My daddy turned fifty last weekend! That meant a big surprise party at my aunt’s. There are a lot of food allergies/sensitivities in my family, and as a mostly-vegan, I know what it’s like to have to pass on something that looks super yummy. So I decided to take on the challenge of the cake. My dad is a big fan of German chocolate cake, my goal was to pull off a gluten-free vegan German chocolate cake that everyone could enjoy.
I started a week early, practicing with gluten-free flour. I’ve never used it before, and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My aunt told me I would need xanthan gum, and so I looked for an all-purpose flour that had xanthan gum already mixed in. Then I looked online and found a few recipes I could tweak and customize to my own needs.
These cakes aren’t fit for a party, but they were necessary mistakes to learn some of the dos and don’ts of gluten-free
Cake number one came out really gelatinous, and it had an awful, bitter flavor. The recipe was all wrong. Not enough sugar to sweeten up the 100% cacao powder, and too much rise that fell immediately after removing it from the oven.
Cake number two also came out gelatinous, but it had a better flavor. After doing some research, I learned that the flour might be the culprit to the jelly-like texture (which wasn’t at all appetizing). So I bought a different brand of flour.
Cake number three was given an extra twist: a tablespoon of all natural chocolate sauce, but was already in the oven when I realized I’d forgotten the flax egg. I paced around the kitchen and waited for the timer to go off, and was surprised at how well it rose. Not only that, but it had a “cake-like” texture, with just a bit of density. It tasted like a damn good brownie.
Cake number four was merely a test, to see if the flax egg helped. The answer is no. It sank, and didn’t taste as good. I decided to opt out of the flax egg, wondering if I’d stumbled upon an egg substitute by using the chocolate sauce.
Cake number five was a sheet cake, and was the cake, so I gnawed on my fingers and attempted to sew as it baked and cooled. It didn’t sink at all, and kept its shape even after cutting into it. Success! I had several compliments, and a few others said that it didn’t even need the icing (which was not, in fact, traditional German chocolate cake icing, as I’d run out of time and didn’t realize I’d need pecans).
What I learned from baking five gluten-free cakes:
- Keep your coconut oil as hard as you can. I softened mine just a little after creaming it into the sugar, but only so it would mix better. The batter was chunky with coconut oil, something I learned was a good thing.
- While prepping other items, keep your batter in the fridge. This will keep the coconut oil hard and give the cake more stability.
- When mixing the wet into the dry, gently fold it in. Don’t whip it or use a mixer. Try to churn as little air as you can into the cake. This will prevent sinking.
- Don’t open the oven until the timer goes off. Opening the oven early can sink a cake.
- When your cake is done, leave it to cool in the oven with the door open for a few minutes before gently moving it to a cooling rack. This also prevents sinking.
Without further ado, here is the recipe I used for a Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 30-35 minutes
Oven Temp: 350 degrees at first, then 400 degrees toward the end
Yields: One 9×13 sheet cake or two round cakes
What you’ll need:
2 cups Gluten-free all-purpose flour w/ xanthan gum added
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp vegan chocolate syrup
1.5 cups almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup refined coconut oil (hard, or softened just a little. Do not melt in microwave.)
How to make it:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 9×13 sheet cake pan and set aside
- Cream both sugars and coconut oil with a mixer.
- Put bowl of sugar/oil mixture into microwave for no more than 20 seconds.
- Stir in vanilla, chocolate syrup, and almond milk.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Gently fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture until combined. Batter will appear chunky because of the coconut oil. If your mixture winds up too wet, just add a bit more flour. If your mixture winds up too dry, add a bit more almond milk.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees, then turn the oven up to 400 for another 5-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the several places comes out clean.
- Turn off the oven and open the door, let cake cool in the oven for a few minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the pan, on a cooling rack, for an hour.
- Make sure cake is completely cool before icing it.
- Store cake in fridge.
Hope it works as well for you as it did for me! Feel free to make creative changes, then tell me all about them in the comments below!