Apple Blueberry Maple Cake {refined sugar-free, gluten-free}

Apple Blueberry Maple Cake is refined sugar-free and gluten-free and so full of flavour. Filled with a blueberry chia jam and covered in a maple swiss meringue buttercream.

Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a wooden board surrounded by flowers

If you had a slice of this cake with no pre-amble or forewarning I guarantee you would be shocked to discover that this Apple Blueberry Maple Cake is made with absolutely no refined sugar. There is sweetness, of course, this is still cake. The sweetness though comes from potassium and fibre rich medjool dates, unsweetened apple sauce and just a splash of maple syrup. These three sources of ‘sugar’ are not just chosen for sweetness but for flavour too. The tanginess of the apples combined with the rich dates and mellow maple syrup give a complexity to the cake which you just don’t get with regular old caster sugar. Plus it is a healthier choice. Although, this is no health food as again, cake is cake. It is a treat, but perhaps a more justifiable one if you are enjoying a ‘sugar-free’ January.

Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a wooden board surrounded by flowers

The Blueberry Chia Jam which sandwiches the two cake layers together is also refined sugar-free and is freshly made. I adore blueberry jam and I think actually this may be my favourite way to have it as it’s beautifully soft, not tooth-achingly sweet. The ground chia seeds are used to set the jam so you only need a minimal amount of maple syrup just to bring out the flavour of the blueberries.

A bite taken from a slice of Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a plate in front of the cake

Now, the Maple Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I am not going to kid you, is a little more tricky than regular old swiss meringue buttercream. It’s worth cracking though because the results are sublime. You shouldn’t have any problems if you stick to the exact method I’ve outlined in the recipe but you do really need a sugar thermometer to ensure the temperature of your meringue is correct. Maple syrup is a little more unstable than refined sugar so your buttercream may veer a little off piste if you’re not careful. However, swiss meringue buttercream is incredibly forgiving and it can always be rescued even if you think your buttercream is too soupy or if it is too greasy and the buttercream is just not coming together.

Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a wooden board surrounded by flowers

My swiss meringue buttercream is too soupy

This means that the butter was too warm when you added it or your meringue hadn’t cooled properly to the right temperature before adding your butter. If this is the case then place your mixing bowl in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to chill. Bring out and beat again until smooth.

My swiss meringue buttercream is curdled or greasy

Your butter might have been too cold when you added it. You can either keep on mixing and hopefully the butter will warm up and start emulsifying with the meringue. If not then warm the sides of the mixing bowl by placing over the top of a saucepan of warm water. The butter should melt slightly around the edges of the mixing bowl. Remove from the heat and beat again, hopefully your buttercream will come together.

Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a wooden board surrounded by flowers

Most importantly with any swiss meringue buttercream, be patient and don’t get spooked by a curdled looking buttercream. You have probably done nothing wrong and just may need to keep on beating until it comes together and forms the most delicious smooth and fluffy buttercream.

A slice of Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a plate in front of the cake

The other great thing about this cake is that it is also gluten-free. It uses a flour blend of oat flour, sweet rice flour, potato flour and tapioca flour. I love the oat flour for its unsurpassable butterscotch flavour which goes so perfectly with this cake but if you find oats don’t agree with you then you can substitute for sorghum flour. The taste of the cake will be different but still delicious. The sweet rice flour binds the cake together, mimicking the gluten-effects of wheat and gives the cake bounce. The potato flour is used to give the cake lightness and the tapioca flour is used for fluffiness and extra binding.

A slice of Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a plate in front of the cake

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Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a wooden board surrounded by flowers

