Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is absolutely stunning. A beautifully spiced moist and fluffy sponge crammed with shredded carrots. Filled and decorated with the dreamiest cream cheese buttercream and sprinkled with candied carrots.

overhead view of gluten-free carrot cake

The joy that a simple carrot cake can bring is unbeatable. It feels so happy and homely. Our family were big fans of this cake over the past week and we were all sad when we finally finished the last slice. Although I think my jeans were thankful.

I usually have a tendency to include a lot of add-ins in my carrot cake from nuts and dried fruit to coconut. For this cake though I went back to basics. This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is a more traditional affair which is almost elevated in status because of its simplicity.

In no way though is it inferior in flavour. Far from it. This cake positively brims with personality, thanks to the gentle spices, a spike of black pepper and the carefully chosen gluten-free flours. And it is all brought together with an easy dreamy cream cheese buttercream that you could happily eat with a spoon.

gluten-free carrot cake on a wooden plate on a table

How to make Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

This cake is beautifully straightforward to put together. There are no special techniques and only two bowls are needed. One for weighing and one for mixing. Here are the basic details.

  1. Mix the muscovado sugar with the orange zest.
  2. Add the olive oil, eggs and the vanilla extract.
  3. Whisk the flours with the raising agents and spices.
  4. Add the flours to the batter and mix.
  5. Finally add the shredded carrots.
  6. Divide into the two baking tins.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes.
  8. Remove from the cake tins and leave to cool before assembling.

Muscovado Sugar. We use muscovado sugar here for its deep rich caramel flavour. There is also a little more moisture involved than regular caster sugar so it helps to make the cake beautifully moist.

Orange Zest. The bright citrus note lifts the cake and really enhances the carroty flavour.

Olive Oil. In the past I have used melted butter to make my carrot cakes but here we use a light olive oil for two reasons. It is an easier ingredient to grab off the shelf but it is also lighter than butter so the cake is a little more fluffy.

  • Baker’s Tip – make sure you use light olive oil which has a neutral taste. Absolutely not extra virgin olive oil which would be far too powerful in this instance.

Black Pepper. The heat and spice of the black pepper is extremely subtle but it adds a special background note to the spice blend. For this carrot cake it’s all about layers of flavour.

Which flours to use for a gluten-free carrot cake

For this recipe we only need two gluten-free fours. No starchy flour is needed here because this recipe uses a lot of eggs to compensate (5!) and the carrots give us a lot of moisture so we don’t need to worry about any dryness or crumbliness.

  • Brown Rice Flour – this flour gives a beautiful whole grain earthiness. You can use white rice flour if you like.
  • Sorghum Flour – the flavour of this flour is so good. It is slightly nutty, slightly sweet and perfectly robust.

How to grate carrots for a carrot cake

In order for the cake to bake evenly with no lumpy carrot bits the carrots need to be grated in equal size and length.
By using the thinner grater attachment on your food processor or a julienne peeler you can achieve perfectly grated carrots.

However, don’t worry if you only have a box grater or microplane so grating the carrots by hand is your only option:

  1. Use the widest setting and smoothly bring the peeled carrot down the grater in one movement.
  2. Lift the carrot off and bring it down the grater again.
  3. Continue until you have a nub of carrot left then discard it.
  4. Rubbing the carrot up and down the grater damages the flesh of the carrot which causes it to succumb to watery clumps.

Baker’s Tip The higher quality carrots you use in this recipe the better your cake will taste. There really is a difference between the strong, slightly sweet and earthy carrots you can buy from the farmers’ market and the bland water carrots available from the supermarket. Obviously I recommend the former.

What add-ins can you include in a carrot cake?

This recipe keeps the carrot cake beautifully plain and simple. However, you don’t have to make your carrot cake that way. There are plenty of optional add-ins you can stir into the batter just before pouring into the cake tins which you might like to include. You can add a handful of any of the below ingredients.

  • Diced dried fruit – Sultanas, apricots or pineapple
  • Chopped nuts – Any would be delicious but particularly pecans or walnuts
  • Seeds – pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
  • Diced crystallised ginger – check out my recipe for the best Homemade Crystallised Ginger.

If you are really looking to spruce up your carrot cake then try this Golden Beetroot Carrot Cake, it is packed with sultanas, chopped pecans and shredded apple. Not to mention the delightfully earthy notes of fresh golden beetroot.

A bowl of cream cheese buttercream

How to make the best Cream Cheese Buttercream

Cream cheese buttercream is a match made in heaven for a carrot cake. This particular recipe is my absolute go-to and I use it also for this Red Velvet Cake. It has minimal ingredients and takes under 8 minutes to whip up.

