Okay, I have to confess something. I am a terrible cake baker, under pressure, that is. I call it the birthday cake curse. Really. I actually took a personal vow like 8-9 years ago to make no more scratch birthday cakes as they always get screwed up. I can make a great cake the rest of the time but birthdays…not so much. Once I baked a birthday cake for my sister Margie at my mom’s house and unbeknownst to me there was a second bottom on her cheesecake pan; my pear ginger cake was all goopy in the middle because of that! And then there was that fancy three layer cake I baked for my birthday long ago; the top layer was a sort of raspberry gelatin and it slid mostly off! Disaster at the party… Any number of cakes that didn’t rise properly or cracked as it baked or broke as I tried to get them out of the pan. I could go on and on. The curse continues!
Now I am gluten free and there are very limited and expensive options as to making gf cakes. Perhaps I should mention that I enjoy baking and it is a challenge I accept in my new gluten free life. So I persevered and several birthday cakes have been created since going gf and all were totally yummy. A few glitches but on the whole, I am pleased with my new gf birthday cake record. Today I baked my three year old grandson’s cake. Not so good in the perfect department but it sure was tasty when we ate it at the party. When it came out of my oven the layers sank some in the center. Re-reading her instructions at the start of the cake chapter I discovered that she does not recommend using a Kitchen Aid mixer; it is too powerful and always overbeats gf cakes. Now I know. I just flipped one layer over and used it as the bottom. I put extra cream cheese icing in the middle. The top was level and the flavors were out of this world.
This is the third time I have baked this cake for a birthday; time to share it. It is from my go to cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts. Get a copy if you haven’t already. This cake is incredibly yummy, no one will ever feel cheated by the gf nature of it. And it isn’t that difficult to make, just don’t use that big powerful mixer! I like that it is make with low fat milk and canola oil; less fatty than many cake recipes. I used half the vanilla in the cake and it tastes perfect. I also measure the oil and milk and remove that tablespoon from each before mixing; she does it after mixing. I think oil and milk are hard to blend so I do it first.
I iced Aiden’s cake with a frosting from the Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor cookbook by Anne Byrn; vanilla cream cheese frosting and the contrast is perfection with this decadent chocolate layer cake. This icing spreads easily and the cream cheese makes it smooth and less sweet with a tangy undertone; it is addictive. It’s a perfect combo for a birthday celebration once you poke a few candles on top. This cake gets its deep chocolate flavor from two sources, unsweetened chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder. You will need a fair amount of sugar to make it sweet enough. And you will need some of that brown rice flour mix I often use. Recipe for that is below.
Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cake
4 oz unsweetened chocolate chopped up
1 ¾ cup brown rice flour mix
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. xanthan gum
½ cup canola oil
1 ½ cup low fat milk
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Line two nine inch cake pans with parchment paper; spray the inside of the pan lightly with cooking spray. You need the paper for safe removal from the pan. Do not use dark cake pans; light ones are far better for this cake. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, oven rack in the middle.
Melt chocolate, stir often. I used the melting feature on my microwave and did a lot of stirring until the last bits were liquid. You can do it in a double boiler if you are into that sort of thing. I went for the easy way.
Put all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well to combine.
Measure oil and milk, remove 1 tbsp. from each and discard. Mix together.
Beat sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Do not use your kitchen aide. Beat until light and fluffy. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla, blend well. Add the dry and wet ingredients alternating half at a time, low speed on mixer. Mix at medium speed for one minute.
Pour into the prepared pans and bake immediately. Any delay is not going to help so have the oven ready to go. Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes, run knife around edge, tip out onto a cooling rack. Flip upright so the top of the cake is on the top. Let cool completely before icing.
You could make cupcakes out of it but no 8 inch pans; I tried that once and it overran the pan in a crazy “I love Lucy” manner!
Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour
2/3 c potato starch
1/3 c tapioca flour
Cream cheese Icing
1 8 oz package light cream cheese, room temperature
1 8 oz stick salted butter, room temperature
3 ¾ cups powdered sugar, sieved
2 tsp. real vanilla extract.
Blend the cream cheese and butter in the mixer (yes I used my Kitchen Aid for this recipe!) Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, blending on low speed. Do not skip the sieving. Add the vanilla and blend a bit more. This recipe will frost one 9 inch layer cake perfectly.