Tag Archives: cake

How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How to Make Mini Layer CakesI have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to celebrate this year. Does it feel like the world is crashing down around us and everything is at least vaguely scary? Sure. Is there still stuff to celebrate? You know it.

I mean, all of us are going to have pandemic birthdays this year. Every last dang one. Birthday parties are inadvisable, but cake? That’s non-negotiable. If we can’t have cake in times of both joy and crisis, then what on earth are we even doing here?!How to Make Mini Layer CakesIn that spirit, today’s post is not actually a recipe, but instead is all about how to make a layer cake fit for a pandemic…er, small group. Sure, you could make a single layer of cake for any occasion you have coming up, but some things require a cake that’s stacked up tall, even if it’s on the miniature side. I’ve been making Mini Layer Cakes for years, for everything from birthdays to baby showers to wedding cake practice. It’s super fun and a great way to brighten someone’s day (or your own!) in these rough times.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How Big are Mini Layer Cakes?

The cakes pictured are 4 inches in diameter and 2.5 and 2.75 inches tall, respectively.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How Many People Can Mini Layer Cakes Feed?

Well, it depends. I think of these as being 4-6 servings, but could go up to eight in a pinch. I’m sure some of you are looking at these and thinking they’d only feed two–I suppose it all depends on exactly how much cake you want to eat in one go. Use your judgment.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

What Flavors are Best for Mini Layer Cakes?

The answer here is pretty much anything your heart desires. The cakes pictured are Vanilla Cake + Nutella Buttercream and Chocolate Cake + Strawberry Buttercream; I chose these flavors based solely on what I had on hand.

The general rule for my Mini Layer Cakes is to make roughly half the recipe of any normal 9-inch layer cake. If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas off the top of my head:

Funfetti cake + vanilla buttercream
red velvet cake + cream cheese frosting
carrot cake (without nuts/fruit) + cream cheese frosting
white cake + seasonal fruit or jam + whipped cream frosting
vanilla cake with a little almond extract + mocha buttercream
-vanilla cake + key lime curd + whipped cream frosting
-vanilla cake + lemon syrup + lazy lemon curd + vanilla buttercream with lemon zest
chocolate cake + Oreo Buttercream
peanut butter cake + chocolate frosting
Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}! <—Yes, it works!How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Things You Need to Make a Mini Layer Cake

-a single 9-inch layer of cake
-a half-batch of buttercream
-filling of choice, if not using buttercream
-a serving plate or cardboard round
-a ruler
a 4-inch ring cutter
-a serrated knife for trimming
-an offset icing knife

First things first, you’ve got to have the supplies. This list is pretty similar to what I use for regular layer cakes with a few exceptions. To start, you’ll need one 9-inch layer of cake and a small batch of buttercream…or roughly a half the quantity of most layer cake recipes. I understand that not all cake recipes halve easily (splitting eggs!), so I’ve included halved versions of my vanilla and chocolate cakes at the end of the post.How to Make Mini Layer CakesThe major specialty item here is a 4-inch ring for cutting small layers. Can you just bake your cake in 4-inch pans? Sure, and I have on many occasions, but they tend to produce dramatically domed cakes, and frankly, you’re never going to get as much use out of those pans as you think you will. As a person who has nearly every piece of kitchen equipment anyone could ever need, please trust me on this. It is much easier to bake a single larger layer of cake and then cut it into smaller ones.

With a 4-inch cutter, you’ll be able to get two small layers out of a single 9-inch round layer. If you measure/have a keener eye than I do, you can bake a 9-inch square layer and get four small layers out of it. That way, you can make two mini cakes at once or freeze two of the layers for another occasion. Either way, you’ll have leftover cake scraps, but I don’t see that as a problem.

Don’t have or want a 4-inch ring? Find a 4-inch circular object, trace it onto parchment, then cut out the circle and use it as a stencil.

How to Assemble a Mini Layer Cake

Mini Layer Cake assembly isn’t rocket science, but has its challenges. There is a lot of measuring and evening out of things, but rest assured that you’ll get the hang of it quickly.How to Make Mini Layer CakesStart by using your cutter to cut two small layers out of your larger layer. Make sure that the cutter is as close to the edge of the larger layer as possible, so as to make room for a complete second layer. <—This is important.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesUse your ruler to measure your layers for height. There is a good chance your layers will have an incline, as cakes tend to dome a bit as they bake. Grab your serrated knife and even out the top of one layer. Make sure it’s even (or very close) and measure it again—this how tall you want your other layer to be. Repeat that process to even out that second layer, until they’re identical in height (or very close). Mine are all about an inch tall.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesNext up, stacking. Swipe a tiny bit of buttercream on your plate or cardboard round, then place one of your layers on top. If you’re a messy froster like me, tuck bits of parchment under the cake all the way around for clean edges. Frost the top of your layer, then stack the second layer on top and press down lightly to adhere.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesFrom here, frost as normal. For me, that means a very light crumb coat (thin layer of buttercream), a 20 minute chill, then a thicker layer of buttercream, piping and decor.

