So DD turned ten a few weeks ago. Her requests were minimal. She wanted a simple cake. A Victoria sponge tea-cake, or something close to it. Now, ordinarily, this would have been an easy request to fulfil. We abound in sponges and Madeira cakes here in the UK. But a good gluten free one to suit my coeliac (yet gourmand) self? No, sirree. Challenge presented. Challenge accepted.
I set to experimenting. I tried a variety of flours. Then sugars. Then fats. I came close. Close enough to accept that maybe, just maybe, it was impossible to get a good gluten-free sponge/Madeira look-alike, taste-alike. So, armed with my best scribblings, I set to baking DD’s cake the night before her birthday. Our tradition is to eat cake for breakfast, like the decadent gourmands we are (just stick me in Versailles and call me Marie Antoinette).
Setting out my ingredients, I was still mulling over my options. I looked up and Husband caught sight of my face.
“Oh, no! You’ve got that look. The I-have-an-idea look. Don’t do it! Stick to the plan. You love a plan,” he pleaded. He has a sweet tooth and he was looking forward to birthday cake! He didn’t want my tinkering messing up his chances of cake for breakfast.
But I went with my inspiration and boy, oh boy, wasn’t this the ‘Best Birthday Cake Ever!‘, according to DD? She ate half of it in one sitting! I only told her, and the neighbour upstairs, that it was gluten-free after they had polished off their shares. They couldn’t believe it. So here’s the recipe for my gluten-free Madeira cake. When I reference cups, I use a Nutella (200g) jar.
I dare you to bake this and surprise your taste buds.
- 3 medium eggs
- 1 cup / 125g butter, cubed (packed loosely)
- 1 cup / 225g granulated sugar, plus a little extra
- 1 cup / 150g self-raising gluten free flour (I used Dove’s Farm blend)
- 2/3 cup / 75g ground almonds
FILLING AND DECORATION
- Cream cheese
- Strawberry jam
- Icing sugar / powder sugar
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C / 360F
- Cream butter and sugar
- Add in a little flour, then one egg, then more flour, then another egg until you have mixed all the flour and eggs. Don’t over beat!
- Add in the ground almonds
- I used 6″ / 15cm baking trays, about 1″ high and filled 3 of them two-thirds of the way full.
- Gently smooth the batter with the spatula, as you are going to layer them and need them as flat as possible.
- Bake the cakes for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. They should be golden brown when ready, and a toothpick test should come out clean.
- Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool down before you do the filling.
I placed one layer top down on a plate, and spread my mix of cream cheese mixed with a bit of icing sugar (DD can’t stand buttercream frosting) over the base. On the other face down cake, I spread strawberry jam, and then I carefully placed that layer on top of the cream cheese layer. And there you have it, folks – the classic Victoria sandwich. Dust lightly with icing sugar and you’re ready to serve!
Past (successful) gluten-free experiments have included Nutty Date Cake, Oatmeal Snickerdoodle Muffins and Chocolate Torte.