  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter for 6 minutes until extremely light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, salt and cream cheese.
  3. Beat to combine.

Baker’s Tips

  • Use full fat cream cheese if you can. The taste is far superior and I find it whips much better into the buttercream.
  • If you are using a stand mixer, before you mix the icing sugar and butter wrap a tea towel around the mixer so the icing sugar doesn’t escape and cause a sugar cloud around your kitchen. Begin the mixer on low then build up speed once the sugar and butter are properly incorporated which also helps with the sugar cloud.
  • This Cream Cheese Buttercream is quite soft so decorate the cake as soon as your buttercream is ready as it doesn’t like being out of the fridge. Keep the cake in the fridge if the atmosphere is very warm.

A slice of gluten-free carrot cake on a plate

How to make candied carrots

I can’t help it, I decorate all my carrot cakes with candied carrots. They are easy, incredibly delicious and deliver an excellent crunchy contrast on the top of the cake.

  1. Prepare a sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water.
  2. Add the shredded carrots and bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Drain and pat-dry the carrots.
  5. Spread the carrots out onto a baking tray and bake for 12 minutes.
  6. Turn off the oven, remove the carrots and sprinkle them with caster sugar.
  7. Return the carrots to the oven, leaving the door open, for two hours, so the sugared carrots can dry out.

Baker’s Tip: You need the shredded carrots to be really dry after they have been boiled in the sugar syrup so they don’t become soggy in the oven.

Storage. The candied carrots can keep unrefrigerated for up to two weeks in an airtight container lined with kitchen paper to ensure any residual moisture is wicked away.

overview of a cut gluten-free carrot cake with slices on plates next to it

Are you looking for more Spring Cakes?

Vanilla Almond Cake with Lemon Curd Glaze
Simnel Cake
Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake

Or perhaps Vegetable Cakes?

Courgette Oatmeal Cake
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake

If you make this Gluten-Free Carrot Cake then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is absolutely stunning. A beautifully spiced moist and fluffy sponge crammed with shredded carrots. Filled and decorated with the dreamiest cream cheese buttercream and sprinkled with candied carrots.
Prep Time1 hr 10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Keyword: carrot cake, celebration cake, cream cheese buttercream, gluten-free cake
Servings: 12 people
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 320 g light brown muscovado sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 300 g light olive oil
  • 5 eggs medium sized
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 225 g brown rice flour
  • 75 g sorghum flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 350 g grated carrot about 4-5 large carrots

Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 350 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 400 g icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250 g cream cheese straight from the fridge

Candied Carrot

  • 2 carrots grated (about 250g)
  • 125 ml water
  • 100 g caster sugar

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan assisted oven/gas 3 and line and grease two 8 inch x 4 inch round cake tins.
  • Whisk the sugar with the orange zest until fragrant.
  • Add the butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices, salt and black pepper.
  • Fold the flour into the wet ingredients one third at a time.
  • Stir in the grated carrots until completely combined.
  • Divide the batter between the two baking tins and bake for about 35 minutes (cover with foil after 20 mins).

Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • Cream the butter and icing sugar and mix for about 10 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  • Add the salt and vanilla and mix again to combine.
  • Finally add the cream cheese and mix until just combined.

Candied Carrot

  • Pour the water and sugar into a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Then turn down to a simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Add the carrot and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Strain the carrots and pat dry.
  • Place on a baking parchment lined tray and bake at 180°C/160 /gas 4 for 12 minutes.
  • Turn off the oven, remove the carrots and sprinkle them with the caster sugar.
  • Return the carrots to the oven, leaving the door open, for two hours, so the sugared carrots can dry out.

Assembly

  • Place one of the cake layers on a cake board or cake stand.
  • Fill a piping bag with half of the buttercream. Pipe concentric circles around the top of the cake layer. Use a small spatula to smooth so it creates an even middle layer of buttercream.
  • Place the second layer of cake on top of the buttercream.
  • Pipe concentric circles around the top of the cake layer. Use a small spatula to smooth so it creates an even surface layer of buttercream.
  • Use the spatula to spread a thin layer of buttercream around the sides of the cake to create a naked look.
  • Pipe buttercream, using a piping tip of your choice, around the top of the cake. Then sprinkle candied carrots all over the surface.

