• Gluten Free Victoria Sponge

Perfect Gluten Free Victoria Sponge

Coeliac disease is an epidemic.

And it changes lives.

In recent years, the incidence of Coeliac Disease has quadrupled and specialists with an interest in Coeliac (which is Greek for belly) believe we are still under diagnosing it. It has various manifestations which may be odd or vague.  When my own Daddums was diagnosed almost a year ago after his practice nurse did screening bloods “just in case” as he was suffering with mouth ulcers, we were shocked to later have it confirmed he is most definitely Coeliac. There’s a 1 in 100 chance of the general population in the UK having Coeliac and by virtue of my dad’s diagnosis, my risk has shot up to 1 in 10. Oh happy days!

Over the last year, we have had to come to terms with a sudden and dramatic change in lifestyle affecting not just my Dad but the whole family. You see, until you have to live gluten free, you have no idea just how hard that is. It’s not just a case of taking the ham out of your prepackaged sandwich at lunch and tossing aside the bread. Firstly, the sensitivity of a Coeliac sufferer to gluten varies and in some, tiny amounts can make them very sick. Secondly, gluten seemingly gets into everything. Whilst I hope you are visiting my blog as you love to prepare and cook food from scratch, even for the most committed it is practically impossible to navigate a single week without eating something which is processed in some way. Even mustard often contains gluten (the powder is usually GF though).  Do some label reading if you fancy a bit of enlightenment.

The real kicker is that, there is no cure and the only treatment is to eat gluten free for the rest of your life. If you ever wanted evidence for the influence of the foods we eat over your experience of health, Coeliac disease is surely one of the most powerful out there.

Just think about how that would affect you for a second. Like to bake homemade cakes and bread? Erm I’m sorry – you can never again eat those familiar foods and as for those who live with you, they too may not be able to either. It can be so difficult to ensure the kitchen is gluten free that often whole families go GF (which means increasing your weekly food bill dramatically as GF products are very expensive). 

The good news is, that even in the short time we have known my Daddum’s diagnosis, things are changing. Labelling is improving, restaurants are being forced into providing gluten free options which aren’t just steak and salad and some GF products are moving from “barely palatable” to “just as good as the original” which brings me on nicely to today’s recipe. The Most Perfect Gluten Free Victoria Sponge. 

DSC_0396

When Daddums was diagnosed, he registered with lots of charities who support Coeliacs and their families – Coeliac UK is a good place to start. He was sent hampers worth of GF food and flour replacements to try and I’m sorry to say, almost without exception, the ready made products were sampled and promptly chucked in the bin. It really beggars belief how much of a difference the microscopic viscoelastic protein that is gluten makes to the texture of food as we know it and as yet, substitutes such as xantham gum and guar gum leave a (perhaps not surprising) gummy texture which most Coeliacs I’ve met find inedible. Cue a major rethink of how you eat as you can no longer rely on bread and pasta plus various other grains to bulk out your meals.  Disheartened, I shelved the samples Daddums gave me in the hope I could create something worth eating for him, it wasn’t until I stumbled upon this photograph on my Instagram feed from newly diagnosed GF blogger Anwyn Rowberry that I dusted those boxes off!

Yes! Get in my tum!! :-)) #foodporn #cake #glutenfree #dairyfree #rhubarb #custard

A post shared by Anwyn Rowberry (@wannyrow) on

Do my eyes deceive me or does that not look like the most perfect Victoria Sponge ever? Psst, newsflash – it’s not just an ordinary Vicky Sponge, it’s a gluten free one :O #gobsmacked

I was blown away by this piccie and if you see the discourse which followed, I probed Anwyn for exactly how she did it and I was so convinced it would work by her encouragement, I texted my Dad a link to the photograph and promised I’d make it for him for Father’s Day the next week. I had the exact box of Juvela White “Mix” and the results I got blew me away.

DSC_0387

Anwyn’s secret ingredient is a spoonful of Bird’s custard powder which adds lightness to the cake (being cornflour based, it gives that cake flour finish you expect from American cakes). The method is very much similar to good old Mary Berry’s all-in-one sponge: you beat butter, sugar, eggs, GF baking powder and the Juvela Mix together then divide between tins and bake. I make the cake a bit larger so have altered the proportions to reflect this – no one wants a thin and mean Victoria sponge!

DSC_0388

The texture of the White Mix is very light, very fine not dissimilar to corn flour itself. Interesting! The texture of the batter was a little different to normal as it had a bit of stretch to it (that will probably be the guar gum I suspect) but it had a lovely warm hue of primrose yellow from all those eggs and the additional custard powder. The stretch somehow magically does not manifest in a spongy chew when baked. What dark magic is this?!

