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Gluten-free Caterpillar Cake Recipe (dairy-free option)

Gluten-free caterpillar cake recipe - move over Colin and Cuthbert, Celia is in town and she's 100% Coeliac-friendly and wheat-free too! See the FAQ section for links to the decorations I used as well as dairy-free alternatives.
Keyword birthday cake, Caterpillar Cake, gluten-free baking recipe, gluten-free caterpillar cake, wheat free baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 57 minutes
Calories 540kcal
Author Becky Excell


For the sponge:

  • 4 medium eggs separated
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 ⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk dairy-free if necessary
  • 45 g gluten free plain flour
  • 15 g cocoa powder ensure dairy-free if necessary
  • 1 ⁄4 tsp xanthan gum

For the ganache filling and covering:

  • 250 g butter softened (or Stork hard margarine if dairy-free)
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • 250 g 54% dark chocolate dairy-free if necessary

For the decoration - you don't have to use them all! (everything below is linked in the FAQ section, along with dairy-free alternatives)

  • 50 g white chocolate for Celia's face - plus a little extra to use as glue
  • 4 cubes of milk chocolate for Celia's smile
  • 2 giant white chocolate buttons for the ears
  • 2 giant chocolate buttons for the eyes
  • 2 edible eyes
  • a handful of M&Ms to decorate and one for Celia's nose
  • 2 white chocolate Lindt truffles for the feet


To make Celia's face:

  • Place a small amount of non-stick baking paper onto a baking tray and place a round 7cm cookie cutter on top of it. Melt 50g white chocolate in the microwave, mixing between short bursts. Once melted, pour your white chocolate into the round cookie cutter. Hold the cutter down so it doesn't leak out as you pour! Place in the freezer or fridge to fully set.
  • Once almost set, you can remove the chocolate from the cutter. Use a little extra melted white chocolate to work as glue (dabbing a little onto the backs of everything as you go) to stick on two chocolate buttons as eyes, some edible eyes (optional) and finally, a red M&M for the nose.
  • For the smile, I simply placed a few cubes of melted chocolate into a piping bag and snipped off the end to leave a 4mm hole. Then I piped away!
  • Pop Celia's face back into the freezer or fridge to set until you are ready to decorate.

To make the sponge:

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C fan / 200°C. Lightly grease your Swiss roll tin and line with non-stick baking paper.
  • Separate your eggs into two small bowls - egg whites in one and yolks in the other.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add your egg yolks and half the caster sugar (50g). Whisk together until combined, then add your vanilla, milk and oil and whisk once more. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and xanthan gum, and mix in until well combined, thick and glossy.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk your egg whites (using an electric hand whisk or stand mixer ideally) until they start to turn white and frothy. Gradually add the remaining caster sugar (50g), whisking until you have medium peaks.
  • In three stages, add your egg white mixture to your egg yolk mixture, folding it in carefully between each addition using a silicone spatula. Once all the egg white mixture is fully folded in, pour your mixture into your prepared tin. Spread it out gently to make sure it’s nice and even and bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes until cooked through.
  • Place a piece of non-stick baking paper on your work surface and dust it with the icing sugar.
  • While your sponge is still warm, loosen it from the tin and flip it out onto the baking paper. Peel off the baking paper on top that once lined the tin – don’t worry if you lose the outer layer of the cake because it sticks to the paper as you peel it off, that’s totally normal. Using your baking paper, roll the sponge up from the short end – the paper should be inside it as you roll. Try to roll fairly tightly, then leave the sponge to cool fully while rolled up. I prop something up against it to stop it from unrolling itself.

For the icing and covering:

  • While the sponge is cooling you can prepare the filling. Melt your dark chocolate (I do this is the microwave in short bursts, mixing in between) then put to one side to cool whilst making the rest of the icing.
  • Place your softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if you intend to use an electric hand whisk), mix on its own on a high speed for about 5 minutes. The butter should change from a more yellow colour to being a lot more pale.
  • Add your icing sugar gradually to the butter (I do this in two stages). I mix each addition of icing sugar for around 3-5 minutes before adding the second half. Now add in your melted, cooled chocolate and mix until fully combined. It should be a nice, easily spreadable consistency - you can always loosen it up with a little milk, if needed.

To assemble:

  • Carefully unroll your sponge and remove the baking paper. Fortunately I never find the sponge cracks using my recipe, but if it does a little, it doesn't matter - it will all be covered in icing - just be delicate!
  • Spread a layer (around 1cm thick) of your icing on the unrolled sponge (I leave about a half cm gap around the edge). Carefully roll the sponge back up and transfer it to a serving board or plate. Do this as tight as you can for the best swirl.
  • Cover the rolled up sponge with the rest of the icing. Cut one of the ends off so its more flat and then cover it with a decent amount of icing. At this point, I used the flat end of a fork to create ridges all along the body of the caterpillar, just like the 'real' caterpillar cakes often have - this isn't mandatory!
  • Place on your M&Ms - I chose to only use the red, yellow and blue ones from the packet.
  • Cut your white chocolate Lindt truffles into quarters and gently press them into place - I only used 6 of the quarter pieces and ate the other two bits!
  • Place the face onto the icing so it sticks well. Optionally stick your giant white chocolate button in behind the face as ears too.
  • Slice (try not to feel bad for decapitating Celia as you go) and enjoy!


Serving: 1g | Calories: 540kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 121mg | Sodium: 195mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 48g