Gluten-Free Chocolate Layer Cake

The gluten-free flours used in this recipe, available at Bob's Red Mill and natural-foods stores, yield delicate results. The cake is best eaten right after it's decorated. To ensure that the layers rise properly (and don't sink), avoid opening the oven door as they bake. We've tinted the finished frosting pink by adding red gel-paste food coloring drop by drop. Feel free to leave it white, or tint it with any favorite color.
Martha Stewart Living, April 2009
  • Yield Serves 8
Add to Shopping List


  • For the Cake Layers

    • Vegetable oil cooking spray
    • 11/2 cups sugar
    • 3/4 cup brown-rice flour (see the Guide)
    • 1/2 cup almond flour (see the Guide)
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 1/4 cup quinoa flour (see the Guide)
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 3/4 cup warm water
    • 3/4 cup low-fat (1 percent) buttermilk
    • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Seven-Minute Frosting

    • 1 1/4 cups sugar
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon corn syrup
    • 5 large egg whites
    • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • Pinch of salt


  1. Make the cake layers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat two 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray. Line bottoms with parchment; spray parchment.

  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Divide batter between pans.

  3. Bake cakes until they pull away from sides of pans, about 1 hour. Let cool in pans on wire racks. Cakes will keep, covered, for up to 1 day.

  4. Make the frosting: Place sugar, water, corn syrup, and whites in a heatproof mixer bowl over a pot of simmering water. Cook, whisking occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

  5. Attach bowl to mixer. Whisk hot sugar mixture on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 7 minutes. Whisk in vanilla and salt.

  6. Assemble the cake: Place a cake layer on a plate. Spread 2 cups frosting on top. Place remaining cake layer on top of frosting. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting. Cake is best eaten within 1 hour of frosting.

Recipe Reviews

Reviews (13)

  • momof3onthego 20 Feb, 2014

    Most amazing chocolate cake ever! I have been cooking/baking GF for 13 yrs for my 14 yr old son. This is by far the best cake I have ever made/tasted - including the rare times I am able to find a bakery GF/CF cake. I used an all purpose GF flour and added xanthan, just in case. And made buttermilk using soy milk w/ 1 tbsp vinegar. Instead of the frosting I made chocolate buttercream, using vegan butter. It was amazing. I will never make another chocolate cake again. GF layer cake all way!!!

  • Sara32 7 May, 2013

    Thank you for making some gluten free recipes Martha! Any chance in the future that you might experiment with making your older recipes gluten free or offer tips on making them gluten free? I do like your recipe for gf chocolate cake and look forward to trying it out. Though I am going to use white rice flour, almond flour and sorghum flour instead of quinoa (because its expensive and I can't get it here). Thanks again. I believe sorghum can be subbed for almond.

  • blurdoogie 11 Feb, 2013

    I cut the recipe in half for a small personal 6" cake and used 1/4 c each of almond, soy, and quinoa flour. After baking I brushed the cakes with a coffee/sugar mixture to add a bit more depth and cover up any strange flavors from the flour (this was my first GF cake and I thought the quinoa flour had a strange smell). Filled with homemade chocolate pastry cream and covered with buttercream. Rave reviews! I was told it was the best cake ever, GF or not! Will keep this one for my GF buddies!

  • KateVelo 27 Feb, 2011

    I made this with a variety of subsitutions. I used sorghum flour instead of brown rice flour because I prefer the flavor of sorghum. I needed about an additional 1/4 cup at the end because I was worried about the thin consistency of the batter. I also made it without buttermilk, but with whole milk and a splash of white vinegar. I used brown sugar for part of the sugar! It turned out delicious and I'll be using it for my wedding cake that my husband and I cut!

  • MrDesigner 20 Feb, 2011

    This is probably the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted. The texture is awesome. The cake only needs to bake 25-30 minutes. You can substitute millet flour (about $4) for quiona flour (about $15). I've made this cake about 5 times and it only rose properly once. It usually stays flat or sinks a little in the middle. It is always delicious.

  • amyjoth 25 Jun, 2010

    Remember, that GF flours are much more finicky, than regular flour. I'm surprised that the baking time is one hour, surely an oversight. I baked mine between 25- 30 minutes. The center will be slightly wet looking These cakes will puff while baking, and then sink, once they are cooled. An essential step you must not skip- is the hot water added at the end.It allows the baking soda and powder to activate, giving your cake lift.

  • mikendomsmum 1 May, 2010

    This cake was an expensive disaster. The batter was very thin and I didn't know if it would bake up right and it didn't. After 1/2 hour I could smell scorched chocolate but I didn't open the oven door because it was mentioned in the directions not to. I waited the full hour and the cakes were fallen.
    I'll figure out something to do with them other than frost and stack them but I was looking forward to a delicious GF cake after dinner tonight!
    It was too good to be true!

  • 1DianaJoy 15 Jun, 2009

    I'm not Martha, but I bake a lot for people with allergies. Garbanzo/chickpea flour is good - coconut flour is good too. Quinoa flour is my absolute favorite bcs. it yields a moist crumb. All 3 or a combination of all 3 would be fine substitutes for almond flour/meal.

  • ReikiLady2 14 Jun, 2009

    Martha, Can chickpea flour (or similar flours) be substituted for the almond flour and get the same taste and texture?

  • ReikiLady2 14 Jun, 2009

    Can chickpea flour (or similar flours) be substituted for the almond flour and get the same taste and texture?

  • jackie241 17 May, 2009

    Is there a substitute for the almond flour?My granddaughter also has a nut allergy.

  • joliharvey 27 Mar, 2009

    Thanks for including ideas for people on special diets. I would love to see a great gluten- and casein-free recipe.

  • Elizsafox 27 Mar, 2009

    Thank you so much for providing gluten-free recipes Martha! I can't wait to try this one out especially. This is really a treat for those of us restricted to the gluten-free diet. It is difficult to try to adapt regular recipes and it doesn't always work so well; so when this one is done for us it is quite a relief!!