Gluten Free Vanilla Tray Bake


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This gluten free vanilla tray bake (sheet cake) is the perfect bake for birthdays, parties and gatherings. A super soft vanilla sponge, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting and sprinkles. It’s the ideal gluten free birthday cake!

gluten free vanilla tray bake recipe

I have a lot of gluten free cake recipes but nothing beats a gluten free tray bake for ease – and feeding a crowd!

This vanilla traybake cake (or vanilla sheet cake, depending on what you call it) will serve 24 people, making it the perfect big batch cake recipe.

I make mine in a sheet pan (9 inches x 12 inches). This makes a large rectangular cake you can easily portion up into squares for a crowd.

This vanilla cake can even be made in advance and frozen so you can just defrost it and decorate it in time for the occasion.

To make this simple sheet cake all you will need are a few basic ingredients and bits of equipment. Nothing fancy at all.

If you already love my gluten free vanilla cupcakes recipe or my gluten free Victoria sponge cake then you’re guaranteed to love this too.

gluten free vanilla tray bake recipegluten free vanilla tray bake recipe

Ingredients and Substitutions

You only need a few really basic ingredients for this easy vanilla tray bake – and here I’ll list any ideas for substitutions too.

Don’t forget there is a printable recipe card below with the recipe too.

To make this gluten free Vanilla Tray Bake recipe you will need:

  • Caster Sugar – In the US you’ll want to look for Baker’s Sugar for this recipe.
  • Stork Baking Spread – I always find I get much better results using this in cakes and it also makes the sponge dairy free. You can use unsalted butter if you prefer.
  • Plain Gluten Free Flour – I always use the FREEE Plain Gluten Free Flour as it’s available in most UK supermarkets. Any plain gluten free flour blend should work – in the US you’ll want an All Purpose gluten free flour.
  • Baking Powder – Always ensure your baking powder is gluten free as some are not safe. If you prefer to use a self-raising gluten free flour instead of plain, you only need to add 1 tsp of baking powder to the mixture.
  • Xanthan Gum – A little goes a long way! This helps to replicate the texture of the gluten. Omit it if you cannot tolerate it (or if your flour mix already contains it) but you may find the cake a little more crumbly in texture if there is none in your flour mix.
  • Vanilla Extract – This gives the cake a lovely, sweet vanilla flavour. You could remove this if you hate vanilla, for a plainer cake. You could also swap for your favourite flavour such as almond or orange – but you may need to adjust the quantities depending on how strong a flavour you want.
  • Eggs – This recipe uses large UK eggs.
  • Milk – I use milk to help loosen the cake batter a little. If making this recipe dairy free you can replace this with a dairy free milk of choice.
gluten free vanilla tray bake recipegluten free vanilla tray bake recipe

For the Vanilla Tray Bake topping you’ll also need the following ingredients:

  • Unsalted Butter – This is for the buttercream filling and it’s important to ensure it is at room temperature! If making this recipe dairy free, use a vegan butter of choice.
  • Icing Sugar – or in the US you may find it is called Confectioner’s Sugar instead. You need this for the buttercream plus extra for dusting.
  • Vanilla Extract – essential for adding a lovely flavour to the buttercream.
  • Sprinkles – Always double check the ingredients to make sure the sprinkles you are using are gluten free, as some contain wheat starch. I usually use the sugar strands from Sainsbury’s, Co-op or Lidl but recipes often change to definitely double check these are gluten free before buying these.

For more ideas on alternative toppings, check out the Frequently Asked Questions section below!

gluten free vanilla tray bake recipegluten free vanilla tray bake recipe

How to make a gluten free vanilla tray bake

Making this gluten free vanilla tray bake cake recipe is so simple – I’ve even included some step-by-step photos below.

