Chocolate Layer Cake with Buttercream

This allergy-friendly and gluten-free Chocolate Layer Cake recipe is old-fashioned goodness at it’s unpretentious best. For my own spin, I add a little coffee to the batter. You will not detect the coffee, but it rounds out and enhances the delicious chocolate flavor.

Makes: One 8-inch Chocolate Layer Cake (12-16 slices)
Free of: Gluten and all top allergens, egg and dairy optional.


Chocolate Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups (425 mL) Cat’s Gluten-Free Whole Grain Flour Blend (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups (475 mL) sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs or Flax Egg Replacer (See Recipe Tips)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened dairy-free rice or coconut milk beverage
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) melted and cooled coconut oil (See Recipe Tips)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) hot coffee

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 cup (250 mL) shortening or unsalted dairy-free butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (710 mL) powdered confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened dairy-free, coconut milk beverage

Recipe Tips

Flax Egg Replacer: For 2 eggs, thoroughly whisk 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal with 6 tablespoons water in a glass measuring cup. Let sit 3 minutes, or until mixtures has thickened.

Four-Layer Cake Option: Cut each layer in half horizontally with a long serrated knife. Follow step 6 for each layer, turning bottom halves upside down, so cake is level.

A Note on Coconut       Coconut is technically a fruit. While most allergists do not consider it a tree nut, if you are nut allergic, ask your doctor if coconut is safe for you.


  1. For the cake, preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil two 8-inch pans.
  2. Add flour blend, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to thoroughly combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk eggs (or replacer), milk beverage, coconut oil and vanilla, just to combine. Add to flour mixture and mix on low 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl, and then mix on medium-low 1 minute. Add coffee and mix on low 30 seconds, just to combine, and then on medium-low 30 seconds more, until well-combined and smooth.
  4. Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake in oven center 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake center tests clean. Cool on wire racks 10 minutes, and then invert cakes onto racks to cool completely.
  5. For the buttercream, place shortening or butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high 2 minute, or until well whipped. Add confectioners’ sugar, cover most of the bowl with a kitchen towel, and beat on low 1 minute. Add cocoa powder, cover bowl, and beat on low 1 minute to combine, and then on medium 1 minute, or until well whipped. Add milk beverage, beat on low 30 seconds to combine, and then beat on medium 30 seconds, or until whipped and smooth.
  6. To assemble a two-layer cake, place a cake layer on a serving platter and spread top with 3/4 cup buttercream. Top with second cake layer, upside down so top of cake is flat, and firmly press down.
  7. Frost cake top with 3/4 cup buttercream. Use remaining buttercream to generously frost sides. Finished cake can be stored in an airtight container (or tented in plastic wrap) at room temperature 1-2 days or in the refrigerator 5-7 days. Unfrosted cake layers can be frozen, each tightly wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap, up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature before removing plastic to frost.


Cat’s Gluten-Free Whole Grain Flour Blend

Sorghum is an ancient grain that adds protein and fiber, but its subtle flavor does not throw off the balance in sweet baked goods the way many other whole grain flours do.

Makes: 6 cups
Free of: gluten and all top allergens


  • 2 cups sweet sorghum flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato starch (not flour)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk sorghum flour, rice flour and potato starch until well combined.
  2. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place up to 1 month. For longer storage, keep in the refrigerator up to 6 months or in the freezer up to 1 year.
  3. Before using, bring to room temperature. Just before measuring, whisk the flour blend to aerate. Sifting is not necessary if you whisk.

is a pastry chef and the author of the best-selling Let Us All Eat cake: Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Cakes (Ten Speed Press). Find more recipes from Catherine Ruehle at