Gluten free, dairy free but still tastes like cake

Gluten-free, dairy-free Victoria sponge that still tastes like actual cake

Much as I like fruit salad, it doesn’t really cut is as an indulgent pudding.

Last weekend when some friends with assorted dietary requirements came for lunch, I was casting around for ideas for a dairy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free menu with no onions, mushrooms, garlic and possibly red meat. Oh, and it also had to be child-friendly.

The main meal wasn’t too much of a problem – roast chicken with lemon and herbs (hold the garlic), jacket potatoes with optional butter plus some green beans and carrots. I even managed to liven up the beans with thin strips of orange zest, toasted walnuts and walnut oil. All fine and dandy.

But a pudding?  Usually I cope with mass catering by chucking together a cheesecake, chocolate brownies or some kind of crumble, which might just as well be a fiesta of dairy and wheat products sponsored by their respective marketing boards. And that’s before addeding lashings of ice cream, which in my humble opinion improves almost all puddings no end.

One guest mentioned meringues, but I am resigned to the fact that meringues are out of the question with our elderly Aga. Long slow cooking at a low heat is impossible with a top oven roughly as hot as hell, and a bottom oven so cool it can’t even be bothered to warm things. I did attempt cooking meringues once. I left them in overnight, and the egg whites oozed out with boredom.

Fruit salad seemed too spartan, but neither was I particularly up for some exotic combination based on blended avocadoes and added dates.

Anyway I bought a couple of punnets of raspberries and thought I’d cracked it with a gluten-free Victoria sponge recipe I’ve done in the past.

No problem, I thought. Instead of butter I can use Stork in a packet, which is dairy-free unlike Stork in a tub. Instead of normal flour, I can use the bag of Dove’s flour lurking at the back of my cupboard, which is gluten-free and wheat-free. I have a tub of Dr Oetker gluten-free baking powder anyway. Simple pudding, no faff, won’t scare the horses (or the children).

Unfortunately I only found out on the morning itself that my tried and tested gluten-free sponge recipe involves milk, and my tried and tested dairy-free sponge recipe involves wheat flour. Oops.

Everything I’ve read about gluten-free cooking is quite fierce about following the recipe exactly and not messing around with quantities or substitute ingredients. There are dire warnings about ending up with a dry biscuit rather than a beautifully risen cake.

The alternative recipes produced by frantic Googling involved ingredients like xanthum gum, soya milk or rice milk, which I don’t own and had no desire to buy.

But finally, I found that I could use some of the coconut milk I keep for curries instead of normal milk, and the recipes promised that the taste would disappear during baking, so my children might actually eat it too.

So here is a recipe for dairy-free, gluten-free Victoria sponge, which actually tastes like cake and didn’t involve investing in a whole cupboard of ingredients I will never use again.

And I still served it with ice cream, for those who could eat it.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Victoria Sponge

Ingredients

150g / 6oz Stork (in the packet that looks like butter, not a tub)
150g / 6oz caster sugar
2 drops vanilla essence
2 eggs
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder (Dr Oetker version is widely available)
150g / 6oz Dove’s Farm gluten-free plain white flour blend
 3 tablespoons coconut milk, but hey if you have soya or rice milk handy, go for those.
4 tablespoons jam
1 tablespoon icing sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 C / 170 C fan / Gas Mark 5.
Grease two 20cm / 8 inch round baking tins, and line the bottom with circles of baking paper.
Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy
Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each.
Then mix in the rest of the flour, baking powder and milk. It should end up a bit sloppy.
Divide the mix between the two baking tins.
(If you have a 2 oven Aga, this is the point when you put the cake tins on the lowest grid shelf and start wrestling with a cold shelf about half way up)
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, remove from the oven and leave for a few minutes.
Run a knife round between the side of the tin and the edge of the cake, to try and ensure it will come out smoothly.
Hold a clean tea towel over the top of the cake, turn the whole lot upside down while holding the tea towel in place, so the cake falls out onto the tea towel, peel off the baking paper and then tip the cake out onto a cooling rack. Turn out the second sponge too.
Then heat the jam in a pan so it melts a bit and becomes runnier.
Spoon the jam onto one of the sponges, and spread it around generously.
Put the other sponge on top, and use a sieve or tea strainer to sift the icing sugar on top of that.
Stand back and admire your cake before everyone else eats it.

Cake close up.

Nope still not sponsored by Stork, Dr Oetker or even Dove’s Farm, just use them all in my cooking.

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