I think that the word vanilla has gotten an unfair reputation. It has come to mean plain, common, boring. But this gluten-free, dairy-free vanilla cake is anything but boring. It is light, fluffy and one of my favorite cakes of ALL TIME. It makes a perfect base for a birthday cake.
I love a good gluten-free chocolate cake, lemon cake, gluten-free chocolate orange loaf cake or gluten-free coconut cake but this vanilla cake is sublime. Or for a fun treat with vanilla cake, try these gluten-free cake pops.
Store-Bought Gluten-Free Flour Blends
If you prefer a store bought blend, I like King Arthur Flour Measure for Measure Flour. It works well in many of my recipes and is widely available in grocery stores. Be sure to check out my collection of King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour recipes.
Gluten-free flours for baking are quite expensive compared to wheat flour. But King Arthur, is the most affordable of the of all the ones I’ve tested. Pamela’s All Purpose Artisan blend is similar and works well in this recipe too. Cup4Cup is a another option but contains milk powder so I have not tested it in this recipe. All of these are certified gluten-free and contain binders like xanthan gum, guar gum and inulin. So no need to add extra if your flour blend contains it.
DIY Gluten-Free Flour
My custom blend of sorghum, millet and brown rice flours is my favorite. I prefer it for the taste and texture it creates in cakes and muffins. See the notes in the recipe for a super simple DIY gluten-free flour blend or my blog post on gluten-free flours and flour blends.
The ingredients in this cake are pretty simple. You should have most of them on hand.
Vanilla-Vanilla extract is pretty much the standard for getting vanilla flavor into baked goods. When I was looking for a way to get vanilla into frosting without tinting it a pale shade of beige, I discovered vanilla powder. It’s pale, it’s sweet and it has no alcohol. I highly recommend Cooks Vanilla Powder for this cake too.
Dairy-Free-Any unsweetened non-dairy milk substitute will work in this recipe. I have used coconut (beverage, not canned coconut milk), almond, macadamia, rice and soy “milks” all with great results.
Oil is my preferred way to make a cake moist. It does a much better job than butter. Use avocado, sunflower, canola or any neutral tasting vegetable oil.
The remaining ingredients are just the basics – eggs, baking powder and salt.
This recipe is so versatile. With some simple additions, it can be turned into a different cake flavor. Vanilla is a great flavor enhancer so it stays in the recipe regardless of the cake.
- Add 3 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger for a cake with wonderful zing!
- For a Gluten-Free Spice Cake, add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 pinches each of nutmeg, ginger and ground clove.
How to Stack a 2 Layer Cake
For a bakery style, flat topped cake that has 2 perfect looking layers, here is how to assemble the cake.
- Use a long blade, serrated knife.
- Hold it parallel to the counter top and shave off the domed part of the cake top. Do this for both layers.
- Place one of the layers on a cake plate, cake board or cake turntable, bottom side down.
- Coat just the top of this layer with frosting.
- Place the other layer on top of it, bottom side up. This will give you a nice flat, sharp edged top layer.
- Now frost the outside of the cake
This gluten-free cake pops recipe is a perfect way to use the trimmings when using this method. You’ll need a little extra frosting and some cake pop sticks, but that’s it!
Cake Frosting Recipes
This cake is perfect frosted with my pipeable cream cheese frosting or vanilla buttercream frosting, vegan chocolate frosting, chocolate buttercream frosting, or my vegan chocolate cream cheese frosting. For something new and different, try my creamy sweet potato frosting without powdered sugar (no cane sugar at all)..
Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Vanilla Cake
- 2 1/2 c gluten-free flour blend*
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp xanthan gum omit if your flour bend contains guar gum, inulin or xanthan gum
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 c sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 c oil neutral oil like sunflower or avocado
- 1 c milk or non-dairy substitute
- 2 tsp vanilla powder or extract
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cake pans with parchment and spray with oil.
- Place the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and vanilla, if in powder form, into a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Beat the sugar with the eggs, milk, oil and (liquid) vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth and foamy.
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix until the batter is smooth.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is set and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool the layers or cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
This is the gluten-free flour blend I prefer for this cake:These flours can all be found (certified gluten-free) at Vitacost.com
- 1 c sweet white sorghum flour
- 3/4 c millet flour
- 1/4 c brown rice flour
- 2/3 c potato starch
- 1/3 c tapioca starch
This is an easy DIY gluten-free flour blend:
- 2 c brown rice flour
- 2/3 c potato starch
- 1/3 cup tapioca starch