Keep in mind that Mini Layer Cakes are smaller and lighter-weight than what most of us are used to, and therefore cannot take as much physical pressure as a larger cake, particularly when frosting around the sides. Be gentle with the cake and with yourself, and remember that there is no shame in having to move layers back into place and frost over flaws. Buttercream is a surprisingly forgiving medium.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesAt this point you can serve your cake. I, however, like to let mine sit for an hour or two ahead of serving, just to let everything adhere nicely. This isn’t strictly necessary, but I find it makes slicing easier and prettier. If you’re refrigerating your cake, make sure to let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How to Transport a Mini Layer Cake

If you’re making a Mini Layer Cake (or any layer cake), chances are you have to take it to a celebrant or they have to pick it up. In more normal times, I box and transport cakes all over NYC. The most important thing in this process is to make sure your cake fits the box beforehand—this is why I have a ruler in my kitchen. My cake boxes are 3-inches tall, so the cardboard round, both layers of cake and any filling and frosting need to be shorter than that when stacked.How to Make Mini Layer CakesOther important things? Keep your box as level as possible. I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping them level while walking and riding in cars and on the subway. It’s just a matter of remembering that pretty much everything (your body, a car seat, etc.) has a natural slope, and then carrying/positioning your box in a way to counterbalance that. Also, remember that cold cakes are easier to transport. When delivering cakes, I refrigerate them as soon as I’m done assembling, and then let them come back to room temp while en route to wherever I’m going.

Please know that I have shown up a few times with cakes that did not look the way they did when I left the house. This is a hazard of the job–rest assured that ugly cake is still delicious. If you make somebody a cake and they don’t like it because it’s a little disheveled, take it back. You don’t need that negativity.

And on that note, if you are inspired to make a Mini Layer Cake or two and need a place for them to go, I’m gladly accepting donations.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes
Are there any Mini Layer Cake tutorials you’d like to see? Thinking of doing one for tiered cakes (wedding cake). Let me know what you think in the comments.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Vanilla Cake {Half Recipe}
makes 1 9-inch layer or enough for 1 mini layer cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 batch Nutella Buttercream or other buttercream

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9-inch round or square pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the buttermilk. Add remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining buttermilk. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in its pan for fifteen minutes. Run a small thin knife around the edge of the pans and invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off and discard parchment.

For a Mini Layer Cake, follow instructions detailed in the post above. Fill and frost with Nutella Buttercream or other buttercream.

Chocolate Cake {Half Recipe}
makes 1 9-inch layer or enough for 1 mini layer cake

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons espresso granules (optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup boiling water
1 batch Strawberry Buttercream or other buttercream

Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a 9-inch round or square pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso granules, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and egg, followed by vanilla and buttermilk. Whisk in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the boiling water. Whisk in remaining dry ingredients, followed by remaining boiling water.

Pour batter into the pans. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cake cool in pan for fifteen minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature. Peel off and discard parchment.

For a Mini Layer Cake, follow instructions detailed in the post above. Fill and frost with Strawberry Buttercream or other buttercream.

How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Flourless Peanut Butter Cake

Flourless Peanut Butter Cake If you are into rich, thick, salty-sweet, intensely peanut buttery peanut butter things…well, let me introduce you to your new favorite cake. This Flourless Peanut Butter Cake is the sort of thing that you can whip together for a casual night in (also known as every night right now) or dress it up for a birthday or dinner party (when dinner parties are a thing again).Flourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeThis recipe is a play on the three ingredient peanut butter cookies that have been around forever. If you haven’t made them this quarantine, the general gist is that you mix together 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar (brown, granulated, or a mix) and an egg, scoop, roll and bake 10-ish minutes for some really excellent grain-free peanut butter cookies.Flourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeThis cake is almost exactly the same thing, except that I add a few more eggs, a pinch of salt and a little vanilla, and bake it all up in a cake pan. The result is a little chewy at the edges and tender in the center—think somewhere between Flourless Almond Cake and a cookie cake. Yum!

