on top, with the bottom of the sponge facing upwards (this will give you a nice flat top).
  • Use the remaining frosting to cover and decorate the outside of the cake. You can use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to create decorative swirls of frosting (see blog post for photos).
  • Decorate with sprinkles before slicing and serving.
    Tip: For extra neat and clean slices, cut the cake with a warm/hot knife. Choose a sharp knife and dip it into very hot water. Wipe it dry, then slice the cake while the knife is still hot/warm. In between slices, dip the knife again in hot water, wipe it off and repeat.

Storage:

  • The gluten free birthday cake keeps well in a closed container in a cool dry place (or the fridge) for 3-4 days.
Tried this recipe?Mention @theloopywhisk or tag #theloopywhisk!

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6 thoughts on “Small Batch Gluten Free Birthday Cake”

  1. Hi . What depth are your cake tins you use ? Also in your book yoyr simple vanilla cake uses 20 cms tins i would like to use 6 inch tins its the top tier for a wedding cake so do i scale the recipe down ? The tins will be 3 inch deep .

    Thank you

    Kate Evans

    Reply
    • Hi Katherine, I use 2 inch (5cm) deep anodised aluminium cake tins. To go from 8 inch (20cm) to 6 inch (15cm) round cake tins (while keeping the sponge thickness approximately the same), you need to halve the recipe.

      Reply
  2. Hey I simply love your recipes. Thankyou so much for such explicit instructions and tips.
    I wanted to know what Can be a good substitute for maize flour Ina gluten free flour blend. Thanku

    Reply
    • Hi Hena, you can use buckwheat, sorghum, white teff or gluten-free oat flour instead of maize flour (the latter only if oats aren’t a problem for you).

      Reply
  3. Can’t wait to try this Kat!
    I’m actually looking for a basic vanilla cake like this in a larger size as well to offer my customers.
    Could you please direct me to one on your sit if you have one as I couldn’t see one?
    Otherwise I’ll play around with this recipe and try and make one in a bigger 7” and 8” tin.
    Thankyou xx

    Reply
    • Hi Jacqui, I don’t have the exact same vanilla cake recipe in a larger size on the blog (though there is a similar one in my book), but in general, if you want to go from a 6 inch to an 8 inch cake, you can just double the ingredients, assuming you want the sponge thickness to stay the same. If you want slightly thicker sponges (which might look prettier in proportion to their larger diameter), you could try tripling the recipe.

      Reply