Gluten-free chocolate cake recipe, anyone? Not surprisingly, this is known as my ‘Bruce Bogtrotter’ cake because of how super moist, fudgy and chocolatey it is. Nobody would ever know it’s Coeliac-friendly and wheat-free too!
Gluten-free chocolate cake recipe – yep, totally inspired by the cake famously devoured by Bruce in the book/film/musical Matilda, which recently had its 25th anniversary. So what better time to stop by and update this post a little? And yes, it’s easy to adapt to be dairy-free or low FODMAP if you need it to be!
Now, I’m not sure if Bruce had any allergies or intolerances, but if he did, this gluten free chocolate cake definitely wouldn’t stop him getting stuck in!
As you can imagine, this isn’t just any chocolate cake, nor is it just a cocoa-flavoured sponge cake. It’s a proper, indulgent, melts-in-your-mouth kinda chocolate cake that absolutely cannot be beat.
And of course, it is literally impossible to tell that this cake is gluten-free. You’d just never expect this kind of texture in a cake without gluten, trust me.
Here’s a few reasons you need to bake my gluten-free chocolate cake if you weren’t convinced already…
Why make my gluten-free chocolate cake recipe?
- This cake is insanely moist and fudgy with a sweet and chocolatey indulgent icing.
- Anyone can bake this. It’s just a sponge mixture split into two 8 inch baking tins and baked. Then whip up your buttercream and construct – simple!
- Once you’ve conquered this recipe, you can transform it however you like. For example, you can easily add 1 tsp of orange or mint extract to the sponge and buttercream to make a chocolate orange or mint chocolate cake.
- I use a simple commercial flour blend to make this which you can find in supermarket free from aisles. No need to concoct your own flour blend!
- This recipe is incredibly easy to make dairy-free or low FODMAP with a few simple swaps. And you’d never notice the difference – read the FAQ section to find out how.
So what does a gluten-free chocolate cake taste like?
Well, in some cases it can be dry and crumbly but that’s most definitely not the case here. As you can hopefully see in the photos, the chocolate sponge is super light, fluffy and almost melts in your mouth.
Couple that with my new and improved chocolate icing and you’re in chocoholic heaven!
So what are you waiting for? Here’s everything you’ll need for this recipe – consider this your shopping list! Looking for the measurements? Keep scrolling until you see the recipe card for the measurements and method…
Gluten-free chocolate cake recipe: What you’ll need…
- Gluten-free plain flour – I used Doves Farm’s FREEE flour, which you easily find down the free from aisle in supermarkets. If you can’t find a blend like this where you live, you can always make your own using my gluten-free flour recipe.
- Gluten-free baking powder – Some brands of baking powder contain wheat flour so please double check the ingredients on yours first.
- Bicarbonate of soda – Please note that this is not the same as baking powder! It’s much stronger, so don’t try and substitute it for more baking powder.
- Xanthan gum – This helps to bind the cake crumb together so it doesn’t become crumbly, replacing the gluten that would otherwise do the same job.
- Cocoa powder – The easy, instant way to a wonderful chocolatey flavour – sieving it into your mixtures always helps as it can be quite lumpy otherwise.
- Caster sugar – Of course, sugar isn’t just for sweetness – it helps to achieve a lovely crisp exterior and helps the cake to form a crumb.
- Buttermilk – For ease, you can just buy buttermilk in the supermarket though I usually make my own using lemon juice and milk as I always have both in the fridge. If making your own, just ensure you allow it to rest for 10 minutes until slightly curdled.
- Vegetable oil – Using vegetable oil in a cake ensures a super moist texture, which is exactly what we’re going for here.
- Large eggs – I used large eggs for this recipe, though medium eggs should be fine too.
- Vanilla Extract – You can also swap this up for orange extract or mint extract to create a chocolate orange or mint chocolate cake too.
- Freshly made black coffee – First of all – no, this cake doesn’t taste like coffee! It actually brings out the chocolate flavour even more somehow. You can happily swap it for boiling water though, if you’d prefer.
- Butter – Make sure yours is softened before you mix up the buttercream or it’ll be next to impossible to mix. Leaving it out of the fridge for a couple of hours should do it.
- Icing sugar – You’ll need this for the buttercream as caster sugar won’t cut it whenever it comes to creating icing.
- Dark chocolate – This is the secret ingredient in my ultimate chocolate buttercream – just cocoa powder alone isn’t enough in my opinion!
So I thought I’d kick things off with a little frequently asked questions section – if you just want the recipe, then keep scrolling.
But I’ve thrown in some tips here that will be really helpful if this is your first time making this, or you want to adapt it. So here they are!
Gluten-free chocolate cake recipe: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this recipe gluten-free? Is it suitable for Coeliacs?
It is gluten-free, though nobody would know just by tasting it – trust me!
Bear in mind that minimising cross-contamination is hugely important if you’re Coeliac or making this for someone who is. Here’s some tips from Coeliac UK on minimising the risk of cross contamination:
Also, make sure that all ingredients used don’t have any gluten-containing ingredients. Then make sure that they also don’t have a ‘may contain’ warning for gluten, wheat, rye, barley, oats (which aren’t gf), spelt and khorasan wheat (aka Kamut).