Print Recipe
Apple Blueberry Maple Cake {refined sugar-free, gluten-free}
Apple Blueberry Maple Cake is refined sugar-free and gluten-free and so full of flavour. Filled with a blueberry chia jam and covered in a maple swiss meringue buttercream.
Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a wooden board surrounded by flowers
Course cake
Cuisine British
Keyword cake
Prep Time 90 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
16 people
Ingredients
  • 200 g gluten-free oat flour
  • 160 g sweet rice flour
  • 45 g potato flour
  • 45 g tapioca flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 240 g medjool dates about 16, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 120 ml boiling water
  • 300 g unsweetened apple sauce*
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
Blueberry Chia Jam
  • 200 g blueberries + extra for decorating
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
Maple Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 8 egg whites 240g
  • 400 g maple syrup
  • 500 g unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Course cake
Cuisine British
Keyword cake
Prep Time 90 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
16 people
Ingredients
  • 200 g gluten-free oat flour
  • 160 g sweet rice flour
  • 45 g potato flour
  • 45 g tapioca flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 240 g medjool dates about 16, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 120 ml boiling water
  • 300 g unsweetened apple sauce*
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
Blueberry Chia Jam
  • 200 g blueberries + extra for decorating
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
Maple Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 8 egg whites 240g
  • 400 g maple syrup
  • 500 g unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a wooden board surrounded by flowers
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line two 8 inch round cake tins.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca flour and potato flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon then set aside.
  3. Place the dates and the boiling water in a small food processor or mini blender and blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as and when you need to.
  4. Pour the apple sauce, olive oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract and date paste into a large separate mixing bowl or stand mixer and beat until completely combined.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after every addition.
  6. Mix in the dry ingredients, one third at a time to ensure it has all mixed in evenly.
  7. Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.
  8. Turn out the cakes and cool on wire racks before filling with the jam and covering with buttercream.
Blueberry Chia Jam
  1. Place all the ingredients, except for the chia seeds in a small saucepan and cook on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until the blueberries have broken down.
  2. Blend the blueberry mixture a little bit, you don’t want it too smooth but a little bit pulpy.
  3. Pour the blueberries into a small bowl and stir in the chia seeds until combined. Place in the fridge for an hour to set.
Maple Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Heat the egg whites and maple syrup in a bain marie, stirring constantly until the temperature has reached 71°C.
  2. Remove from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks and the temperature has reduced to about 32°C.
  3. Change the attachment to a paddle attachment. On a low speed add the butter slowly cube by cube. When you have almost added all the butter the mixture will look curdled. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen and just means you are nearly done, just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the buttercream will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  4. Add the salt, and vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly combined.
Assembly
  1. The sponges often come out of the oven slightly domed and so to make the cake assembly easier I often trim the very top of the dome off each layer so they have a flatter surface to work on. Don’t trim too much or you will lose a lot of cake.
  2. Place one of the sponge layers on an 8 inch cake board and pipe a circle of buttercream at the very edge of the surface of the cake to act like a dam for the blueberry jam.
  3. Spread three-quarters of the blueberry jam on top of the sponge, right to the edges of the buttercream dam.
  4. Place the second sponge layer on top and cover the top and the sides of the cake with the buttercream.
  5. Reserve a little of the buttercream to mix with the leftover blueberry jam to pipe around the top of the cake for decoration.*
  6. Decorate with extra blueberries.
Recipe Notes

*to make the apple sauce you need about 6-7 apples (I used braeburn). Peel, de-core and roughly chop them. Place them in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water and cook on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples have cooked down to a thick pulp. I blended them once they were completely soft to ensure a smooth consistency. Weigh out 300g of the sauce for the recipe.

Inspired by Snixy Kitchen's Banana Date Cake

SHOP THE RECIPE

It’s not easy to buy certified gluten-free sweet rice flour in the UK, for some reason Bob’s Red Mill is astronomically expensive. However I have finally found a brand which is 100% certified gluten-free and it’s fantastic. The brand is yourhealthstore Premium Gluten Free Sweet Rice Flour (glutinous) 1kg

Oat flour can be picked up at most health food shops and if I run out that’s where I head to. However, like all alternative flours it can be expensive so I find the most economical way is to buy it online. I go through bags of the stuff as it’s the flour I use most regularly so I like to buy in bulk. My favourite brand is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain Oat Flour 400 g (Pack of 4) at a reasonable price. Even better if you go the subscribe and save option.

It’s not difficult to get hold of tapioca flour in the UK. My preferred brand is Bob’s Red Mill GF Tapioca Flour 500 g (Pack of 2) as it’s certifiably gluten-free and I order it through Amazon.

For the ground chia seeds I use Linwoods Milled Chia Seed, 200g which I love and you can get almost anywhere.

The cake tins I always use are these PME Anodised Aluminium Round Cake Pan 8 x 4-Inch Deep which are wonderful as they have completely straight sides so your cakes will be beautifully neat, the anodised aluminium means the heat disperses evenly throughout the cake without cooking the sides too quickly, which some darker cake tins do. The cakes slip out of the tins easily and they come in all the sizes you would need, although typically I use the 8 inch tins.

