The Best Gluten-Free White Cake Recipe You’ve Ever Tried! This cake is perfect for birthdays and weddings and doesn’t require a mix.
I need to be honest here with you, friend. This isn’t exactly a “quick and easy” cake recipe. If that’s what you need right now, go make my gluten-free funfetti cake recipe and save this one for when you have some time to spend in the kitchen.
This cake requires three cake pans and a bit of patience. But, it’s worth. Oh, it’s so worth it. This gluten-free white cake doesn’t taste gluten-free. What do I mean by that? I mean it’s not gummy, heavy, or dry. Three characteristics that often affect gluten-free white cake. This cake comes out moist and dense—but not too dense. Think of the best birthday or wedding cake you’ve ever tasted. That’s what this cake is like.
A cake that’s fitting for birthdays and weddings requires some care and attention. Starting with the ingredients.
Butter and Shortening
You’ll notice both butter and shortening listed for this cake. (Yes, you can use coconut oil. More about that in a second.)
There’s a reason for the combination of two fats. Butter makes a cake with a fantastic flavor. Shortening, on the other hand, doesn’t bring any flavor to the cake. So why use it? Texture! When creamed with granulated sugar, shortening traps air. That trapped air, in turn, helps to lift and light the cake during baking. For the best gluten-free white cake, the combination of butter and shortening can’t be beat.
But what if you don’t want to use shortening?
For this recipe, replace the shortening with an equal amount of coconut oil. Unlike shortening, coconut oil goes from a solid to a liquid state with low temperature. You want the coconut oil solid but not brittle. If it’s too cold, it won’t cream nicely with the butter and sugar.
And what if you don’t want to use butter?
Good question. The answer for this is both straightforward and…not. If you can’t use butter, you have a few choices. Either replace the butter with all shortening. As mentioned above, shortening doesn’t bring any flavor to a recipe. So the flavor of the cake won’t be as nice.
You could use all coconut oil. That replacement will give you a cake that tastes somewhat strongly of coconut oil.
The Gluten-Free Flour
Selecting the right gluten-free flour is always key. For this recipe, Bob’s 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour worked great. If you use another combination or brand of gluten-free flour, the results might differ. For the best chance of success, use a gluten-free flour that includes xanthan gum or add 1 teaspoon to a xanthan gum free blend.
Since this is a white cake, you want to use white granulated sugar. It’s sweet and perfect for this cake. Replacing the granulated sugar with any other type of sugar won’t give you a nice white cake. And if you use a liquid sugar, like maple syrup, the recipe might not work at all.
You know how many egg yolks you’ll find in this recipe? Not a one! To keep the cake white, only egg whites are used. Not only does that give you a cake that’s white in color, egg whites also impact the flavor. Yolks bring a rich, creamy, almost custard flavor, whereas the whites don’t.
If you’re a cake aficionado, you might be surprised that the egg whites aren’t whipped. I tested both whipped and not-whipped egg whites. Since the texture of the white cake should be somewhat dense, we want it more like a box cake than a chiffon cake, whipping the egg whites add a lot of hassle but didn’t improve the cake. So no whipping egg whites for us!
Can I be honest? I usually hate recipes that call for a 1/3 cup of sour cream. I mean, c’mon. It’s such a small amount! So I’m sorry! Because this recipe really needs that sour cream.
Not only does it contribute to a rich cake, it brings a little acid to the batter, improving lift and texture. I tried making the cake
I love the combination of vanilla extract and almond extract in white cakes. The funny thing is that you don’t use so much almond that it tastes like almond. Rather, a 1/2 teaspoon is all you need to enhance the flavor of the cake and, like magic, to make the cake taste richer and more vanilla-y.
As always, if you don’t want to buy or use almond extract go right ahead and skip it.
How to Bake a Perfect Gluten-Free White Cake
There are two important steps to this recipe: how you cream the butter, shortening, and sugar and how you add the dry and wet ingredients.
Let’s talk about creaming the butter, shortening and sugar. Combine the three ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Can you use a handheld mixer? Yes but make sure it’s a sturdy one! I don’t want you to burn it out.) Then you beat (cream) the ingredients for five minutes. How serious am I about five minutes? Very serious. In fact, I’d love it if you used a timer.
