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

Gluten-Free Tuesday

Delicious, no-compromise recipes for those who need to live a gluten-free lifestyle, but don't want it to taste like it.

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

[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!

  • Yield:8
  • Active time: about 20 minutes
  • Total time:about one hour


  • 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 5 ounces (1 1/4 cups) white rice flour
  • 1.5 ounces (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces (1/3 cup) potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (reduce to 1 teaspoon for a less spicy cake)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup soy-free solid shortening
  • 7 ounces (1 cup) granulated or raw sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (pure packed pumpkin)
  • 1 ounce allergen-free chocolate, melted* (optional)
  • *Melt chocolate in the microwave. Heat for 30 seconds on HIGH. Remove chocolate, stir, repeat until chocolate melts. Or place chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Heat water over medium-high heat, stir until chocolate melts.


  1. 1.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. 2.

    In small bowl, whisk together flax meal and hot water. Allow to sit for five minutes. In medium bowl, whisk together white rice flour, cocoa powder, potato starch, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum. In large bowl, cream together shortening and sugar until a thick paste forms. Add flax meal mixture. Cream until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds.

  3. 3.

    Add half dry ingredients. Mix on medium-low speed until combined. Batter will be thick. Turn off mixer. Add pumpkin. Mix until combined, batter will be thick and fluffy, about 20 seconds. Turn off mixer. Add remaining dry ingredients. Turn mixer on. Mix until combined. Turn off mixer, add remaining pumpkin and melted chocolate. Turn on mixer. Blend, on medium-low until batter is thick and fluffy, about 30 seconds.

  4. 4.

    Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake until cake is set (cake should be aromatic and not jiggly), about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, place pan on a wire rack, and allow to cool. Serve from the pan.