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Yes! You CAN have a pretty gluten-free birthday cake!

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… and I’m going to show you how!

This cake is a proper birthday cake: layers of Victoria sponge with buttercream and raspberry jam. And all totally gluten-free.

I use Doves Farm gluten-free flour because to my mind nothing beats it. What you end up with is a real cake: perfectly light sponge with golden crispy edges — hoo boy (They didn’t pay me to say that either!)

Also, a quick word about mixing. A hand-held mixer or counter-top mixer is best for this recipe, but determination and a wooden spoon will see you through if you are suitably determined and own GUNS  of STEEL. (That’s guns, ‘GUNS’. With a ‘g’. Let’s move on…)

So, for the sponge you will need:

5 free-range eggs

300g softened butter

300g caster sugar

300g gluten-free self-raising flour

…and for the icing:

80g butter

300g icing sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees centigrade or 320 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until smooth and starting to look a little paler.

3. Carry on mixing and add the eggs a little bit at a time.

4. No need to sieve the flour, just dump it right in and carry on mixing. Now… it is worth taking a little bit more time here to make sure all the flour is mixed in. If you are using a counter-top mixer take time out to scrape down the sides of the bowl and then start up the mixer again to make sure  you haven’t left any pockets of flour unmixed.

5. When you have a smooth, lump-free mixture, divide it equally between two tins (I used 18 cm diameter tins)

6. Place in the centre of the oven and set the timer for twenty minutes. The cakes won’t be done by then, but it is a good time to check on them to make sure they are rising evenly. If they are rising more on one side than the other, give them a 180-degree turn and shut the door quickly.

7. Set the timer for a further 15 minutes and keep checking back until the sponges are golden brown and spring back when given a gentle thumbprint in the centre.

8. Turn out the cakes onto a wire rack to cool

While they are cooling you can get started on the icing. Now it’s worth mentioning at this stage that the softer you can get your butter without it melting all over your work surface the better. I blast my butter on medium for pulses of 5 seconds in the microwave. But keep an eagle eye on it because it can go from house brick to molten lava in the blink of an eye. So here we go, mix softened butter with icing sugar until … buttercream.

9. Spread a generous dollop of buttercream on one of the two cakes, spread jam on one side of the other and sandwich together. You want to make sure that the flat side or ‘bottom’ of one of the cakes is facing up presenting a nice flat top.

10. Then, preferably with a palette knife or non-serrated table knife, smoosh some buttercream into the join between the two cakes. Try to get this as smooth as you possibly can all around the sides of the cake.

11. Place in the fridge to harden up for a few hours.

Now it’s time to DECORATE! While the cake is in the fridge, mix your sugarpaste. For a cake of this size you will need about 500g. This you can buy in any supermarket and colour it by kneading in food colouring of your choice. Mine? Edable Arts kingfisher blue. Just a smidge.

12. Take your chilled cake out of the fridge and brush it all over with water.

13. Roll out your sugarpaste to a thickness of about 4 to 5mm and drape over the cake. Using a smoother (or your hands) smooth the icing with a polishing motion until you are happy. Time for a picture of my cake at this stage:

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Leave the cake to settle for a while. There is a chance that air bubbles might appear, just prick them with a sharp knife and smooth over with the icing smoother.

14. Now, it’s time to think about the bow. (You can do this days in advance if you want to.) Roll out the flower paste to the thickness of about 2mm and cut into two large long rectangles, about 10cm long by about 3cm wide. Make little concertina-style folds in the short (3cm ends) and squish together with your fingers. Then, loop the rectangle over and squish the ends together. (Gah! I’m describing this totally badly — time for another picture):

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I inserted my non-stick rolling pin (thank you Tala)  into the loop to stop it from collapsing.

15. Go back to your beautifully covered cake and inspect all over for those pesky air bubbles. (It’s not you, they always do that…)

16. Carefully remove your bow loops from the rolling pin and position on the cake. When you are happy with where they are sitting, brush underneath them with a little bit of water to stick them down. Put a little bit of scrunched up cling film under the bows to pad them out and stop them flopping. You can take them out when they are dry.

17. If you want a stripey bow, take some of your sugar paste and colour it up. Then roll out to as thin as you can get, and cut very thin strips. (I use a non-serrated carving knife for this. Technical. I know.) Then paint a tiny amount of water onto the bow where you want the stripe to go and lift on the strip and stick it into position. PICTURE!

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Oh, I had already sneaked on some more flower paste to cover up the join between the loops, and an extra bit to suggest the tail-end bits of the bow. More cling film added for ‘body’!

18. Now the sides of the cake need some attention. This is a good idea because it looks pretty, but also good for covering up bulges, etc. Here is an idea for a cute little pattern (I am tooting my own horn. Sorry to toot.) This is done with a cookie cutter:

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Which looks brutal and terrifying when you are doing it — but don’t panic, because we are going to pipe tiny little dots of royal icing all around the edges of the circle…

19. So, er… we pipe little dots of royal icing around the circle and afterwards you will hardly know what is going on underneath. Yes, yes, it’s true, see for yourself:

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Aah! See? And now we need a little colour, yes? So a tiny red heart in the centre of each:

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Awwrr, my numbering systems is up and leaving me, but the show must go on…

…20.  And that red would also look nice along the base and on top for the name:

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21, 22, 23 And you can see that I used a little extra black to put a stripe or two on the joining bit of the bow and the taily bits of the bow and also on the base board. (This is just a cake drum with black sugar paste rolled over the top with my fabulous Tala non-stick rolling pin.)


Ta-dah-hdahduddlyda-dah-DAH DAAAH! So there we have it! Pretty Gluten-free birthday cake.

Thank you for looking. I really hope your gluten-free baking works out well.


  • Katherine Smith
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    This cake looks amazing! Can you recommend any dairy free alternatives?

  • Cat
    Posted November 16, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Love it! I can never find a gluten-free cake that’s easy to make that looks fabfabfab. Love the hearts. Rolling up my sleeves now.

  • Hannah Wiltshire
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Hi Katherine — thank you and yes! I will be posting dairy-free recipes too. Stayed tuned! And thanks for reading x

  • Hannah Wiltshire
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Brilliant Cat! Send me a picture. (Of your cake. Just to be clear!) x

  • Joanna Yates
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 1:36 am

    Thanks Hannah, I’ve passed this onto a friend who is a celiac and she always tells me the only cakes she dares eat are rice cakes.

    This looks amazing and she’s really pleased to get a RELIABLE gluten-free recipe!