During this time, the mixture goes from a thick paste to a light, white and fluffy mixture. Since a thin layer of butter and shortening always clings to the side and bottom of the bowl, stop the mixer at least once during the five minutes and scrape the bowl.
I know this step seems long and putzy but, trust me, it’s worth it. #dontskipitplease
After beating the butter, shortening, and sugar, add the egg whites one at a time. Again, don’t rush this. If mixed correctly, the batter should look like fluffy frosting—which is what we’ve basically made here.
Up next, the flour, sour cream, and milk. Add 1/3 of the flour and allow it to mix into the batter. Then add the sour cream. Let it mix into the batter. Once you’ve added the sour cream, alternate between adding the milk and the remaining flour.
Is this putzy? Yes! It is! But it’s worth it.
After doing all that work, you don’t want to simply plop the batter into the pan. First, divide the batter evenly among three 8-inch cake pans. Then using the back of a spoon, spread the batter into the pan. Use a gentle wiggle motion. This ensures that the cakes bake evenly—and using a gentle wiggle, the batter doesn’t deflate.
Bake the cakes in a preheated oven until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. A few damp crumbs might stick to the cake tester or toothpick but you shouldn’t see any wet batter.
Place the cake pans on a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool in the pan for five minutes. Then turn the cakes onto a wire rack to cool complete. This step prevents them from sticking to the pan as the cool. The reason you don’t turn the cakes out right away is because they are very delicate when they first come out of the oven. Allowing then to cool for five minutes gives the starches in the cake a chance to set up.
For this cake, I think my “cheater Italian buttercream” is perfect. It’s light and fluffy and enhances the cake but doesn’t overpower it.
As always, you want to make sure the cake is completely cool before frosting or the frosting will melt when it hits the warm cake.
If you’ve read this far, you deserve a slice of cake—perfect gluten-free white cake. Have fun with this recipe, it’s one of my favorites!
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Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1:1 Baking Flour
Gluten Free White Cake
Gluten-Free White Cake Ingredients
- 8 tablespoons butter, softened (4 ounces; 113 grams)
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (3 1/4 ounces; 92 grams)
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces; 347 grams)
- 2 3/4 cups gluten-free flour blend (see note) (13 3/4; 389 grams)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder (1/2 ounce; 14 grams)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
- 6 large egg whites (about 7 ounces; 198 grams)
- 1/2 cup milk (4 ounces; 113 grams)
- 1/3 cup sour cream (2 2/3 ounces; 66 grams)
Fluffy Vanilla Frosting Ingredients
- 1 1/4 cups butter, softened (2.5 sticks; 10 ounces; 287g)
- 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted (20 ounces; 580g)
- 1/3 cup heavy or whipping cream (2 2/3 ounces; 66 grams)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Prepare the Cake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans.
Whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg whites, one at a time. Allow each egg white to incorporate before adding the next. After adding the last egg white, add the vanilla and almond extract. Mix the batter for 45 seconds. It should appear very light and fluffy--almost like frosting.
Reduce speed to low. Add about 1/3 of the flour, followed by the sour cream. Then, alternate between the remaining flour and milk, allowing each to almost incorporate before adding the next. After the last addition of milk, mix batter until smooth, about 45 seconds.
Use a flexible rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl. If any dry flour comes to the surface, gently mix it into the batter.
Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans. Smooth the batter evenly into each pan with the back of a spoon.
Bake until the cakes are set and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out with only a few crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. The color will look very pale. Only the edge will turn a light golden brown.
Allow cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Prepare the Frosting
In a large bowl, beat the butter until light an creamy, about 2 minutes on medium speed with a handheld or stand mixer. Stop the mixer. Add powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Turn mixer to low and allow the ingredients to incorporate. Increase speed to medium- high speed and mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. If frosting seems too thin, add an additional two tablespoons powered sugar. If frosting seems too thick, add an additional tablespoon cream.
Assemble and Frost the Cake
Place one cake layer on your cake stand. Spread a generous, about 3/4 cup, frosting over top of first layer. Repeat with remaining two layers. Spread a layer of frosting evenly on top of the cake. Then, frost the sides.
