This gluten and dairy-free Valentine’s sprinkle cake is sure to please the kids and your sweetheart. Yummy and moist, with layers of jam and whipped coconut cream, this surprisingly easy cake is perfect for any holiday.
As some of you may know, I try to create a special decadent dessert for my husband every valentine’s day. You may remember the chocolate peanut butter cream tart, or last year’s white chocolate hazelnut tart. This year, I wanted to include my son in the fun, so I decided to re-imagine his favourite rainbow cupcakes into a gluten and dairy-free Valentine’s sprinkle cake. (My rainbow sprinkle cupcake recipe is based off of Paula Anna Miget’s vanilla cupcake recipe from her amazing cookbook “The Big Book of Gluten-Free Baking”).
This cake starts with a classic gluten and dairy free vanilla cake base. Red jimmies are carefully mixed in to create a fun cake with red polka dots! Sandwiched between the cake layers are a jam of your choice and stabilized whipped coconut cream. So easy, and no need for fancy icing skills. You can pump this cake out in just a couple of hours, and that includes cooling time.
How to make the cake
First things first – you need to get your cans of coconut milk into the fridge. Preferably overnight, or even a few days in advance. This is to separate the coconut cream from the coconut water. My favourite tip for when you are ready to make coconut whipped cream – after chilling, bring the cans out of the fridge and quickly flip them over so they are upside down. Open the can from this end (i.e. what was the bottom and now is the top), and you will find all the coconut water. Pour out the coconut water and save it separately for smoothies and DIY popsicles! The coconut cream should now be easy to scoop out and use for whipping without worrying about coconut water ruining the batch.
Prepare your pans
Please do this step! I tested this recipe a few different ways (ungreased, greased, and greased and floured), and it’s really important to grease and flour your pans. The cake needs something to cling to in order for all those luscious egg whites to rise. If you just use grease or a non-stick pan, it will create a nice big dome; pretty, but not ideal for a layered cake. I also use parchment paper in the bottom of my pans, it’s just so so so much easier to pop them out of the tin that way.
Whip the egg whites first, what????
Once you’ve measured and sifted your dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl, the next step is to whip the egg whites. I know, I know, it really makes no sense. Every other recipe on the planet folds the egg whites in at the end, but trust me on this one. Whip the egg whites until you reach the soft peak stage, then add the sugar, oil, dairy free milk, and flavourings. Run your mixer on high to whip the mixture back up again. Sprinkle over the dry ingredients, and mix just until combined.
The last step before baking is to add the sprinkles. I like to do this in two or three lots. Working quickly, sprinkle one third of the sprinkles evenly across the surface and fold in gently, using only one or two strokes with a spatula. Do this twice more, and maybe one extra swish with the spatula to make sure they are evenly distributed. Go fast and gently, and this will help keep the sprinkle streaking to a minimum.
Pour the batter into your prepared pans and bake until the internal temperature of the cake is between 205 °F and 210 °F and the cake tester comes out clean. The cake will have a lovely crusty golden brown top that is starting to have small cracks. With gluten free baking I don’t always trust the cake tester method, so I’ve taken to checking the internal temperature of my bakes. Any digital cooking thermometer will do.
Berries and cream
When the cake layers have fully cooled, it’s time to decorate with the jam and cream. While love the taste and look of a berries and cream cake, that’s a bit more summery than what I was aiming for with my Valentine’s sprinkle cake. Plus up here in North Vancouver, the winter strawberries sent up to us from California and Mexico can be…underwhelming. (That’s me trying to be kind, most of time they are like vaguely strawberry flavoured apples – red on the outside, completely crunchy and white on the inside…a true first world problem). So it was JAM for the win. The cake and whipped coconut cream are on the sweet side of things, so I highly recommend using a lower sugar jam, like a store bought double fruit jam, or a homemade chia jam.
For the whipped cream, you want everything to be super chilled – bowl and whisk included. I highly recommend using a stand or hand mixer, this would take some serious arm muscle to whip by hand. As I wanted to be able to have the cake sit out, I chose to make stabilized whipped cream. What a game changer it is, adding “Whip It” to your cream. It just stands right up and pipes like a dream! I highly recommend this stabilized whipped coconut cream recipe by Nora Cooks.
When assembling the layers, the jam can make the cake layers a bit slippery. Be sure to just your whipped cream as a dam around the edge of each layer. Fill the center with jam, and then top with more whipped cream. I used a piping bag with an open star tip (Wilton #21) to give a nice ruffly look. Definitely not necessary to pipe the whipped cream, but I think it looks pretty. For a more rustic look, smooth the cream over the jam with a spatula and let it spill over the edges. Good luck keeping little fingers off the cake 😉
Enjoy, I hope your family loves the gluten and dairy-free Valentine’s sprinkle cake
Gluten and dairy-free Valentine's sprinkle cake
- 3 cups gluten-free flour blend Make sure your blend includes xantham gum (Bob's Red Mill 1:1 blend recommended), if not add 1 tsp to the dry ingredients.
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅔ cup egg whites (approximately 6 large egg whites)
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil (coconut oil is not recommended)
- ½ cup coconut milk beverage or other non-dairy milk
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- ⅓ cup red jimmy sprinkles
- ½ cup jam
Stabilized Whipped Coconut Cream
- 2 cans coconut milk (full fat)
- ½ cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 packet Whip It
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 6" cake pans (or two 9" pans) and line with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whip egg whites to soft peaks using a stand or handheld mixer. Add sugar, oil, non-dairy milk, vanilla and almond extract and mix on high until well blended and frothy.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until combined.
- In two or three portions, add the sprinkles to the cake. Work quickly and with minimal strokes to prevent streaking.
- Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake reaches an internal temperature of 205°F to 210°F. A cake tester will come out clean, and the cake top will be golden brown with some crackling and puffed up. The cake will level out as it cools.
- Let cool completely in the pans on a rack, then carefully run a knife or thin spatula around the edge to release.
Stabilized Whipped Cream
- Chill cans of coconut milk for 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- Scoop out the coconut cream into a chilled mixing bowl.
- Whip with a whisk attachment for a few minutes until light and fluffy, and no clumps of coconut cream remain.
- Add in icing sugar, vanilla and Whip It, and whip on high until desired consistency is reached.
- If desired, torte the cakes by removing the cake tops (save for snacking later!)
- For each layer, create a dam around the outside with the whipped cream. Fill the inside of the dam with a thin layer of jam and more whipped cream. Repeat for the second layer.
- For the top layer, add a thick layer of jam, and pipe decorative design with whipped cream.