Birthdays/ Cakes, Breads, Muffins & Scones/ Holidays/ Recipes

Dairy & Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

Why Magpie? Why?

Ah, I love ya guys. Like a bunch of cute seagulls circling ol’ Magpie here, cackling “Why? What? How come?”

“Why are you venturing into gluten/dairy free territory? What happened? Who can’t have gluten? Who was diagnosed with what? Are the kids ok?”  said the endless Facebooking, Tweets and emails.

No worries, my groupies. ( <—-I still think that’s hilarious)

My daughter was having her 6th birthday party this last weekend and her best bud happens to be allergic to gluten, dairy, nuts, etc. I talked to her mom at school about her allergies and told her that I bake a lot- understatement of the year methinks -and would love to tackle a gluten-free, dairy free chocolate cake as my next project. I belong to a gluten-free/dairy/corn/everything private board on Facebook but mostly just watch the recipes and comment, seeing what creations people are coming up with.

I do think that everyone these days needs one good allergy safe chocolate cake recipe in their back pocket. What I loved about this cake recipe is that not only is it gluten-free, but by using Rice milk I was able to make it dairy free as well.  You can also make it egg free – I’ve heard- by using egg replacers such as chia eggs, I won’t commit to my version of this recipe being the same with those replacements as I didn’t experiment with it firsthand.  My friend Melissa who suggested this recipe has used egg replacements with quite the success, so don’t be afraid to try!

I gave the original recipe a few reads and mulled over some techniques that were missed and thought of how to make it dairy free yet keep the qualities that one wants when you use buttermilk in a recipe.

It turned out tastier than heck. I was surprised that it really comes close to my favorite Old Fashioned Chocolate cake recipe, which pardon the pun, takes the cake when it comes to taste.

Ingredients Needed

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tsp guar gum
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup Earth Balance butter flavor vegan hard stick butter at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rice milk
2 tsp vinegar

 Kick the tires and light the fires to 350 degrees.

The first part I instantly knew that needed to be kept was the acidity of the buttermilk. You need to use vinegar, the acidity reacts with the baking soda/powder to give you lift that shouldn’t fall. This is why buttermilk was used, but buttermilk is dairy, thus making it utterly unuseable in my version. I threw caution to the wind and used vinegar in the rice milk. Worked like a charm!

The other thing I noticed was the lack of salt. People are a little too scared of sodium, methinks. It has such a beautiful place in baking. Salt is used to enhance the chocolate flavor, which will help overpower any other tastes that come up from the unique flours used.To balance out the flavor of this cake, salt is definitely needed, when baking something sweet, salt will balance out the flavor, lending a complexity you wouldn’t get otherwise. It’s best described as “one noted” “simple” or just plain “flat” when salt is left out of a sweets recipe. Salt is not a leavening agent, however it does help to add volume to cakes, even if it’s just slightly. When working with different flours, one needs all the help they can get!

So now that the ingredients were changed and set, it was time to bake.

Grease and flour your cake pans, this can do a 9×13 so calculate your cake pan area accordingly. To flour the pan, use rice flour. It worked beautifully. I don’t know if there is any truth to it, but years ago my Home Ec teacher told me that by flouring your pans, the flour molecules help the cake rise up the sides of the pans. I have no idea if it is true, but something in that sentence has always made sense to me. Not only does it not stick to the pan, but perhaps there is some science to it as well.

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients, excepting sugars of course.

In your mixer bowl, cream together the “butter” and sugar. I liked the Earth Balance hard stick butter, remember when baking with different dairy replacements that the water content can vary greatly. Margarines and spreads can have so much water in them it can change your baking results. Stick with the sticks.

After that’s done, add in the eggs and vanilla.

So for mixing this batter, you do not want to add too much air by mixing it fast, this is how cakes will fall in the center after baking,a comment complaint.

So slowly, on the lowest possible setting, mix the wet and dry in three parts, starting with dry, ending with wet.  Only three parts to avoid overmixing. This is also a really important part of why this cake turns out so fluffy. This is all about chemical reactions, so let me get nerdy here for a moment. When you are using different flours that need a little extra “oomph”, alternating ingredients ensures that all your “poof power” (I just snorted with laughter) doesn’t get used up right away when you dump your ingredients in all at the same time and combine. The chemical reactions take place as you mix wet with dry, so saving some wet ingredients until the end means that you are going to have some good reactions going on as you pour this batter into the pan and you are going to have a creamier batter.  Because you are adding in wet liquid which has vinegar in it for that wonderful “poof power” , you shouldn’t end with dry, the liquid mixes in much faster and thoroughly than the dry will, and we avoid overmixing. Now this is completely personal opinion, as many people do the complete opposite. However this cake turned out perfectly with this method, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

In baking with gluten, (doesn’t apply here of course) alternating ingredients to prevent over mixing also serves to prevent huge amounts of gluten from forming, meaning a tough baked good in the end. We just don’t want the air in the batter causing our cakes to fall in this recipe.

