I’m not gluten-free; I’m not even, as my friend Jackie Gordon would say, “gluten-choosy.” In fact, you could call me a glutarian or a gluten-glutton. But after talking to my friend Marguerite about her challenges living gluten-free, I was anxious to try baking a gluten-free cake. This gluten-free berry bundt cake with marzipan turned out so well, even my gluten-glutton beloved gobbled it up.
To get me started, Marguerite gave me her recipe for her Berry Delicious Bundt Cake, an adaptation of Flo Braker recipe that uses wheat flour.
The first time I made this cake, I learned two important gluten-free baking lessons:
- Not all gluten-free flours are the same; and
- Gluten-free baking mix is not the same as gluten-free flour.
Gluten-free flours are mixes of various ingredients. Using one brand for a recipe and finding that it works well doesn’t guarantee that another brand (with different ingredients) will perform similarly or taste the same. Typically a baking mix contains leavening, as opposed a flour, which does not. However the names can be confusing. For example, Arrowhead has a Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix, while Bob’s Red Mill has Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour and Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour, but no product called a baking mix, while King Arthur has a Glutenfree Multi-Purpose Flour and a Glutenfree All Purpose Baking Mix.
Is your head spinning yet? Mine was. That doesn’t even include specialty flours containing just one type of gluten-free ingredient, of which there are many. (There are several ways to write the term gluten-free. I use a hyphenated version, Arrowhead and Bob’s Red Mill use two separate words, and King Arthur uses a single word.)
On my first try, I mistakenly used a gluten free baking mix instead of gluten-free flour. Despite that mistake, the cake looked and tasted pretty good according to several friends. One person has even been hounding me for the recipe. My own verdict was less glowing, mostly because coconut sugar has a distinct taste and dark color that I’m not crazy about.
The second time, I made a few changes (adapting an adaptation as it were); basically I swapped raw and white sugar for the coconut sugar, substituted a thicker glaze for the one she makes that soaks into the cake, and left off the whipping cream.
With the same gluten-free flour she specifies (King Arthur multi-purpose) and my changes, I adored the cake. In fact, if I hadn’t known it was gluten-free, I doubt that I would have guessed it was. Other gluten-eaters loved it too, including my husband who ate a piece for breakfast the day after it was served for dessert at dinner. A gluten-free member of Tut’Zanni proclaimed it the best cake she had ever eaten. While perhaps carried away by hunger and enthusiasm, she was a definite fan of this version.
Traditionally pound cake was made with a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. These proportions vary slightly from those and the flour is gluten-free, but the dense and rich result is definitely reminiscent of pound cake. Although gluten-free flour can be pricey (and fresh berries too), the cake is impressively large and feeds at least 12. On a per serving basis, it’s still much less expensive than buying a fresh berry-filled gluten-free cake or cupcakes for 12.
A stand mixer with a paddle attachment definitely is the best route for making this cake. However, a hand held mixer should work if it’s heavy duty and you have the patience to hold it. If you have neither type of mixer, you won’t need to do an upper arm work-out routine for the rest of the week and even then hand mixing might not work. (Read this link from the King Arthur flour folks on why a stand mixer with a paddle is the way to go when making gluten-free cakes.)
Gluten-Free Berry Bundt Cake with Marzipan
(Adapted from Marguerite Bottorff’s version, which in turn is adapted from a cake by Flo Braker in Baking for All Occasions)
Servings – 12 or more Cost $25
- 3 ½ cups + 2-3 tablespoons extra for dusting berries King Arthur Multi-purpose GlutenFree Flour (Other all purpose or multi-purpose gluten-free flours may work, but check on how their ingredients differ from the King Arthur version.)
- 1 ½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder (a baking powder without wheat flour as a moisture absorption agent. Cornstarch and potato starch are OK for gluten-free purposes.)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon marzipan – easy to make homemade with almond flour, confectioners’ sugar and almond extract
- 1¼ raw or turbinado sugar
- 1¼ cup granulated white sugar
- 3 ¾ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 2 tablespoon-size pieces (Important – butter must be at room temperature! Each stick is 8 tablespoons, so cut an entire stick into 4 pieces and for the 4th stick, set aside the last 2 tablespoons, which you don’t need or can use to butter the pan.)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (make sure it’s pure vanilla, so it is gluten-free)
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 8 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 pint fresh raspberries (2 small cartons) – or use frozen
- Generous ½ cup (3 ounces) fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
- 2 teaspoons of water
- Oil, butter, vegetable or coconut oil spray for pan
- Large bundt-type baking pan
- 1 large bowl (the bowl of a stand mixer if you’re using one)
- 2 medium bowls
- 1 small bowl
- Sifter or strainer
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Small dish and lemon zester or grater
- Mini food processor or fork
- 2 spoons
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease the pan, especially all the crevices.
- Sift the gluten-free flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl and set aside.
- Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or the beaters of the hand mixer, beat the ¼ cup of marzipan at low speed for about 30 seconds, until it is crumbly. Add ½ cup of the raw sugar and continue to beat at low speed until the sugar and marzipan are well combined. Add the remaining raw and granulated sugar in small amounts and beat until all the sugar and the marzipan are combined. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- Beating on low speed, add the butter one chunk at a time, scraping the sides as needed. Raise the speed to medium-low (about 4 on a 1-to-10 scale) and beat until the batter turns a light color and gets fluffy. This takes about 3-4 minutes in a stand mixer, slightly longer if you’re using a hand mixer. Add the vanilla and almond extracts at the end of that process.
- Scrape down the bowl and beginning on low speed, gradually raise the mixer speed to medium (5-6) and add the lightly beaten eggs in 5-7 additions. (Using a large spoon works well for adding the eggs.) Continue beating until the mixture, which is now somewhat loose, gets even lighter in color and fluffier in texture. This will take about 3 minutes with a stand mixer, and again slightly longer with a hand mixer.
- After scraping down the mixture, with the mixer speed on low, add the flour mixture in four additions, scraping as needed. Beat it until the batter is smooth. Scoop about ¾ cup of the batter into the greased pan and smooth it out.
- Dust the raspberries and blueberries with a few tablespoons of the gluten-free flour. This step is intended to keep the berries from all falling to the bottom of the cake as it bakes, although it doesn’t always work.
- Gently fold the berries into the remaining batter with the spatula. Scoop the batter into the cake pan and smooth it out.
- Bake the cake on the middle oven rack for 30 minutes. Then turn it around, so that the part of the pan that was at the back of the oven is now at the front. Continue baking the cake for another 20-30 minutes until a toothpick or thin skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Leave the cake in its pan to cool completely on a wire rack. It may be higher than the pan when it comes out, but it will gradually lose that height as it cools. Once the pan is cool to the touch, gently run a knife around its inner and outer rings before unmolding the cake onto a platter.
- Zest the lemon and squeeze out 1 teaspoon of its juice. Mix the confectioners (powdered) sugar, the remaining tablespoon of marzipan, 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Mix them with a small food processor or by hand. Add 2 teaspoons of water, bit by bit until you get a consistency that is spreadable but not too runny. Drizzle the glaze onto the top of the cake or spread it with a knife. Alternatively, simply sprinkle confectioners sugar over the top with a small sieve, as I do for poppy seed cake. This time I did not grease my pan well enough and tried to unmold my cake too early. So, it’s not as as picture perfect as my first try. Still, it tasted great.
I like the cake just this way, but if you love add-ons, additional berries and/or whipped cream or ice cream would be delightful.