With commercial gluten free flour blends, I’ve had the most success in making chiffon cakes since the airiness (and partly the structure) come from the meringue, and the original recipe requires very little flour compared to pound cakes/muffins/cookies. Actually, milk is not essential in chiffon cakes although some recipes do use it to enhance the richness, but water and fruit juice are just fine. So this is the perfect recipe to convert to dairy and gluten free easily!
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I’d like to share a few notes on my gluten-free baking “experiments” so far – other than chiffon cakes, shortbread type cookies, pie shell, and high ratio cakes which typically use creaming method (like pound cakes) are pretty good when substituting gluten free flours for regular pastry/all purpose flour – however they may have a slightly more “short” or crumbly texture and drier especially after refrigerated. As for cakes, muffins or other quick breads that uses muffin method (mixing dry with wet ingredients), the recipes typically need some modifications and troubleshooting to make the gluten-free version soft, moist and spongy. Gluten-free bread making is a totally different game – typically it requires more thickening agent, such as xanthan gum, to help with rising by trapping air in the dough structure. Keep in mind that some gluten free flour can absorb more water than wheat flour (especially coconut flour), and that almond flour have a high protein and fat content than wheat flour, other GF flours may have more sugar content, all of which can impact the batter or dough’s water absorption, rising, and browning.
Here’s a gluten free flour blend that I like:
When it comes to dairy free baking, I found almond milk is usually too watery and does not have enough fat content, which makes it not suitable for custards and recipes that don’t have other sources of fat to make up for the low fat content – the end products tend to be dry and crumbly. Soy milk is a pretty good substitute for regular milk with similar protein content, consistency, and a neutral taste. However, soy and nut milks are major allergens so they’re not suitable for some people. Now, oat milk is my new favourite as a drink, coffee creamer, and to use in baking! It has a neutral taste, is allergen-free, similar viscosity as whole milk, and a closer sugar, protein and fat profile to whole milk than other dairy alternatives.
If fat content is crucial to the recipe (e.g. a custard like flan), I would recommend canned coconut milk as an alternative for cream. In fact, coconut cream can be whipped just like 35% cream to a fluffy, velvety deliciousness that can be used as a frosting (add a little honey, lime juice & zest- BOOM!) However, it’s also a major allergen and can impart a pretty strong taste, which can be good or bad depending on the recipe. (Check out my other blog post on dairy free milks!)
So here you go, I present to you my favourite dairy & gluten free cake recipe that is super fluffy, moist and not overly sweet – Chiffon Cake!
Matcha Marble Chiffon Cake
Prep time 20 mins. Cook time 40-50mins
- 5 Large eggs, separated
- 90g All-purpose gluten-free flour blend (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder (optional)
- 80g Granulated sugar (divided to 50g for egg whites, 30g for egg yolk batter)
- 50g Oat milk (or other dairy free milk, water is fine too)
- 50g Oil (any liquid neutral flavour oil like vegetable oil, or melted coconut oil, or melted butter if not dairy free)
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice, or 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Matcha powder
- 2 tbsp Boiling water
- Preheat oven to 325˚F (160˚C). Line an 8″ springform pan with a fitted round parchment paper to the bottom of the pan. Do not spray the sides of the pan with oil as it affect how the batter rise.
- Separate egg yolks from whites to two large bowls (make sure your hands and the bowls are clean with no oil or water as it affects how the egg whites form a meringue).
- To the bowl with egg yolks, add 30g sugar, sifted flour, baking powder, oat milk, oil and vanilla extract. Mix well with a whisk until no lumps.
- To the bowl with egg whites, add salt and vinegar (or lemon juice/cream of tartar) and use the whisk attachment in an electric mixer to beat until foamy. Gradually add sugar (1/3 at a time) and beat until soft peak is formed (right before stiff peak is fine but do not over-whip!)
- Scoop about a quarter of the egg white meringue (no need to be exact) to the bowl with egg yolk mixture, gently mix the two together to roughly combine. Then fold in the remaining egg white meringue to the egg yolk mixture with a spatula until the batter is smooth and airy with no lumps of meringue.
- Divide the batter between two bowls. In a small bowl, mix matcha powder with boiling water until fully combined and gently fold in to one of the bowls with batter.
- Layer the two batters into the prepared cake pan. This blog post by Tori Avey shows perfectly how to marble a cake!
- Bake for 40-50 mins at 325F or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and cool the cake on a wired rack upside down. Don’t worry if the cake top is not perfectly flat and smooth – simply dust it with icing sugar or slather some whipped coconut cream frosting on top, perhaps some berries too! Enjoy!
- If you’ve never tried chiffon cake before, give it a try! It’s a very popular dessert in Asian countries and has a very similar texture and mouthfeel to Angel Food Cake but uses egg yolk as well as egg white. I consider it the “cousin” of Genoise cake (aka. sponge cake) which uses whipped whole eggs instead of separating egg whites and yolks. I found chiffon cake has a better success rate than Genoise cake as whipping whole eggs takes a long time, and folding flour into whipped whole eggs can be very challenging and easy to lose volume, also, Genoise typically has much higher sugar content which I don’t like.
- Since chiffon cakes are very light and airy, buttercream frosting is not suitable for it as the cake doesn’t have a rigid enough structure to hold the heavy frosting. If you frost the chiffon cake/cupcake with buttercream frosting, it may be ok to serve within the hour, but if you let it sit for a longer time it’s likely to collapse or change texture.
- Instead, try chantilly cream (vanilla whipped cream) or whipped coconut cream which are much lighter and less sweet than buttercream. However, the downside is that they don’t hold well on a hot day (melt & collapse) and can also lose volume in the fridge over time. So it’s better to serve them right after the cake is frosted.
- If you’re not gluten or dairy free, simply use regular wheat flour and/or milk in a 1:1 ratio. It works perfectly!
- I usually like to reduce sugar content in recipes, but this one I would not as the sugar is essential in helping the egg white meringue form. For a lower sugar recipe, try using 50% white sugar and 50% erythritol.
- You can also modify this recipe to make it vanilla (simply leave out the matcha powder and 2 tbsp boiling water), chocolate, coffee, lemon, coconut, or essentially any flavour you’d like 🙂
- How to Marble a Cake. by Tori Avey https://toriavey.com/how-to/how-to-marble-a-cake/
- Chiffon Cake Step-by-step Recipe with Video by Tasty https://tasty.co/recipe/chiffon-cake
- My previous blog post on Plant based milk: Got Milk? Why the Craze for Plant-based Milk? https://mygutdiary.com/2020/05/18/got-milk-why-the-craze-for-plant-based-milk/
- My matcha muffin recipe, and some resources on the health benefits of matcha. https://mygutdiary.com/2020/05/21/gluten-free-matcha-chocolate-chip-muffins/