Gluten-Free Torta Sabiosa, Balsamic Strawberries, and Whipped Crème Fraîche

gluten free cake recipes

A cross between an angel food cake and a pound cake, this fluffy, heavenly adaptation of Michael Chiarello’s “sand cake” served at his Napa Valley restaurant Bottega is so light and delicate, it’s a miracle it holds together when sliced. But this gluten free cake recipe does . . . just long enough to make it into your grateful mouth.

Torta Sabiosa, Balsamic Strawberries, and Whipped Crème Fraîche

MAKES 1 (9-INCH) CAKE For best results, make sure the butter is room temperature before you beat it and super fluffy after the fact, and use a springform pan. 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1-1/2 cups potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free pure vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe Balsamic Strawberries (below)
  • 1 recipe Whipped Basil Crème Fraîche (below) or whipped cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Basil sprigs, for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan, insert it, and grease it, too.
  2. Sift together the potato starch and baking powder into a bowl.
  3. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add the remaining sugar. Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between additions. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla. Turn the mixer to the stir setting and add the potato starch mixture. Mix only until blended; do not overmix.
  4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Whisk in the reserved sugar and continue whisking the egg whites until stiff peaks form and the mixture has a sheen to it. Fold the egg whites into the batter in two batches. Evenly spread the batter into the prepared springform pan. Bake the cake until it has risen, is nicely golden, and is starting to pull from the pan, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely.
  5. Cut the cake into wedges and top with the balsamic strawberries, a dollop of the crème fraîche, a sprinkle of pepper, and the sprigs of basil.

Balsamic Strawberries

MAKES 2 CUPS It’s not uncommon to sneak a little balsamic vinegar into strawberry ice cream recipes to make the fruit flavor really pop. Here, a generous amount creates a tangy-sweet fresh-fruit sensation that tastes spectacular on its own, over vanilla ice cream, or atop a cake like Torta Sabiosa.


  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced


  1. In a bowl, mix together the vinegar, sugar, and lemon juice. Just before serving, mix in the pepper and strawberries.

Whipped Crème Fraîche

MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS A sophisticated alternative to whipped cream, this herb-kissed topping requires nearly effortless prep two days in advance.


  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  1. In a small saucepan, warm the cream over medium heat until it begins to steam. Remove from the heat, add the basil, and steep until the cream has cooled to room temperature. Strain the cream into a bowl and discard the basil. Add the buttermilk and let it sit at room temperature for 48 hours.
  2. Just before serving, in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or by hand with a whisk, whip the mixture with the sugar until it holds stiff peaks. Use immediately or keep refrigerated.

Photography Aubrie Pick

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