They coloured more than I would expect from an ordinary Victoria (could that be due to the skimmed milk powder and added sugar in the ingredients list on the box? I can’t work out the proportions of these to be sure) but oh my was I thrilled at the superb rise and even bake. The first cake did stick to the tin despite what I thought to be thorough greasing on my part so future cakes have been made in lined tins which I spray with my trusty rapeseed oil as per ordinary bakes I make.

DSC_0394

When I don’t envisage the cake loitering on a cake stand for long (aka when I’m feeding the family!) I fill with softly whipped double cream and fresh fruits or homemade jam. When we sampled the cake every one of us proclaimed you simply could not tell the difference between this Gluten Free Victoria and the old fashioned, wheat flour ones! Blow me down with a feather, this cake was the subject of discussion for most of the rest of the evening! We simply could not believe it – but just imagine the scenario. You’re in your sixties, you’ve had a very traditional English diet all your life and your mother and sister put the Bake Off contestants to shame. Your daughter is an avid food blogger and baker too! You generally have a very balanced and nutritious diet but you love a slice of cake with your coffee on a Saturday afternoon or as part of a celebration. Imagine now not having even a single mouthful of your favourite cake in almost a year. Sure you are healthier and your tummy is now your friend as you’ve given in and accommodated it’s spoilt brat-esque rejection of all and anything gluten but you have to sit on and watch your friends, family, nay strangers in cafes tucking in without care nor consideration to a slab of that now forbidden fruit.

DSC_0400

Well, what once was forbidden is no more! Light and fluffy, buttery and sweet, tender and moist crumbed – in essence, the perfect Victoria Sponge made how home bakers have made them for centuries. A cake good enough for the whole family to share which is something which I think is so important – by having to forego all or parts of the family meal (and celebration cakes) or worse yet, have a “special” aka pre-made and quite frankly yacky GF alternative out of a packet just for you, that isn’t very inclusive.  Sure, no one should eat cake every day but isn’t it wonderful to know the Coeliac in your life can now partake in the party too?

IMG_1807.JPG

Print
Perfect Gluten Free Victoria Sponge
10 mins
20 mins
40 mins
 
The perfect gluten free Victoria sponge - light and fluffy, buttery and sweet. Everything this classic cake should be.
Servings: 8
Author: Just Jo
Ingredients
  • 225 g Juvela Gluten-Free White Mix
  • 1 rounded tbsp Bird's custard powder* see NOTE below
  • 1 tsp rounded of Gluten Free baking powder
  • 225 g very soft butter
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder or seeds from one pod
To fill
  • 250 ml approx double cream softly whipped
  • 4 tbsp of your favourite jam or a punnet of soft fruits as liked
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar to sift over the finished cake
Instructions
  1. Grease and line two 8 inch diameter sandwich pans - grease the paper too to ensure the cooked cakes release easily.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
  3. If necessary, soften your butter by a thorough beating first. If it is already very soft (i.e. been in an ambient temperature room for 24 hours) then beat all the ingredients together for the cake until they form a smooth batter - barely 30 seconds in a stand mixer.
  4. Divide between the prepared pans and spread the batter out so that it is very thin in the centre and creeps up the sides of the pan - this scooped out appearance makes for a more even and flatter topped bake (and works for non-GF cakes too).
  5. Bake for 18-20 mins - they will rise a lot and be very brown. They should spring back to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.
  6. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the tins to complete cooling.
  7. Sandwich together with the whipped cream and jam or fruit as liked and dust with the icing sugar before serving.
Recipe Notes
Important - Bird's Custard Powder is in itself a gluten free product but the label states it is made in a factory where gluten is handled so depending on your sensitivity to gluten, this brand could be unacceptable to you. Certified Gluten Free custard powders are available by other manufacturers or you can make your own (Google will tell you how until I perfect a recipe!). Failing that, use 1 tbsp of certified gluten free cornflour and an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract. Note that the flavouring in Bird's custard is actually almond not vanilla!

Adapted from from a recipe by Juvela, the gluten free product manufacturer

DSC_0404-2

Before I go, I must sheepishly admit the bad news.

Juvela products are primarily available in the UK on prescription to those with certified Coeliac Disease only. A trip to Boots the Chemist informed me you can order and buy over the counter but wait for it, and you do need to brace yourself – a 500g box is going to cost you £13. Oh. My. God. Amazon is marginally better at approx £9 but still, that’s prohibitive pricing. I’m yet to try other recipes (Daddums eyes were glinting at the thought that this may mean he can eat his other beloved once again – a cream scone!) but I have high hopes and will report back hopefully that it is worth the expense or trip to the GP for a prescription. I am hoping I can create something in the bread family with my next attempt so watch this space for further updates!

