A Gluten Free Chocolate Birthday Cake


Our good friends from our “Chicago Days” who now live in Rhode Island spent the night with us on their way down to Florida yesterday.  It was so wonderful to spend some time with them. 

They were a  part of a close knit group of friends we had who, like us, were all transplanted to the Windy City from the east coast in the 70’s. We were all beginning our own families at this time, and before long we became family to each other filling the void that living far from one’s roots can create.

So we celebrated holidays and birthdays together, formed a gourmet club, had play dates for our kids, went apple picking, pumpkin picking, and strawberry picking, and the dads even took the kids on camping trips (without the moms).

As is life, eventually we all found ourselves relocating, many of us back to the east coast, but all to different cities.

But those were days we cherish, and no doubt the memories of those good times for our children (now adults, and some with their own children), have impacted their lives.

As luck would have it,  it was also my husband’s birthday yesterday, and what better way to spend it than with good friends!

I made a birthday dinner of Greek Chicken and Potatoes, Greek Style Green Beans and Tomatoes, and a Greek Salad, all of which was gluten free as our friend must adhere to this diet. 




While dinner was not challenging at all, I was not so confident about making my husband’s favorite chocolate birthday cake with a gluten free twist. 

I confess I have never made a gluten free cake other than the sponge cakes I make at Passover which are gluten free by nature since I only use potato starch in them, and an occasional flourless chocolate cake.

But I wanted this to be a real birthday cake, 2 layers with a special filling between the layers, and a decadently rich chocolate glaze. 

When I found a bag of gluten free flour at Trader Joe’s I thought I just might be able to pull off a gluten free birthday cake worth celebrating.


  I decided to follow the recipe for my chocolate cake, substituting the gluten free flour for the cake flour called for. 

A Chocolate Cake That’s Got It All

Butter, for coating cake pans

2 cups sugar

1 and 3/4 cups cake flour      1 and 3/4 cups gluten free flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch process

1 teaspoon instant coffee ( I used instant espresso powder)

3/4 cup boiling water

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

14 tablespoons (13/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, but not hot

2 (8-inch) cake pans


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously grease the cake pans with butter and dust with flour.  (I prefer to line the bottom of the pans with buttered parchment as well to prevent any sticking).

Whisk sugar, flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

Place cocoa and coffee in a medium bowl.  Whisk in 3/4 cup boiling water to form a smooth paste.  Stir in sour cream and vanilla and set aside.

With a hand  or electric mixer in  medium bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks.  Without cleaning the beaters, mix melted butter into dry ingredients until mixture is smooth.  Immediately add cocoa mixture, and beat until batter is smooth, 2-3 minutes.  Carefully fold egg whites into batter until just incorporated.

Divide batter evenly between pans and bake until a skewer inserted into center comes out with wet crumbs, 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven, and let cakes sit in pans to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.  Invert each cake onto a plate, then onto a cooling rack. 

For the filling I whipped up some heavy cream into which  I folded some frozen (partially thawed) raspberries, making it a pretty shade of pink, and then covered the whole cake with a rich chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Fudge Glaze

1/4 cup (60ml) water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 ounces (170g) sweet cooking chocolate, broken into pieces

1/2 cup confectioners, sugar (2 ounces, 55g)

1 and 1/2 tablespoons dark rum (or Chambord Liqueur)

Pinch of salt

Bring water and butter to boil in a small saucepan.  Keep at simmer until needed.

Metal Blade:  Pulse the chocolate with confectioners’ sugar 5 times, then process continuously until chocolate is as fine as sugar.  With machine running, pour water and butter through the feed tube and process until chocolate is melted, stopping once to scrape the work bowl.  Add the rum or Chambord and salt and process for 5 seconds.

With the remaining glaze (I made 1 and 1/2 x the recipe) I decorated the top of the cake with a pastry tip.  Allow the glaze to chill a bit to thicken it enough to do this.

Some raspberries for the finishing touch, and I would say it was a delicious success!

And by what was left I think you might agree.

I’m now a believer that gluten free doesn’t have to be taste free!



1 Notes

  1. dinneratsheilas posted this