With many of us looking for some sweet inspiration to keep us busy at home, this lesson delivers a welcome home baking adventure. This epic layer cake packs a triple threat: rich chocolate flavor; a stir-together, no-fuss method; and a gluten-free flour blend that’ll blow your mind. Our magic gluten-free flour blend is comprised of four Bob’s Red Mill products—Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, Super Fine Almond Flour, Gluten Free Oat Flour, and Coconut Flour—each one bringing a signature texture boost to our cake base. Finished with a satin Swiss Buttercream, this is a cake worthy of any occasion, big or small. Plus, we’ll walk you from mixing the batter to frosting flawlessly, leading you to create the ideal chocolate cake that just happens to be gluten-free. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson, or keep scrolling to view our digital lesson.
Before you get to baking, don’t miss our Editor-in-chief’s video demonstration of this recipe over on our IGTV! Ciara Siller, the baker and blogger behind the blog Peanut Butter Pus Chocolate, did her own delicious and citrusy twist on this recipe, which you can find here. You can also listen to Ciara talk all things gluten-free baking on our podcast, The Crumb.
Great recipes require great ingredients. Here’s how each one helps create our flawless, stir-together Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake.
Melted Unsalted Butter: For our stir-together cake formula, we melt the butter so it incorporates smoothly. We use melted butter instead of oil because it gives our cake a richer flavor.
Granulated Sugar: Sugar adds sweetness, but it also tenderizes the cake, making the crumb moist.
Applesauce: We use unsweetened applesauce to add a boost of moisture, keeping the cake fresh longer. Make sure you use an unsweetened variety of applesauce to avoid adding extra sugar to the cake.
Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is graded by color, with A varieties being the
most common form to purchase, with a nice medium-amber color and medium flavor. If you have access to grade B maple syrup, try it—its dark amber color denotes its intense maple taste. Grade A is the most common, though, and works just as well. Maple syrup adds mild caramel flavor and reduces the amount of granulated sugar used.
Eggs: We use five large eggs for leavening, flavor, richness, and structure in our gluten-free cake. This cake calls for more eggs than usual to compensate for the coconut flour in our gluten-free flour blend. (See The Ultimate Gluten-Free Flour Blend.)
Vanilla Extract: A cake without vanilla—even a chocolate cake—lacks depth of flavor. So, a dash of high-quality vanilla extract enhances the decadent cocoa notes in this cake.
Dutch Process Cocoa Powder: Dutch process cocoa is treated with an alkaline solution of potassium carbonate to make it milder, less acidic, and darker. It is less likely to clump than natural cocoa, but with this stir-together cake, we still sift it with the other dry ingredients to ensure it will incorporate into the batter evenly.
Kosher Salt: We bake with kosher salt because, unlike most commercial salt, it doesn’t contain iodine, making it taste purer and more palatable. Also, the salt crystals are larger. Table salt is much finer, so you would use half of what a recipe with kosher salt calls for.
Baking Powder: Comprised of baking soda, powdered acid or acids, and a starch, most baking powders are double-acting, meaning the reaction occurs twice, using two different acids. The first is a very quick reaction that occurs when baking powder is combined with a liquid, aerating the batter. The second reaction is slower-acting, occurring when heated and baked.
Baking Soda: Baking soda requires an acid be present in the batter (in this case, cocoa powder and buttermilk) to help tenderize baked goods. Baking soda releases most of its gas immediately once combined with an acid and moisture, so doughs and batters leavened only or primarily with baking soda should be baked soon after it’s added. If too much is used, the final baked product may have a slightly soapy taste and a brownish-yellow cast. If too little is used, making the batter or dough too acidic, the final product may not brown adequately.
Whole Buttermilk: This acidic dairy product adds a tart taste to baked goods. Make sure you use whole buttermilk, not fat-free or low-fat, because the tenderizing fat in the buttermilk helps make a richer cake. If you have difficulty locating whole buttermilk, you can make a quick substitution. Simply add 1 tablespoon (15 grams) distilled white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow mixture to thicken.
The Ultimate Gluten-Free Flour Blend
Four specialty flours from Bob’s Red Mill combine to create the supreme gluten-free base for our chocolate cake.
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour: This easy-to-use flour blend can be used in many of your favorite baking recipes, replacing traditional wheat-based flour cup for cup. Bob’s Red Mill blends high-quality ingredients like sweet rice and brown rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum to create a blend that works wonderfully in recipes that call for baking powder and/or baking soda. The rice flours have a smooth, neutral flavor. Sorghum flour has a mildly sweet flavor. The potato starch, tapioca flour, and xantham gum mimic the elasticity of gluten, giving chewiness, and also help the other flours bind together.
Bob’s Red Mill Super Fine Almond Flour: Bob’s Red Mill almond flour is made from whole blanched almonds ground into a fine meal. Almond flour lends
a nutty flavor and moist texture to baked goods, and it pairs especially well with other alternative baking flours like coconut and tapioca flour. Because almonds are high in fat, almond flour adds tenderness to your gluten-free baked goods.
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oat Flour: At the onset of gluten-free baking, because of cross-contamination in factories, oat flour was not considered a strictly gluten-free product. But at Bob’s Red Mill, their oat flour is processed, packaged, and tested in their dedicated gluten-free facility. The benefit of oat flour in gluten-free baking is how light and fine it is, creating fluffy cakes. Plus, the mild oat flour taste takes a natural back seat to the stronger flavors of spice, chocolate, or vanilla.
Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour: Comprised of dried coconut meat that has been blended to a fine powder, coconut flour is high in fiber. Due to its high dietary fiber content, coconut flour is particularly absorbent, latching onto the moisture provided by eggs and dairy. To compensate, we add an extra egg to the base cake recipe. Because coconut flour is prone to clumping, it’s best to sift it before using.
Expert Tip: Each of these specialty flours has a shorter shelf life than your typical all-purpose flour. To extend their longevity, you can store all four in the freezer for up to 4 months.