By | 2017-07-18T21:53:29+00:00 June 22nd, 2015|Categories: Cake, Gluten Free, Home Baking|Tags: , , , , , , , |40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. nicolabyways 22/06/2015 at 14:23 - Reply

    Oh my oh my Jo! What a post, what a story! AND my goodness, what a cake!!

    • Just Jo 22/06/2015 at 14:49 - Reply

      Thank you for stopping by Nicola – it beggars belief doesn’t it? Both Coeliac disease (and our inability to make the treatment more bearable) and this recipe lol 😉

  2. Maureen Irvine 22/06/2015 at 17:18 - Reply

    Well done Jo in making us all aware of the travails in trying to be Gluten Free. I was once on a tour with a girl who being Coeliac had to find out before each and every meal if flour had been used in anything on her plate! Itwas so difficult for her and a lot of the time she couldn’t have sauces or gravy.

    • Just Jo 22/06/2015 at 17:59 - Reply

      It’s an absolute minefield Maureen, for the whole family not just the person affected. The more awareness we can raise the easier things will be for them.

  3. Lucy Bishop 22/06/2015 at 21:17 - Reply

    ahhh I’m so glad that Anwyn could help you!! That cake looks amazing!!! I’m pleased to say I’ve sampled Anwyn’s gluten free cakes (she’s a very close friend of mine) and they are so good! Yours looks fab Jo & so glad your dad could finally enjoy a decent cake! Ooh I’d be really interested in the GF scones: I’ve made them once for Anwyn and can’t get them anywhere near as nice as the gluten filled ones! X

    • Just Jo 22/06/2015 at 21:36 - Reply

      I love what a small world this food blogosphere is! And thank you – it’s blown my mind that it actually worked but I knew it would, based on Anwyn’s photos really – her cake looked amazing! Once my dad refills his script, I’ll be on mission GF scone 😉

  4. Anwyn 23/06/2015 at 11:38 - Reply

    Great post Jo, so glad your dad liked it. I have actually made it with Doves GF Self Raising flour, which worked too. I also have a scone recipe for you, which I’ll share once I’m home from my hols. X

    • Just Jo 23/06/2015 at 16:55 - Reply

      Is it really as good as this flour Anwyn as I’ve been disappointed using it in other recipes. I must have another go though even just for the sake of my readers who’ve been asking if it works. I shall look out for your scone recipe! Enjoy your hols x

  5. Jan 23/06/2015 at 19:56 - Reply

    This does indeed look wonderful Jo. As you know I am coeliac too . Have you tried a Vic Sponge using Doves Farm gf flour ? I am just wondering what’s in the Juvela mix that is different . I have to say that most cakes I make gf usually adapt well . This one of yours though is the bees knees 🙂

    • Just Jo 23/06/2015 at 22:07 - Reply

      Hi Jan – no I’ve not tried a aviv sponge with it but I’ve used it in fruit cakes and gingerbread plus some flatbreads and wasn’t that happy with the results. But I’m willing to try again! From reading into their site I think Juvela uses wheat which has been washed to remove the gluten (don’t ask me how although I’d love to know how that works) – whereas Doves is a blend of naturally gluten free flours. Perhaps I should do an exact like for like using Doves to try and pinpoint the differences once and for all!

  6. Brian Jones 26/06/2015 at 07:12 - Reply

    I’m definitely not a cake person, but this does look spot on in terms of texture!

  7. Razena 26/06/2015 at 08:45 - Reply

    The cake looks very moist and delicious. I have tasted some dry and yucky gluten free cakes in the past but this makes me want to try again.

    • Just Jo 26/06/2015 at 16:17 - Reply

      I hope you can find a similar flour product where you live Razena – it really was excellent. Thank you for stopping by the blog.

  8. Your dad is lucky to have someone like you to bake for him! Food allergies/intolerance and autoimmune disorders certainly do change your life– and those around you. I began cooking for just this reason– lots of food related issues, and difficulty finding good food to work around them. It’s all doable with a little creativity and time to spend in the kitchen 🙂

    • Just Jo 26/06/2015 at 16:18 - Reply

      It is hard as my Dad lives 100 miles away but I do try and experiment whenever I can so he can have a treat or two. It’s a steep learning curve with gluten free cooking and baking!