Notes

General Baking Notes: All recipes are developed with medium eggs, good quality vanilla extract (not essence) and kosher salt.
Oven Temperature. I prefer to bake gluten-free cakes in fan-assisted ovens as they dry out the cake a little more. Gluten-free flours need more moisture in the batter so the fan-assisted oven helps the cakes cook more evenly.
Gluten-Free Flours. You can use white rice flour instead of brown rice flour. You could also use gluten-free oat flour instead of sorghum flour.
Olive Oil. It’s important to use light olive oil, not extra virgin or regular olive oil as you want the flavour of the oil to be more or less neutral. You could also use refined coconut oil or melted butter. The latter will give a richer taste.
Grated Carrots. The carrots should be grated in even strips of equal size. I recommend using the grating attachment on your food processor or a julienne peeler for perfectly shredded carrots.
Cream Cheese Buttercream – for the lightest buttercream the icing sugar and butter should be beaten together for at least 5-6 minutes on a medium-high setting.
Storage Because of the cream cheese in the buttercream the cake should be stored in the fridge where it will keep well for about 5 days. Bring the cake back to room temperature before serving.
Freezing. The carrot cake itself can be frozen before decorating with the buttercream. Wrap the two layers up individually. Wrap well in cling film, then in foil to ensure no freezer-burn. You can store for up to three months. Remove the cake layers from the freezer the night before you want to decorate the cake. Defrost, then remove the wrapping and decorate as normal.

SHOP THE RECIPE

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overview of gluten-free carrot cake and a slice of cake on a plate with text overlay

Chocolate Raspberry Cake {gluten-free}

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.

My house is calm and silent. My toddler has slept in his own bed for the full night through in weeks and my husband’s alarm hasn’t yet shrieked for him to get up and get dressed. If my husband is still in bed no doubt the dog is snuggled up next to him, both as unwilling to start the day as the other. The cats have been fed, one of which is curled comfortably around this laptop, her belly in the air for attention and the other is still eating his breakfast. Yet I am awake, googling recipes and writing. Despite my eye constantly twitching from excessive exhaustion, my whole body feeling so big and heavy all it wants to do is sink within our brand new duvet cover and hug my pregnancy pillow close to me, I am up and awake. Why? Welcome to the third trimester of pregnancy.

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.

I remember first time round people saying that the reason you can’t sleep in this final stage of pregnancy is nature’s way of getting you ready for all the sleepless nights ahead. I don’t need getting ready though, I’ve been having those for a couple of years already and I know the drill. What I need now is a head start on sleep to get ready for my return to night feeds but someone else has other ideas. This little baby I’m carrying is super active and wakes me up all night through twisting and squirming, except when I need to turn over which practically requires the assistance of a fork-lift truck or I need the loo for the twentieth time or my mouth is desert dry and can only be appeased by a gallon of water. Couple these restless nights with a day of full-time commitment to an extremely bouncy, chatty, effervescent and hungry toddler in potty-training then it’s safe to say my head is in a scramble and my body is like a lead balloon with the shape to match. How I long for the days of my first pregnancy when afternoons were given over to the Food Network and lazy naps on the sofa with a mountain of chocolate by my side.

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.

In fact the only thing that hasn’t changed is the mountain of chocolate. It’s fuel to me at the moment. Luke asked if we wanted to do anything for Valentine’s Day this year and I scoffed at the thought of going out. Meals out are not fun at this stage. I can’t eat a lot and feel very uncomfortable sitting at a table for any length of time. Plus all I really want to eat is the pudding so the rest of the meal is somewhat wasted. The cinema also puts me off, I’m not sure I could be in those skinny seats for a great length of time in front of an Oscar bait film. I’d rather watch something that didn’t make me think or cry at the moment. Also they finish way past my bedtime.

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.

So we’re celebrating Valentine’s this year with Netflix and Chocolate Raspberry Cake and I couldn’t be more happy. In fact, I don’t know why I’m blaming any of this lethargy on the pregnancy, really Netflix and chocolate cake are my go-to way to have a kicking time babies or no babies.

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake epitomises my favourite way of baking and eating cake. Simple and no-fuss. The gluten-free chocolate cake itself is one of my favourites that I return to time and time again. It’s moist and tangy from the buttermilk but incredibly chocolately thanks to cocoa powder and melted 70% dark chocolate.

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.

If you haven’t made swiss meringue buttercream before then I urge you to splash out on the extra time it takes. It sounds complicated as there are a couple of extra steps involved compared to a buttercream made with just icing sugar and butter but if you’re a regular reader or a customer of my cake stall then you’ll be aware that swiss meringue buttercream is my cake covering of choice. It’s not too sweet, incredibly buttery and is so easy to work with. If pureeing the fresh raspberries seems a little too much effort on top of making the buttercream then you can always use raspberry powder which also gives a lovely zingy flavour and colour to your buttercream but I thought fresh raspberries suited the celebration of Valentine’s Day.

