Cake. I adore cake. Cake is the whole point of birthdays, right? But allergies, man, they make cake harder. Gluten, dairy, eggs — all of these have structural properties in baking, and while it’s very possible to make cake without these things, when you take them all out, there are a lot of adjustments.
If you’re new to gluten-free baking, or new to gluten-free vegan baking, or even if you’ve been doing gluten-free baking for a long time, sometimes things will fall apart. You will fail. You will try a new recipe, or you will alter a recipe, or the stars will not be aligned.
Wait! Failure doesn’t have to ruin dessert! This is more of a process or an idea than a recipe, but it will save dessert, so it’s important.
This method of dessert preservation came about this past summer, when Jack made me a birthday cake. Well, he tried. I sometimes buy Cherrybrook Kitchen cake mixes, which are safe for me and formulated to be made without eggs. Jack found another cake mix that was safe, but it called for three eggs, which are not. He tried a sub, but here’s a GF vegan baking tip : Don’t try to substitute more than 2 eggs. It’s not that it is always impossible, but it’s an advanced baking move. Don’t try it when you really want a recipe to work the first time.
That cake had no structural integrity. It came out of the pan a nice tasty pile of cake crumbs. We “fixed” it by sandwiching layers of cake crumbs between layers of ice cream, freezing it and frosting the whole thing. It wasn’t pretty, but it tasted amazing. So, see, he did make me a cake. Just not the one originally intended.
What’s funny is that I never associate ice cream cake with my summer birthday. Ice cream cake is for winter — for my brother’s birthday, mostly, which is in a week and a half. I was working on an ice cream cake that would replicate those Baskin Robbins roll cakes — you know, the ones that either look like a train or a plane? Do you remember those? The thing is that, so far, I don’t yet have a cake that survives the jelly rolling process of bending and being flexible and round. So I saved this cake the same way we saved my own birthday cake — and this is officially now the amazing decadent failure cake. It is SO GOOD that I’ll be planning to fail on purpose going forward.
So pick a recipe. Make a cake. If it doesn’t hold up, make an ice cream cake (note: you will need a safe-for-you ice cream, so consider that in advance. Lucky for me, coconut milk is not an issue, and I like the options that exist. Cashew milk and soy milk are also commercially available options. But I’m thinking that this strawberry ice cream would also be awesome, with chocolate or vanilla cake!)
- 1 recipe cake with structural issues
- 1-2 pints safe-for-you ice cream
- 1 recipe frosting (Most Duncan Hines flavors are gluten and dairy-free)
- Sprinkles or other decorations
- Slightly soften ice cream by leaving it out while your failed cake cools.
- Crumble cake slightly, if it needs help.
- Mix ice cream to a consistently soft consistency.
- In a cake pan lined with parchment (a 9-inch round works, as does an 8x8 square pan, but this will depend on what your original cake was intended to be) Two options -- Either mix cake and ice cream (works best if cake pieces are really small or you want one texture throughout) OR Layer cake and ice cream in thin layers, beginning and ending with cake.
- Freeze ice cream cake until solid at least on the outside (45 minutes or so).
- Add frosting over entire cake OR just on top. Add sprinkles if using. Re-freeze, another hour is good, or overnight. Really, just go distract yourself while the cake freezes. Watch a movie or do something fun.
- Let thaw enough to cut (how long that is will depend on many things, from weather to how you layered the cake and what ice cream you used). Enjoy the salvation of your baking failure enough that you purposely make cakes that don't work just to have an excuse to make ice cream cake again.