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 perfect gluten-free loaf cake

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!

The perfect gluten-free loaf cake

Lightest gluten-free loaf cake recipe

The perfect gluten-free loaf cake


  • 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


  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C fan, and grease and line a 7-inch loaf tin.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. The mixture should be lovely and light, and will spread itself out evenly on its own.
  6. 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!

Gluten-free Strawberry Loaf Cake

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

Gluten-Free Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake


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! 😋

Leave a Reply