Favorite Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

Favorite Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

After 2 1/2 weeks of being at home, I have finally come to terms with the fact that these weeks at home are not going to be productive.  When this is all said and done, I am not going to walk out of my door and leave behind a house that is clean and perfectly organized.  It will be moderately clean, probably a little bit messy, and no more organized than it was a few weeks ago.  This is despite me lamenting for ages that if only I had an entire week at home to work on all of those pesky projects I ever make time for.  And that’s just one week!  Imagine 2, 3, 4 weeks, or more!  

But it turns out, I don’t have the energy to be productive.  I am afraid and anxious and my worrying tendencies are going into overdrive.  I spend my days keeping my family fed, trying to keep in contact with people that I care about, taking walks, watching Game of Thrones with Ray, and spending countless hours with Olive doing puzzles and listening to Harry Potter.  At the end of the day, I have zero motivation to clean out closets and I am finally at peace with that.  

Favorite Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

What I will always make time for, however, is cake.  This particular cake is modified from a recipe from one of my grandmothers.  She was known to us as Nana. Nana was goofy and fun-loving.  She put on records and led my sisters and I in parades, singing and marching through her house.  She made us Shirley Temples and ice cream floats. She helped us all develop our love of food and cooking for other people.  She was stern when she absolutely had to be and she loved us all fiercely.  It was on this day, several years ago, that we lost her and so it is fitting that her cake is what I turned to for comfort.  

Nana often made this cake, although she commonly made it with a boiled icing, not chocolate frosting.  But when I set out to bake a cake yesterday, I decided that these times call for as much chocolate as possible and I don’t think that Nana would have objected.  The cake itself is supremely tender, so treat it gently after baking.  As a bonus, the cake ingredients can all be mixed up in one bowl so there are less dishes to wash.  You don’t even need a mixer, a large whisk works just fine.  

If you want your cake to be picture-perfect, you could refrigerate it for an hour before slicing. Clearly, I did not do that because I have never turned away cake of any kind, let alone a piece that was slightly messy, and I don’t intend to start getting fussy about my cake now. Nana would have definitely agreed.

Stay home if you can, bake cake, be safe.

Favorite Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

Favorite Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

A gluten & dairy free adaptation of my Nana’s incomparable chocolate cake recipe which results in an extra tender, one-bowl chocolate cake.  Makes two 9-inch round layers or one 9X13 cake.  Delicious with boiled icing, buttercream, or chocolate frosting.

  • Author: Allison Ghaner


For the Cake:
2 cups gluten free all purpose flour (such as King Arthur Measure for Measure flour blend)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup HOT coffee (regular or decaf both work)
1 cup non-dairy milk
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
Dairy free mini chocolate chips, if desired

For the Chocolate Frosting:
3/4 cup cocoa powder (or use Hershey’s Special Dark for an extra chocolatey frosting)
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened (I like Country Crock Plant Butter with Olive Oil)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup evaporated coconut milk (see Notes)


For the Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. If making two round layers, cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit on the bottom of each round pan.  Grease the inside of each pan with oil and then place the parchment paper at the bottom of the pan.
3. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
4. Add oil, coffee, and milk, mixing well.
5. Add eggs and vanilla and mix again until well combined.
6. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes.
7. Cool in pans for 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen cake and invert it onto a rack to cool.  Carefully peel off parchment paper.

For the Frosting:
1. Whisk together sugar and cocoa.
2. Cream half of sugar mixture with vegan butter.  Add vanilla and half of milk.
3. Add remaining sugar mixture, mixing well, then the last of the milk.
4. Mix frosting on high for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

To Assemble:
1. Once cake layers are completely cool, place one layer on a large round plate.  Scoop half of frosting onto cake  layer and gently spread it out over the top of the cake, working your way from the center of the cake outward.
2. Place the second cake layer on top and cover with remaining frosting and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips, if you like.


– Evaporated coconut milk works best, but in a pinch, you can substitute any non-dairy milk.  I find that regular non-dairy milk makes the frosting a little runnier, so you may need to add an extra 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.

– We keep this cake in the refrigerator.

– I prefer two thicker layers of frosting, so I only frosted the inside and top of the cake, but you could use less frosting on the first layer and frost the entire cake with what remains.  If you want to frost the inside and outside of the cake and have extra left over to decorate the cake, I would make an extra 1/2 recipe of the frosting.

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