This time I was looking for a recipe to make a flavorful gluten-free lemon cake from scratch. The cake should be quick and easy to make and contain no nuts as quite some kids at school did not tolerate nuts very well. And, of course, the gluten-free lemon cake should be soft and fluffy and moist at the same time.
So, lacking gluten in the flours to be used for this cake, this was quite a challenge. Nothing makes a cake more light and fluffy than the gluten-containing wheat flour. But, off I went. First of all, I tried to use not too much starch in this recipe as I guess using whole grain flour is much healthier. Then, I am not too big a fan of using only rice flour as I am not very happy with its sometimes rather dull taste. Especially if you know, how “real” lemon cake with wheat flour used to taste, I guess you will agree with me.
Finally, using the right baking material proved to be very important. I am using a cast-iron baking pan with lid in this recipe, as I found this helps the cake rise best when baked and also stay this way after being taken out of the oven. When I used a normal baking pan, what happened was that first the dough rose nicely but as soon as I took it out of the oven it shrank and lost its lightness and softness. But using a baking pan made of cast-iron and having a lid really made the difference – my gluten-free lemon cake was not only very flavorful but fluffy and moist at the same time. Combined with the lemon icing, the taste of the gluten-free lemon cake was near divine… Enjoy!
Best start with the butter-sugar-mix. You can either soften the butter or cut it in pieces (as I did). Then add sugar and yolks and mix for a couple on minutes until it gets really creamy. Now you can add lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract and lemon zest and continue mixing for a minute or so.
Now it is time to prepare for the gluten-free flour-starch-mix. Carefully weigh the gluten-free flours (pearl millet and corn flour) and the gluten-free starches (tapioca and potato starch) and add 1 teaspoon of locust bean gum powder and 2 teaspoons of (gluten-free!) baking powder and mix everything thoroughly in a big enough bowl.
Last but not least, we need beaten egg whites. When you beat egg whites, you whip bubbles into the mixture. This helps the dough get much softer and … The longer you beat, the more stiff the egg white becomes. Also, adding a little bit of salt at the end of beating helps keeping the stiffness for a longer period of time.
After beating, the egg whites should be combined with the rest of the ingredients quite quickly as otherwise the beaten egg white gets soft again and shrinks.
Now we combine the three layers of the dough. At the bottom, we have the butter-sugar-mix (bottom layer). In the middle, we place the beaten egg whites (middle layer). And on top comes the flour-starch-mix (top layer). The mixing of these layers needs to be done very carefully, as otherwise the air trapped in the beaten egg whites – which helps make the cake light and fluffy – will escape again. And that is basically it.
We pour the dough in a greased (butter) and floured baking pan, cover it with a lid so that it does not burn on the surface and put it in the lower to medium part of the oven. Let it bake for about 45 minutes with the lid on, then take the lid off and finish baking for about 15 to 20 minutes until it gets a nice, brownish crust on the surface.
The reason why I am using a cast-iron baking pan with lid is that according to my experience this is the only reliable material where you achieve to get a nice crust at the bottom AND the top of the cake. Before, when using a “normal” baking pan, the cake would either be nice at the top but basically raw at the bottom – or nice at the bottom and burnt on the top. This is also the reason why I am using a lid – to prevent the cake from getting too dark too early at its top. So, I first try to get a nice brownish bottom part (here the cast-iron helps a lot as it spreads the heat very evenly) and then, after about three quarters of baking time, I concentrate on getting a nice, crunchy top part by taking the lid off.
Finally, please make sure to make the “needle test” before taking the cake out of the oven. It can sometimes prove quite tricky to rely only on the brownish colour to assume the cake is ready.
When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and let cool. In the meantime, you can prepare the lemon icing and the decoration, if you like. The lemon icing is really simple to make. You only need to sift powdered sugar and add freshly squeezed lemon juice, one spoonful at a time, until it shows the consistency you like.
Spill the lemon icing over the cooled cake, decorate and let dry.
Enjoy your very flavorful and moist gluten-free lemon cake!
g = gram
ml = milliliter
TBS = tablespoon = 15 ml
tsp. = teaspoon = 5 ml
1 cup = 1 cup [US] = 235 ml = 16 tablespoons (TBS)
1 stick of butter = 1/2 cup = 113 g (= 4 oz. = 8 TBS. = 24 tsp.)
1 pound (lb.) = 0.454 kilograms (kg) = 454 grams (g)
1 ounce (oz.) = approx. 28 grams (g)
1 inch (in or “) = 2.54 centimeters (cm) = 25.4 millimeters (mm)
1 liter = 1,000 ml = 1.0567 US quarts (liquid)
1 quart = 1 US quart (liquid) = approx. 0.946 liters