You want to make a showstopper of a chocolate cake, but there’s a catch: It can’t have gluten in it. You’ve come to the right place, friend. This super-moist chocolate cake (from Katarina Cermelj’s new cookbook, Baked to Perfection) is fluffy, rich and most importantly, gluten-free.
“The initial version of this cake,” Cermelj writes, “relied on only cocoa powder for the chocolate flavor. I won’t lie—it felt like cheating. Cocoa powder simply doesn’t match actual melted chocolate when it comes to giving a cake that deep, luxurious chocolate flavor. In this improved version, I’ve used both melted chocolate and cocoa powder in the sponges as well as in the frosting—and all of a sudden, it’s become every chocoholic’s dream come true.”
Ready for a cool science trick? “Because chocolate has a slightly acidic pH,” she writes, “it helps boost the activity of the raising agents and helps makes the sponges even more tender and delicate. Don’t be scared by the addition of hot water to the cake batter—together with the milk, it helps keep the cake incredibly moist, so that it simply melts in your mouth.”
FYI, the measurements are by weight and not volume—it’s a more accurate way to divvy out ingredients, and when you’re baking gluten-free, that can make all the difference. Time to get that baking scale you’ve been eyeing.
Recipe adapted from Baked to Perfection, Copyright Katarina Cermelj, 2021. Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury.
280g dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids), chopped
200g unsalted butter
250g granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
160g gluten-free flour blend
80g almond flour
40g Dutch processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon kosher salt
120g hot water
120g whole milk, warmed
600g unsalted butter, softened
400g confectioners’ sugar
100g Dutch processed cocoa powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
300g dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids), melted and cooled
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
2. Make the Chocolate Sponges: In a heatproof bowl fitted over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the dark chocolate and butter together. Set aside to cool until warm, then add the sugar and eggs, and mix well.
3. Sift in the gluten-free flour blend, almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Mix until a smooth batter with no flour clumps forms. Add the hot water and milk; whisk until combined.
4. Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the cake pans for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Make the Chocolate Buttercream: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar and beat until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes more.
6. Sift in the cocoa powder and salt, and beat until fully combined. Add the melted and cooled chocolate and beat until the buttercream is smooth.
7. Assemble the cake: If the sponges are domed on top, level them using a sharp, serrated knife.
8. Place the bottom sponge layer on a cake stand and spread a generous layer of buttercream on top (but leave enough buttercream for the outside of the cake). Sandwich the other sponge layer on top, turned so that the bottom faces up. This will give the cake a nice, flat surface for decoration.
9. Use the remaining chocolate buttercream to cover the outside of the cake. Decorate the cake by creating swirls of buttercream with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
Note: The cake will keep in an airtight container or wrapped in cling film in a cool, dry place or the fridge for 4 to 4 days. If you keep the cake in the fridge, leave it out at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.