  9. Blair @ The Seasoned Mom 26/06/2015 at 11:35 - Reply

    I can only imagine how difficult it is to manage any food allergy with a family…especially celiac disease. 🙁

    This beautiful cake must make everyone happy, though! YUMMED!!

    • Just Jo 26/06/2015 at 17:48 - Reply

      Thank you Blair! You don’t realise how little thought has to go into eating usually until you develop a food allergy or intolerance.

  10. Deepa 26/06/2015 at 12:00 - Reply

    Loved the story and the cake . Your dad is so luck.

  11. Chi 26/06/2015 at 16:02 - Reply

    Who doesn’t love a good Victorian sponge cake? Thanks for the recipe.
    I love your site and would love to talk to you about becoming a Chicory recipe partner. What would be the best way to reach you?

  12. Byron Thomas 26/06/2015 at 17:59 - Reply

    I’m trying this recipe for sure! By the way, I’m in love with the blue cake stand! 🙂

    • Just Jo 26/06/2015 at 20:30 - Reply

      Shhh, it’s a cheap imitation of a very expensive American milk glass stand 😉

  13. Molly Kumar 26/06/2015 at 21:35 - Reply

    Hi Jodie,
    The cake is so pretty and the recipe looks really easy. I can so imagine the change that takes place when a loved one is going through any kind of restriction. You’re a great daughter n you Dad’ looks really happy with that piece of yum 🙂
    Hugs ~

    • Just Jo 27/06/2015 at 15:15 - Reply

      Hi Molly – thanks for popping by. My old Daddums is easily pleased all right 🙂

  14. Itziar 28/06/2015 at 01:21 - Reply

    The cake looks beautiful! Great recipe!

  15. What a gorgeous gluten free sponge I wish I could get my hands on the flour you used. I bet your Dad is happy!

    • Just Jo 28/06/2015 at 19:30 - Reply

      I’m so hoping it will become more affordable and widely available – it’s so fantastic. Give it time and I’m sure similar ones will make their way over to you 🙂

  16. Joy edmunds 27/03/2016 at 22:50 - Reply

    Tried this recipe as a trial run for my nieces 21st cake. It tasted amazing! Looking forward to using this for her special cake.

    • Just Jo 28/03/2016 at 20:35 - Reply

      I’m so delighted you enjoyed it Joy. I wish your niece a very happy gluten free 21st! 😀

  17. Kay Parker 22/07/2016 at 18:21 - Reply

    Want to use this recipe for a mini naked wedding cake as the main one is not gluten free. Can I freeze the sponges a d make up later? Kay

    • Just Jo 22/07/2016 at 19:14 - Reply

      Hi Kay, thanks for stopping by. I haven’t made and froze ahead but I’ve a friend who has done it and she’s a cake maker by trade. She said it was, and quote, perfection!

  18. Kay Parker 22/07/2016 at 19:22 - Reply

    Thank you so much I will let you know how it goes. A few weeks yet.

    • Just Jo 22/07/2016 at 19:23 - Reply

      Great – I look forward to it! Good luck, I’m sure it will be fabulous xx

  19. Hannah 12/09/2016 at 04:52 - Reply

    My little boy has just been diagnosed as coeliac and we also have been sent a sample box of the juvela flour so I think I’m going to try this recipe out for his 3rd birthday cake next week. It looks fab! I don’t suppose it lasted long enough to find out, but do you know how well it would keep for? I’ve made him some pretty good fairy cakes with the Doves sr flour but they seem to go stale extremely quickly. I’ve heard of things like replacing a few spoons of flour for ground almonds or a bit of the butter with coconut butter can help, but just don’t have the time to experiment before the party!

    • joblogsjobakes@gmail.com 13/09/2016 at 08:21 - Reply

      Hi Hannah – I’m sorry there was a few days before I could reply. I’m pleased to report that continued use of Juvela has revealed it keeps extremely well. I know exactly what you mean about Doves Farm staling fast – if you can use it the same day, it’s ok but it goes rock hard after 24 hours. The Juvela mix is utterly superb, can’t recommend it enough. All the best for the party – have a large glass of wine ready for when it’s done 😉

  20. Dee 18/07/2017 at 15:45 - Reply

    Just shows how unfair it is that prescription items are being stopped in a lot of areas when the price of some items is so expensive!
    Looking forward to trying this recipe!

    • Just Jo 20/07/2017 at 17:58 - Reply

      I know – it must be a nightmare for families with little money already. I so wish Juvela would make the flour mixes available to buy at a reasonable price. If they weren’t so outrageously expensive, so many more people would use them. Cake makers would have a field day as it would open up the world of gluten free celebration cakes for them!

Leave A Comment