Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Cake {For a Baby Shower}

GF DF Choc Cake

A really fantastic thing is happening right now. As we speak. Nap time. Both of them. At.The.Same.Time. AND….the house is picked up. AND….I found the LAST diet coke in the garage today. AND….in a couple hours I’m getting a free facial for being the model (using that term loosely here) for a demonstration at a friend’s spa. Why yes, don’t mind if I do. 

I was REALLY not planning to post this. And because I wasn’t planning to post this, there aren’t lots of pictures. I was trying not to die the day I made this cake as I was finally plagued with a cold virus that no amount of essential oils, hall cough drops, tea, sudafed, or even a hottie tottie could fix. So while simultaneously making this cake AND trying not to breathe on or even around the cake, I snapped a couple pictures, thinking the whole time “this isn’t going to be worth posting. A gluten free, dairy free cake isn’t even really cake. This is going to be terrible”. Why would a person who isn’t even really that health conscious make said cake? For a friend, of course. A friend throwing a shower for a friend, of the pregnant variety, who can’t eat gluten or dairy. Boo. And as always, I baked myself a little ramekin of cake so I could try it because customers frown upon cakes with a slice missing from them. And I was so pleasantly surprised. So much in fact that I ate the entire ramekin of cake (smothered in frosting, of course). So I’m sharing with you today because perhaps you know someone, or are yourself, gluten AND dairy intolerant and might need such a recipe. If so, then this is your answer. This is a dense, fudgy, delicious cake. I would go as far to say that if you didn’t tell your guests this cake was “special”, they would never know. 

To make this recipe even more glorious, its incredibly simple. Two bowls and a hand mixer is all you need. So let’s get to it. Start by combining either almond, soy, or coconut milk with some apple cider vinegar and stir to combine. I chose soy only because I never know who is allergic to almonds or other nuts. My preference for taste and texture is definitely almond over soy but I compromise. 


While that combo sits, combine all your dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. The only thing you need to make this gluten free, is a cup for cup gluten free flour mix. It should include xantham gum already in the mix. I saw Pillsbury has their own gluten free flour mix the other day, I have successfully used this brand for several recipes now. 



Add applesauce (unsweetened), coffee, oil, and vanilla to your milk mixture and mix using a hand mixer until well combined.



Pour the wet into the dry and beat well until you have a smooth batter. Divide between two 8 inch cake pans. I doubled this recipe, hoping to end up with three layers for an appropriately tall cake. It’s hard to decorate short cakes. Bake for 25-30 minutes, though since I doubled this it took closer to 40 minutes for my layers to cook. 


Give your cakes 5-10 minutes to set in the pans after baking and then turn out onto a cooling wrack to cool completely. Did you notice which one I accidentally smashed? Nothing a bunch of frosting couldn’t cover up. When your cakes are completely cool, frost and decorate. 

What about the frosting you ask? It’s easy to do dairy free frosting. I’m not super proud to admit that I used margarine and crisco to make the frosting, but I did. I couldn’t imagine taking vegan butter, which I’m sure is super expensive and would require a trip to Whole Foods (a place I’ve gone twice in three years time) and then combining it with 10 cups of powdered sugar. Frosting will never be a health food friends, let it go. 

I used fondant to trace out a little elephant and some flat polka dots and voila, a baby shower cake without any gluten or dairy. Challenge accepted. 


Gluten Free, Dairy Free Chocolate Cake
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  1. 1 1/2 cups original unsweetened almond, soy, or coconut milk
  2. 2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
  4. 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (or sub more milk)
  5. 2/3 cup melted coconut oil, or sub grape seed or canola oil
  6. 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  7. 2 cups + 2 Tbsp Gluten Free Cup for Cup Flour Mix
  8. 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  9. 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  10. 2 tsp baking soda
  11. 1 tsp baking powder
  12. 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly spray 2 8-inch round cake pans or one large rectangular pan with nonstick spray (see notes for cooking times for different size pans). Dust with cocoa powder, shake out the excess and set aside.
  2. Mix the milk and vinegar in a large mixing bowl, and let set for a few minutes to activate. Add the oil, coffee, vanilla extract, and applesauce and beat until foamy.
  3. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry. Beat until no large lumps remain. It should be creamy and pourable.
  4. Divide batter evenly between your 2 cake pans or rectangular pan.
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Adapted from Minimalist Baker
A Sweeter Thing

Dairy Free Frosting
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  1. 3/4 cup crisco
  2. 3/4 cup margarine
  3. 7 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  4. 1/4 tsp. salt
  5. 1 tablespoon vanilla
  6. 1/4- 1/3 cup soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk
  1. Cream the margarine and crisco together until smooth.
  2. Add the salt and mix well
  3. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, beating well with each addition
  4. Add the vanilla and mix to combine
  5. Gradually add the milk, whipping well until the desired consistency is achieved.
  1. Yields enough to frost one two to three layered cake
A Sweeter Thing