For checking the temperature of your meringue when making your swiss meringue buttercream don’t be without a Classic SuperFast Thermapen 3 professional food thermometer in grey colour It gives quick and accurate temperature readings meaning you can don’t have to guess at any temperatures when making candy, caramel or fancy buttercreams. I use mine all the time.

One piece of equipment I couldn’t do without when decorating layer cakes is this PME Tilting Turntable 14 x 23 cm. It has a super grippy surface so the cake board clings tightly to it. It also tilts which is great for when you want to add things like chocolate chips or sprinkles to the sides of the cake. I have had this cake decorating turntable for years and years and I absolutely love it.

This post is not sponsored but the images above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to use these link to make your purchases then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

If you like this recipe then you may like…

Best Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake {without xanthan gum}

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Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks {refined sugar-free}

These Salted Date Caramel Banana Flapjacks are refined sugar-free and gluten-free for guilt-free snacking.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Truffle Torte {refined sugar-free}

Sweet Potato Chocolate Truffle Torte

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake

Of course I would certify that this is the best gluten-free birthday cake. It’s now the second (!!) time I have made this cake for Cole on his birthday and is definitely the most important cake I bake all year.

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.

A couple of weeks ago Cole turned two years old. It’s unbelievable how quickly a person can be formed from the tiny blinking newborn bundle you first hold in the hospital to a mini-man on a mission with his own mind and interests. He is still my baby but my most favourite companion.

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.

My toddler does not let me get bored. Cole has always been the biggest chatterbox, he picked up language quickly which he is now using to his full advantage, narrating our lives together in minute detail. He is especially keen on ordering me around whether it be to stand up mummy, sit down mummy, sitting room mummy, sofa mummy or read story mummy. He is certainly not afraid to test the limits of his voice either. He is very keen on shouting but also singing which is much nicer. If you are familiar with my ‘About Me’ page that will come as no surprise to you that he, like his mother, basically never shuts up. Now there’s two of us belting out show tunes hell for leather. When he was little I could easily soothe him by singing Starlight Express or Those Magic Changes from Grease but these days it’s Hamilton, which we play ad nauseum in the house and the car. Possibly not the most child friendly musical but his rendition of ‘My Shot’ is one of the cutest things I’ve ever heard. It was the soundtrack to his second birthday and we’re not getting tired of it. The neighbours on the other hand…

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.

It’s fascinating how something like Hamilton can just hook his interest, he definitely knows what he likes and it’s not always in league with what I like. I have always loved Disney and Pixar films but Finding Nemo was my least favourite due to my horrific phobia of sharks. However, it came into rotation one day and Cole has been obsessed by Nemo ever since. Are you sure you don’t want to watch Frozen darling? No mummy, Nemo! I have to hide behind him every time Bruce comes onto the screen but Cole is unfazed and demands watching it pretty much every day. Thus his love of all sea creatures was born and regular trips to aquariums to visit the sea turtles are now the norm.

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.

As are our visits to the London Transport Museum. It’s heaven on earth for our little toddler. We should have known we were in the for the long haul when one of the first songs he began to sing by himself was ‘Big red bus, big red bus, mini mini mini and a big red bus.’ It must have been at least two months of this ditty non-stop. His love of big buses, trains and cars has not abated. Excursions round Crouch End on the W7 bus route are a very easy afternoon’s entertainment so I should be thankful for that. Although a word of warning if you are to enter a toyshop with our little precious then you will not be leaving without some sort of handheld vehicle, no matter how much you try and persuade him he has about 50 cars at home already. That’s just asking for a mega tantrum. When we visited a train museum in Cornwall a few weeks ago, Cole took it upon himself to choose a wooden Thomas the Tank Engine and take it over to the till, reach up over his head and carefully place it on the counter. We were so impressed that we duly handed the money over.

His love of things on wheels has made it a bit easier to buy him presents that we know he’ll enjoy. I remember for his first birthday we had no idea what to get him, we ended up buying him a trike which he had no idea what to do with at the time. Luckily now it has really come into its own as he zips around the house terrorising Billy Buddy and the cats. But this year we also got him some transport duplo which went down well, although I’m not sure I thought through the clear-up aftermath of duplo. He also received a few transport books from friends which could not have been more ideal as it ties into his ultimate pastime. Reading.

The only time Cole is ever quiet is when he’s hauled himself up onto the sofa with a good Julia Donaldson and is going through every page utterly absorbed. When I check on Cole after he has gone to sleep it is quite usual to find his cot strewn with books which he has gathered up from his bookshelf and fallen asleep clutching.

