Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake

Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake that is moist, rich and just a little bit fudgy! This soft, spongy gluten free cake is cocoa-forward and not too sweet. Perfect for adding thick layers of silky chocolate buttercream!

Slice of gluten free chocolate cake with frosting, on blue plate with fork

Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake

This Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake really is the only chocolate cake recipe you will every need! Not only does it have the most sinfully intense chocolate flavour, but it’s incredibly easy to make and forgiving if you are new to gluten free baking.

Overhead view of gluten free chocolate cake with frosting

When it comes to baking gluten free, I always recommend people start with cakes because it is the easiest to master. I say this for two reasons:

  1. The overall percentage of flour in a cake recipe is very low compared to the total ingredients in a recipe. For example most cake recipes include less than 30 percent flour in the total recipe. This means the recipe is less reliant on flour for taste and texture.
  2. Many recipes say to use cake flour, not regular all-purpose flour. This is because cake flour has less protein and will reduce the overall gluten development, resulting in a lighter more delicate cake crumb. These are the same results we achieve when baking with gluten free flour blends.

In addition to this, I find that baking with chocolate, especially cocoa powder masks any difference in flavour that could be found between gluten free flours and wheat flour.

Slice of gluten free chocolate cake with frosting, on blue plate with fork

Ingredients for Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake

The slightly dense, yet fluffy texture of this Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake is balanced by the layers of light, luscious chocolate buttercream. This cake is perfect for any occasion!

Here’s what you need to make this easy gluten free classic chocolate cake:

  • Cocoa Powder: We are making chocolate cake after all so choose your cocoa powder wisely.  This doesn’t mean you need the most expensive cocoa powder. It just means use one that YOU like the flavour of. If Hershey’s in your favourite. Use it! I like the flavour and depth of Green and Blacks Organic Cocoa Powder
  • Vegetable Oil: because sponge cakes rely on no to little fat this recipe uses vegetable oil to amp up the sponges richness and it also helps create a moister cake crumb.
  • Yogurt: thick greek yogurt or sour cream are used in this recipe because like buttermilk, they add depth of flavour and lots of moisture.
  • Granulated Sugar: granulated sugar or caster sugar (berry sugar) both work well in this recipe as it provides just enough sweetness and melts into the sabayon (egg mixture) nicely.
  • Eggs: five whole eggs are used in combination with sugar to create a smooth, airy sabayon mixture. The egg and sugar mixture will provide structure and leavening so the cake gets a good rise when baked and soft tender cake crumb once cooled.
  • Coffee: Coffee has this magical way of bringing out the best in chocolate while not actually making your cake taste of coffee. Using coffee (or hot water if you really want to instead) allows us to ‘Bloom’ the cocoa powder.
  • Gluten Free Flour Blend: I like to use my own recipe blend of All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend. The recipe for the blend can be found here. If you want to make things a little easier then I recommend store-bought blends such as Cup4Cup, Bob’s Red Mill gluten free 1 to 1 or Better Batter.  
    • SIDE NOTE: If you are new to gluten free baking or are unfamiliar with the different variations of Gluten Free Flour Blends, check out this article I wrote for Food Bloggers of Canada, where I explain how to pick the right Gluten Free Flour.
  • Xanthan Gum: when it comes to cakes, xanthan gum helps build and hold the cakes structure while also keeping it fresher longer.  Gluten free flours absorb a lot of moisture, but they also dry out must faster when compared to wheat flours. Which is why adding just a pinch of xanthan gum can be a real game changer.  Not that this cake ever lasts more than a few hours in my house 😅!
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Using reliable leaveners like baking powder and baking soda are needed to guarantee a consistent rise.
Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake on wood board

This Gluten Free Cake Uses the Foaming Mixing Method

This Gluten Free Chocolate Cake uses a cold foam mixing method that is commonly used in professional pastry kitchens. This method involves whipping eggs and sugar until it has reached maximum volume. Maximum volume is about four to six times the original volume. The remaining ingredients are then carefully folded in until well blended but still aerated. 

