I am planning to make a cake for my friend’s wedding this spring, and she can’t eat gluten. This is the catalyst behind my recent gluten free baking spree, and the inspiration for this gluten free chocolate cake recipe.
Gluten free baking is unique in a lot of ways, and really throws the rule book out when it comes to baking. It’s a totally different animal, which has taken a lot of trial and error for me to get comfortable with.
What’s In Gluten Free Flour??
There are a lot gluten free flour blends out there. Each brand uses a unique mixture of wheat flour alternatives, like rice flour, brown rice flour, and even almond flour!
It can be difficult to get the texture of gluten free flour just right for baking. A lot of these alternative flours have a finer texture than all-purpose flour.
Some type of starch is usually added to help give the mixture better structure, and a bit of binding power. Tapioca and potato starch are the most commonly used starches.
One other ingredient in gluten free flour that might sound a little strange is xanthan gum. It’s a key ingredient in gluten free baking. Xanthan gum has a big impact on the texture of gluten free baked goods too.
Gluten adds an elasticity and stickiness to dough and batter. Xanthan gum emulates these characteristics in gluten free baking, and helps lock in moisture.
Does It Matter What Brand of Gluten Free Flour I Use?
I’ve tried this recipe with a few different brands of gluten free flour, and so far each of them has worked great:
- King Arthur gluten free measure for measure flour
- Cup4Cup gluten free multipurpose flour blend
- Bob’s Red Mill gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour
My favorite brand of gluten free flour for this recipe was King Arthur. However, any brand of gluten free flour you can find at your grocery store should work.
My only word of caution is to be sure you use some sort of gluten free flour blend.
Using a single type of gluten free flour like almond flour or cassava flour in this recipe will not yield the same results!
Most grocery stores carry at least one blend of gluten free flour. Stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s also have lots of great options.
If all else fails, amazon is another easy way to get your hands on a gluten free flour blend. I order a majority of my baking supplies on amazon, including most of my specialty ingredients.
Why This Recipe Works With Gluten Free Flour
This gluten free chocolate cake recipe is based on my moist chocolate cake recipe.
Gluten free baked goods have come a long way in the past few years, but a lot of people still think of them as gritty, dense, and even gummy.
Using a good gluten free flour blend can fix most of these issues.
However, I found that the gluten free batters have a hard time incorporating butter. Gluten free flour blends can’t absorb liquids as well as regular flour, and they also can’t absorb fat as well.
I tried using gluten free flour in my go-to chocolate layer cake, and the texture wasn’t quite right.
That’s when I decided to try making a gluten free version of my moist chocolate cake recipe. It uses oil as a fat instead of butter, which is easier for the gluten free flour to absorb.
It’s texture was spot on, with the help of the following gluten free baking tips.
Tip #1: Overmix Your Batter
While I strongly advise against over mixing batter in other recipes, and even design my recipes to have as little mixing as possible, gluten free batter is different.
The whole reason you don’t want to over mix your batter is that it develops thick strands of gluten, which can lead to dense, tough cake layers. But when you’re using gluten free flour, this isn’t a problem.
In fact, overmixing gluten free flour can actually give the cake layers better structure! This helps cake layers rise better as they bake, and gives the cake a more tender crumb.
The additional mixing can also make it easier to slice into a tall layer cake like this. The incremental structure helps prevent the cake layers from crumbling as they’re cut.
Tip #2 Let Your Batter Rest
Remember earlier when I said that gluten free flour blends can have a hard time absorbing moisture and fats?
If you let the batter sit for a bit before baking it, you give the flour more time to absorb all that goodness. This helps thicken the batter, and prevents your cake layers from having a gritty texture.
I unintentionally did this as I was photographing and filming this gluten free chocolate cake batter. You’d be surprised how long it takes to get a perfect shot of pouring cake batter into a pan!
Letting the batter sit for about 30 minutes drastically improves the texture of these cake layers, so be sure you don’t skip this step!!
Tips for Making The Best Gluten Free Chocolate Cake:
- Be sure to properly measure your gluten free flour (spoon into the cup measure then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients
- Don’t be afraid to overmix your batter! Vigorously whisk your batter for a few minutes once it’s made, to help give it structure
- Let your batter sit for about 30 minutes before baking to help the gluten free flour absorb more moisture from the batter
- Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake, to make it easier to stack and frost.
Making This Cake In Advance & Storage Tips:
- Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them: It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
- Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
- A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
- If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Let Me Know What You Think!
If you try this recipe for gluten free chocolate cake recipe, I’d love to hear what think of it! Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section.
Other Gluten Free Recipes You Might Like:
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe
- 2 cups gluten free flour (244 grams)
- 2 cups granulated sugar (400 grams)
- 3/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder (75 grams)
- 2 tsp baking powder (8 grams)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda (9 grams)
- 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
- 1 tsp instant espresso of coffee (3 grams)
- 1 cup buttermilk (240 grams)
- 1 cup very hot water (237 grams)
- 1 tsp vinegar (4 grams)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (120 grams)
- 2 eggs, room temperature (112 grams)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (8 grams)
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (434 grams)
- 1 tsp vanilla (4 grams)
- 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
- 5 cups powdered sugar (625 grams)
- 2/3 cup heavy cream (150 grams)
- 2 cups of melted dark chocolate, cooled (300 grams, 16 oz.)
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Layers
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and grease three, eight-inch cake pans, or four, seven-inch pans.
- Combine the dry ingredients (gluten free flour, granulated sugar, sifted cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and instant espresso) in a large bowl. Whisk together, and set aside.
- In a separate medium-sized bowl, add the water, buttermilk, vinegar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk the ingredients together to combine them.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk the batter for several minutes, to help the batter thicken and give it some additional structure (don't be afraid of over mixing, there's no gluten!)
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the batter to sit for 30 minutes. This gives the gluten free flour time to better absorb the liquids in the batter.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, and bake for 25-27 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and let the cakes sit for about 10 minutes. Gently run an offset spatula around the rim of the cake pans to loosen them.
- Place the cake pans in the freezer to speed up the cooling process, and to trap in additional moisture.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Beat the unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
- Add in the vanilla extract and salt, and mix on a low speed to combine.
- Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with splashes of heavy cream.
- Mix in the cooled, melted chocolate.
- Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.
Assembling This Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
- Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
- Add an even layer of chocolate buttercream between each cake layer.
- Spread a thin coat of frosting around the the cake, to fully cover the cake layers.
- Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
- Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper. Then decorate as desired!
- I brushed some melted dark chocolate onto the base of the cake after chilling it for another 10 minutes in the freezer, and used an Ateco 869 to add some fun dollops of buttercream around the top of the cake.
These cake layers and buttercream can be made in advance!! I highly recommend making them ahead of time to make the decoration of the cake less stressful and more fun.
Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
These layers bake quite flat. However, if you want them to be perfectly level, I recommend trimming the tops with a serrated knife once they layers are completed cooled.
I like to chill my cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before frosting and assembling my cakes, to make them easier to stack and frost.
Amount Per Serving Calories 466Total Fat 18gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 33mgSodium 366mgCarbohydrates 74gFiber 3gSugar 59gProtein 4g