Two weeks ago I celebrated my 23rd birthday (and 2nd gluten-free birthday) with friends and family. My dad planned to cook us an incredible feast of chicken tikka masala and other Indian dishes (all gluten free of course!) while I agonized over what type of dessert I wanted to make. Nothing says “It’s My Birthday!” like an elaborate layer cake, but I’m not a huge fan of classic white, yellow or chocolate cakes, and vanilla and chocolate frostings are just too dull for words.
So what to make? My favorite cake to date was the banana cake with peanut butter buttercream layers, milk chocolate buttercream on top, and a dark chocolate ganache I made for my 21st birthday (the recipe is from “Baked Elements” if you’re interested. It’s a great recipe and an incredible book). That cake knocked everyone’s socks off and I thought that just maybe I could recreate a gluten-version of said world-rocking cake. But since I had already done the peanut-butter-banana combo I decided to jazz things up with some salted caramel buttercream and then add some rum to my cake batter to make a fancy adult version of the cake.
The recipe itself was relatively easy (I substituted my own gluten-free flour blend for AP flour) and the salted caramel buttercream was made with Stonewall Kitchen’s dark chocolate salted caramel sauce… so really the hardest part of this process was resisting the temptation to eat the entire cake myself. Mushed bananas and rum are fantastic ingredients when baking with gluten-free flours because the liquids help keep the cake from drying out both in the oven and during the following days of storage. It only lasted a few days in my house, but I am guessing it will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. I only had one slice left to photograph when we were through devouring it if that gives you any idea of how good it was. Without any further ado – the recipe!
Ingredients: (original recipe here)
- 3 cups gluten free flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup (stick and a half) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp buttermilk, room temperature
- 3 – 4 large bananas, very ripe, mashed
- 1/4 cup spiced rum
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper (to do this, trace bottom of pan on parchment paper with pencil and cut out the circle). Use potato masher or something similar to mush the bananas in a large bowl. Set pans and bananas aside.
- In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. (Note* I always sift these ingredients together for a lighter batter but also to make sure any funny gluten-free flour clumps don’t get int there)
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the brown sugar and once combined add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next.
- Next, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and alternate buttermilk and flour into the mixer. Mix until almost combine. Repeat and end with the dry mixture.
- Add the mashed bananas and rum either by hand or on low speed until they look well blended.
- Divide cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean and cake springs back to touch. Let cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes before you run a knife around the edges and turn cakes out onto a cooling rack. Allow cake to cool to temperature.
- Beat together 2 sticks softened butter (salted or unsalted) and one 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add 3 Tbsp. of rum, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a splash of milk. Now begin slowly blending in 3 cups of powdered sugar and your salted caramel sauce to taste. (The cream cheese helps prevent this buttercream from becoming sickeningly sweet.)
- When cakes have cooled completely, level the top of each 8 in. cake before cutting it in half. A long serrated knife is best for this. When you have four thin layers, start by placing the first on your cake plate and smoothing 1/2 cup of buttercream over the top. Repeat until all layers are done. Next, create a “crumb coat” of buttercream but smoothing the frosting all over the outer edges and top of the cake. Place in fridge for thirty minutes. When cool, evenly spread the remainder of the buttercream over the crumb coat until it looks good. Decorate with sprinkles, more icing, caramel sauce, chocolate, candles, etc. And enjoy!