Gluten-free chestnut and vanilla cake

Victoria Glass is here to show that 'gluten dodging' doesn't have to lead to heavy or dull food and shares her recipe for a delicious gluten-free chestnut & vanilla cake. Take a look at our recipe collection for even more gluten-free cake recipes.

It’s National Coeliac Awareness Week and I’m here to prove that gluten-dodging doesn’t need to be boring. Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 people in the UK, with women two to three times more likely to suffer*.

This ever-growing demand for GF foods has led to a revolution in supermarket aisles. No longer confined to half a shelf in a dark, poky corner, I found Genius bread lumped in with the wheat at my local Co-op. Free-from foods are spilling into the mainstream. They’re easier to find and the quality is getting better all the time. This is all excellent news, of course, but it doesn’t always come cheap. A 600g gluten free loaf comes in at just under £3, while you can get an 800g wheat loaf for under a quid. Although diagnosed coeliacs are entitled to GF food on prescription, it’s only free if you already qualify for free prescriptions. With a suspected 500,000 undiagnosed coeliacs in the UK alone, perhaps it’s time to curb our reliance on gluten as a staple.

'Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or an intolerance, it is an autoimmune disease. In coeliac disease, eating gluten causes the lining of the small intestine to become damaged. Other parts of the body may be affected.' -

I live with a gluten dodger and, as a result, I’ve had to change my baking habits. It’s second nature to most to reach for the plain flour when making pancakes, but lately, I’d rather have a savoury socca any day of the week. They’re incredibly quick and simple to make. For two pancakes, sift 100g of gram flour (chickpea flour), and stir in cold water until the batter is the consistency of single cream, season, fry in a hot oiled pan and tuck in. This cheap southern French street food is also delicious with the addition of almost any herb or spice. Another more recent addition to my new gluten light lifestyle is chestnut flour.

I am currently in the midst of a true and meaningful love affair with this nutty purveyor of all things delicious. Available in specialist shops and online from Shipton Mill, it makes a delicious alternative to wheat flour in gnocchi, and creates stunningly light, moist and moreish cakes. A gluten-free lifestyle might sound like a drag, but thinking outside the Weetos box makes for many exciting new discoveries. My recipe for chestnut and vanilla cake is delicious served with poached pears and will make you wonder, 'why aren’t more of us voluntarily leaving the wheat in the cupboard?'

* All information on coeliac disease taken from the NHS website and Coeliac UK.





For the filling

  • 125g of mascarpone, full fat
  • 125g of chestnut purée, sweetened
  • 250ml of double cream, softly whipped
  • 1 dash of vanilla extract
  • icing sugar, sifted and added to taste


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Whisk the honey and egg yolks together to the ribbon stage – pale, thick and creamy. This will take a good few minutes with an electric whisk, so be patient
Mix in the melted butter then fold in the ground almonds/hazelnuts and chestnut flour. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form
Use a large metal spoon to fold in the egg whites – be careful not to knock out the air in the batter. Divide the mixture between 2 20cm sandwich tins and bake for 35–40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean
Once baked, pop the cakes, still in their tins, on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely. Slice each cake horizontally in half
For the filling, simply mix together all the ingredients with a fork. Don’t be tempted to get your electric whisk out here or your mascarpone will become unusably runny
Layer your cake up with generous spreadings of the chestnut mascarpone. You can add a sprinkling of toasted flaked almonds or a dusting of cocoa for an extra touch of glamour, if you fancy

Victoria is a London-based food writer and recipe developer. She was the Roald Dahl Museum’s first ever Gastronomic Writer in Residence and has written six books, including her latest, Too Good To Waste.

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