Gluten-free cakes are commonplace these days, and with the number of people intolerant or allergic to gluten rapidly on the rise, they’re set to become even more popular. But to make them at home can be a bit of a challenge; after all, flour is a pretty important ingredient when baking cakes. There are also all sorts of gluten-free flours lining the shelves – from arrowroot to millet, brown rice to buckwheat – which can add further confusion to the mix. As a beginner, your best bet is to pick up one of the pre-blended bags, which contain a mix of gluten-free flours and emulate traditional varieties as closely as possible.
However, it’s not always a case of simply swapping out wheat flour for the same amount of a gluten-free blend. If your recipe only calls for a small amount of flour (under 100g), then you can generally replace it without too many problems. But if it makes up the majority of the recipe – as it tends to with cakes – then the texture and rise of the sponge can be quite different to what you’re used to. You can get around this by increasing or decreasing the amount of other ingredients, usually adding more eggs or baking powder to compensate for the lack of rise. Also, bear in mind that gluten is what gives the cake its structure; a gluten-free cake batter will almost always be runnier than you’re used to. Don’t be tempted to add more or you’ll be left with an incredibly dense, crumbly and hard sponge.