Gluten-free courgette chocolate cake recipe – and before you ask, no it doesn’t taste like vegetables! Adding courgette just makes this cake super moist and fudgy, believe it or not.
Gluten-free courgette chocolate cake recipe?! Why not? You can easily make this low FODMAP, dairy-free and vegan if you fancy too. We have TONS of courgettes (zucchinis) growing in the garden at the mo, so naturally… I had to bake them into a cake!
And if you liked this recipe, don’t forget to check out my classic gluten-free chocolate cake.
Back just before lockdown started, Mark did what I now refer to as ‘panic planting’ ? Yep, he planted FIVE courgette plants in a grow bag and in the beds in our garden.
Fast-forward a couple of months later and we are now knee-deep in lovely, fresh courgettes of all different shapes and sizes! I don’t blame him really – at the time the supermarkets we being ransacked and we were advised against going unless really necessary.
And whilst things have improved in the UK since then, we discovered that growing your own veg is so awesome that we’re gonna keep it up! Obviously, we used tons of our courgettes in all our dinners post-lockdown, right when they started being big enough to pick.
We had ratatouille, courgette fries, chill con carne with courgette, pasta bakes with courgette, stir fries with courgette… and we still had tons left over! So naturally, my next step was to use them in my gluten-free courgette chocolate cake recipe! Here’s a few reasons you should too:
Why make my gluten-free courgette chocolate cake?
- It’s incredibly moist, fudgy and indulgent and maybe even one of the BEST chocolate cakes I’ve ever tried/baked.
- It’s a great way to use up courgettes you might have growing in the garden, in a non-savoury way.
- It doesn’t taste like courgette or vegetables at all, in case you were worried!
- Adding courgette to a cake is a little like adding carrot to a carrot cake. It makes it super moist and succulent.
- It doesn’t taste gluten-free AT ALL either – the muggles will love this cake, so make sure you save a slice for yourself!
- You can easily make this cake dairy-free, vegan or low FODMAP with a couple of simple swaps – see the FAQ section below for advice.
- It’s super easy to make – just mix up your cake batter, bake, mix up your icing and throw together. Simple!
- Erm… a slice of cake counts as one of your five a day? ? Maybe not…
But here’s the big question: what does a gluten-free courgette chocolate cake taste like?
It tastes like the best chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten, to be quite full of myself! The sponge is incredibly light, moist, fudgy indulgently chocolatey and super soft – not like your average Victoria sponge ‘cakey’ texture.
Of course, the sponge even has some chunky dark chocolate chips in it which add a lovely little surprise in every bite. Then you’ve got that fluffy buttercream that’s sweet and full of rich chocolatey flavour with crunchy little sprinkles on top. One slice is never enough!
Here’s everything you’ll need for this recipe, keep scrolling until you see the recipe card for the measurements and method ??
Gluten-free courgette chocolate cake recipe: Ingredients
For the cake
- gluten free plain flour
- xanthan gum
- cocoa powder
- bicarbonate of soda
- gluten-free baking powder
- oil (vegetable or sunflower)
- caster sugar
- light brown sugar
- large eggs
- yoghurt (dairy free if necessary)
- vanilla extract (optional)
- dark chocolate chips (optional)
For the icing
- butter (dairy free alternative if necessary)
- icing sugar
- cocoa powder
- dark chocolate
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 baking this, or you want to adapt it. So here they are!
Gluten-free courgette 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 that 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 courgette chocolate cake recipe dairy free?
Of course you can – and this recipe is actually really simple to make dairy free.
Firstly, ensure that your cocoa powder is dairy-free as not all are. Next, use dairy-free yoghurt and dairy-free chocolate chips, if using.
Then, for the buttercream, use Stork hard margarine or any kind of hard, dairy-free butter and use dairy-free dark chocolate. I prefer to use a dark chocolate that’s ‘accidentally’ dairy-free rather than dairy-free chocolate for this.
The buttercream will be a little softer than if you were using butter, so I’d recommend chilling it for 30 minutes after making it.
Can I make your gluten-free courgette 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 – 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 ??
Can I make this recipe low FODMAP?
Yes, of course! Simply use lactose-free yoghurt and ensure that all chocolate used is lactose-free (it doesn’t have to be labelled as ‘lactose free’ per se, it just needs to contain no dairy products).
Do that and one slice of this chocolate cake would be suitable for the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet.
Is your gluten-free courgette chocolate cake recipe nut free?
Yep, this is a nut-free recipe as far as ingredients go, BUT make sure you check the ingredients label on ALL the products you use to bake this cake just to be safe.
Even if the products don’t contain nuts, they may have a ‘may contain nuts’ warning due to being produced in a factory that handles nuts.
You can never be too careful so always read the labels on everything first!
Can I make this recipe without courgettes?
If you wish to make this recipe without using courgettes, I’d advise using my gluten-free chocolate cake recipe over here.
This cake won’t turn out very well with the courgettes removed, but fortunately I already have a very similar fudgy chocolate cake recipe on the blog already!
Can I make your gluten-free courgette chocolate cake in a food processor or standing mixer?
Of course you can – and it’ll save you on elbow grease! I’ve never used a food processor to make the cake mixture personally – I’ve always used an electric whisk.
For the buttercream, I always prefer to make it in my stand mixer, purely because of the amount of mixing it takes to beat the butter until it becomes pale. But you can always use an electric whisk for this too.
Can I make your gluten-free courgette chocolate cake recipe by hand?