Lest I forget quarantine swaps…feel free to use all brown or all granulated sugar in the cake. You can leave out the vanilla too, if you’re out or running low.Flourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeAfter the cake has cooled, garnish all up to you. Leave it plain, dust with powdered sugar, serve with ice cream, make it into Peanut Butter Mousse Cake—whatever makes you happy.Flourless Peanut Butter CakeToday marks fifty days of lockdown in NYC, so I felt the need to jazz it up a little. I nuked chocolate chips and peanut butter until smooth, then loaded it into a bag, snipped a tiny corner and drizzled til I liked what I saw. The border is just chopped roasted peanuts and mini peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s. I know it’s gilding the lily, but like…what else are we doing seven weeks in?Flourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter Cake

Flourless Peanut Butter Cake
makes one 8-inch round cake

1 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Drizzle (optional):
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon creamy-style peanut butter

Garnish (optional):
chopped peanuts
miniature peanut butter cups
chopped peanut butter cups
Reese’s pieces
chocolate chips
dusting of confectioners sugar

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat peanut butter, granulated and brown sugars until combined and a bit fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in salt and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing to combine after each addition. Beat on high for 30 seconds.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 27-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs (not batter). Let cake cool 30 minutes in the pan on a rack. Cake will deflate a bit as it cools.

Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a plate (or rack). Peel off parchment. Place a serving plate upside-down onto the bottom the cake. Holding on tightly to both plates (but not so tightly as to crush the cake), flip the cake to be right side-up on the serving plate. Let cake cool completely.

Make the drizzle. Combine chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Load into a plastic sandwich bag, snip a tiny corner and drizzle onto the cake as desired. Alternatively, drizzle with a fork or use an offset icing knife (or the back of a spoon) to spread it onto the cake. This will likely be more than you need.

Garnish as desired. To set the drizzle, refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes.

Slice and serve. Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to four days, and in the refrigerator for a bit longer.Flourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter Cake

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Chocolate Quinoa CakeCake with frosting seems like it’s almost not allowed right now, but this is not just any cake and this is not just any day. Coronavirus be damned.Chocolate Quinoa CakeIf you’re scratching your head wondering what today is…well, it’s Earth Day, and that is important. But there’s also something that I don’t talk about much on here because it seems mostly irrelevant to the daily operation of a food blog…but it’s actually completely relevant because there would be no E2 Bakes without it. Today marks seven years since I took a drink or a drug. Yep, I’m that sober home-baking food blogger that nobody warned you about.

I’m serious when I say there would be no E2 Bakes without my sobriety. I talked about having a blog for years before actually committing to it, and for no other reason than that I was held back by my own addiction issues. I didn’t start baking with any regularity until I quit drinking, and then I spent more than a year just learning and practicing before I hit “publish.” But here we are, four and a half years and a lot of learning and practicing and baking and failing and succeeding later. This blog is not what keeps me sober, but it certainly helps.Chocolate Quinoa CakeQuitting drinking and putting mind-altering substances in my body is the kindest thing I’ve ever done for myself and the people I love. I’ve gained so much more from that one decision (and many moments of grace and a lot of trudging) than I will ever be able to adequately express, least of all the ambition to run a baking blog. And, well, now you know why there is never liquor in my bakes or wine in my sauces–I can’t post something I can’t test.Chocolate Quinoa Cake

I don’t normally mark this day on here because I celebrate elsewhere, but with everything on lockdown for the foreseeable future, things have changed. So, how does a food blogger celebrate being sober for seven whole years all in a row? With cake, of course!Chocolate Quinoa CakeLayer cakes are out for now and flour is difficult to find, but chocolate and frosting (and sprinkles!) are always welcome in my kitchen. Today’s cake is one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever had—so tender and chocolaty! If I weren’t telling you right now, I bet you’d never guess that it’s made with a cup of cooked quinoa instead of flour. For real.Chocolate Quinoa CakeThe batter—which includes cocoa powder, a hint of coffee, eggs and milk—is made in a blender to eliminate any whole pieces of quinoa. I wouldn’t recommend making most cake batters in a blender, but since this cake is naturally gluten-free, there’s no need to worry about overmixing or tough cake. Score!Chocolate Quinoa CakeChocolate Quinoa CakeChocolate Quinoa CakeChocolate Quinoa Cake bakes up in 30 minutes and is thin enough that it cools within an hour. I topped it off with a small batch of chocolate buttercream and dug into my stash of rainbow sprinkles for the occasion.Chocolate Quinoa CakeOh yeah, that’s the stuff.Chocolate Quinoa CakeAs for quarantine substitutions:

