No Frills Chocolate Cake

I have been prescribed a little indulgence in these later stages of pregnancy, so I have been making my favorite baked goods and cheese-filled Italian dishes. I will have to balance out my blog entries with healthy entrées once the baby is born.

It has been ages since my last piece of chocolate cake, so I made one today while my toddler took a nap nearby. Apparently, he is comforted by the hum of the mixer and smells of the kitchen because he slept a really long time! I didn’t have the energy for a layered cake, so I made a simple chocolate pan cake.

chocolate cake No Frills Chocolate Cake


1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup rice flour

1 cup dutch-processed cocoa, sifted

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 1/2 sticks salted butter, room temperature (if you use unsalted, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the dry ingredients)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

chocolate cake2 No Frills Chocolate Cake


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. Sift the three flours together. Add cocoa, xanthan gum, baking powder, and baking soda to the flours and whisk together in a med. bowl. Beat the butter until creamy . Slowly add the brown sugar and the granulated sugar; whip until fluffy. Add the eggs and the egg yolks one at a time. Add the vanilla. Turn the mixer to low and alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cake is springy to the touch.

Since this was truly a no-frills chocolate cake, I made a simple frosting. Feel free to substitute your favorite frosting. This one is not very sweet, but my toddler loved it.

5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 Tablespoons whipping cream

Directions: Melt chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler. Let the chocolate cool until warm. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Add whipping cream to desired consistency. The frosting will thicken slightly as it cools. Once the cake has cooled, frost the cake. This frosting provided a simple, thin layer of frosting for my no-frills chocolate cake.

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31 Responses to “No Frills Chocolate Cake”

  1. Please save me a piece. I am on my way to your kitchen. love, mom

  2. That cake certainly looks delicious!
    And, plenty of cocoa – always a favorite ingredient of mine :)

    Kudos on the use of Sorgum too — that’s a nice flour for GF baking.

  3. Here’s hoping your pregnancy is a long one! These sound soooo yummy. I have a major sweet tooth, though.

    Hey…chocolate cake is healthy! RICE flour, EGGS, CREAM….heck that’s HEALTH FOOD!!! :D

  4. Mike- Thanks, I have started to love sorghum flour. I am not sure why it took me so long to use it!

    Krista- I really liked this cake- well worth the calories!

  5. Are you using brown rice flour or white rice flour? I only have the brown variety and Pamela’s (in addition to sorghum and tapioca) – which do you think would work best?

  6. M-
    I used white rice flour, but I think brown rice with the other two would work great. I have not tried this recipe with Pamela’s yet. Let me know how it turns out!

  7. Just wanted to thank you so much for this recipe. I’ve made tons of gluten free goodies, but I was looking for something a little different and super-good for my husband’s 35th birthday last night. This delivered big time! I didn’t have any tapioca flour so for that I subbed 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup pamela’s. I also reduced the sugar by doing half sugar and half stevia. Thanks again for an excellent recipe to play with!

  8. Wavybrains- I am so glad it was a success!

  9. I meant to write this weeks ago :) Thanks so much for this recipe! I made it for two birthday parties and everyone loved it. I even had three gluten eating guests asking me for the recipe (in addition to a few gf guests who wanted it too). I sent them all to your website :D

    I use your basic buttercream icing because that’s always been my favorite, but the cake I made as you wrote. Delicious! Chocolately! Moist! Yum! Thank you :D

  10. do you serve this cake in the pan, or did you de pan it first and then frost? I am looking for a 9×13″ sheet cake recipe for a 9 year olds birthday.
    what is the cooling time if you take it out of the pan?

  11. Stephanie-
    I have done it both ways! If you want to take it out of the pan, let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then release on to a rack. Make sure the cake is completely cool before frosting. Happy Baking!

  12. i don’t need to be gluten-free, but i love the creativity of gluten-free recipes. this is just awesome!

  13. Hey! I just made this cake an hour ago and just got done frosting it with a basic chocolate frosting. WOW!!! It’s amazing!!!! I don’t have a gluten sensitivity or allergy, but I love to dabble in gluten-free baking b/c I have several friends who have Celiac’s or have a gluten issue, so then I can bake things they can eat when I go to their house!! Also, I just love baking with different ingredients and I love all the gf flours that are available these days!! I used Bob’s Red Mill GF baking flour for the flours and 1/4 cup of cornstarch, and 1/2 cup brown rice flour. The cake is unbelievably moist and chocolatey and rich!! I just love it!! I can’t wait for my husband to taste it!! I don’t tell him when I make something that is GF, so that I can see his response, and then say “HA-Ha!!!! ” Thank you so much!! Your website is beautifully done and so well organized AND what wonderful photos of food!!! You could work for a fancy food magazine as a food photographer!!!

