My Gluten Free School Dinner Sprinkles Cake

10th June 2022
Blog post

Who remembers these from school dinners?! Served with just about warm custard and a glass of milk! Well now you can make your own and its incredibly easy to make it gluten free too!!

This sponge is slightly different to a Victoria sponge because it uses milk. There’s more info on why I’ve included that below, as well as some info on oat milk. Is it gluten free? Do we need to worry about cross contamination in coffee shops? Why can’t some coeliacs eat oats? All included below 🙂


Why add milk to a sponge cake?

I’m no scientist so I’m not going to try and give you an explanation of why this happens, but this is what you get…

The sponge is TOTALLY different. Its less crumbly, wayyyy more moist and the crumb is bigger. Sounds odd but trust me! It’ll make it less of like a Victoria sponge and more like the school dinner cake you know and love.

FAOQ: frequently asked *OAT QUESTIONS!*

Are oats gluten free?

Oats themselves are gluten free. The problem is that they’re often grown/processed near wheat, barley or other grains which can result in cross contamination.

How do I know if the oats are safe to eat then?

We can only eat oats that state they’re gluten free because it means the company has checked they’ve been produced in a way that means the cross contamination will have been low and the level of gluten is therefore less than 20 parts per million.

The ingredients list can’t say ‘100% oats’, ‘pure oats’ or ‘organic’ oats…it has to specifically say “gluten free oats”.

So why do some coeliacs say they can’t eat ANY oats, regardless of whether they’re gluten free or not?

Oats contain avenin, which is a protein similar to gluten. Research has shown that most people with coeliac disease can tolerate gluten free oats with no problems but a very small number of them can’t. To my knowledge, the only way to know if you’re one of these people is to test it yourself (by eliminating from your diet with no other changes and seeing if you feel better).

Do I need to worry about cross contamination in coffee shops?

Tough one. Everyone treats this differently. The problem arises when a coffee shop is using a gluten-containing oat milk (the most popular is Oatly). When they make a drink using the milk, gluten will be on the steamer, jug and any cloths they use. This opens us up to possible cross contamination.

Three schools of thought

  1. Don’t worry about it: The level of gluten in the oat milk is thought to be small so the odds of some getting from the steamer, into your drink is minimal. Most places use a different jug for different milks anyway and wipe down the steamer inbetween. Carry on drinking in coffee shops that use Oatly and don’t mention you’re coeliac to the barrista.
  2. Take some precautions: There is a risk but providing the barista uses a clean jug for your milk & clean cloth to swipe down the steamer then the risk is small. Explain the situation to the barista on arrival and ask them to follow the steps just mentioned.
  3. Avoid those shops at all cost: There is a risk, it is very difficult to clean the steamer properly and what’s the odds they use a clean cloth. Drink somewhere else.

It is personal preference. I take option 2. If the coffee shop is crazzzzyyy busy or I get a difficult response from the barrista when I explain the situation, then I just get a cold drink/black americano but generally I’ve found coffee shops to be very receptive and helpful.

Which of the big chains does this apply to?

Bad news. Most of them serve gluten containing oat milk. Pret, Costa, Starbucks to name a few. To my knowledge, Cafe Nero is one of the only that has gluten-free oat milk (well, for today anyway!).

Using a different size tin?

For this recipe, I’ve used a 20 x 30cm rectangular tin. If you’ve got a different size, here’s a guide for the quantities you’ll need:

SizeQuantities RequiredCooking Time
2lb Loaf TinCake: 2 eggs, 115g of butter/sugar/flour, 30g desiccated coconut25 mins
22cm Round tinCake: 3 eggs, 170g of butter/sugar/flour, 50g desiccated coconut30 mins
23cm Square tinCake: 5 eggs, 280g of butter/sugar/flour30 mins

My Gluten Free School Dinner Sprinkles Cake

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Servings: 20 x 30cm tin

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 340 grams Gluten Free Self-Raising Flour
  • 340 grams Caster Sugar
  • 340 grams Spread
  • 6 Eggs
  • 100ml dairy free milk - my favourite is Glebe Farm Oat Milk

Topping

  • 400-500 grams Icing Sugar
  • Plenty of sweets and sprinkles!
  • 80ml dairy free milk

Instructions

Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 180oC (fan).
  • Line your traybake tin/loaf tin/whatever you're using with baking paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the butter & sugar until fully combined.
    >You’re looking for the mix to be paler, smooth & creamy! I use an electric whisk for 1 min.
  • Crack all the eggs into a separate bowl & beat together until just starting to froth up, like the picture.
    > Takes 5 seconds. You can use the electric whisk for this too.
  • Add the flour, milk and eggs to the butter/sugar. Whisk together until JUST combined (10 seconds).
    >Don’t over whisk, otherwise you’ll lose the air bubbles & your cake won’t be quite so fluffy!
  • Scrape right around the sides of the bowl to pick up any excess flour.
  • Give the mixture one final whisk, making sure you reach right to the bottom of the bowl and everything is fully combined.
    >Still try not to over whisk! 3 seconds at most.
  • Pour the mix into your tin. It should be about 2/3 full to give it enough room to expand when it bakes.
  • Bake for approx 30-35 mins.
    >You’re looking for them to be firm on top but springy to touch and a knife/skewer poked into the middle of the cake should come out relatively clean!
  • Once cooked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10-15mins and then carefully remove and place on a cooling rack.

Topping – ONLY when the cake has cooled down.

  • Add the milk and icing sugar to a bowl and mix together until smooth.
    You want the icing to be really thick so it doesn't run off the cake. You want a little bit of resistance when you're stirring the icing mix.
    >If its so thick you can't even pour it, add a dash of milk or water. (Only a tiny bit…it goes thin very quickly!)
    >If its reaaaally thin, almost like water), add a tbsp of icing sugar and mix again. Repeat until its thick.
  • Pour the icing mix all over the cake, using a spatula/knife to spread it around if necessary – don't worry if some starts to run off the side!
  • Leave for 5 mins so it starts to get a tiny bit and isn't running off the sides of the cake anymore. Add your sprinkles!
  • Slice up, add your sweets and eat!!!!
    >I add the sweets AFTER slicing up the cake because some sweets are hard to cut so if you place one just where you're going to cut, it can be tricky!
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