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Small Batch Gluten Free Vanilla Cake

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This small batch gluten free vanilla cake is an incredibly soft, light, and moist 6-inch mini cake.  An almond flour blend makes the cake flavorful and lofty, and you would never know it is gluten free!  The small cake is ideal for any celebration and even more indulgent with a creamy fudge frosting crown!

Small gluten free vanilla cake cut into slices and presented on a black plate.

Mini Vanilla Gluten Free Cake

I’m getting close to having a gluten free dessert counterpart to some of my more popular recipes on the blog.  This almond flour vanilla cake is the gluten free mate to the classic mini yellow cake recipe.  Similar to the gluten free vanilla cupcakes to the traditional vanilla cupcakes.

But what is more exciting is that a classic vanilla cake is paramount to any celebration dessert.  The cake serves as a wonderful canvas to decorate with any flavor frosting or decorative sprinkles to make it fit any holiday.

And even more exciting than the celebratory aspect of this cake – you would never know it is gluten free!  I strive to make my gluten free desserts as comparable to their traditional counterpart when it comes to taste, texture, and ease to make.  I opt for an almond flour blend to yield a cake that is incredibly soft and flavorful.

Why You’ll Love This Cake

  • Soft and Flavorful – I use an almond flour blend to ensure the soft integrity crucial to a cake.  When combined with other gluten free flours, the result is a spongy cake that is flavorful.  No cardboard taste here!
  • Moist – I use sour cream and oil to keep the cake moist.  And it will stay moist beyond the first day.
  • Easy – The gluten free ingredients are straightforward, and the small batch recipe inherently makes the cake easy to prepare.  No mixer required!
  • Versatile – Not only can you add different flavor enhancers – i.e. almond extract, lemon zest, cinnamon – but you can frost and decorate the cake for any celebration.
Slice of soft vanilla gluten free cake on a cake server.

What You Need To Make A Small batch Gluten Free Vanilla Cake

Ingredients

  • Almond Flour – Blanched almond flour is best because it is ground super fine and without the almond skins.  Almond flour adds protein, moisture, and structure to the cake.
  • Tapioca Flour – Tapioca flour is also referred to as tapioca starch.  It helps make the cake light and provides texture.
  • Coconut Flour – I like to use coconut flour because it keeps the cake from getting overly dense.  Coconut flour is absorbent, thus a great balance for the liquid ingredients in the cake.
  • Arrowroot Flour – Arrowroot combines with the almond flour to make the cake soft and tender.
  • Baking Powder – For lift and texture.
  • Salt – Salt balances and enhances the flavor of the cake.
  • Xanthan Gum – Just like in the small chocolate gluten free cake, the xanthan gum makes the cake soft, lofty, and moist.  It mimics the properties of gluten and provides elasticity, works as a binder, provides structure, and holds on to moisture. 
  • Sugar – My preference is organic cane sugar because it is less processed than regular white sugar, and it has a rich flavor.  Granulated (white) sugar will work as well.
  • Egg – Only 1 large egg for the cake.
  • Sour Cream – Sour cream is my one of my favorite ingredients to keep cake-like batters moist.  
  • Coconut Oil – I like to use oil in cakes to keep them super moist, and it keeps the cake from drying out too fast.
  • Milk – A little milk adds some fat and creates a light cake.
  • Vanilla Extract – Flavor!

Baking Equipment

  • Mixing Bowls
  • 6-Inch Round Cake Pan
  • Parchment Paper

Why I Use Xanthan Gum In This Cake Recipe

As I note above, it is great at replacing all of the benefits we get from gluten when baking.  Xanthan gum can be controversial in gluten free baking.  However, you will find it in a lot of 1:1 flour mixes, gluten free recipes, and even in my pie crust recipe.  

Xanthan gum is typically corn sugar that has been fermented then dried and ground into an odorless powder.  It is a (very) common food additive that works as a thickener, stabilizer, and binder.  Check out the ingredient list on your mustard, for example.  

So, why is xanthan gum controversial?  In excess it can cause tummy troubles.  Though in this recipe, as with most recipes, there isn’t enough to cause worry. 

That said, if you object to using it, you can certainly omit it.  Just know that the end result won’t be as soft fluffy.

Frosting For A Vanilla Gluten Free Cake

Above I talk about the versatility of this cake.  But imagine the possibilities with the frosting pairing alone.  Now, I’m a huge fan of the chocolate vanilla combo, but the cake can take on a whole new meaning depending on the flavor you smear on the top!

