Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

...or, as it is known around these parts, Annmarie's Birthday/Goodbye Cake.

Sigh. I don't even know where to begin. Annmarie and I met our first year of acupuncture school, back in 1998. Many study groups were forming and meeting over the weekends to practice point location and structural anatomy (and ask ourselves, what have we gotten ourselves into?), and I sweet talked my way into the group Annmarie was a part of. It turned out to be the best thing I ever sweet talked my way into, as many of the ladies became not only my best support during school but also some of my greatest friends. Two of them discovered they were celiacs within months of each other, and when we were all living in Portland again, became my very own Gluten Free girls.

Annmarie moved to Arizona a couple of years after we graduated from school, then she moved to Santa Barbara, then she moved to Spain, then Korea, and then finally came back to Portland for a few years. These past 3 years with Annmarie have been great fun for me, as I got back my friend who likes to go to the movies, and laugh at everything, and enjoy sweet treats.

Annmarie's love of the sweet treat is really why I started experimenting in gluten free baking. We were both dismayed at her lack of choices in the treat world and I was determined she wouldn't have to miss out.

January 23, 2010
Name of Cake: Tangy Chocolate Cake
Occasion: Annmarie's Birthday, and her Goodbye Party
Constituents: Two layers gluten free chocolate cake filled and frosted with tangy cream cheese frosting

the birthday cake

A couple of days before her birthday party, I asked Annmarie if I was baking her a birthday cake. I guess it had kind of slipped our minds. She usually likes the coffee and chocolate combination, but this year chose a moist chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. Okay, can do.

the cake, cooling

I used the chocolate cake recipe from Gluten-Free Baking Classics, which turns out a fine and basic chocolate cake. I would like to improve on it a bit to make it even more chocolaty and moist, but in this instance I didn't have the time to experiment. I think the answer lies in using a percentage of coconut flour as it is very absorbent and can handle a cake with a lot of moisture. I made one once with 100% coconut flour and although moist and delicious, it was a bit too fibrous. But I digress.

The recipe calls for finely ground brown rice flour, which I didn't have and thought would be okay. In my opinion, although no one else said anything, the cake was a bit gritty. Bob, can you get a finer mill for your rice flours? I would like that.

Annmarie decided she wanted a true party cake with the 2 layers split and filled. I needed to multiply the frosting recipe by 1.5, which thankfully was no problem. I tried to make nice swirls but it wasn't working, so I made a nice pattern on top and then Joelf and I coated the sides in hot pink sanding sugar. Fun!

make those wishes come true

Unfortunately, most of this cake was done in a little bit of a hurry, so there aren't many photos of it. We sang to Annmarie, toasted to her New Zealand adventures, and served the cake while singing along to "Any Way You Want It" by Journey.

Later that night, after the party had ended and we were back home, I shoved the remainder of her cake, in the cake carrier, in the refrigerator. I didn't do the best job of making sure the carrier was securely placed as it tumbled out onto the floor about an hour later when Annmarie went to get some juice. The cake must have tumbled around the inside of the carrier as the frosting that was on the side of the cake was now stuck to the inside lid, the top layer of cake with the frosting had stuck upside down to the plate, and the other three layers were together, but upside down. We fixed it as best we could, and then ate it. Still good!

and then we dropped the cake

Happy Birthday Annmarie! May your new life in New Zealand be filled with adventure, love, and fun! I can't wait to come visit you!

And to be nice, I've included the recipe for the cake and a link to the recipe for the frosting. Why not.
Chocolate Fudge Cake
from Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise G. Roberts
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups Brown Rice Flour Mix
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups fat free milk (I used 2% and it seemed to be okay)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Position rack in lower 1/3 of oven. Line two round 9 inch baking pans with parchment and grease.
    2. Melt chocolate in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum. Set aside.
    4. Place canola oil and milk in a liquid measuring cup and whisk until thoroughly combined. Remove 2 tbsp of liquid and discard. (This weird instruction makes me wish she had included gram measurements for her ingredients.) Set aside.
    5. Beat sugar and eggs in a large bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Blend in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Add dry and wet ingredients in two additions at low speed, then mix at medium speed for one more minute.
    6. Pour batter into prepared pans and place in the center of the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
    7. Cool cakes in the pans on a rack for five minutes. Use a small spatula or butter knife to run around the outsides of the cakes, invert, peel off parchment, invert again so that the tops of the cakes are up, and cool completely.
    8. Frost, or wrap airtight.

    Tangy Cream Cheese Frosting
    This frosting has been posted to the site many, many times. Scroll on down to the bottom of this post, but in order to have enough for this cake please multiply all the ingredients by 1.5, and omit the orange zest. I used blue agave syrup to sweeten, and I think in total I used about 1 liquid cup. To be honest I just add, stir, and taste until I feel it is right--sweet but tangy.
rocking out the journey
rocking out with the birthday girl

happy birthday!


  1. Happy Birthday to Annmarie! The cake looks gorgeous. And the Barbie pink sparkles is a tres chic girlie touch.
    Did I tell you I got this gluten free book (Annalise G. Roberts) a while back. It is the best gluten free book I have seen so far.

    I am sorry Annmarie is going so far away, but you are absolutely right; New Zealand will be a wonderful place to holiday and you can stay with her!

  2. I know that Annmarie is going to miss your delicious cakes in NZ! And how lucky are you to have someone in NZ to visit? I'm jealous!

  3. Another yummy looking cake. Hope Annmarie had a wonderful birthday!!

  4. ECL,
    I have a cousin in Calgary with Celiac and feel so badly for her that she can't indulge in regular sweets so thank heaven for gluten free recipes. What a lovely cake for you friends birthday/send off!

  5. Melinda, Barbie pink sprinkles! That's pretty much what they are, aren't they? Have you tried any of the bread recipes yet? I've been dying to, but as they are bread, I keep (purposefully) forgetting about them. Yes, having a place to stay and a wonderful friend to visit in New Zealand is pretty great!

    Amanda, I am lucky, it is true! Yep, she'll have to bake for herself now. Or find another baking friend.

    Laurie, thanks!

    Doughadear, yes, it is great there are more and more GF substitutes that are delicious enough to not feel like substitutes. When my friends discovered their celiac status at the beginning of this decade there wasn't much for them. They kept making "sandwiches" using rice cakes as bread and I couldn't help but think there had to be a better way! Hooray for choices!