Making the Best Gluten-Free Cakes and Frostings

A cake with frosting is a necessity for many celebrations. People who must avoid gluten may think that they can only enjoy ice cream cakes from now on. Not so!

What would a birthday be without a layer cake, lavishly frosted and brimming with candles? Cake making and frosting is definitely an art and a science. Follow the directions of your gluten-free cake and frosting recipes carefully, measure carefully, and mix and bake all of your recipes as directed.

Here are some tips for working with gluten-free cakes and frostings:

  • Always grease the pans well. If you miss a spot, the cake will likely stick to that spot and may tear or break when it comes out of the pan. That’s frustrating! Some recipes call for greasing and flouring cake pans. Put a teaspoon of any gluten-free flour in a greased pan and shake and tap the pan until the flour coats the entire surface. Tap out any excess flour into the sink.

  • If you don’t use a scale to measure flours and mixes, always measure by spooning the flour or mix lightly into a measuring cup and leveling off the top with the back of a knife.

  • Cake doneness tests are very important. Check doneness by lightly touching the cake surface with your finger. If it springs back, it’s done. Another doneness test is observing that the cake is pulling away from the pan sides. This indicates that the structure is fully set.

  • Cool sheet cakes in the pan. Layer cakes and Bundt cakes are often cooled in the pan for a few minutes and then turned out onto cooling racks to cool completely. Angel food cake is typically cooled upside down because its structure is so delicate that it must be “stretched” as it cools so it doesn’t collapse.

  • To frost layer cakes, place one layer on the serving plate, rounded side down. Frost with about 1 cup of frosting. Place the second layer on the frosting, rounded side up. Frost the top of the cake and then gently ease the frosting over the cake’s sides. Let the cake stand until the frosting sets before storing.

  • If you don’t want to make a gluten-free frosting and don’t want to serve a plain cake, there are other simple ways to decorate your creation.

    Following are some examples:

    • Put a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar in a small sieve and shake it over the cake to decorate it. If you’d like, place a paper doily or stencil on the cake before you add the powdered sugar. Then remove the doily or stencil to reveal a pretty pattern.

    • A glaze is simply a thin frosting. Combine a cup of powdered sugar with 1 to 2 tablespoons of orange juice, milk, or water. Stir until blended, and add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or another extract such as orange extract. Spoon over the cake and spread into a thin layer.

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