You can of course, bake this without any assistance from any appliance – just a good ol’ fashioned silicone spatula will do. Just make sure you give it a lot of welly, otherwise your mixture won’t be consistent and might not bake properly.
Making the buttercream by hand is definitely possible, but it’ll take longer and required a little more effort. But it’s doable!
Do I need any special equipment to bake your gluten-free courgette 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 bake this using the all-in-one method?
In case you didn’t already know, the all-in-one method involves bunging all your sponge ingredients into a bowl at once and mixing them together. That’s instead of adding them gradually.
There’s more ingredients in this bake than there is with a regular sponge cake. And as you might know already, the more ingredients, the more important that consistent mixing becomes.
You certainly don’t want lumpy cake batter, or any unmixed parts, so I wouldn’t advise using the all-in-one method for this one.
Does this recipe need xanthan gum?
You’ll see xanthan gum in a lot of my recipes as it’s an essential ingredient in ever gluten-free baker’s cupboard. It helps to bind the texture of the cake together to stop it from being crumbly.
For me, I wouldn’t ever bake a cake without it! And that’s especially true when you’re baking a cake with gluten-free plain flour as it has *zero* added xanthan gum in it (gluten-free self-raising flour usually has a little xanthan gum added to it).
If you either can’t tolerate xanthan gum or really can’t find any, don’t let that stop you trying this recipe, however. The sponge may be a little more delicate, but it will taste exactly the same.
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 for cakes.
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.
Do I need weighing scales to bake your gluten-free courgette chocolate cake recipe?
In short… yes, yes and yes! And I wouldn’t advise attempting any my recipes 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 courgette 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!
You can of course reduce the buttercream if you’re concerned about sugar – it’s up to you.
How long can I keep your gluten-free courgette 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 courgette 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.
How can I tell when my gluten-free courgette 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.
Can I print your gluten-free courgette chocolate cake recipe?
Yes! Just hit the print button located on the recipe below ?? (otherwise you might end up printing this entire post which would probably make your printer go into early retirement)
Gluten-free courgette chocolate cake recipe: Troubleshooting
My sponges didn’t rise or were totally flat in the middle!
There’s actually quite a few reasons, but here’s a few common ones:
- Too much raising agent – eg. baking powder. Anything that causes your cake to rise too fast, will inevitably sink by the time the cake it done. The cake won’t be cooked enough to hold it’s own weight!
- Split or curdled mixture. Whilst this can have a bit of a role in a sunken cake, I’ve found that it’s never too drastic.
- Opening the oven door. Never open the oven door while a cake is baking if you can avoid it! Not only does this result in a sudden drop in temperature, but it will interrupt the circulation of air in the oven.
- Over mixing the batter. If you whisk too much air into the batter, it’ll probably sink slowly as it bakes.
Why is my sponge cake dry with a tough outer crust?
If the sponges come out looking and feeling dry, hard with a tough outer crust, it’s probably over-baked.
That either means it had too long in the oven, or the oven temperature was too hot.
Oven temperatures can vary massively, so it’s best to keep an eye on your sponge from around 15 minutes before it should be done.
Gluten-free courgette chocolate cake recipe: Method
Oh and here’s a printable version of my gluten-free courgette 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 Courgette Chocolate Cake Recipe (low FODMAP/dairy-free/vegan option)
For the cake
- 240 g gluten free plain flour
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 60 g cocoa powder ensure dairy-free if needed
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 240 ml oil vegetable or sunflower
- 150 g caster sugar
- 150 g light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 80 g yoghurt dairy-free if necessary
- 1 tsp vanilla extract optional
- 350 g-400g grated courgette I used 2 medium courgettes (weight is the grated weight not the courgettes weight before you start!)
- 150 g dark chocolate chips optional
For the icing
- 250 g butter softened (dairy free alternative if necessary)
- 185 g icing sugar
- 55 g cocoa powder ensure dairy-free if needed
- 110 g dark chocolate dairy-free if needed
For the cake
- Preheat the oven to 160C Fan / 180C and prepare two circular cake tins (mine are fairly deep 20cm ones).
- In a large bowl mix together both your sugars, eggs, yoghurt, vanilla and oil until combined.
- Add in your grated courgette and mix once more until combined.
- In a separate bowl add your gluten free flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Mix these together so combined.
- Add your dry mixture to your wet mixture and mix together until combined and no flour pockets remain. Try not to overmix, but do make sure it's all combined.
- If you want to, add your dark chocolate chips and fold them in. Your batter should be a fairly thick mixture.
- Evenly place your mixture between both of your tins. Place in the centre of your oven for around 38-40 minutes until cooked through. The cakes are quite big which is why it takes a little longer.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in their tins before transferring to a cooling rack. These sponges are moist and fudgy so more delicate than a victoria sponge, so be careful!
For the icing
- Melt your dark chocolate (I do this is the microwave in 20 seconds bursts), put to one side to cool whilst making the rest of the buttercream.
- 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.
- Carefully place one of your sponges onto your serving plate, I use a cake slice to slide this one as it's more delicate!
- Spread a thick layer of icing over the centre. I don't ever go right up to the edges or else if all comes out when you put the top layer on.
- Carefully place the top layer on and spread with more of the icing.
- Finish with some chocolate decorations optionally. Slice and enjoy!
Any questions about the recipe? Please do let me know by following me on Instagram and leaving me a comment on a recent photo!
Thanks for reading,
Oh and don’t forget to pin this for later!