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.

The piped roses on the top of the cake are a cinch I promise and if you are just making this cake for you and your Valentine now is the perfect time to practice as they two of you won’t care. All you need is a Wilton 1M nozzle, a piping bag and five extra minutes. Hold your piping bag straight up above the cake without angling it at all then squeeze the buttercream out in a circular motion starting from the centre. You want the swirls to be slightly on top of each other so they are nice and tight. However, they don’t have to be neat or perfect buttercream roses by any stretch as once they are all piped onto the cake then the effect is lovely no matter what your piping skills are like. If one rose goes wrong, just pipe another on top to cover it or use a palette knife to carefully lift it off the top of the cake and start again. Actually this is a much quicker cake to decorate than covering the whole affair in a smooth buttercream icing as you’re not faffing for ages getting the corners perfect.

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.

So I may be tired, over-emotional, maybe a little complainy, definitely huge and always hungry but at least I have a big hefty Chocolate Raspberry Cake to devour this Valentine’s with my partner-in-crime.

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake {gluten-free}

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Keyword: chocolate raspberry cake, chocolate raspberry cake recipe, gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 806kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 125 g dark chocolate
  • 150 g white rice flour
  • 60 g oat flour
  • 20 g tapioca flour
  • 90 g cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 400 g buttermilk
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • 160 g soft light brown sugar
  • 170 ml olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 210 g egg whites around 7
  • 350 g caster sugar
  • 425 g unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 300 g raspberries

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 160°C and line and grease 2 x 8 inch round cake tins.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, then set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, espresso powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until well mixed.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk, sugars, olive oil, eggs and vanilla then beat into the flour mixture.
  • Finally mix in the melted chocolate until completely incorporated.
  • Divide the mixture between the 2 cake tins and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.
  • Turn out the cakes and cool on wire racks before covering with buttercream.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Heat the egg whites and caster sugar in a bain marie, or a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 71°C.
  • Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk until the meringue forms firm peaks.
  • 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.
  • Make the raspberry puree by tipping all the raspberries into a blender and blending on high for a couple of minutes. Press the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds.
  • Then add the raspberry puree to the buttercream along with the vanilla extract and salt. At first the buttercream will look curdled again but just mix for a couple of minutes until it returns to its smooth state.

Assembly

  • Spread the buttercream in an even layer over one of the chocolate cakes, then place the second chocolate cake on top.
  • Smooth out the buttercream squidging from the centre of the cakes with a palette knife to create the naked effect.
  • Pipe buttercream roses on top of the cake until completely covered.
  • You can keep the cake in the fridge until needed but do serve the cake at room temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 806kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 121mg | Sodium: 494mg | Potassium: 375mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 61g | Vitamin A: 20.2% | Vitamin C: 7.9% | Calcium: 9.3% | Iron: 17.1%

SHOP THE RECIPE

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 layer 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 egg white sugar syrup 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.

The piping tip I used in this recipe is the Wilton Number 1M Carded Open Star Tip which can so many different kinds of piping patterns and is one of the most useful piping tips to have handy.

I find these huge disposable piping bags are the most robust ones you can buy, I do get a huge pack of them as the worst thing is to get ready to ice your cake and discover you don’t have any piping bags left. I use disposable as I bake a lot of cakes and find washing up the re-usable piping bags takes a lot of time and I can never get them totally clean. I use these piping bags for everything from cupcakes to drizzling melted chocolate to piping a straight level of buttercream evenly over a whole layer cake. This 1 Roll of Savoy Disposable Piping Bags – 100 21 Bags by Cn-Ice is an absolutely invaluable piece of kit in my baking.

Some of the links above are affiliate links so if you decide to buy your flour using the link then I will get a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you. 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…

Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake {gluten-free}

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.

Raspberry Pistachio Cake {gluten-free}

Raspberry Pistachio Cake sitting on a cake stand on a wooden table

Escape (The Pinã Colada Cake)

(Escape) The Pina Colada Cake

This recipe is not yet gluten-free

One of the film websites I read recently had a feature where all the contributors had written about the worst tropes which are fallen back on time and time again on film and TV. One particular entry on this list decried the timeworn use of characters dancing in the kitchen. The writer said it was clichéd, unrealistic and twee. ‘C’mon, who does that?’ they lamented. Well, I do as it happens. I do it a lot to boot and I don’t mind who knows it. Obviously.