First, preheat the oven to 180’C / Fan 160’C / Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 9-inch x 12-inch rectangular tin with baking paper. Mix the gluten free flour, baking powder and xanthan gum together in a bowl and set to one side.

to make the vanilla tray bake cream the butter and sugar then add the rest of the ingredients.to make the vanilla tray bake cream the butter and sugar then add the rest of the ingredients.

Add the caster sugar and Stork to a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk for a minute until creamed together.

Next add the eggs, vanilla extract and milk to the mixture and then sift in the flour mix. Beat again with the electric whisk until the mixture has combined to form a smooth batter.

beat the vanilla tray bake mixture together and then pour into a lined tin.beat the vanilla tray bake mixture together and then pour into a lined tin.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smooth into an even layer. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden on top and springy to the touch. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Leave to stand until the tin is cool enough to remove, then carefully remove the cake from the tin and leave the sponge to cool completely. 

leave the baked vanilla tray bake to cool then decorate with buttercream frosting and sprinkles.leave the baked vanilla tray bake to cool then decorate with buttercream frosting and sprinkles.

To make your frosting, add the butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and milk to a large mixing bowl and beat together until it forms a smooth buttercream.

Spread the frosting evenly over the cake, then liberally decorate with sprinkles – or whatever topping you choose to use.

Step-by-Step Photos below show: 1, cream the butter; 2, add the eggs and flour; 3, mix until combined; 4, pour your batter into the tin and smooth out; 5, cool completely on a wire rack once baked; 6, decorate with buttercream frosting.

gluten free vanilla tray bake recipe step-by-step photosgluten free vanilla tray bake recipe step-by-step photos

Recipe Tip

The golden rule of baking cakes is never open the oven door before they’re ready!

With these sponges you want to give them at least 30 minutes before you open the door to check them – and only then if you’re sure they’re baked.

If you’re unsure then give them a few more minutes, as opening the oven door too soon will result in a sunken cake.

How to decorate a vanilla tray bake

The best thing about this easy sheet cake recipe is that it’s totally adaptable to decorate however you like.

I’ve got for a simple white vanilla buttercream with rainbow sprinkles on top.

But other ideas for decorating this vanilla tray bake cake include:

  • Using food colouring (ensure it is gluten free) to make the buttercream the colour of your choice. Or use a similar technique to my Mini Egg Loaf Cake to pipe on marble-coloured frosting.
  • Decorate the buttercream frosting with a scattering of fresh strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. Other fruits like passionfruit or mango chunks could also work really well for a tropical version.
  • Use your favourite gluten free sweets or chocolates to decorate the top of the cake – this works well for a birthday cake as you can use the person’s favourite confectionary on top!
gluten free vanilla tray bake recipegluten free vanilla tray bake recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Before we crack on with the recipe here are the answers to some of the questions I get asked a lot about gluten free baking…

What is a vanilla tray bake?

A vanilla tray bake is basically a large gluten free cake, baked in a rectangular tin and topped with frosting. This can then easily be cut into squares (my cake makes 24 squares) so it is perfect for birthdays, parties and gatherings.

What size cake do I need for a tray bake?

To make this vanilla tray bake I use a standard sheet cake tray measuring 9 inches by 12 inches. This recipe definitely works best for a rectangular tin – if you want to use a different size or shape tin you will need to adjust the cooking times accordingly.

Which sprinkles are gluten free?

A lot of sprinkles for decorating cakes are gluten free nowadays, but some still do contain wheat so it’s always best to check. I usually use either the Sainsbury’s rainbow strands, the Co-Op rainbow strands or Lidl’s rainbow strands. At the time of writing all of these are gluten free but always double check the ingredients lists before buying. And keep an eye out for ‘may contain’ warnings too.

Is this vanilla tray bake dairy free?

I have tried and tested numerous combinations for this cake and I actually get the best results using Stork Baking Spread instead of butter. It makes the cake much lighter and fluffier and I also think it keeps for longer as well.
You can easily make this gluten free vanilla sponge completely dairy free with a few swaps. Simply use a dairy free milk such as almond, coconut or gluten free oat milk in place of normal milk. For the frosting I’d recommend using Stork baking block – but any dairy free or vegan spread should work as well as butter.

is this vanilla tray bake vegan?

