I grew up eating cake made from mixes. Of all the baked goods that came from my mother's kitchen, cake was the only one not made from scratch. When I was a student at the Culinary Institute of America, I couldn't wait to learn how to make a real cake. Boy, was I disappointed. Don't get me wrong: Sponge, two-stage, and all other forms of cake are lovely. It's just when I think of cake, I don't think, "Hey! A sponge cake soaked with simple syrup would really hit the spot!" I crave the light, moist texture that Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines fed me growing up.
Not only do I prefer the texture of boxed cake, I also love the ease. Open a box, dump in a few ingredients and in two minutes you have batter. (I've often joked that I am not just a gluten-free baker, I am also a lazy baker.) Would it be possible, I wondered, to create a homemade, gluten-free, one bowl cake recipe? Turns out, the answer is yes.
This cake, which was inspired by the classic gluten-filled Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" recipe, comes together quickly. White rice flour, cornstarch, and just a little sweet rice flour combine to create a cake that has a texture that's very similar to boxed cake—only better. This cake is moist without being wet or gummy. Oh, and it also screams, "I'm a chocolate cake!" which doesn't hurt.
To make it, simply whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. (I like to do this while my oven preheats.) Add the wet ingredients and stir. You don't even need to use an electric mixer. Of course you can, but a whisk or wooden spoon works just fine. So while I've had fun making (and eating!) all kinds of cake, this one bowl chocolate cake really is the one for me.
- One Bowl Classic Chocolate Cake Dry Ingredients:
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup white rice flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- One Bowl Classic Chocolate Cake Wet Ingredients:
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup warm water (warm from the tap is fine)
- Basic Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients:
- 4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup milk
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. For this cake, I used natural cocoa powder. Happily, dutch-processed cocoa powder works just as well. Use whichever you love. A cake made with dutch-processed cocoa powder will be darker than one made with natural cocoa powder. This step is important because of the xanthan gum present. You want the xanthan gum to be evenly distributed throughout the dry ingredients before you add the wet ingredients. This will prevent the xanthan gum from clumping.
Add wet ingredients. Mix until a smooth batter forms. You want the batter to be thoroughly mixed. No pockets of dry ingredients should remain. The final batter will have a slightly thick consistency.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. I spray my pans with non-stick gluten-free cooking spray. You could also grease them with vegetable shortening and dust the pans with cocoa powder. It's up to you!
Bake for bake for 30 to 35 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes should come out clean.
Once the cakes come out of the oven, allow them to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool. This allows steam to escape from the cake and prevents a gummy cake. The cake might sink just a little in the center as it cools. This is normal and allows for more icing! Mmmm....more icing. Where was I?
Once cake is cool, ice as desired.
Chocolate Icing: Basic Chocolate Buttercream
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. About 30 seconds. (Use high speed on a handheld or stand mixer.)
Add powdered sugar and cream together for 10 seconds. Icing will be very thick.
Pour milk and vanilla extract evenly over the icing.
Blend, on low speed, for 45 seconds or until smooth and creamy. If the icing is still stiff, add a bit more milk.
Use as desired.