  14. Sara- you are too sweet. thank you for the nice compliments.

  15. What brand of gluten-free cocoa powder do you recommend?

  16. I just use Hershey’s cocoa. I think most dutch-processed cocoa is gluten-free, but you will have to check with the manufacturer.

  17. When you say “cocoa” in your recipe. are you always referring to the dutch-processed variety, or just for this cake?

  18. Howdy, I made this one yesterday and subbed cornstarch for the sorghum. Other than issues with my ‘clomping around’ in the kitchen which made the cake fall a little, this came out wonderfully! I have enough cake to freeze ahead (Which I have done as of last night) For the time in the next trimester that I don’t feel like cooking, or we’re at my inlaws and I need something GF and good to eat :)

    The icing is really delish! I Never would have thought of making an icing using sour cream and whipping cream! The only thing I changed with that is that I used a more bittersweet chocolate than I usually do, and it seems to really balance out the sweetness of the cake itself. :)

    Thanks for posting this one! I think today if I am up to it, I might just make the carrot-cake recipe I saw you posted ;) LOL

  19. Rick- Yes, I am referring to Dutch processed cocoa. I really should specify that because it does affect the leavening action. I need to go back and check that in my recipes. Sorry for the confusion!

    Stahl- It is a GREAT idea to freeze something for the upcoming trimester! I did that with my second baby and it worked out really well on days I wasn’t up to cooking. You seem to have a good rush of energy today! I hope the cakes turned out well for you. I don’t bake with cornstarch much (it seems to me I am a little sensitive to it) but I am glad the cake worked out.

  20. I recently discovered your blog and I love it. I am also celiac and a baker and I am going to try your “no frills” choc cake. I really like the plates you have the cake on in the picture you took of the cake slice. I collect milk glass and it reminds me of that. Keep cooking GF!


  21. I just read this same recipe, posted by you (or so they said) but some of the amounts are different, ie: it calls for 1 1/2 Tablespoons of xanthan and 2 1/2 Tablespoons of baking powder instead of the teaspoon amounts you list here. Now, which one is correct? I’d like to make the cake but not sure which one to use. Please help! Thanks

  22. JS- The teaspoon amt listed above (on Gluten Free Mommy) is correct!!

  23. [...] all sounds awesome! No, I found a recipe No Frills Chocolate Cake | Gluten Free Recipes It’s pretty darned fluffy! It is cooling right now, I will report [...]

  24. Excellent Recipe! Thank you!

    Initially found the recipe, with few plans for using it, while searching for a “gluten free all purpose flour” as the anti-candida eating plan I’m on has eliminated sugar, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, corn, and regular chocolate. No way the recipe was going to be of any use to me…or so I thought. However, determination (and a healthy doze of dessert longing) led me to find the following A-C friendly substitutes:

    - sugar and alcohol free vanilla extract (Frontier Natural Products Co-op),

    - 99.7% caffeine free chocolate (WonderSlim Wonder Cocoa),

    - sugar alternatives: Sweetleaf Stevia (1 and 1/2 tsp = sub for 1/2 cup granulated sugar), Now Vegetable Glycerine – food grade (1 and 1/2 tsp = sub for 1/2 cup granulated sugar), and Brown Rice Syrup (1 cup syrup only used after 2 months on the A-C meal plan = sub for 3/4 brown sugar)

    - goat’s milk butter (Myenberg Goat’s Milk Butter; this is an acquired taste, but the 3 year old I baked with likes it and didn’t even notice the flavour in the cake; also, easier on my digestive system; cold-pressed EVOO can be subbed as well for the butter, but need to use a 1/4 cup less than in the recipe; or coconut butter / oil in a 1 to 1 ratio)

    - coconut (So Delicious brand) and almond (Blue Diamond brand) milk mix (1 and 1/4 cup = reduced by 1/4 because of brown rice syrup) with 2.5 tbsps Braggs Raw Un-filtered Apple Cider (to get the buttermilk)

    - cream of tartar and baking soda mix (pre-home-made for the baking powder at a ratio of 1/2 tsp tartar to 1/4 tsp soda; to avoid the cornstarch in most store brand baking powder)

    - guar gum in place of xanthum gum in a 1 to 1 use ratio

    With all my substitutions in place, I baked this cake with the help of my friends’ 3 year old daughter! She loved it! but talk about distracting! Messed up the mixing process with the “wet ingredients”: eggs and yolks, butter, brown rice syrup and vegetable glycerine, and vanilla :( However, not to be deterred the hand mixer did a great job fluffing the eggs, vanilla, syrup, and glycerine (all together…mistake 1) and then the butter separately (mistake 2) which I then poured into the egg / syrup mix and beat with the mixer. After that the process went well as all the dry ingredients (including stevia) had been properly mixed and the buttermilk was well made.

