July 30, 2012


I decided to make a cake for my friend Elizabeth’s birthday and it needed to be gluten free.  I liked the look of the cake in this recipe on the Good Food website for cherry bakewell cake.  I loved the way the icing dribbled over the top of the cake in the picture !!

pink cake

In the end I used a recipe from a book called “the gluten-free baker” by Hannah Miles, which I borrowed from the library.  I adapted the recipe for Victoria sponge cake, which contains lots of ground almonds anyway, by substituting the vanilla extract in the original recipe for almond extract.  I then used cherry jam in the filling instead of strawberry and decorated the top with pink icing and cherries.

pink cake2

I had never used gluten free flour before and because there were a lot of ground almonds in the recipe I beat the butter and sugar really well as this was going to lift them and make the cake light and not dense.  I also had to put a lot of effort into beating the cream.  Being in France I used crème entière, which seems to need a lot more whisking to become thick than the English double cream I am used to.

pink cake3 I was also very careful to avoid accidental contamination of ingredients, for example using an unopened bag of sugar and a new block of butter.  It only takes a little gluten to cause a problem, such as from lazily dipping the spoon used for taking ordinary flour into the sugar bag, or a few toast crumbs in the butter.  It just isn’t worth the risk.

pink cake4 Believe it or not, the colour of the icing is exactly what I wanted.  After all if a girl can’t have pink on her birthday it’s a poor do !!  The icing was quite runny and drizzled nicely over the edge of the cake.

pink cake5 However, it was possibly a little too runny as it continued to dribble down the sides of the cake, forming a pink puddle on the cake plate.  This was lucky in a way as we had a 50-minute drive to Elizabeth’s house and with the cake firmly glued to the plate with icing all I had to worry about was the top half sliding off the bottom half as we made our way along the twisty lanes !!

pink cake6 I carried the cake wedged into a box on my lap and it arrived in one piece.  I could have taken it off the plate, cleaned the icing from the plate and putting the cake back but Elizabeth liked the look of the puddle of pink icing so we served it just as it was.  A girl can never have too much pink !!


For the cake

185g softened butter

185g caster sugar

4 eggs

200g ground almonds

125g gluten free self raising flour

150ml crème fraîche

½ tsp almond essence

For the filling and icing

3 tblsp cherry jam

250ml double cream or crème entière

4 fresh cherries

2-3 tblsp icing sugar

2 drops liquid pink colouring

pink sugar crystals


Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°fan/gas mk 4.  Grease and base line 2 x 20cm sponge tins.

Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat or whisk until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat well with each addition.

Add the other cake ingredients and fold in gently until evenly combined.

Divide between the two tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cakes are firm and golden and pass the skewer test.  Remove from the oven, turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Whip the cream until firm and spreadable.  Spread the jam on one of the sponges and spread the whipped cream on top.  Put the other cake on top.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add 2 drops of pink colour, or enough to achieve the right depth of pink.  Add water, a teaspoon at a time, and mix together until a runny icing is formed.

Spoon the icing onto the top of the cake, somewhere in the middle and, using a small spatula or back of a spoon, push the icing towards the edge so that it dribbles down over the sides.  Sprinkle some sugar crystals on top and decorate with the fresh cherries.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.  Keep refrigerated because of the fresh cream.


  1. Another delicious offering, Jean. The birthday cake looks fantastic!

    Thanks for the advice on how to prevent contamination. I did'nt realise that such small amounts could cause a problem. It really is a hazard for someone needing the gluten free diet and it must be almost impossible to eat out, other than with friends who fully understand the requirements.

    1. Gaynor, I can understand why coeliacs are so nervous about it and personally I would be mortified if I accidentally made someone ill just by being careless, or simply not understanding the problem.

  2. I have a young niece who is gluten intollerent and she adores anything pink so this really would be perfect for her. I love the icing puddle and the thought of the top cake sliding off the bottom one!

    1. Dom, I nearly called it "pink puddle cake" - but thought better of it !!

  3. Simply wonderful. Looks very well presented, fresh and yummy.
    Great info and this post too. Have a nice day.

  4. Wow, that's pink. Very girly - very, very nice. I've tried whisking various French crèmes in the past and I feel your pain - it's really not easy.

    1. Phil, it was my first attempt with French cream and I had been warned !!

  5. Just a quick note to let you know that you are featured in my Featured Food Blog list sidebar this month. Cheers

    Ps that's a great cake!

  6. Jean, you are an absolute star! That cake was delicious and it looked, as the photos show, amazing!

    Thank you for all the care you took to prepare it for me. It was very much appreciated.

    You really have restored my confidence in baking. I used to do lots before I was diagnosed but I had so many disappointing results with gluten free baking that I'd almost given up. You've proved it can be done and indeed, it can be done with style.

    Pink? Why not?!!

    Thank you!

    1. Elizabeth, I'm glad the cake turned out so well and that you enjoyed it. Most of the credit should go to the recipe I think, and the rest to the pink colouring !!

  7. Hi Jean, luckily I don't have any problems with gluten and have always looked on gluten-free flours with suspicion but your cake looks fantastic - the texture seems really light and moist, just like a 'normal' sponge cake, if not better! Impressive!

    1. Katharine, it was lighter than I expected it to be, which was a relief.

  8. It looks great Jean, a lovely feminine cake for your friend. Love lots of icing! Agree with you about whipping French cream - lived in France for 7 years.

    1. Snowy, it was definitely one for a girl who loves pink, like me !!

  9. Loving that icing - it's a mad colour!

  10. Wow lovely looking cake especially the frosting - I love it!