Egg foams can be very fragile so it’s important to use a light hand and be very delicate when incorporating the egg foam with the cake mixture. The goal is to retain all the volume and air in the egg foam while creating a homogenous cake batter. 

Trust me, this additional step is worth it! This method gives the chocolate cake a light, spongey texture that is super moist and chocolatey.

Why and How to Bloom Cocoa Powder for this Cake Recipe

Why It’s Important to Bloom Cocoa Powder: Blooming cocoa powder is a trick pastry chefs often use when we want to amplify the chocolatey flavour in a recipe. This technique works especially well for this recipe because we are only using cocoa powder to flavour the cake. Some other chocolate cake recipes will use a combination of cocoa powder and melted chocolate to achieve an intense cocoa flavour.

How to Bloom Cocoa Powder: The process of ‘Blooming’ the cocoa powder is much simpler than you might think. For this Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake, the cocoa powder is whisked into hot coffee or water until smooth. The liquid mixture is left to rest for a few minutes before being added to the cake mixture. That’s it! Super easy 😉

Slice of gluten free chocolate cake with frosting, on blue plate with fork

Pastry Chef Tips for Making Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake

Converting traditional cake recipes to be gluten free may seem intimidating but it’s actually much easier than you might think! This is because cakes rely very little on gluten for texture and structure so adapting a cake recipe to be gluten free is an ideal starting point for anyone new to gluten free baking. 

Food Science Fact: If you look at most traditional cake recipes that use wheat flour, they often call for cake flour instead of all-purpose flour or a combination of the two. This is because cake flour has the lowest amount of protein (approx. 5-8%), compared to all-purpose wheat flour (approx. 10-13%). The lower level of protein reduces gluten development which helps to create a much lighter more delicate cake crumb.  

Find more tips and information about how to make the best gluten free cakes here.

With just a few tips you will be making this bakery-worthy Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake at home.

  1. Use a Kitchen Scale: The importance of accurately measuring your baking ingredients can make or break your recipe. This is especially true for a recipe like this recipe because if too much flour is added then the cake will turn out dry and crumbly. If you really want to ensure your success when baking gluten free, I highly recommend a digital kitchen scale.
  2. Use Room Temperature Ingredients: Room temperature ingredients reduce the chance of your cake batter separating (becoming curdled). Smooth batters produce cakes with a much better texture and even bake. 
  3. Bake in Metal Cake Pans: Metal is a much better thermal conductor when compared to glass or ceramic materials. Using a metal cake pan will result in an evenly baked cake. For more info on choosing the right baking pans click here.
  4. Bake your cake AS SOON AS THE BATTER IS READY: Letting cake batter hang around after it’s been mixed will lead to a flat, sunken cake.
  5. Avoid Overbaking: There are three ways you can confidently check that your cake is fully baked and ready to come out of the oven.
    • Insert a cake tester or a wooden skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean with just a few bits of cake attached.
    • When the cake is browned around the edges and has begun to pull away from the sides of the cake pan.
    • The cake is ‘Springy”. If you gently press your finger against the centre top of the cake it should spring back without leaving an indent.
  6. Cool the Cake Before Slicing: When gluten free cakes come out of the oven, although fully baked, will still be slightly gummy in the centre. As the cake cools, it will release steam. As the moisture continues to evaporate as it cools, the cake will become dryer. Resulting in a lighter crumb structure.
  7. Add Buttercream to Cooled Cake: If you are adding buttercream or frosting to this cake then wait until it is fully cooled. If added too soon and the cake is still warm, then the buttercream will melt and seep into the cake.
Slice of gluten free chocolate cake with frosting, on blue plate with fork

Storing Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake

You can store this Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If the cake has buttercream or frosting then I suggest storing it in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 5 days.

Refrigerating

If you need to store Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake (without buttercream) longer than 3 days its best to keep it in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Frosted cakes can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Pull the cake from the fridge a few hours before serving. Cake is aways best served at room temp as it improves the flavour and looses that ‘fridgy’ flavour.