    The cake came out fluffy, and moist, and tasty. Better than any chocolate cake I’ve ever made from scratch!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing an excellent base for the first piece of cake I’ve had in 3 months!

  25. Hey, just found your blog and really want to try this cake recipe out. A newish member of the gluten free and dairy free community.

    My only issue with this is the buttermilk. Coconut milk would not work as a sub, as I have a bad gag reflex with it. If you have any ideas, great. If not, then I’ll just forgo the frosting.

    Thank you so much for all your experimentation–it makes things easier to search for when someone else has already done all the work. :)

  26. Dear SUPER Gluten Free Mommy,
    After months of sickness, endless tests, and weeks in hospital, I was finally diagnosed with Coeliac Disease when I was about 11 years old. I thought that my life had ended. I was living in the UK at the time so getting my hands on G.F bread and other munchables was nottoo bad.. Not too long after, I noticed that going back on a regular diet was not causing any unwanted sympotms anymore. My doctor told me I could be damaging my insides, which could lead to cancer later on but I was a kid, I IGNORED HIM!! 16 YEARS LATER, I am still on a regualr diet, and HATING MYSELF. I have awful bags around (both) of my enire eyese, I weigh half of what I should, and I worry constantly about my health.
    I have a 3 year old son now, and I have started taking more care of my diet, as I do his. I recently decided to go back on the GF diet, and I thought that my life was over until I come across this website. I cannot believe how simple and accessible you have made everything seem..
    Basically what I am trying to say is, THANK YOU, and thank you a million times. You can only appreciate how frustrating and complicated it is to be on this diet if you have tried it. I had doutbed my decision with excuses like, I’m always hungry, celiacs are not catered for, It’s so much easier to stay on a regualr diet, it’s more convenient, cheaper… etc.
    U have made my life a thousand times easier. Thank You :)

  27. Hi Natalie,
    You must have 3 or maybe 4 little ones running around now (I have 3 sons, now 8, 6, and 4) and I remember very little time for anything else. But please come back when you can! I appreciate your recipes!

    I made this for my GF, corn-free and tapioca-free family this past weekend. I used Almond Meal flour instead of tapioca, and it worked out great – very yummy. Today I hope to try your Millet Oatmeal bread with the same substitution.

    My 6yo will be at school all day this year, and he is one with GF issues. I am nervous about packing lunches (he’s picky. of course). He likes the brown rice tortillas warm, but when we packed them in a picnic they got chewy and broke up. So we’re talking PBJ every day??? *Sigh* Wish me luck!

  28. Wonderful recipe. I have done it in a crockpot and it is perfection. I am now doing it in ice cream cones for a 4 year old’s birthday and they are looking great in the oven. The last time I made this cake I made an extra mix in a baggy with the dry ingredients so it was as quick as a mix this time. Thanks for all the great recipes.

  29. Hi, I tried this cake recipe some days ago but somehow couldn’t get the same result as you, my cake definitely wasn’t looking that good (atleast it tasted good). What sort of chocolate are you using? Maybe it’s coming from the flour I used, so I used Rice flour instead of usual wheat flour.

  30. I made this chocolate cake recipe last night and I cooked it for at least 20 minutes over the time indicated in the recipe and it still wasn’t completely done…I attribute this to my oven temperature though (it needs to be calibrated). But in the end the results were delicious! When it’s still warm ( yes I couldn’t wait until it cooled down ;) ) you can still kinda of taste the metallic flavor of tapioca but after it cools down I couldn’t detect that flavor at all. This is one of the best gf chocolate cake recipes I’ve made. I made an easy “no frills” frosting too that goes something like this: 3T Buttermilk, 3T unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 (4T) unsalted butter and put in a small pot and slowly bring to a simmer while stirring frequently. Then, sift 2-1/3 Cups of powdered sugar and combine all of it. If it seems to thick add a little bit of water (although this is supposed to be a “thicker” icing). Ice brownies while they are warm (helps to spread the chocolate). Extremely good recipe, thanks Natalie!!! :) This is the second recipe I’ve tried from you and I can definitely say that I am very happy.

    I do have one question….my cake seemed to fall in the middle a little bit (even towards the beginning of when I put it in the oven). Usually this would happen if you took it out when it wasn’t ready but I looked into the oven without opening it after about 20 minutes and could see that the middle was caving in a little bit. Should I use a little less liquid in my recipe next time? I will definitely set my oven to 375* next time because I’ve noticed with a lot of recipes I’ve had to bake a least 20 minutes longer than what is called for.

  31. Has anyone ever tried halving this Choc. Cake recipe? I presently have no oven except an Oster toaster oven. The insides are approx 11″x11″ so I can use one 8×8 layer cake pan, or maybe a loaf pan.

    Some baking recipes just do not double or halve well. Has anyone tried?

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