Perfect for parties, this gluten free vanilla sheet cake (aka vanilla tray bake) is soft and fluffy, slathered with vanilla buttercream and topped with rainbow sprinkles. Add a few sweets or chocolate buttons to finish, or have fun with the decorations – it’s time to celebrate!
I spent some time working on the sponge for this cake, as I wanted to create a bake that could be made the day before without drying out too much. Gluten free cakes have a tendency to be at their best on the day of baking. However, with the addition of ground almonds to this sponge the bake stays soft and moist for a couple of days after baking.
You can get 15 squares of yummy cake out of this vanilla tray bake, so it’s ideal for big groups. Although we managed to polish off the entire thing between four people over a couple of days :D. Those fluffy cake pieces are just too hard to resist.
Can I Make This Vanilla Tray Bake Dairy Free?
Yes I have actually tried the sponge using the Stork Baking Block (which is dairy free) and it worked a treat. Then use a drop of plant based milk instead of dairy milk. As for the buttercream, use the same subs. The buttercream will be slightly softer so you may not need to add the plant based milk to thin it.
We Can’t Have Nuts – is There an Ground Almonds Alternative?
You can make this tray bake with 300g gluten free self raising flour (instead of 240g self raising and 60g almonds). However, it’ll dry out more quickly so your best bet is to make the sponge fresh on the morning of the party. It’s still a lovely cake, soft and fluffy, just with a little less longevity.
Which Gluten Free Sprinkles Should I Use to Decorate the Cake?
You must always check the ingredients on the sprinkles that you use for this cake, as many varieties contain wheat or have a may contain warning.
I’ve found that Sainsburys (and some other supermarkets) and the Dr Oetker ranges are generally quite gluten free friendly. I used Sainsburys Multicoloured 100s and 1000s for my tray bake. Morrisons also have unicorn sprinkles that are gluten free, which are always a big hit with my three year old!
Gluten Free Vanilla Sheet Cake Recipe
This vanilla sheet cake is perfect for parties as it will serve up to 15 people (fewer if you want to be really generous with you cake pieces). You’ll find a full method below, plus some photos to help guide you through the recipe.
However, feel free to email me any questions or comments you might have. You can contact me at email@example.com or message me on Instagram/Facebook @myglutenfreeguide. I love seeing your home bakes too so please send me photos of your creations :).
If you enjoy this cake, I would be really grateful if you could leave a star rating or review on the recipe card below. Thank you!
Gluten Free Vanilla Sheet Cake (Vanilla Tray Bake)
Perfect for parties, this gluten free vanilla sheet cake is soft and fluffy, slathered with vanilla buttercream and topped with sprinkles.
For the sponge:
- 300g unsalted butter, at room temperature/Stork
- 300g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 0.5 tsp xanthan gum
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 240g gluten free self raising flour
- 60g ground almonds
- 2 tbsp milk
For the vanilla buttercream:
- 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 330g icing sugar
- 1.5 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla essence)
- Rainbow sprinkles
- Jelly sweets or chocolate buttons
- Preheat the oven to 180C (fan) and grease a rectangular sheet cake pan (mine is 9 x 13 inches) and line with non-stick baking paper.
- First we'll make the sponge. To do this, cream the butter and sugar together using an electric hand whisk or stand mixer (or wooden spoon), until pale and smooth.
- Add the eggs one at a time, working them into the butter and sugar after each addition.
- Now add the vanilla and stir through.
- Sift the flour, xanthan gum and baking powder into the bowl and tip in the ground almonds. Whisk or stir to combine until you have a smooth cake batter.
- Add the milk to loosen the batter slightly and then pour it into the prepared cake tin. Use a small angled palette knife to spread the batter to the edges of the tin and smooth the top so it is fairly level.
- Transfer to the oven on the middle shelf and bake for approximately 25 minutes, until your cake tester comes out clean from the centre of the cake.
- Carefully flip the cake out on a wire rack to cool. I tend to place the wire rack directly on top of the tin, then (using oven gloves, as the tin will be hot) turn it over. The cake will gently drop onto the rack and you can then place it on a flat surface. Lift the tin off the cake and carefully peel off the baking paper if it is still attached to the cake. Set the cake aside to cool fully.
- Once cooled, you can make the buttercream. To do this add the butter to a bowl and beat for a couple of minutes until smooth (you can use an electric whisk/stand mixer/wooden spoon).
- Add the sifted icing sugar and vanilla bean paste to the bowl. Mix well until smooth and fluffy. Add the milk and beat again, as this will ease the buttercream consistency and make it easier to spread.
- Now spread the buttercream evenly over the sponge, before decorating with sprinkles and sweets! If making the day before, store in an airtight container to keep it at its best, or cover with cling film once the buttercream has firmed up slightly.
For more gluten free baking ideas, why not explore some of my other recipes while you are here and bookmark your faves for later. Here are some good’uns:
Happy baking! Laura xxx