Easy Gluten Free Sponge / Fairy Cakes


One of my first and now fond memories in the kitchen was making fairy ‘butterfly’ cakes with my Mum.  So simple to make and so appealing to eat!  Back then, of course, we used a trusty Kenwood mixer, which, incidentally, is still around after over 3 decades …  Sadly, due to numerous health issues, Mum is now in a Care Home and for the first two months of this year, we had the mammoth task of sorting and clearing her house.  Phew, I’m glad that’s done, but now our own house is brimming with extra stuff!  Alas, the Kenwood was no good to me, but it lives on, having gone to my great niece for her to bake cakes with her Mum.  May she have happy memories of that too.

Anyway, I’ve been tinkering around with a simple gluten free sponge every now and then, but wasn’t quite happy with the cornflour version I’ve generally always used for a lamington.  However, I think I’m satisfied with this one now, inspired by a few recipe ideas and sources.  I’ve played around with the sweetening though.  At first I got complaints the fairy cakes were way too sweet, “use dates” was Miss MaMT’s response, but in the end, for a ‘light-coloured’ sponge, I used organic unrefined cane sugar and toned it right down.  If your palate needs that extra sweetness, just adjust accordingly.  I have tried the dates version and that’s good too.

Two recipes in one here … first the cup cakes, then a sponge to make a Victoria Sandwich cake …

Cup Cakes – makes about 10:

Grind on speed 9 / 1 minute:

  • 140g brown or white rice, or a combo
  • 20g tapioca pearls (or simply add tapioca flour in next step)

Add and mix speed 6 / 5 seconds:

  • 40g potato (farina) starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • good pinch of vanilla powder (or use extract with the wet ingredients)

Set aside for the moment in a separate bowl.

Add to the TM bowl and mill speed 9 / 3 seconds first:

  • 70g unrefined cane sugar / rapadura / coconut sugar (adjust according to sweetness required – I’m tempted to reduce further)

Remove lid from TM bowl, scrape down the sides and inside of the lid, then insert butterfly and add:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 70g olive oil
  • (1 tsp vanilla extract if not used powder in previous step)

Set for 3 minutes / speed 4 / MC off

Scrape down the sides of bowl, then re-set for 1.5 minutes / speed 4 / MC off and add in:

Ensure all the mixture is nicely combined.  Scrape sides and mix for a little longer, if necessary.  Gently lift off the butterly and tap on the inside of the bowl to shake off excess batter.

Pour into cup cake holders and bake for 20 minutes / 190 degs or 180 degs f/forced



For a dairy and sugar-friendly ‘buttercream’, try cashew cream – I don’t usually bother with dates or vanilla.  Pop into the fridge and let it thicken up a little


To make a sponge – most fresh on the day you bake it, but still enjoyable after a couple of days

Pre-heat oven to 190deg or 180 deg fan-forced

Mill 1 minute / speed 9:

  • 30g tapioca (or use tapioca flour and add in after the rice has been milled)

Add and mill speed 9 / 1 minute:

  • 230g rice

Weigh into Thermomix bowl and mix on speed 6 for 10 seconds, using spatula to assist if needed:

  • 60g potato starch
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (NB: I’ve tried without and ended up with denser cakes that barely rose)

Set aside in a separate bowl

Add to bowl and whizz on speed 9 / 5 seconds:

  • 120g Rapadura/unrefined cane sugar (or try dried, chopped dates, whizzed for 10-20 seconds)

Insert butterfly and set for 3 minutes / speed 4 / MC off:

  • 120g olive oil (or melted coconut oil)
  • 2 eggs (for egg-free, try adding 350g ripe bananas (eg 3 large bananas) instead – but leave the butterfly out and mix on speed 5-6 – insert the butterfly in the next step.  I haven’t tried this version yet, but Quirky Cooking has in her Chocolate Banana Cake

Scrape down the sides then weigh in and set for 1.5 mins / speed 4 and add (MC off):

Ensure all the mixture is nicely combined.  Scrape sides and mix for a little longer, if necessary.  Gently lift off the butterfly and tap on the inside of the bowl to shake off excess batter, or scrape off with a spatula.

Pour into two round cake tins, or 1 large spring-form tin, well greased or lined with baking paper.  Bake at 180C ff for about 30 mins (or longer for a larger pan), until a cake skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.


A couple of jam filling ideas:

Reduced Sugar Jam

Honey sweetened Chia Jam

Stevia sweetened Chia Jam

A couple of icing ideas:

Cashew frosting/icing

Nut-free, dairy free coconut frosting/icing

Nut-free chocolate ganache to cover the whole cake, perhaps?

Gluten and dairy free chocolate ganache:

Blend speed 9 / 10 seconds:

  • 50g blanched or flaked/slivered almonds

Add and blend speed 9 / 1 minute:

  • 250g water

Add and blend on speed 9 / 1 minute, scraping down a couple of times in between:

  • 140g dark chocolate
  • 60g chopped dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract / pinch of vanilla powder

Now melt at 50C for 3 minutes, speed 2, or until smooth.  Pour over the cake and leave to set.

NB:  We made the mistake of adding 300g of water when making the almond milk component once, so the sauce was a little runny –  adding1 tbs cornflour and blending again until thicker, rectified this.

If you have left-over ganache, here are some ideas on using it up on the Quirky Cooking Facebook page.



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