Gluten and Dairy Free One-Bowl Chocolate Cake with Vanilla-Bean Buttercream

This gluten and dairy-free one bowl chocolate cake is uber-moist, chocolatey, and fudgy.

Okay, so the making of this cake came about at a friend’s request. I am not — nor have I ever been — the person who would, left to her own devices, make a gluten and dairy free birthday cake. I’ve nothing against either the gluten-free or dairy-free sweets movement, but when I think about a sweet I want to make, I tend not to go in the what-can-I-“free”-this dessert-from direction. I think more about “with what can I encumber it?” More brown sugar? More egg yolks? More heavy cream? You get the idea.  
Gluten and Dairy Free One-Bowl Chocolate Cake with Vanilla-Bean Buttercream | Jessie Sheehan Bakes

But I love a challenge, and I figured transforming an oil-based one-bowl chocolate cake, into a gluten-free oil-based one-bowl chocolate cake would be easy peasy and it was—ish. My introduction to one bowl chocolate cakes eons ago was via Martha, and her’s remains one of my faves. However, there are other fabulous one-bowl cakes out there, like Ina Garten’s and Hershey’s, the latter of which undoubtedly influenced Martha’s and Ina’s. (The recipe has been on the back of the cocoa tin, I would guess, forever).Gluten and Dairy Free One-Bowl Chocolate Cake with Vanilla-Bean Buttercream | Jessie Sheehan Bakes

Using the Hershey’s recipe as my jumping off point, as others have done before me, I developed my own gluten-free one-bowl, calling for my favorite oil for baking, cup 4 cup in place of regular flour, and a soy milk/apple cider vinegar mixture in place of buttermilk (I read that soy and vinegar makes for the best dairy free buttermilk substitute). I also included a yolk, dark brown sugar, espresso powder, and a generous glug of vanilla. The resulting cake was spectacular. But unfortunately, my cake needed to be dairy free, and unbeknownst to me (i.e.: i did not read the ingredient list), cup 4 cup contains milk powder.
Gluten and Dairy Free One-Bowl Chocolate Cake with Vanilla-Bean Buttercream | Jessie Sheehan Bakes

Back to the drawing board it was, and a substitution of King Arthur’s Gluten Free Multi Purpose Flour (and a bit of xanthan gum and an extra yolk) for the cup 4 cup ensued. The resulting cake was uber-moist, chocolate-y, and fudgy, and so very yummy. It did not have the fluffiness of the one made with cup 4 cup, but was very good indeed. And so here, I give you both: the version with cup 4 cup, that is gluten, but not dairy, free, and the version with King Arthur which is free, free, free. Try both, and let me know which you prefer.

Gluten Free Dairy Free Chocolate Cake
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one-bowl chocolate cake with vanilla bean buttercream frosting (gluten and dairy-free)

This gluten and dairy-free one bowl chocolate cake is uber-moist, chocolatey, and fudgy.
Recipe Author Jessie Sheehan
Servings 12

Ingredients

for the cake

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cups king arthur gluten-free multi-purpose flour
  • scant 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 Tbsp espresso powder

for the frosting

  • 3/4 cup butter substitute like earth balance
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar sifted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla paste or one vanilla bean, scraped
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp soy milk

Instructions

to make the cake

  • preheat the oven to 350 degrees. spray two nine inch round pans, line with parchment, and spray again.
  • combine the soy milk and vinegar in a four cup measuring cup, whisk, and let sit til thickened.
  • combine all of the dry ingredients - but not the espresso powder - in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well incorporated.
  • add the yolks, eggs, vanilla, and oil to the soy/vinegar mixture, and whisk til combined. with the stand mixer on low, slowly pour the wet into the dry ingredients. beat until incorporated and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, as necessary.
  • combine the hot water and espresso powder, and add to the stand mixer's bowl. mix again for 30 seconds until smooth.
  • pour the batter into the two prepared pans and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 22 to 25 minutes, rotating half way through the baking time. the cakes are ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a moist crumb or two.
  • let the layers cool for a bit, until the pans are no longer hot to the touch. invert the layers on to cooling racks, and let cool completely.

to make the frosting

  • combine the butter substitute and the shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. cream on medium speed til combined and fluffy. add the confectioners sugar, a cup at a time, scraping down the bowl periodically, until completely combined. add the salt and mix again. add the vanilla and as much soy milk as is necessary to produce a spreadable texture. beat again until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

to assemble

  • frost the cake!!

Notes

there is some disagreement about how much xanthan gum one should use per cup of flour. i went with those who believe that 1/4 tsp per 1 cup of flour is adequate, but some recommend 1/2 tsp per cup, or even a whole tsp. honestly, i think you could add a tad more to this recipe and perhaps get a bit more lift out of your cake (right now it is fudgy and dense-ish which, honestly, is nothing to scoff at).
to use cup 4 cup, creating a gluten-free, but not dairy-free, cake, omit the xanthan gum and one of the yolks.

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