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Let Us Eat Cake! (Gluten-Free/ Allergy Friendly)

Last week, our Thursday night knit group had two members with a birthday. I figure if I don’t make the cake, I can’t eat it because of all my allergies/ sensitivities. Naturally, I volunteered.

In addition, one of the birthday girls is celiac, which means she can’t have even a speck of gluten. I can’t have xanthan gum (often made from fermented corn, which I can’t have on two counts). Most commercial gluten free baking mixes contain it.

In order to get a tasty cake which was not too fragile, I’ve had to tweak and experiment with flours and binding agents. This recipe has flaxseed meal, sweet white rice flour and oil to do the job.

This is my current rendition of chocolate cake for those with food restrictions. It has a lot of  ingredients in it, and most kitchens won’t have these flours in house (I use them often). This is the first cake I’ve made that was sturdy enough to stand up to having frosting spread upon it, and it is tasty as well. Yeah!

I put a standard old-fashioned buttercream frosting on this cake, reduced to about 1/4 of a standard frosting batch since I only needed to frost the top of one layer. The end result? This cake was fully devoured by the end of the night.

If you do want buttercream frosting, make sure to plan ahead and pull that butter out of the refrigerator so it can soften naturally to room temperature. The microwave will ruin the butter for this purpose.

Tough but Luscious Chocolate Cake for Everyone

(Make sure all flours say certified gluten free on bag, if for a Celiac person.)
Makes one 9″ layer, to be served in its baking pan.

Dry Ingredients:
1/4 c Sorghum Flour
1/4 c Baking Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Flaxseed Meal
3/4 c Buckwheat flour (only Arrowhead Mills is certified Gluten Free)
1/4 c Brown Rice Flour (Used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 c SWEET White Rice Flour (must say sweet or sticky)
3/4 c White Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
(can replace Soda+Tartar with 3/4 tsp of Baking Powder)
2-4 Shakes Salt

Wet Ingredients:
6 Tbsp Oil (I used Olive, you can’t taste it with the cocoa powder)
1 c Water

Preheat oven to 350F. If you will be making buttercream frosting, take butter out of refrigerator now.

Oil pan: I use a 9″ glass pie plate, or use a 9″ cake pan (if not glass it will have a different baking time).

Sift lumpy flours into baking pan: I put the sorghum, cocoa and flaxseed meal in a screen-type strainer and pressed them through with the back of a large spoon, to remove large bits & lumps (toss whole flax that won’t pass through the screen). This makes it mix more completely and eliminates dry-flour bubbles.

Add other dry ingredients to baking pan. Mix thoroughly with small wire whisk or fork.

Add wet ingredients and mix with fork in pan, checking corners for dry spots.

Shake pan *for a few seconds only* to bring larger bubbles to the top of the batter. Use dry fork tine or toothpick to break the bubbles. If you don’t do this, it will be fragile to frost.

Use paper towel to wipe up uneven splashes of batter on the edges of the pan. I just hold my right hand with the towel still, and spin the pan around with my left hand.

Bake for about 30 minutes. It is done when a toothpick at center pulls out clean. You can often smell the “toasty” baking smell when it’s done, usually just before the timer goes off.

Cool thoroughly. If it’s not room temperature when you go to frost it, you’ll have a fragile mess with crumbs in the frosting.

Serve without frosting if you wish, or add homemade buttercream frosting (not vegan because of the dairy products, but there is nothing more delicious).

Top-One-Layer Buttercream Frosting (for the corn-allergic & celiacs)

1/2 stick (1/4 c) Lightly Salted Butter, softened at room temperature – do not melt!
1 cup Corn-Free Confectioners/Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract (gluten free)
appx. 1 Tbsp. Milk

Place butter in mixing bowl. Use back of large spoon to stir butter until it softens up and is more creamy than resistant. Add sugar in several small batches, mixing until smooth by pressing and smoothing with the back of the spoon. It will feel at first as though there is far too much sugar for the butter, but slowly it will incorporate if you stay with it.

Add vanilla and a teaspoon or so of milk, and mix again until smooth. At this point, determine if the frosting needs more milk to be soft enough to spread without breaking apart the top of your cake layer. Keep adding milk a small bit at a time and mixing until the frosting looks not quite wet and seems spreadable. If necessary, you can add a little more sugar to bring it back to a proper texture.

Let the frosting sit for a few minutes to let the sugar melt and mellow with the liquid. Make sure your cake is fully cooled.

Use a soft rubber spatula and a very light hand to spread the frosting on your cake. Longer strokes often are more gentle to the top of the cake (which is fragile and will want to crumble and mix into your frosting). Worst case, let the crumbs just be there and consider adding mini-chocolate chips on the top as decoration. Make sure the chips are certified gluten free and don’t have corn syrup in them, if you go that route.


If you are new to this sort of baking, many healthy-food groceries will carry all of these ingredients for you. If you have nothing like that near you, try Bob’s Red Mill online. It’s an employee-owned company with great customer service and fine quality.

Enjoy your cake! I’m sure you will.

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