Chiara’s Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Vanilla Birthday Cake with Marshmallow Frosting

This year, my sweet angel Chiara turned five. She’s growing so fast into a lovely, funny, smart girl. I fall in love with her more and more each day. She’s filled with surprises and had one for me when she put in her formal birthday cake request. As she says, I’m “the cooker” in the family and each year, I ask the kids what cake and frosting they want for their birthdays. Her response was clearly composed:

“Chiara official birthday cake request: a vanilla cake with pink marshmallow frosting and hearts, butterflies and flowers.”

You may have read that Chiara was just diagnosed this June with gluten and dairy intolerances, just like her big brother, Isaiah. So I wanted to make this year’s cake extra special. I wanted a real cake showstopper—and that’s exactly what we had. As party guests walked into our house decorated with pink polka dot streamers and happy face balloons, the cake was the first thing they saw. Everyone’s eyes were open wide with excitement and a smiling Chiara said, “You should work at a bakery. You’re such a good cooker!”

“I guess that in the days of store-bought cakes, a homemade cake has become a rarity—especially a heart-shaped one!”

Eventually, I had to put the cake out of sight. Then, after Chiara made her birthday wish, chaos broke out with all the kids asking for a flower or a butterfly. Luckily, I had one for each of her friends.

“Here’s hoping Chiara’s birthday wish comes true—and for all of your kids, too!”

gluten-free, dairy-free birthday cake

Chiara’s Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Vanilla Birthday Cake with Marshmallow Frosting

Yield: 1

Serving Size: 2-layer cake



Gluten-free nonstick cooking spray

3 cups Silvana's Kitchen Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour

2 cups granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

½ cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup rice milk


1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or corn syrup

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup water

2 egg whites

1/2 cup store-bought marshmallow creme

Food coloring (optional)

Strawberry jam, beaten with a spoon

Sprinkles, for topping


  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350º. Generously grease a 9-inch heart-shaped springform pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour mix, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla and milk until smooth. Add to the flour mixture and whisk until combined. Fill the prepared baking pan until about two-thirds full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a small saucepan, bring sugar, rice syrup, salt and water to 235º on a candy thermometer or until it forms a thick syrup. Remove from the heat.
  4. 4. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue beating on high speed and add the syrup in a slow, steady stream; beat for two minutes. Add the marshmallow creme and beat until thick and shiny, about 7 minutes. Beat in food coloring, if using.
  5. 5. To assemble a two-layer cake, peel off the paper from the cake and divide into two layers. Place 1 layer right side up on a cake platter and spread with jam, then about 3/4 cup frosting. Place the second cake layer upside down on top of the filling. Spread the sides and top of the cake evenly with the remaining frosting. (If you're making a four-layer cake, repeat the process with the additional 2 cake layers and frosting.) Top the cake with sprinkles and decorate. To serve, slice gently with a serrated bread knife.


I made a 4-layer cake. To do this, I just made the cake recipe twice (since I only had 1 heart-shaped springform pan; I used this one.) and doubled the frosting.


  1. Such a magical birthday cake for, Chiara! You are so right. Homemade cakes are a rarity. My birthday is coming up and it’s been far too long since I’ve had birthday cake. Bookmarking this to make for myself. 😀

    • I wanted to say thank you and to share a special moment with you. I made this cake for my four year old granddaughter’s birthday. Coralee wanted “a big pink and purple cake with lots of candles”. Coralee has severe food allergies to gluten and dairy and we’ve always made “separate” cakes or cupcakes. I wanted to bake a cake for her that everyone could eat. This cake was perfect. I went all out…I used 9″ round cake pans, doubled the recipe and had four layers. I used the icing recipe too. Not only did it look beautiful, it tasted really good. Everyone enjoyed it…and my granddaughter was so excited and happy that we could all eat HER cake. You should have seen her smile and hear the excitement in her voice. It was pure joy!! So thank you again…you helped make a precious memory for our family.

  2. Meravigliosa!!!!!

  3. Please delete me from your newsletter list. I understand you objecitves, but I prefer a mostly grain free and much lower carb appoach myself. Thank you

  4. You are your marshmallow frosting rock! What a lucky little babe you have. I’d like a butterfly too please.

  5. Sugar and spice and everything nice! What a gorgeous cake, I think you’re a good cooker too 🙂

  6. I tried making this frosting for my son’s birthday. Used a candy thermometer that I checked for accuracy by putting in boiling water. The first time, I heated the syrup to precisely 235 degrees. When combining with the egg whites it remained a runny mess. The second time I heated it to 245 degrees. When mixing with the egg whites it seized up and turned chunky. I called my mom to try a third time, she has made candy in the past. This time as well it never firmed up, she beat it for 20 minutes! These were all double batches and a waste of a lot of ingredients. I ran to the store and bought canned frosting, which wasn’t very good! Don’t know what we did wrong, but this seems like a tricky recipe! Wish it had worked….

  7. Hi Jennifer,

    I’m sorry to hear the frosting was a mess…not sure what happened! I was so happy with how billowy the frosting was.

    Were the egg whites at soft peak before you streamed in the hot sugar syrup mixture?

  8. I made this into a chocolate cake by adding 2/3 cup of cocoa powder, it was very yummy! I also separated the batter into 2 9″ cake pans and cut back the baking time. Less fuss and mess for making a 2 layer cake. Thank you for the fantastic recipe, your recipes are always so yummy!

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