Loaf cake is such a favourite of mine. There’s something so comforting and homely about it in its simplicity – for me, while I also love a delicately iced cupcake or a slice of brownie, there’s nothing better than a thick wedge of really good loaf cake alongside a hot cup of coffee. Nevertheless, it needs to be moist, light and yet substantial; you can’t disguise a bad loaf cake with icing or frills! It’s all about that crumb.
So, I’ve tried to make regular loaf cake recipes gluten free by swapping out the flour for a gluten-free equivalent – a lot of the time, it just doesn’t work. You often end up with a cake that goes dry very quickly, which is disastrous in a loaf cake – a simple bake that is very much all about that delicious light texture.
However, through some slight trial and error (and a lot of cakes that just didn’t really work that I made everyone eat anyway) I’ve found a combination that makes a gluten-free loaf cake that is, quite honestly, absolutely tops. It manages to be both moist and light, and it’s still delicious even after a couple of days. I know that you’re not meant to, but I absolutely love to cut myself a slice of it when the sponge is still slightly warm and fresh from the oven. It’s just melt-in-the-mouth, just-as-good-as-any-gluten-cake blissful.
The recipe borrows from American velvet cakes, using buttermilk, and some bicarbonate of soda as an additional raising agent. I’ve also used oil instead of butter; the more moisture you can get into a gluten-free cake, the greater the chance of it succeeding, I’ve found.
I’ve included the basic recipe, and then three variations that you might like to try. So, without further ado – my recipe for a perfectly light gluten-free loaf cake!
Lightest gluten-free loaf cake recipe
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 180ml sunflower/vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g self-raising gluten-free flour (preferably a mix with xantham gum – I use Dove’s Farm. If your mix doesn’t include it, add 1/2 tsp xantham gum)
- 140g buttermilk
- 3 tbsp milk
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Preheat the oven to 175°C fan, and grease and line a 7-inch loaf tin.
- Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla to a large mixing bowl; with either a freestanding paddle mixer or an electric whisk, mix them together for a minute or so until light. Crack in both the eggs and whisk on a low speed until combined.
- Add half the buttermilk and mix until well incorporated, and then add half the flour and mix in thoroughly. Repeat with the rest of the buttermilk and flour.
- In a separate small bowl or mug, mix together the bicarbonate of soda and the white wine vinegar. Add to the mixture along with the milk and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. The mixture should be lovely and light, and will spread itself out evenly on its own.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. The cake should be lovely and golden on top. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then carefully turn out to a wire rack to cool completely.
And now for our three different finishes:
1. Gluten-free Strawberry Loaf Cake
- Make the loaf cake as above, but gently fold in 150g fresh or frozen chopped strawberries at the end, making sure that they’re evenly distributed
- This would also be absolutely delicious with 150g raspberries or blueberries
- Serve with natural yogurt or, for a really luxurious summery feel, whipped cream!
2. Gluten-Free Lemon and Poppy Seed Loaf Cake
- Add the zest of 1–2 lemons (to taste) when you mix the wet ingredients at the beginning
- Add 1 tbsp of poppy seeds when you add the second batch of flour
- Add the juice of ½ lemon along with the white wine vinegar/bicarb and only add 2 tbsp of milk instead of 3
Lemon drizzle icing:
- While the cake is cooling, mix together 2 tbsp icing sugar and juice of up to ½ a lemon until you get an icing that is thick but spreadable
- Spoon it on to the top of the cake and smooth with a warm spatula or palette knife. Allow it to drip down the sides
3. Gluten-Free Coffee & Walnut Loaf Cake
- Omit the vanilla extract. Mix 1½ tbsp of instant coffee with the 3tbsp of milk before adding it into the mixture
- Finely chop 100g walnut pieces and gently fold in 90g of them when all the ingredients have been combined
Coffee Cream Cheese Icing:
- Mix 50g very soft, unsalted butter with 300g icing sugar in a stand mixer or with an electric whisk until it forms a texture like soft bread crumbs. Add 125g cream cheese (cold from the fridge) and mix on a high speed until a smooth icing has been formed
- Dissolve 1 tbsp instant coffee in 1 tsp of cold water. Add it slowly into your icing while the mixer/whisk is running until fully combined. Once the cake has baked and has fully cooled, use a palette knife to spread the icing over the top of it
- Decorate the top of the cake with the reserved chopped walnuts and, if you fancy, a couple of whole walnut pieces
So, there you have it: a gluten-free loaf cake recipe that is guaranteed to please both gluten-eating and coeliac guests alike, with three different finishes to start you off. It’s an amazing adaptable cake, so feel free to experiment with your own twists! 😋