Gluten-Free Flour Blend
This recipe was tested with Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend. Replacing the flour with another brand might change the texture of the cake. Be sure to use a flour blend that contains xanthan gum. If it doesn't, add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the flour. Whisk to combine. Then use as directed.
Hello, I am wondering if this cake can be used in two 10 inch round pans with the recipe as is or should I increase the recipe?
That should work. I would not double the recipe.
Jennifer Hill says
I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it sounds wonderful. I’m especially intrigued to try the half “n half butter & shortening. My daughter requested peanut butter cake or cupcakes, so my question is, will the fat in the peanut butter affect the other fat ratio or outcome? I do plan to use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 GF baking flour, although I was contemplating also using some almond flour for part of it. What do you think?
Good question. Gluten-free baking can be a bit…finicky. So I don’t know how using peanut butter in this recipe would work. I wish I did! And because of your email, I put a peanut butter cake on my “to do” list.
As for the almond flour, I don’t recommend replacing any grain flour with almond flour. I wrote a paleo baking book and used mainly almond flour; so I’m very familiar with how it works. Almond flour is simply ground almonds. It doesn’t behave at all like grain flours. When it’s swapped for a grain flour, it can make things dense and heavy–because of the added fat. It’s best used in recipes that were developed with almond flour from the start because they take into account the fat content from the flour.
That said…if you’re looking for an almond flavor and don’t mind a bit of denseness or richness, you can add up to 1/3 cup. Even that small amount will change the texture of the cake.
I hope this helps!
Barbara S Murphy says
Did you use unsalted or salted butter for cake ?
You can use either.
Heather Clinton says
Anyway to make us dairy-free or at least I could use some butter but not the sour cream… Can I make a gluten-free and dairy-free sour cream?
Oooooh Good question. I haven’t tested this one dairy-free. If you have a dairy-free sour cream sub you like, it should work. As for the butter, yes, a dairy-free butter should also work.
Let us know how it goes!
Would this recipe work in a 9×13 cake pan?
It might be too much batter for a 9×13. Fill the pan a little over halfway. If there’s any batter remaining, use it for cupcakes.
Joyce D says
I put the batter in a 9 x 13 inch pan and it worked fine. Took the cake to a small family get together and everyone really liked it. I will definitely use the recipe again. Thanks.
I’m thinking of using this recipe for my daughter’s birthday cake, as well as a batch of cupcakes for her party. I am kind of short on time between work and party planning and I am wondering if the cupcakes would freeze well for a week or so?
Yes! This cake freezes really well!
I’m making a shaped cake for my daughters birthday and thought I would try making half the cake as a standard white cake and half as a gluten free. I only need one 8×8 square pan for the gluten free part, can I half the recipe to fill this size pan?
I believe that would work!
This was a hit at the dinner party! I made a custard filling. This is going in my recipe book. I never made a GF cake before and I’m so happy with this one I’ll stick with it.
I didn’t make the cheater Italian buttercream because I wasn’t sure if it would still hold together with a long transport time. I think it would have been even better. Next time!
Woo-HOO! And a custard filling sounds lovely. Glad you enjoyed it!
Hi! I plan to bake this cake tomorrow . I have several questions.
1) have you tried it with King Arthur G.F. measure for measure flour? That is what I just purchased today.
2) will 2 percent milk be ok?
Or should I mix it with some heavy cream/ or use condensed milk?
3) can I cook down some strawberries and add to the batter… what liquid changes would that require?
I can’t afford to make multiple tests. We have a birthday on Friday.
Any help is appreciated! Thank you!
1. I haven’t tested the recipe with King Arthur’s blend. However, I believe it would work. It’s similar to Bob’s. (Just be sure it contains xanthan or guar gum; that’s needed or the cake won’t rise.)
2. 2% milk is just fine.
3. I don’t recommend adding pureed fruit to this batter. It would not only change the texture but the added sugar from the cake would also change the flavor. If you want a gluten-free strawberry cake, I have one. Recipe–> Gluten-Free Strawberry Cake. Please note, it uses Jello, not pureed fruit in the batter.
I hope that helps!
