This gluten-free vanilla cake bakes in the microwave in just 5 minutes. This single layer cake is baked and on the cooling rack in less than 20 minutes. The recipe is easily made dairy-free too.
Be sure to check out more of my gluten-free cake recipes including my toaster oven gluten-free funfetti cake, my single serving gluten-free vanilla mug cake and gluten-free chocolate mug cake that both bake in the microwave.
There’s no shortage of recipes on the internet for microwaved mug cakes. But I have not seen many recipes that make a full size cake. Of course this made me want to try it.
Surprisingly a single layer cake in the microwave is absolutely possible. It is not the ideal way to bake a cake but if you don’t have a conventional oven, it’s a great alternative. Because microwaves cook food more from the outside in, cakes are not as fluffy. Still moist and cakey but not as airy as cakes baked in a regular oven.
The trickiest part about microwaving a cake is the bake time. If a cake in a conventional oven is slightly under baked, you can give it another 4-5 minutes without worrying about overdoing it too much.
On the other hand, just 30 seconds more can take a microwave cake from slightly under done to over done. Also, unlike in an a conventional oven, the microwave cooks food more from the inside out. So the toothpick method is not the best for testing doneness.
I discovered that using an oven-safe clear glass dish or bowl was the best option. This way you can see the sides of the cake to see if it’s fully baked. I had one test cake that was almost completely done except for a very thin layer of batter on the bottom. I simply scraped it off and had a usable cake. But it’s best if you can see the sides of the cake to determine if another 10 or 15 seconds is necessary.
I have provided a bake time that works in my 950 watt microwave using a 9 inch round casserole dish and an 8″ square dish. If your dish is much smaller, this will mean your cake is taller and may need more time. If you’re dish is wider than 9 inches, the bake time will be shorter.
Microwave ovens vary in their power and if yours is more or less powerful than mine, you may need to adjust the bake time up or down by 15-30 seconds.
Any oven-safe dish that fits in your microwave can be used, whether it’s square, round or rectangular. I tested this recipe using a glass mixing bowl, a 9″glass casserole dish, an 8″ square glass baking dish and a soufflé dish. The mixing bowl, square dish and casserole dish all worked well. The soufflé dish worked but required a much longer bake time because ceramic dishes take longer to heat up.
The most important recommendation I can make is to line the bottom with parchment and grease thoroughly to make removing the cake from the dish easier.
Gluten-free flour blend – My go-to gluten-free flour is King Arthur Measure for Measure. It works well in all of my cakes and is the most affordable of the gluten-free flours I’ve tested. Many of my readers have said they use Cup4Cup in my recipes with good results. I don’t test with it because it is quite pricey and contains milk powder.
Oil is my preferred way to add moisture to gluten-free cakes. The cakes stay moist over several days more so than cakes made with butter.
Milk -I use a dairy-free milk sub like coconut soy or almond milk. But regular dairy milk can be used as well. Buttermilk is another good option and is a fantastic way to make cakes flavorful, light and airy.
Vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste or even vanilla powder can be used as the vanilla flavor in this cake. See my gluten-free vanilla extract recipe for an excellent cost saving option.
The rest of the ingredients are are the basics of baking – eggs, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
A vanilla cake is a great base for almost any frosting glaze or icing.
My favorite is a simple vanilla buttercream frosting. Chocolate buttercream frosting, strawberry buttercream, cream cheese frosting and my Autumn flavored cinnamon cream cheese frosting are all excellent options. See my full list of cake frostings.
Gluten-Free Vanilla Microwave Cake
- 2 large eggs
- ½ c oil – avocado, sunflower, canola or other neutral flavored vegetable oil
- ½ c milk or dairy-free milk substitute
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract, powder or bean paste homemade vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ c sugar
- 1 c + 2 Tbsp gluten-free flour blend, King Arthur Measure for Measure recommended
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- This cake works best when baked in a glass dish. I tested the recipe using the round casserole dish and square Pyrex dish linked above. I also test baked it in a glass mixing bowl with good results.
- I highly recommend lining the bottom of the baking dish with parchment and greasing the parchment paper. The bottom of the cake stays more damp and the parchment assures easier removal from the pan.
- This recipe can easily be mixed by hand with a wire whisk.
- Place the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Beat thoroughly until the mixture is uniform.
- Add the sugar and beat until combined.
- Add the flour and baking powder and beat until the mixture is smooth. If using an electric mixer, this should take no more than 30 seconds.
- Transfer the cake to the prepared baking dish. Baking times will vary based on the size of your baking dish and the power of your microwave.This recipe was tested with a 950 watt microwave. If your microwave is more or less powerful, adjust the bake time up or down by 15-30 seconds.If using the glass casserole dish linked above (9 inches, 2 quarts) the bake time is 4 mins. 45 seconds – 5 mins. If using the 8" square Pyrex, the bake time is 5 mins. 15 seconds to 5 minutes 30 seconds. The top of the cake should have no damp spots and and the sides should look set.Note: If your baking dish is much narrower the bake time will be longer and if it's much wider the bake time will be shorter.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the pan.
- Loosen the sides of the cake and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Add your favorite frosting, glaze or icing.