Here’s some more info from Coeliac UK on identifying safe gluten-free products.
Can I make your gluten-free chocolate cake recipe dairy free?
Of course you can – and this recipe is actually really simple to make dairy free with a few simple swaps. For the cake and buttercream:
- Use dairy-free milk and lemon juice (as instructed in the method) instead of using buttermilk.
- Use Stork hard margarine instead of butter to create the buttercream. The buttercream may be a little looser, so you can either add a little extra icing sugar to compensate, or chill it before spreading.
- Ensure your cocoa powder is dairy-free. Most are, but not all!
- Use dairy-free dark chocolate instead.
Can I make your gluten-free chocolate cake recipe vegan?
Yep! If you follow the instructions above to make this recipe dairy free, then all you’ve got left to contend with is the eggs.
Here’s a few ideas you can use as egg replacements, so each of these = 1 egg.
- 3 tablespoons of aquafaba (whisked until frothy) – water from a can of chickpeas. Keep the chickpeas for a future dinner!
- Egg replacement powder – I’d recommend using Orgran as it’s gluten-free.
- 1 tablespoon of chia/flax seeds mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and left for 10 minutes in the fridge.
- 3 tablespoons of applesauce.
I haven’t tested all of these egg alternatives so let me know how you get on in the comments below this post. Then you’ve got a vegan AND gluten-free chocolate cake!
Can I make this recipe low FODMAP?
Yes! Simply use lactose-free milk and lemon juice (as instructed in the method) instead of buttermilk. Then ensure that you use lactose-free dark chocolate.
With those swaps, one serving of this cake is a safe low FODMAP serving size for the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet.
Can I make your gluten-free chocolate cake in a food processor or standing mixer?
Of course you can! I use an electric whisk for the cake, simply because it doesn’t involve mixing for long periods – this makes light work of the cake batter.
However, as the buttercream requires extended periods of mixing, I far prefer using my stand mixer for that and letting it do all the hard work.
A food processor would be fine for the cake batter, but I’d advise using something with a whisk attachment for the buttercream.
Can I make your gluten-free chocolate cake recipe by hand?
You can of course, bake this without any assistance from any appliance – just a good ol’ fashioned hand whisk will do.
Just make sure you give it a lot of welly, otherwise your mixture won’t be consistent and might not bake properly.
This especially applies when making buttercream by hand!
Do I need any special equipment to bake your gluten-free chocolate cake recipe?
Certainly not! You will need a good quality baking tin (I used 2) so here’s a link to the one I use.
I’d always recommend having two tins so you can bake both sponges at the same time. If you bake them one at a time, the second sponge won’t rise as much as the first.
Can I make this using the all-in-one method?
In case you didn’t know, the all-in-one method involves bunging in all your sponge cake ingredients into a bowl at once, then mixing.
Which is exactly what you shouldn’t do here! There’s a lot of different ingredients in the cake batter of varying temperatures, which is why it’s vital that you add them in stages, ensuring they’re all thoroughly mixed in before continuing.
So no, I wouldn’t recommend using the all-in-one method here whatsoever.
Does this recipe need xanthan gum?
Yes and I wouldn’t recommend leaving xanthan gum out of this one. You’ll see xanthan gum in a lot of my recipes as it’s an essential ingredient in gluten-free baking.
Without gluten to bind the cake batter together, you can be left with a very loose and crumbly sponge texture. Plus, as we’re using gluten-free plain flour, xanthan gum becomes even more vital as it doesn’t have any in the blend to start with (like gluten-free self-raising flour often does).
Some people have asked if they can use psyllium husk powder instead of xanthan gum, but I’ve found that it definitely results in a denser sponge so I wouldn’t overly recommend it.
If you’re really against xanthan gum or you simply don’t have any, you can omit it if pushed.
Do I need weighing scales to bake your gluten-free chocolate cake recipe?
In short… yes, yes and yes! And I wouldn’t advise attempting my gluten-free chocolate cake recipe without them.
A lot of work went into fine tuning ratios and quantities and for me, baking is all about consistency and precision. I want you to make this recipe and for it to turn out EXACTLY like mine did.
I’d recommending using digital cooking scales like these so you know you’re getting an accurate measurement and replicating my recipe as accurately as poss.
Can I bake your gluten-free chocolate cake recipe with less sugar / without sugar?
I can definitely understand the need to reduce sugar in our foods, but this is one of the recipes where I wouldn’t advise it.
Of course, the sugar isn’t just for sweetness – it’s integral to the structure of the cake once baked and is super important. This bake won’t function without sugar!
If you want to reduce the sugar involved in making this cake, I’d just make half the buttercream and only ice the middle and the top of the cake. That’ll reduce it quite a lot!
Can I make this recipe using other gluten free flours like buckwheat flour or coconut flour?
There’s a big difference between ‘gluten free plain/self-raising flour’ and a *singular* type gluten free flour. When I say ‘gluten free plain or self-raising flour’ in a recipe, I mean a BLEND of gluten free flours, not just one, singular flour.
