Serious Eats: Recipes

Gluten-Free Tuesday: Allergen-free Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

[Photographs: Elizabeth Barbone]

It's been a while since we've made an allergen-free* recipe in Gluten-Free Tuesday. With that in mind, I decided to create an allergen-free cake. Before going gluten-free, one of my favorite fall cakes was a chocolate pumpkin spice cake. The original recipe contained wheat, eggs, and butter. Converting it proved to be a challenge but I thought it would be fun. After my first few attempts, "fun" wasn't the word that I'd use to describe the experience. My first cake leaked oil, the second didn't rise (at all) and after that I kind of lost count.

The original cake was a moist, dense affair and, after lots of tweaks, the allergen-free version is too! Baked in a 9x13-inch pan, it reminds me of a very cakey brownie. (Although I was sort of alone on that one. As my husband said, "If a brownie is *this* cakey, it's not a brownie. It's chocolate cake!")

While pumpkin is an essential ingredient, you don't really taste the mild pumpkin flavor. It's there in just a whisper; the chocolate and spices vie for flavor dominance. If you prefer a less spicy cake, reduce the pumpkin pie spice from two teaspoons to one. This minor change allows the pumpkin to shine just a bit brighter but when competing with chocolate, it's still just a minor player.


Not egg allergic/vegan? Replace the ground flax and water with two large eggs.

Not dairy-free/vegan? Replace the solid shortening with butter. (A liquid oil, like vegetable oil, makes this cake unpleasantly damp.)

*Allergen here is defined by the "top eight" allergens: milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. As someone who has anaphylactic reactions to sesame, I realize that your allergen might not be covered by this list and therefore might be included in the recipe. If you need help replacing an ingredient listed, just ask!

About the author: Elizabeth Barbone of joins us every Tuesday with a new gluten-free recipe. Elizabeth is an alumna of the Culinary Institute of America and Mount Mary College. With her solid professional baking background, Elizabeth is known for creating gluten-free recipes that taste just like their wheat counterparts. She is the author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking.

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