Freezing

Frozen Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake (without buttercream) will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month. Allow the cake to cool completely before wrapping it in plastic wrap. Then wrap it in aluminum foil and place it in a resealable freezer bag. When you are ready to thew the cake, remove it from the freezer and allow it to defrost in the fridge overnight or on the counter for 6-7 hours.

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Slice of gluten free chocolate cake with frosting, on blue plate with fork

Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake


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  • Author: Kira McMullan
  • Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 16 slices 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

The slightly dense, yet fluffy texture of this Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake is balanced by the layers of light, luscious chocolate buttercream. This cake is perfect for any occasion!


Ingredients

Scale

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

3 Eggs, Room Temperature

200g or 1 cup Granulated Sugar

100g or 1 cup Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder

175ml or 3/4 cup Hot Water or Brewed Coffee

220g or 1 1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend (ie; Cup4Cup or Bob’s 1 to 1)

1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Kosher Salt (sub 1/4 tsp if using table salt)

115ml or 1/2 cup vegetable oil

125g or 1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt, Room Temperature

120ml 1/2 cup Whole Milk, Room Temperature

Chocolate Frosting

450g or 2 cups Unsalted Butter, Soft

60g or 1/2 cup Cream Cheese

200g or 2 cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted

100gor 1 cup Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder

60ml or 1/4 cup Whole Milk

1 tbsp Fancy Molasses

170g or 1 cup of Chocolate Chips, melted

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt (sub ‘Pinch’ if using table salt)


Instructions

Gluten Free Classic Chocolate Cake

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F degrees.

Line the bottoms of two 8″ round pans with parchment and grease with butter or baking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together gluten-free flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl or measuring jug, whisk oil, yogurt and milk until smooth. Set aside.

Step 2

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5-6 minutes until they become thick and light in colour.

Step 3

In a small bowl, whisk cocoa powder and hot brewed coffee (or hot water). This is called ‘Blooming’ the cocoa.

Step 4

With the stand mixer on medium speed, begin streaming in the cocoa mixture. Keep mixing until fully incorporated.

Repeat with the oil, yogurt, milk mixture.

Step 5

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and gently fold in the dry ingredients until there are no streaks of flour.

Step 6

Pour the batter into prepared pans and smooth the top with an offset spatula.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pans.

Chocolate Frosting

Step 1

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and cream cheese for 5 minutes or until smooth. 

Step 2

While the butter is creaming. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside to allow to cool slightly.

Turn the mixer down to the lowest speed and slowly add the sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

Step 3

Add the milk, molasses and salt and beat until blended.

Step 4

Pour in the cooled melted chocolate and beat until smooth and fluffy. Remember to scrap down the sides of the bowl.

Step 5

To frost the cake place the first cake layer on a plate or cake board. Add the chocolate frosting to the centre of the cake layer and spread it across to the edges. Try to create an even layer that’s roughly ¼ to ½ inch thick.

Continue by stacking the next cake layer on top of the frosted layer and centre it. Apply a gentle pressure to make sure there aren’t any air pockets between the layers.

Add a generous dollop of chocolate frosting to the top of the cake. Then use an offset spatula or even a teaspoon will work, spread the frosting to the edges. Begin spreading the frosting in a figure-eight motion to create swirls. Do the same to the sides of the cake but only add a few tablespoons of frosting at a time as gravity will take over and it will likely slide down onto the serving plate.

Allow the frosted cake to set up in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving.

  • Prep Time: 55 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes

Recipe questions? I’d love to help!

Connect with me @kirabakesglutenfree or info@kirabakesglutenfree.com

Gluten Free Pastry Chef Kira McMullan, eating slice of cake

Ready to try another Gluten Free Recipe? Why not bake my Gluten Free Butterscotch Pecan Tarts or The Best Gluten Free Flaky Pie Crust.



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