Autumn is officially here! And I’m celebrating by cooking as many pumpkin-based recipes as I can, including this gluten free pumpkin layer cake with tangy cream cheese icing, in partnership with FREEE. Possibly one of my favourite bakes EVER?? It features a moist, yet beautifully light pumpkin-rich sponge with a hint of autumnal spice and tangy, silky, cream cheese icing, because friends, there is no better pairing.
You probably know by now that I lived in Canada for six months (we know Emma, WE KNOW) and it was there I fell in love with all things pumpkin. It’s FODMAP friendly – not that I knew about that yet when I was over there, but hallelujah – and to me when sweetened and spiced, sums up autumn in one big, delicious mouthful. I like it in pies, cookies and everything in between, but when used in cakes it adds the most beautiful depth of flavour and keeps the crumb really moist too. Give me any occasion in autumn and I’ll be bringing this cake – birthdays, new job drinks, weekends away. Placed in the centre of a celebratory table it’s quite a showstopper – and thanks to FREEE’s plain flour, no one will know it’s gluten free or FODMAP friendly either.
One of my most treasured brands to bake with, FREEE have a really wide variety of products and the best thing is, they work EVERY time. All of the ingredients within the products are really simple – no nasty extras – and I can swap their plain flour and self raising flour 1:1 in wheat flour recipes no problem (for cake batters and doughs I might just add in a few tablespoons more liquid, as gluten free flours tend to like the hydration).
Back to this recipe – food should bring joy and this pumpkin layer cake with cream cheese icing does that with bells on. Deceptively simple to make, enjoy it this autumn knowing that even with having a gluten free lifestyle or FODMAP intolerance, you’re still able to eat all things delicious.
I haven’t put any vanilla extract in the icing as I like the slight salty/sourness from the cream cheese to shine through. Feel free to add a teaspoon if you’d like for a little extra sweetness
You can also use FREEE’s self raising flour in this recipe, simply reduce the additional baking powder to one teaspoon
To make things even easier, you can bake the layers, let them cool and then freeze them until you want to ice them. Simply wrap your layers tightly in plastic wrap, freeze, and then unwrap and defrost slightly before icing
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g light brown sugar
4 medium eggs, room temperature
200g FREEE gluten-free plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons FREEE baking powder
¼ teaspoon FREEE xanthan gum
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cardamom
210g pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons milk of choice, I used lactose-free
250g unsalted butter, soft
500g icing sugar, sifted
200g lactose free cream cheese
A handful of roasted, chopped pecans
Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line the bases of four 6inch cake tins, or two 8inch cake tins and put to one side.
In a the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with an electric beater, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, roughly 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one by one, adding a tablespoon of flour if it looks as though the cake batter is going to curdle. Sieve over the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and spices and fold to combine. Add the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract and fold in once more. Gluten free batters can be a little wetter than gluten cake batters, so add 4 tablespoons of milk, or as many as you need to create a dropping consistency.
Divide the mixture among the cake tins and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool slightly in the tins, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
To make the cream cheese icing, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Lightly beat in the cream cheese to finish. Let harden slightly, covered in the fridge, for 20 minutes before using. To decorate the cake, place the bottom layer of cooled sponge on a cake board, stand or turntable, sticking the bottom with a tiny bit of icing so that it won’t slide everywhere. Pipe over a layer of icing and spread it out to the edges. Top with another layer of sponge, repeating twice more, then top with the final sponge layer. Use the remaining buttercream to over the cake, adding a few swirls with a palette knife for decoration. Decorate with a handful of chopped pecans and allow the icing to set in the fridge for 20 minutes or so before serving.