Best GF Cake ever! I made these for my grandson who is super picky. Not only did he love them but the whole family did. I used Namaste GF flour. It worked great. The cupcakes I made did not have that gritty texture that so many GF cakes do. I tried to adapt mine to a Red Velvet cake. I substituted Watkins red velvet flavor for the two extracts and added some red food color. Did not quite taste like red velvet but were still good. I think I need to add a little cocoa powder next time to get the color and flavor closer. Thanks for the recipe!
I want to make this cake but I have Krusteaz All Purpose GF flour that contains xanthum gum. Do you think that this flour will work for this cake?
Thank you so much for the recipe!
I haven’t say for certain, as I haven’t tested this recipe with that blend. But, I just scanned the ingredients and I believe it should work. Good luck!
Jo Ann says
I’m GF and dairy free ?. Any suggestions what to substitute for the sour cream? Thanks.
There are some dairy-free sour creams available. I think those would work!
I’m going to make this today and will sub Kite Hill almond milk Greek yogurt for the sour cream.
Robbie Johnson says
This cake recipe is AMAZING! My niece has celiac disease and I’m gluten intolerant. It was a blessing to see that teenage girl’s eyes light up from being able to eat white cake, which is a rare occasion for us in our area! I baked it in a 13×9 tonight. I’d estimate it took about 38-40min. I kept an eye on it and watched as I started to see the top slightly firm up and turn golden on the edges! This will forever be a staple recipe in our family! Thank you so much!
My husband’s favorite cake is cherry nut and this cake sounds so much better than most gluten-free baked goods. Do you think I could use maraschino cherry juice for some of the liquid and fold in chopped cherries and nuts? I’m new to gluten-free baking so your explanations for the recipe were super helpful! Thank you!
It should work. Just know that maraschino cherry juice contains sugar. So the cake might taste a bit sweeter than the white cake made without the juice.
Good luck! Hope you enjoy it!
This was the second time I’ve made a gluten free cake, first time being a bust, this time.. so good! Thank you for the clear instructions. I’d love to make a gluten free champagne cake. Do you have any tips for this?
deborah wilson says
I live at 7,000 feet.
Has anyone tried this at high altitude?
Do you have suggestions for high-altitude adjustments?
Hello! The only experience I have with high altitude baking is what my readers have shared with me. They told me that the same changes they made with wheat baking works for gluten-free. Sorry I don’t have any specific tips~
Justina L. Gooden-Helton says
Hi! I live in a high altitude area. Do you think the recipe would require any modifications for altitude? Also, I usually only have Earth Balance spread on hand. Can I substitute that for the butter? Thanks!
Hello! The only experience I have with high altitude baking is what my readers have shared with me. They told me that the same changes they made with wheat baking works for gluten-free.
As for Earth Balance, that should work. The texture might be a bit different but the cake should be yummy!
Justina L. Gooden-Helton says
Kristy Marie says
The cake was delicious but it was very hard on top after it cooled… can you please give me some assistance? Maybe there is too much sugar which causes that? This is the best GF vanilla cake I’ve made but the others aren’t hard on top, thank you 🙂
Hmm…that’s interesting. There isn’t too much sugar in the recipe. There are two other causes: if the pan had too much oil/grease or if it was overbaked. Next time, perhaps reduce the baking time a bit and see if that helps?
What gluten free flour do you recommend using for this recipe? Will coconut flour work?
Coconut flour won’t work in this cake.
The recipe was tested with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend. Replacing the flour with another brand might change the texture of the cake. Be sure to use a flour blend that contains xanthan gum. If it doesn’t, add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the flour. Whisk to combine. Then use as directed.
Nicole Leger says
I’m going to be making a 4th of july cake and I’ll need to add some food coloring gel. Just wondering what your thoughts are on how it would affect it? Oh, also your frosting, is it fairly stable? Some recipes can be so finicky lol.. thank you for your time!
If you’re using gel, which is thick and doesn’t add water, it shouldn’t impact the recipe at all.
The frosting is sturdy. The only thing to worry about in the summer is heat, as it can melt.
If you’re not concerned about keeping the cake very white, would it be ok to instead use 3 whole large eggs?
Yes! That will work!