The two examples of this common trope which immediately spring to mind are at the end of Mermaids which I re-watched last week where they wiggle along to ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’ whilst setting the table. This scene not only led me to become obsessed with that song when I was young, but also made me desperate to be part of their wackadoo family. As a sidenote, I was extra surprised and saddened to hear of Bob Hoskins’ passing a few days ago as it felt like I had only just seen him on top form, I had forgotten he was in Mermaids and on my re-watch his was the performance I enjoyed the most. Such a wonderful actor.

The second example is in the classic episode of Dawson’s Creek when the gang all band together to save the Potter B&B by dancing around the kitchen at breakfast time. Of course their dancing seduces the grouchy critic Mr Fricke into thinking that the Potter B&B is the best place he’s ever stayed in the world and they get a stellar write up. Works every time; Four in a Bed take note. I refuse to believe that these moments are embarrassment ridden or cheesy but they certainly serve as encouragement for me to dance more, for better or for worse.

Pina Colada Cake  |  Stroud Green Larder

In our house we love to dance badly everywhere, the poorer the dancing is the better. We throw ourselves around to the radio first thing in the morning, in the sitting room to perk us up on a Saturday afternoon and most importantly and significantly for this post, in the kitchen. Whilst waiting for butter and sugar to cream, whilst thumbing through cookbooks and most common of all when we are doing the washing up. It is the only thing that makes the dreary chore remotely bearable.

From his very first afternoon in our house whilst we were making the Sunday lunch Puppy has found our love of crazy dancing the best thing in the world. All I have to do is start to shimmy a little bit in time with Katy Perry and he has jumped up ecstatically, paws reaching for my hands so we can prance round the kitchen absurdly like a couple of escaped lunatics. The cats aren’t as impressed.

There are a few songs which absolutely guarantee a good old bop, our current favourite is Pharrell Williams’ Happy which is just invokes such joy but also sends me into fits as it goes hand in hand with those gosh darn hilarious minions. A particular favourite though, and you’ll be happy to know I am now coming to the crux of the matter, is Escape (The Pinã Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes. We always put it on when feeling gloomy to cheer ourselves up. As soon as its opening drum beat kicks in Puppy immediately assumes the Tom Cruise from Cocktail swagger, well if Tom Cruise were tiny, furry, four-legged and drunk; still he has the charm in spades.

Pina Colada Cake  |  Stroud Green Larder

I was obviously listening to this song when I dreamt up this cake and the thought of it makes me smile, not just because it’s delicious but it also incorporates all the happy-go-lucky flavours of sunshine and paradise. It reminds me of dancing round my kitchen with my family and most importantly, it has glace cherries.

I have made this cake several times now and usually when I make something repeatedly I like to tweak things here and there, perhaps modify the icing, take a layer out, change the decoration. This incarnation though was perfect the first time I baked it and I have made it the same way ever since, even down to the number of cocktail umbrellas on the top.

This cake was made this week for a double celebration, it was a request from my husband whose birthday it was a few days ago and I also wanted to include it here to mark my official 99th post. Now, many people may choose to celebrate going into triple figures but hey I like 99. Plus it’s the bank holiday so I wanted to make sure this recipe was on offer to you should you want to make it and dream you are escaping to a tropical island.

Pina Colada Cake  |  Stroud Green Larder

Escape (The Pinã Colada Cake)

Coconut and Malibu Cake
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s recipe in Short and Sweet

150ml coconut milk
50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
60ml Malibu
300g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
275g plain flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder

  1. Heat the coconut milk until boiling then remove from the heat and stir in the desiccated coconut, vanilla and Malibu. Leave to soak for 30 minutes so the coconut softens.
  2. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180°C then line and grease 3 x 20cm round sandwich tins.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on high for about 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time until evenly combined.
  5. Sift the flour with the baking powder. Fold into the butter, sugar and eggs alternately with the coconut mixture until just incorporated.
  6. Divide between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Pineapple Curd

1 227g tin pineapple chunks, whizzed up with juice in blender
3 egg yolks
2½ tablespoons cornflour
75g caster sugar

  1. In a small bowl blend the cornflour with a bit of the whizzed up pineapple until it’s formed a smooth paste.
  2. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir constantly on a medium heat until it begins to boil. Turn down heat and keep stirring as it thickens. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

Pineapple Frosting

8 egg whites (or 240g egg whites)
400g caster sugar
540g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
¼ teaspoon salt
250g pineapple curd

  1. Heat egg whites and caster sugar in a bain-marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 160°F.
  2. Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
  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 curdle curiously. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the frosting will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  4. Add the salt and the pineapple curd. Mix in quickly and lightly.

Decorate the cake with toasted desiccated coconut, sun-dried pineapple, glace cherries and cocktail umbrellas.