Gluten Free, Dairy Free Spongecake with Coconut Cream Icing

Sponge cake is one of those things that reminds me of being 5, 11, or 18. It was just always there. Light, sweet, filled with jam and cream. It was always perfect and paired well with a cup of tea or a short glass of port. As Jamon’s birthday drew nearer, I knew I wanted to attempt my first gluten free sponge cake.


Sponge cake  is not only wonderfully tasty, it’s also quite simple to make. It’s an easy 1:1:1 ratio of flour, sugar, and butter, add some eggs, and something to flavour it (if you want!) and voila, you have a delicious, light, fluffy cake. Sponge cakes are traditionally three layers with jam and/or cream in the middle of each layer. But, the possibilities are endless, you can put whatever you like in there. I bet nutella would be delicious.


My first major question was whether or not I could directly substitute almond meal for self-rising flour. I did whatever I do when I’m in doubt, and called my mum to ask her expert advice. The answer, yes I can, but wait a second, because I have a different recipe that is like a spongecake but is even better! Typical, I call for one thing, and end up making something completely different….


Hazelnut and Coffee Sponge Cake: a gluten-free adaptation from a recipe so old I’m not sure where it came from!


What you will need:

A food processor

a large mixing bowl

2 medium mixing bowls

A hand mixer or stand mixer with beater attachments

mixing spoon

3 9″ cake rounds

parchment paper

cooling rack




For the Cake: 

1 cup of hazlenuts

1 cup of almond meals

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the Cream Filling and Icing:


2 cans full fat coconut milk, chilled until the solids separate from the water

3 teaspoons espresso

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons sugar


1 jar of raspberry jam





Technique is key to sponge cakes, so don’t cheat! Saving time will kill the cake, so make sure you follow each step.


Preheat over to 350 degrees and line each 9″ round with parchment paper


Grind hazelnuts in the food processor until the start to form a grainy flour, then add hazelnuts, almond meal, 1/4 cup of sugar, espresso, and salt. Stir until well blended.


With you stand mixer/hand mixer, beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar in a large bowl until thick, this will take about 5 minutes. Then beat in water and vanilla. Then, stir in the flour mixture.


Using a CLEAN and DRY (seriously, spotless, not a speck of water left in it) and CLEAN and DRY beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks start to form. Gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. If the bowl is at all damp, wet, or dirty, the egg whites will never stiffen. Seriously, my first attempt at beating egg whites for chocolate mousse when I was 18 left me teary eyed and frustrating calling my mum for reinforcements!



Fold the egg whites into yolk mixture in three different additions.


Transfer batter to prepared pans, and bake until the center comes out clean when poked with a toothpick. The original recipe called for 18 minutes, I have generally found that almond meal takes longer to bake than regular flour, and I allowed my cakes for bake for 30 minutes before they were ready.



After the cans of coconut milk have been chilled (mine were in the fridge for 8 hours), scoop the coconut solids off the top of the cans and leave the water remaining in the bottom. Beat the coconut milk on a medium speed until it starts to form ridges, then slowly add sugar, espresso and vanilla. Continue beating until the texture begins to resemble creme fraiche. Place icing back in the fridge, it needs to cool for at least an hour to set up.


After the icing has chilled and formed, spread a thing (or generous!) layer of rasperry jam and coconut cream on top of two of the cakes before stacking them on top of one another. Use the remainder of the coconut cream to ice the outside of the cake and finish with fresh raspberries.


YUM! This cake was a huge success. Seriously, I was impressed with myself. I will definitely be making it again!



  • Sheana says:

    I love the ideas in this. Trying to make icing right now but it won’t thicken. We’re talking 20 on a stand mixer on med/high after being in the fridge for almost 8 hours. I have put mix in the freezer to chill it some more.

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