Gluten Free Birthday Cake


March 31, 2010 by Flora Dawn

My youngest daughter turned three this week, so we got to experience a gluten free birthday celebration. It was just family, but I find adults can be pickier eaters than children.

Birthdays are so much fun. They are a great time to celebrate another healthy and happy year! And what is a better way to celebrate than fun, memorable food?

I love to make my kids really special and unique cakes. I am way too uptight to use a pastry bag; no frosting roses for me. But I still try to find a way to make their birthday cakes memorable.

You might also notice we visited a cake decorating store and bought a few miniature items to grace the top of the cake. For those of you wondering, the “water” is whipped cream colored (cool whip also would work great here) with blue and green food coloring and the “sand” is a mixture of raw and brown sugar. The sand could also be made using cookie or cracker crumbs, but I figured sugar was cheaper.

I have learned through they years that it isn’t so much how “perfect” the cake looks, it’s how fun and personal it is for the individual. Kids will love it, even if it isn’t pretty enough to grace a magazine cover.

The cake can’t just look good, it has to taste good as well. I adapted the Yellow Cake recipe from Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts. I added ripe bananas, which gave the cake a nice subtle banana flavor.

The cake was a huge hit. Everyone ate seconds and raved about how “normal” it tasted. It was really nice hear other people say this. Being gluten free for six months, I thought maybe I had forgot what cake was supposed to taste like.

I have been a pretty serious home baker for all of my adult life, and I have spent my share of money on chocolate and other fancy ingredients, but I was still skeptical of spending $12 for a bag of rice flour. But just like buying expensive chocolate, it does really make a difference in the end product.

If you are going to go to the effort to make a homemade gluten free birthday cake, you really need to make sure you ingredients will perform. This cake really needs the Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour; I think it is what makes it taste so “normal.” And if you are having trouble justifying the cost, remember it’s cheaper than going to a specialty bakery and buying a gluten-free cake. They are very expensive and not nearly as good as this recipe 🙂

Gluten Free Banana Birthday Cake

I have made this cake several times, and it always tastes great. It seems pretty forgiving, I seriously let my 3 year old help measure and make the cake and it still turned out great! If you just want a vanilla cake, omit the bananas. Cupcakes taste fine, but they seem to fall as they cool.

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups Brown Rice Flour Mix (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup milk (I use 1%)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Position rack in center of oven. This recipe will make 1 9×13 cake, 2 8- or 9-inch layers, or 24 cupcakes so prepare pans accordingly. I line the cake pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray; for cupcakes I use liners.
  2. Beat sugar and eggs in bowl of a stand mixer, at medium speed for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and beat at medium speed for 1 minute.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven.
  4. 8-inch cakes take about 40 minutes; 9-inch and 9×13 cakes take about 35 minutes; cupcakes 18-20 minutes.  When done, cakes will pull away from sides of pan and center will spring back when gently touched.
  5. Cool cakes on wire rack for 5 minutes. Use a small plastic knife or spatula to cut around sides of pans to loosen cake. Invert cake layers onto a rack, peel off parchment and cool completely.
  6. Frost and decorate as desired.

Brown Rice Flour Blend

  • 2 cups Brown rice flour (Authentic Foods Superfine)
  • 2/3 cup Potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1/ 3 cup Tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
  1. Place all ingredients in a resealable bag or container; close and shake to combine. You can also try to place in bowl and stir, but I find this make a huge mess.
  2. Make sure to shake vigorously before measuring the flour. It seems to really settle and doesn’t measure accurately unless shaken first.

3 thoughts on “Gluten Free Birthday Cake

  1. Brianna says:

    That is a pretty cake!

  2. Flora says:


  3. Julie Kaigler says:

    Just made the cake for my husband’s birthday. I added about 2/3 cups of chopped walnuts, which was really yummy. My only complaint – which can be adjusted for next time – is that I used two 9 inch cake pans, baked for 35 minutes, they looked brown, but the centers weren’t entirely done. So next time, I’ll bake 40 minutes, regardless of whether it looks done or not. I think that with the banana, it will be hard to dry it out, so more time is better. I also made a homemade cream cheese frosting for it (cool whip, cream cheese, milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla)…and it was perfect.

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