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IDEA ALLEY: This gluten-free chocolate cake easy and ‘amazing’

by Kelly Brant | April 6, 2022 at 1:52 a.m.
The Easiest Ever Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

My friend Erika Gray describes this gluten-free chocolate cake as "amazing," confessing she and her partner have made the cake three times in the past two weeks.

"It's a cake we readily share with the non-[gluten-free] neighbors."

She was so convincing I had to try it.

The recipe, from, uses rice flour rather than the usual blend of gluten-free flours and additives. It is important to use finely milled flour. Gray uses Authentic Foods brand, which is available online. I only had cup4cup all-purpose flour on hand, so that's what I used. The results were still delicious. It won't fool anyone who isn't gluten-free, but it's an excellent cake. The frosting — buttercream made with browned butter — is outstanding.

Gray enjoys this cake topped with white and dark chocolate chips and English toffee. I topped it with colored sprinkles, but it really needs no adornment.

For the best results, use a scale to weigh the ingredients. However, for convenience and to accommodate cooks without a kitchen scale, cup and tablespoon measures are also included. Please note though, George Eats is Australian, so the cups and tablespoon measures on that website will differ from those here, which I have converted to American cups and tablespoons. Gray uses a scale and I encourage you to do so as well.

The Easiest Ever Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

  • Scant 1 cup/220 grams granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup/50 grams lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups/210 grams fine white rice flour
  • ¾ cup/75 grams dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons fine salt
  • 1 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon/250 mL milk (dairy or plant-based)
  • 4 teaspoons/20 mL apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup/180 mL vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup/60 mL freshly brewed espresso or very strong coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon/250 mL boiling water
  • For the buttercream:
  • 13 tablespoons/185 grams butter
  • 1 ½ cups/150 grams confectioners' sugar, plus more as needed
  • ¾ cup/75 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup/125 mL milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract, optional
  • Pinch of fine salt, optional (omit if using salted butter)
  • Desired toppings such as chocolate chips, crushed toffee, sprinkles

Heat oven to 355 degrees. Grease and line 2 (8-inch) cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, rice flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; whisk well.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk and the apple cider vinegar and allow to sit for a few minutes.

Add the milk-vinegar mixture, the vegetable oil, brewed espresso, vanilla and eggs to the dry mixture. Whisk to form a smooth batter. Add the boiling water and whisk to combine. The batter will be very thin. Divide the mixture between the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until cooked through, a tester inserted near the center should come out clean or with a few crumbs.

Cool the cake completely before frosting with buttercream.

To make the buttercream: In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter begins to turn golden brown and takes on a nutty aroma. Immediately remove from heat. Pour the browned butter into heat-safe bowl and refrigerate or freeze until set, 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. (I left it in the fridge overnight and then brought it almost to room temperature before using the next day.)

Once the butter is completely cooled, place it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the butter with the whisk attachment on medium speed until the butter is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl every few minutes. Be patient. It will take 10 to 15 minutes of beating and scraping. The mixture should be light and fluffy — not quite white but a very pale beige.

Sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa.

With the mixer on low, carefully add about half of the confectioners' sugar-cocoa mixture, followed by the milk and then the remaining confectioners' sugar-cocoa mixture. Add the vanilla and salt (if using). Beat until smooth, fluffy and creamy. Taste and adjust consistency if necessary with more sugar or milk — I added about ½ cup more confectioners' sugar.

To assemble: Once the cake has completely cooled, place one layer on a platter and top with a dollop of the frosting, spreading it to the edges. Top with the remaining layer and frost with the remaining frosting. Decorate as desired with chocolate chips, crushed toffee or sprinkles.

This cake keeps well in the fridge for a few days.

Makes 1 (eight-inch, two layer) cake.


◼️ Cheese soup like that served at Scallions in Little Rock for Cindy Allen.

◼️ Potato Chop like that served many years ago at Eat Your Heart Out on Main Street in downtown Little Rock for Linda Webb. The restaurant featured belly dancers, if that helps jog anyone's memory. In 2006 Idea Alley ran Carolyn Porter's unanswered request for the same menu item. This is how it was described in that ­column:

"Potato Chop, a dish served at the former Syrian or Middle Eastern restaurant, Eat-Your-Heart-Out, in downtown Little Rock about 30 years ago. ...[It] was like potato patties but in a "puffy" ball shape. The coating was similar to mashed potatoes but thicker, and the filling was like a spicy shepherd's pie. Apparently baked, it formed a light crust outside, and perhaps had been brushed with oil or butter."

Next week: How to make Fettuccine Carbonara like The Villa and more requests for favorite restaurant recipes.

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