Gluten-free Cake | American Society of Baking
Recipes and Formulation:

Gluten-free Cake

What is gluten-free cake?

Gluten-free cake is a bakery speciality product made with alternative flours that contain little to no gluten, typically formulated for consumers with celiac disease.1

  • Replacing gluten with suitable ingredients in cakes and baked goods remains a major challenge for formulators due to the important role of gluten in texture, structure, flavor and other characteristics of baked goods.1
  • Alternative flours in combination with hydrocolloids are the most viable options showing good consumer acceptability.1
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With improved diagnosis for celiac disease and the realization that gluten avoidance is the only solution for celiacs, the market for gluten-free products has exploded recently. These products cannot use wheat, rye, barley and in some cases, oats.1

Around 0.7% of the US population are affected by celiac disease with the majority of cases remaining undiagnosed. Celiac disease symptoms can be eliminated by complete avoidance of gluten from the diet.1


Commonly used ingredients in gluten-free cake formulations:1

Ingredient Type Function
Sugar Granulated white sugar, brown sugar or their combinations
  • Provides sweetness
  • Aids in fat creaming
  • Provides color, through Maillard browning reaction
Flour Rice, corn, potato starch or wheat starch (with 20 ppm or less gluten)
  • Provides structure
  • Absorbs liquids
  • Aids in ingredients binding
  • Provides substrate for Maillard
Eggs Whole egg, egg powder
  • Provide structure
  • Emulsifiers
  • Imparts rich flavors
  • Yellow color due to carotenoids
  • Contributes to Maillard browning reaction
Fat Butter, margarine or shortening
  • Imparts tenderness and mouthfeel
  • Dough lubricant
  • Creaming helps with air incorporation
  • Provides a rich buttery flavor
  • Provides moisture for flour gelatinization
Leavening agents Baking powder, baking soda or ammonium bicarbonate
  • Leaven by gas production
  • Tenderize by stretching wall cells of baked goods
  • Provide a fine crumb
Salt Granulated
  • Flavor and taste enhancer
Hydrocolloids Xanthan gum, locust bean gum, CMC, HPMC or Guar gum
  • Improve texture
  • Increase water holding capacity
  • Aid in emulsification
Vanilla Extract or fresh
  • Provides a characteristic sweet  flavor


Typical nutritional profile of a gluten-free cake mix per 100 g:2

Component Grams
Carbohydrate 56.58
Water 21.05
Fat 19.7
Protein 2.63-

This formula can provide around 408 kcal per 100 g portion. It’s gluten free and thus is suitable for celiac disease sufferes.2

Commercial production

Gluten-free cakes are manufactured through the following process:3

  • Weighing and scaling the ingredients
  • Creaming: shortening or butter is creamed with sugar
  • Mixing: dry and wet ingredients are mixed separately and then added to the creamed fat. Vanilla and other essences are added
  • Baking: batters deposited in baking pans are baked at 180 oC (360oF) for 30 min
  • Cooling

Special considerations

When manufacturing gluten-free cakes the following considerations should be taken into account:

  • Emulsifiers like polysorbate 60/65 and sorbitan monostearate should be added to help improve the level of emulsification.
  • Typically no changes in baking times and temperatures are required.


According to the FDA, a food product can be labeled gluten free if it contains less than 20 ppm of gluten; and does not contain wheat, rye or barley.4

In the EU, Commission Regulation No 828/2014 establishes that gluten-free products should not contain more than 20 mg/kg of gluten, and low gluten products should not contain more than 100 mg/kg of gluten.5


  1. Casper, J L., and Atwell, W.A. Gluten-free baked products. Elsevier, 2016.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 29 July 2021.  . Accessed 16 August 2021.
  3. Hui, Y. H., Corke, H., De Leyn, I., Nip, W. K., & Cross, N. A. Bakery products: science and technology. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.
  4. U.S. Food And Drug Administration.“Gluten And Food Labeling”. U.S. Food And Drug Administration, 2018, . Accessed 16 Aug 2021.
  5. European Commission (EC). Commission Regulation (EU) No 828/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 July 2014 on food additives . Official Journal Of European Communities, 30 July 2014.