When I first started this blog, I sang the praisesof Ina Garten’s Double-Chocolate Layer Cake. It is, indeed, to die for. My husband declared it his favorite cake, and he requests it for his birthday and Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, it is also chock-full of gluten, so I regretfully retired the recipe when I got serious about my allergy.
Last November, though, because I couldn’t bear to see my dear J go cakeless on my account, I created a gluten-free, slightly healthier version of Ina’s masterpiece. It was my first effort in converting a regular baked good to gluten-free baked good, and it was a huge success. No one guessed it was gluten-free. It was awesome! In fact, this small triumph boosted my courage enough to attempt that gluten-free carrot cake at high altitude over Christmas (also a total success).
Starting with Ina’s recipe, I substituted Pamela’s Ultimate Baking Mix (found at Whole Foods, Amazon.com, and health food stores everywhere) for the flour, switched vegetable oil for coconut oil and white sugar for Sucanat, altered the leavening ingredients, and increased the frosting to cake ratio. For what it’s worth, I also used duck eggs, which are supposed to be superior for baking, and I froze my layers before frosting them.
I wish the pictures did the cake justice, but I had to take them after dark. Still, if you want a rich, moist, deeply chocolaty, not-too-sweet cake that you can serve to anyone, regardless of health/allergy needs, you need to try this.
Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Layer Cake
1 3/4 cup Pamela’s Ultimate Baking Mix
2 cups Sucanat or Rapadura (unrefined sugar, different from turbinado)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I like Real Salt and Celtic Sea Salt)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coconut oil, heated just until melted
2 large eggs (I used duck eggs with fantastic results; they’re especially good for baking)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
9 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 sticks (3/4 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk (actually, I used 1 1/2 yolks, but you could get away with 1)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
4 teaspoons hot water
Preheat oven to 350. If you’re using high quality nonstick pans, simply butter and “flour” (using Pamela’s or cocoa) two 8-inch round cake pans. If you have regular pans, butter the pans, line with parchment paper, and butter again. Then dust them with Pamela’s or cocoa, tapping out the excess.
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix Pamela’s, Sucanat, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt at low speed. In medium bowl, whisk buttermilk with melted coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly beat the liquid mixture into the dry ingredient until just incorporated, then slowly beat in hot coffee until fully incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes, or just until a toothpick comes out clean. Be careful not to over-bake them or the cakes will be dry. Cool cake in pans 30 minutes, then invert on rack to cool completely. Peel off parchment paper, if using.
For best results, individually wrap and freeze the layers for 24 hours, removing shortly before you wish to frost them. This step isn’t necessary, but it seems to produce a moister final product, and it makes frosting easier (something that can be difficult with gluten-free cakes).
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or over very low heat, stirring, until melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute. At low speed, slowsly beat in confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute.
In small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in 4 teaspoons of hot water. Slowly beat coffee into the butter mixture.
Mix the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.
Set a cake layer on a plate with flat side up. Spread 1/3 of the frosting on top. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Finish frosting.