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.

So, for his birthday we invited all his friends over for Saturday brunch and storytime where local superstar Amelia Boo performed an interactive version of Room on the Broom, a particular favourite of Cole’s. He goes to her class every week in the park but to have her in his house was like a celebrity was actually in his living room. He strutted around at the front of the entertainment blocking everyone’s view, exceedingly pleased with himself.

His birthday party was amazing. I think I enjoyed his party more than any I’ve ever had for myself. Although, just like his first birthday I completely forgot to take photos of Cole blowing out the candle on his cake.

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.

Although I didn’t forget to take photos of the actual cake so at least that’s something. It was so good too and disappeared in moments. I’ve definitely now perfected the Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake. It’s got everything you need in a cake – vanilla, chocolate and raspberries. It’s so simple and easy too. Although I won’t trick you, like a lot of my most recent cakes it does have a few different flours that need to be whisked together to create the ultimate gluten-free blend. A bit of a pain if you don’t have them all in your cupboards I understand but in my mind these are the very five most basic gluten-free flours that you’ll need if that’s any consolation. However, to make up for the complex flour blend it has very few other ingredients and the simplest of methods to pull it together. The raspberry filling is just a bit of raspberry jam and some fresh raspberries crushed together, making the perfect amount of sweetness versus fruit. The whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache is also barely any effort and only sweetened with a drop of maple syrup.

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.

I have decided children’s birthdays are far superior to adult birthdays. There is entertainment, balloons and cake and the whole thing is over in a couple of hours. Cole’s birthday definitely made an impression on him too. His version of Happy Birthday, sung to himself, is one of the first things we hear in the morning, drifting down the hallway from his bedroom which he’ll probably be doing as he’s clutching his silver car and reading his Finding Nemo book.


Print Recipe
Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake
A light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache
Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
12-14 people
Ingredients
  • 85 g sweet rice flour
  • 60 g oat flour
  • 50 g millet flour
  • 25 g potato starch
  • 25 g tapioca starch
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 240 g butter
  • 240 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Raspberry Crush filling
  • 150 g raspberries
  • 50 g very good raspberry jam
Whipped Chocolate Cream Cheese Ganache
  • 150 g chocolate melted
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 400 g cream cheese
  • 100 g maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk if necessary
  • 120 g smarties optional as not gluten-free*
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
12-14 people
Ingredients
  • 85 g sweet rice flour
  • 60 g oat flour
  • 50 g millet flour
  • 25 g potato starch
  • 25 g tapioca starch
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 240 g butter
  • 240 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Raspberry Crush filling
  • 150 g raspberries
  • 50 g very good raspberry jam
Whipped Chocolate Cream Cheese Ganache
  • 150 g chocolate melted
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 400 g cream cheese
  • 100 g maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk if necessary
  • 120 g smarties optional as not gluten-free*
Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line and grease 2 x round 20cm sandwich tins.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar on a high speed in a food mixer for about 5 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until completely incorporated, then add the vanilla extract.
  4. Sieve the flours, baking powder and salt together in separate mixing bowl, then add into the food mixer. Beat until just combined.
  5. Stir in the milk to lighten the batter then divide the batter equally between the two sandwich tins. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to settle for 5 minutes in their tins, then turn out onto cooling racks and leave to cool completely before icing.
Raspberry Crush filling
  1. Crush the raspberries into the jam and set aside until ready to use.
Whipped Chocolate Cream Cheese Ganache
  1. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie then set aside for a moment.
  2. Beat cocoa powder with cream cheese maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt until smooth.
  3. Pour in the melted chocolate and beat together. If the ganache is too thick to spread then add a tablespoon of whole milk to lighten slightly.
Cake Assembly
  1. Place one of the sponge layers on a cake board and pipe a circle of ganache on top of the very edge of the cake to act like a dam for the raspberry crush filling.
  2. Spread the raspberry filling on top of the cake, right to the edges of the chocolate dam.
  3. Place the second sponge layer on top and swirl the chocolate ganache all over the top and sides of the cake.
  4. Decorate with smarties if you like. Although if you do use smarties then decorate immediately before serving as the colours of the smarties will start to leach out.
Recipe Notes

*For gluten-free decoration substitute regular M&Ms which are gluten-free in the UK (not all the varieties are so do check).