Creamy swirls of fudge frosting on a small vanilla cake placed on a dark plate.

Tips For Success

  • Use blanched almond flour – I have tested this cake with un-blanched almond flour.  The taste was fine.  It was the texture that I wasn’t fond of.  Un-blanched (with the skins) almond flour can make bake goods – especially cakes – a little heavier.
  • Try with xanthan gum – I’m learning to respect what the ingredient can do for gluten free bakes.  Just because we are gluten free doesn’t mean we have to compromise on texture!
  • Vanilla is your friend – This is a vanilla cake after all, so don’t worry if the amount I call for the recipe seems like a lot.  I tend to be a little more heavy handed with my vanilla to make sure it comes through.
  • Full fat sour cream for fat – My thought is if you are going to use sour cream in a cake, make it full fat.  Low fat sour cream is too watery and may not make the cake as moist and tender.
  • Don’t overbake the cake – The cake should be springy, pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick comes out mostly clean.  An overbaked cake will be dry.
A single slice of gluten free vanilla cake with fudge frosting set on a small stack of dark plates.

faq’s: Mini Gluten Free Vanilla Cake

Can I double the recipe to make a larger cake?

I haven’t tested it, and can’t say for certain. If you try it, let us know!

Do I have to use the xanthan gum?

You do not. I have tested the cake without it and the flavor was great, however the cake wasn’t as soft and light.

Can I bake the cake into cupcakes?

Yes. The batter will yield 5 to 6 cupcakes – depending on how full you fill your cupcake liners. Only fill 2/3 of the way and adjust the bake time to 15 minutes.

Can I use yogurt instead of sour cream?

You can, just note that yogurt does not have the same amount of fat as sour cream. The cake may not turn out as moist and tender. I would recommend Greek yogurt.

How do I store leftover cake?

The cake will store fine covered at room temperature for a day. After that, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Beyond that, the cake may start to dry out.

Can I freeze the baked cake?

Yes. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap then slide into a Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 2 to 3 months, and thaw in the refrigerator.

6-inch vanilla cake with creamy fudge frosting on a small dark plate.
Small gluten free vanilla cake cut into slices and presented on a black plate.
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5 from 3 reviews

Small Gluten Free Vanilla Cake

Yield: 6 Servings
GF
This small gluten free vanilla cake is an incredibly soft, light, and moist 6-inch mini cake.  An almond flour blend makes the cake flavorful and lofty, and you would never know it is gluten free!  The small cake is ideal for any celebration and even more indulgent with a creamy fudge frosting crown!
Prep10 minutes
Cook23 minutes
Total33 minutes

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line the bottom of a 6-inch round cake pan with a piece of parchment paper. Lightly grease the pan and the paper.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut flour, arrowroot flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.
    ½ cup blanched almond flour, ¼ cup tapioca flour, 2 tablespoons coconut flour, 1 ½ tablespoons arrowroot flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the sugar, egg, melted coconut oil, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk until completely combined.
    ⅓ cup organic cane sugar, 1 large egg, room temperature, 2 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil, melted, 2 tablespoons full fat sour cream, room temperature, 1 tablespoon milk, room temperature, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the top of the wet ingredients. Stir until no dry streaks remain.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch, the sides are pulling away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

  • While the cake is cooling, prepare the creamy chocolate fudge frosting. You may have leftover frosting depending on how much you like to frost your cake. Leftover frosting can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Frost the completely cooled cake, decorate with sprinkles (optional), and Enjoy!
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RECIPE NOTES

  • Xanthan Gum – This is optional, but recommended.  Xanthan gum makes the cake soft and light.  
  • Cake Pan – The cake can also be baked in a 6-inch square cake pan.  Or 6 cupcakes.
  • Storing – The cake will stay moist covered at room temperature for a day.  After that, you will want to refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.  Beyond that, the cake may start to dry out.
  • Freezing Baked Cake – The baked cake can be frozen for up to 3 months.  Wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap then slip into a Ziploc bag.  Thaw the wrapped cake in the refrigerator.
  • Frosting – For more frosting ideas, check out the frosting recipes on the blog.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

NUTRITION ESTIMATES

Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 153mg | Potassium: 26mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 74IU | Vitamin C: 0.04mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
Headshot photo of Erin Cernich

about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you! Click here to learn more about me!

5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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