In terms of making this cake recipe vegan, I have not tried this myself and 6 eggs is quite a lot to replace, so I’m not sure how well a straight swap would work with an egg replacer. If you do try a vegan version of this though, please let me know in the comments so I can share what works!

Why is my gluten free cake batter gummy?

This recipe uses xanthan gum and it’s important to measure it out correctly because a little goes a long way. If you use too much, the cake batter will become gummy and try to climb up the mixer! Double check if your gluten free flour contains xanthan gum – if it does then you can omit the extra in this recipe. If using gluten free self-raising flour, this is more likely to contain it than gluten free plain flour. You only need 1/4 of a teaspoon in this recipe which is plenty!

Why did my cake sink in the middle?

The most likely answer to this is that you opened the oven door too soon! Opening the door before the cake is cooked properly will make it sink so always make sure you wait the full amount of time before taking a peek. It’s also important not to over-mix the cake batter – when adding the eggs and flour, you only need to mix until the cake batter is combined and there are no lumps of flour left.

Can you freeze this vanilla tray bake?

Yes, you can freeze this gluten free vanilla tray bake! If you want to make this ahead of time, I recommend making the sponge and cooling it completely. Then wrap in clingfilm before freezing on a flat surface. You can then defrost them and decorate when ready. Alternatively, any leftovers can also be frozen and then defrosted whenever you need a cake fix!

gluten free vanilla tray bake recipegluten free vanilla tray bake recipe

This gluten free vanilla tray bake recipe is such an easy cake to make and just perfect as a gluten free celebration cake.

I cut mine in 24 squares but you could cut it into 12 larger rectangles if you want a bigger slice – or even 32 smaller squares for a kid’s party.

I found the best way to cut this for an good-sized slice is to cut it into four, then divide each portion into six squares.

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Prep Time:
10 minutes

Cook Time:
30 minutes

Total Time:
40 minutes

This easy gluten free vanilla tray bake (sheet cake) recipe serves 24 – perfect for birthdays and celebrations! A super soft, gluten free vanilla sponge with vanilla buttercream frosting on top. I bake mine in a 9-inch x 12-inch rectangular pan and cut into 24 squares.

Ingredients

  • 300g plain gluten free flour
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300g Stork Baking Spread
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 200g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • Gluten free sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 1809’C / Fan 160’C / Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 9-inch x 12-inch rectangular tin with baking paper.
  2. Mix the gluten free flour, baking powder and xanthan gum together in a bowl and set to one side.
  3. Add the caster sugar and Stork to a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk for a minute until creamed together.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and milk to the mixture and then sift in the flour mix. Beat again with the electric whisk until the mixture has combined to form a smooth batter.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smooth into an even layer. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden on top and springy to the touch. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean. *Do NOT open the oven before 35 minutes and hold off until you know the cakes are done, otherwise they will sink!
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Leave to stand until the tin is cool enough to remove, then carefully remove the cake from the tin and leave the sponge to cool completely. (See notes if you’re making the sponge ahead of time)

To assemble:

  1. To make your frosting, add the butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and milk to a large mixing bowl and beat together until it forms a smooth buttercream.
  2. Spread the frosting evenly over the cake, then liberally decorate with sprinkles – or whatever topping you choose to use.

Notes

  • If making the sponge ahead of time, once it has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in clingfilm. You can store for a couple of days like this in an airtight container, or freeze and defrost when ready to use.
  • Once assembled keep your cake in an airtight container – it will keep for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 411Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 204mgCarbohydrates: 78gFiber: 1gSugar: 57gProtein: 5g

delicious gluten free meals a cookbook by sarah howellsdelicious gluten free meals a cookbook by sarah howells

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