That was geeky. I’m sorry for that.

Once you reach the last liquid addition, stop the mixer and mix it in by hand gently. I found that this made the batter more pourable than the reviews said, I didn’t have any problem with the batter going into the cake pans at all.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on racks.

And then make it into an amazing castle cake. I am so glad I only do this twice a year for my kids birthdays. It takes up days of my life at a time.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

But this is why I do it. All she could talk about at school was the castle cake Mommy was building. And then she saw it. And according to her, I make the BEST CAKES EVER. Which I most certainly don’t, but let’s allow her to think that a little while longer, I think.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

The icing on the cake is vegan icing as well. That it such another story in itself that it will have to wait until another day this week for the recipe. It involved taste testing every non-dairy spread/butter product available that I could find. I was scraping my tongue off, I kid you not. Some of those are NOT good plain!

I hope everyone in Edmonton is surviving our first real deep freeze. I have been in a haze of stew and soups and snow and wanting to hibernate in my bed all day.


The Gluten Free Baking Newbie No Longer Magpie!



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  • Reply
    November 13, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Amazing recipe!!!!  Made this recipe for my daughter’s and her friend’s birthdays. (About 30+ first graders.) The other mother made a “normal” cake. I feared no one would eat this “gluten free, dairy free cake” and only eat the other one.  Not only was the cake fantastic, rich and like a real cake… the kids loved it too! They ate from both cakes equally!!!!. Kids aren’t shy and will tell you if something doesn’t taste good. Not a word. They even came back for seconds and thirds!

    Thank you! The two kids (celiac and highly dairy allergic) had a great time and felt like all the other kids at the party.

  • Reply
    Tracy Cook
    August 15, 2016 at 2:39 am

    Where did you buy the butter? Looks like a great recipe.

    • Reply
      The Kitchen Magpie
      August 16, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Save on foods, but planet organic will have vegan butters too.

  • Reply
    Jo Mar
    August 14, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    When someone is allergic to dairy, this includes eggs, not just milk and butter.

    • Reply
      The Kitchen Magpie
      August 14, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      No, they aren’t and that’s a dangerous assumption! If you google it, its a VERY common misconception! Eggs are simply an EGGS allergy. Just because they are located near dairy, doesn’t make them dairy!

    • Reply
      Jo Mar
      August 14, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks for the explanation.

  • Reply
    Chris MacNeill
    January 27, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    I just want to say Thank you for a delicious cake.  My granddaughter wanted a castle cake and one of her guests is on a gluten free/dairy free diet and I wanted to ensure she did not feel left out.  I have hosted many birthday parties for children and usually much of the cake is thrown away —-not this time.  All of the cake was eaten and it was great to hear two three year olds say “this cake is good”.  I don’t think you can get a better endorsement than that ! 

    I wanted everything to be natural and my granddaughter wanted a pink cake…I added strawberry puree to the icing which did not go so well… too much liquid in order to get the pink I wanted.  In the end it worked out but I was worried for a little bit.

    Thank you for this awesome recipe – the cake and the icing were amazing

    • Reply
      February 2, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      @Chris MacNeill This makes me so happy!!! I am so glad that it was a hit, allergies with kids are such a hard thing to deal with. Way to go Grandma!!!!

    • Reply
      November 13, 2016 at 7:49 am

      @Chris MacNeill  If you want pink, next time try beet juice. No one can taste the beets because of all the sugar, and a little juice goes a long way (unlike strawberries). 

  • Reply
    August 20, 2013 at 3:10 am

    Wow! Your recipe is beautiful! The cake is light, fluffy and has a beautiful moist texture. After suffering many misdiagnosis ans extreme tummy troubles for over 3 years I was recently diagnosed celiac. I love to bake and was so happy to find your recipe as I can’t eat dairy either. It was superb. Thank you for sharing!


  • Reply
    Karlynn Johnston
    December 12, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Absolutely, you can use butter in it. Just replace the vegan margarine with butter.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Is it possible to use butter in this recipe?

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 21, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Thats is a gorgeous and moist cake! and a really nice gesture. one of my friends found out about her intolerance recently and she was amazed when i called her over for lunch. its not a problem once you try substituting some things.

  • Reply
    Wilf AKA Papa
    January 19, 2012 at 12:54 am

    I think I spotted a raisin in that chocolate cake. I hope ivy didn’t eat all the cake.
    Happy birthday Ivy.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    I’ve been quietly reading your blog for about 6 months, but now I’m coming out of the woodwork to say that you for tackling this. I have celiac and it always gives me the warm ‘n fuzzies when my non-celiac bloggers undertake these cakes. It’s a very real reminder of how generous and wonderful people are that they are willing to go to such great lengths to make sure use allergy kids can eat well.

    • Reply
      January 18, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      Aw thank you so much for the more than kind words &lt;3 ! I know a lot of people with allergies, which is why I strongly suggest most cooks have a few good recipes in their back pockets so that everyone can have treats! Your comment made my day!

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