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Friday 15 March 2013

Gluten Free: Black Velvet Cakes

It's St Patrick's Day this weekend and while most people will be raising a glass of Guinness, sipping a Black Velvet cocktail or digging into Guinness fondue this weekend, the gluten free amongst us won't. 

Guinness is, sadly, off the menu on a gluten free diet so I have tried to recreate some of its flavours in a cake. There are some great gluten free beers available, but I didn't know what to use so I asked Twitter for advice. Sue (@gfbeerexpert) came up with some suggestions and Hazel did some detective work for me, I then tracked down the suggested beers and tried them all (I sacrifice for you, dear readers). The best Guinness alternative, if you can get it, is Hambletons GFA (you'll find it in larger Tesco's and Morrisons) which has similar flavours, but it's lighter in colour. Or, try Green's Dark Ale, Glebe Farm Pathfinder Ale or Against the Grain Wheat Free Beer (found in delis and farm shops).

These cakes are made to a basic red velvet recipe but I've used gluten free ale instead of buttermilk to react with the bicarbonate of soda to make the cake rise so it's also dairy free!. You don't have to use any food colouring if you'd rather not, the cakes will be a dark brown colour without it.

Black Velvet Cakes (Makes about 15 muffin-sized cakes)
You'll need:
For the cakes:
  • 280g gluten free self raising flour mix
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 20g cocoa powder (check it's gluten free)
  • 340g demerara sugar
  • 240ml vegetable oil
  • 120ml hot coffee
  • 240ml gluten free ale
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 1 tbsp black food colouring (optional)
  • 1 tsp white wine or cider vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
For the marshmallow topping:
  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 60g golden syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out with a knife (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
Make it!
The cakes:
  1. Preheat your oven to 165°C/325°F/Gas mark 3 
  2. Sift the self raising flour mix, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder into a bowl.
  3. In a another bowl, whisk the demerara sugar, oil and coffee together until the sugar starts to dissolve. Add the ale, treacle, food colouring (if using) and vinegar and keep mixing. 
  4. Beat the eggs and add them to the bowl and whisk them into the liquids.
  5. Add the flour mix and stir well to incorporate.
  6. Spoon the mixture into muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes, until a skewer comes out cleanly from the middle of a cake.
  7. The cakes are very soft, especially when they're still warm, so take care when you transfer them to a cooling rack.
The topping:
  1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Try to find a saucepan that fits your bowl quite snuggly and don't add too much water, you don't want the surface of the water to touch your bowl.
  2. Put the egg whites, sugar, syrup, salt and vanilla seeds into a bowl and sit it on top of your simmering pan.
  3. Whisk for about 8 minutes until the mixture is thick, like double cream.
  4. Spoon the marshmallow into a piping bag and pipe on to your cakes.
  5. Let the marshmallow set for about 30 minutes before EATING ALL OF THEM.


  1. Oh my, marshmallow topping....I want to put this on EVERYTHING today

    1. I've developed a bit of an addiction to the stuff! I was eating it straight out the piping bag earlier this week...

  2. I really like the green cake cases.

    1. I thought they were apt for St Patrick's Day!


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