Most gluten free flour you buy in the supermarket typically contains a blend of rice flour, potato flour, maize flour, tapioca flour AND buckwheat flour. That’s a lot of different flours!
So to replace it with just one specific type of flour… that’s not going to cut it at all. Definitely go for a gluten free flour blend.
How can I tell when my gluten-free chocolate cake is done?
Grab a skewer and give it a poke in the centre. If it comes out clean, then it’s done!
But if the skewer comes out moist and cake-like, it’s best to pop it back in for a bit longer.
How long can I keep your gluten-free chocolate cake for?
I’ve kept it for about 4-5 days in an air-tight container with no problems. If you need it any longer than that, I’d highly recommend freezing it (see advice below for doing that)
When the cake starts getting a little dry, it’s probably starting to get past its best.
Can I freeze your gluten-free chocolate cake?
Of course! I’ve frozen it for up to 2-3 months no problem. Ideally, slice up the cake first before freezing – that way you can simply defrost slices as and when you need them.
Plus, it’ll thaw a lot quicker. When you want to eat it, each slice should take around 4 hours to defrost at room temperature.
Tips for the perfect gluten-free chocolate cake:
- Ensure everything is thoroughly mixed and combined before combining the wet ingredients and dry ingredients. And of course, ensure you mix these two together thoroughly before adding the hot coffee!
- Make sure that your buttercream isn’t too thick – this can make it hard to spread and you can risk damaging the delicate sponge. If it feels a little too thickened, gradually add a little milk (then mix in) until you achieve a lovely, fluffy, spreadable consistency.
- Be careful with the sponges! When they come out of the oven, they’re especially delicate so do be careful when transferring to a cooling rack. And don’t forget to be careful once cooled and removing them from the cooling rack too.
- If making your own homemade buttermilk, ensure you allow the milk and lemon juice mixture 10 minutes to rest. This allow it to curdle and thicken, which is a very important distinction between milk and buttermilk!
- Ensure your dark chocolate is slightly cooled before adding to the buttercream – otherwise it’ll melt the butter! Of course, don’t allow it to cool so much that it resolidifies!
Gluten-free chocolate cake recipe: Method
Oh and here’s a printable version of my gluten-free chocolate cake recipe. Please remember to give it 5 stars if you tried it and enjoyed it as it helps people know it’s worth trying too! ⭐️
Gluten-free chocolate cake recipe - BEST EVER! (dairy-free + low FODMAP option)
For the cake:
- 220 g gluten-free plain flour
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
- 65 g cocoa powder
- 330 g caster sugar
- 240 ml buttermilk shop bought or I make my own by mixing 1 tbsp of lemon juice with 240ml milk, then leave to sit for 5-10 minutes - use dairy-free milk if necessary
- 120 ml vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 240 ml freshly made hot coffee you can use just 240ml hot water instead
For the chocolate icing
- 400 g butter softened (use Stork hard margarine if dairy-free)
- 300 g icing sugar
- 85 g cocoa powder
- 175 g dark chocolate melted (dairy-free if necessary)
For the cake:
- Prepare your tins. Grease and line 2 20cm round cake tins with non stick baking paper.
- Preheat the oven to 160C Fan / 180C.
- If making your own buttermilk, add 1 tbsp lemon juice to a jug and then add 240ml of milk. You can use dairy or non dairy milk. Stir thoroughly and then allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. The 'buttermilk' will then be ready to use.
- Place all your dry ingredients in one large bowl and mix to combine.
- In a separate bowl mix together the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. (I used an electric hand mixer)
- Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients. You can do this by hand or with your electric mixer on a low setting.
- Add your hot coffee or hot water and mix. I just used my electric hand mixer on very low. (Don’t worry at how thin the mixture is. It will cook in the oven to make a super moist cake!)
- Carefully pour your cake mix into your tins evenly and place in the oven for around 25-35 minutes. (Check with a skewer to make sure it is cooked through - it will be very soft whilst warm!)
- Leave to completely cool.
For the icing:
- To make your icing, place your butter in a stand mixer (or electric hand whisk if you don't have a stand mixer), mix on its own on a high speed for about 5 minutes. The butter should change from a more yellow colour to being a lot more pale.
- Add your icing sugar gradually to the butter (I do this in two stages). I mix each addition of icing sugar for around 3 minutes before adding the second half.
- Sieve in your cocoa powder and then mix again until fully combined.
- Add in your cooled melted chocolate and mix until dispersed evenly, the colour is a lovely rich chocolate colour and it's a nice thickness to spread.
- Place one of the cake tiers on a serving plate or cake stand and spread the icing on top. Then place the other cake tier on top like a sandwich.
- Spread the icing on the top and round the sides of the cake using a spatula.
290g butter, softened
440g icing sugar
65g cocoa powder
2 tbsp milk
Any questions about the recipe? Please do let me know by following me Instagram and leaving me a comment!
Thanks for reading,
Oh and don’t forget to pin this for later!