-this single layer cake is the perfect size for my celebration needs right now, but it can be both halved and doubled. I haven’t tried it as cupcakes.
-if you don’t have a square pan, you can use a round one.
-no parchment, no problem. Grease the pan and dust with cocoa powder. If you’re concerned about releasing the whole cake, you can slice and serve directly from the pan.
-the ingredients for this cake are pretty set, but feel free to swap the oil for melted butter and to leave out the espresso powder and vanilla, if you don’t have them.
-use any color of quinoa you like. I used white.
-as far as frostings go, the sky’s the limit. Make any flavor you want, go for whipped cream or ganache, or keep it simple with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.
-you can freeze this cake with or without frosting. It’ll keep triple-wrapped in plastic for several weeks. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before enjoying.Chocolate Quinoa CakeWhew! Okay. Now that you’re armed with everything you need to make a kickass gluten-free chocolate cake, go find something to celebrate. I promise you will. Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Chocolate Quinoa Cake
makes one single-layer 8- or 9-inch square cake

Cake Batter:
1 cup cooked quinoa (measured like flour)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons milk of choice
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee granules, optional
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Chocolate Buttercream:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For garnish (optional):
rainbow sprinkles (jimmies and/or nonpareils)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Place all cake batter ingredients in a blender (or a tall cup for a stick blender). Blend for about a minute, or until no whole quinoa remains. Scrape down the sides as necessary.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Tap full pan a few times on the counter to release any large air bubbles. Bake 30-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes back clean or with only a few crumbs (not batter).

Let cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a thin knife along the edges of the pan and invert onto a rack. Cool completely.

Make the chocolate buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Place cake on a serving plate. Top with buttercream and spread to the edges. Scatter sprinkles over the top, if using.

Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days or in the fridge for up to five.Chocolate Quinoa CakeChocolate Quinoa CakeChocolate Quinoa Cake

Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I would have been content to make and eat only one Boterkoek for the rest of my life, but then my friend, David, had to go and one-up himself on New Year’s Eve by adding a bunch of almond paste.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I don’t make traditional New Year’s resolutions, but that night I absolutely resolved to make Almond Boterkoek happen on this blog. It took exactly eight weeks.

Me: 1
2020: 0Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Anyway…David’s go-to Boterkoek (“bow-ter-kook”) already has a hint of almond to complement all the glorious butter, but this one…whoa. It’s super soft in the middle with crispy & buttery edges on the top and bottom, so it’s almost like biting into a piece of marzipan that is coated in a thin layer of butter cake.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Does that make it sound gross? I promise it’s anything but.

Am I making sense? I don’t even know. What I do know is that adding almond paste to Boterkoek is the closest one can get to having a spiritual experience* with a baked good.

*maybe exaggerating…but also, maybe not.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}As with David’s O.G. Boterkoek, this one is no big deal to whip up. You will need to break out your mixer, but I promise that’s the fussiest part of the whole process. Well, except for the part where you have to remove a teaspoon of egg from a beaten egg, but that’s not too annoying. I even found time (30 whole seconds!) to make a crackly almond topping, which I used it to decorate the cake in a way that is much more flattering when it’s all sliced up.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Texture-wise, this dessert is fairly dense–more like a blondie than an American-style cake. This is because it contains no leaveners, therefore depending on the egg and the air that’s whipped into the butter for its minimal lift. If you want a cakier almond cake, try this one.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I, however, am more than content with a wedge of this buttery-edged, soft-centered almond cake (or whatever) anytime, anywhere, especially right-this-minute as I simultaneously write a blog post and watch Netflix. Yep.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}
makes 1 8-inch cake, about 12 servings

1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon water (not hot)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 ounces almond paste, pinched into small pieces
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract, according to your preference
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Topping:
1 large egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch pie plate with butter. Set aside.

Crack egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Use a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon to remove 1 teaspoon of the egg to a separate bowl. Whisk 1 teaspoon water with the 1 teaspoon of egg to make an egg wash. Set both bowls aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, an electric mixer (or wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease) to beat sugar and almond paste together until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the larger amount of egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat to combine. Add flour and salt and mix until a thick dough forms.

Press dough into prepared pan. Brush egg wash over the top. Use the tines of a fork or edge of a knife to create a crosshatch pattern on top.

Make topping. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg white and sugar. Stir in almonds. Arrange topping on top of cake as desired.

Bake cake 35-40 minutes, or until golden and glossy on top. Cake will slice cleanly when completely cooled, but may be slices and served warm from the pan after 45 minutes.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4. Individual slices may be double-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeWhen you make as many layer cakes as I do, it’s inevitable that someone will ask you to make a gluten-free or vegan one, or one that is both of those things. I used to fear these requests and turn them down across the board, but as time has gone on, I’ve gained confidence, learned new skills, and befriended my NYC ride-or-die, VJ, who just so happens to be a gluten-free vegan. I’m not saying I’m fearless now, but I am saying that I make a hell of a Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeIt all started with The Minimalist Baker’s genius 1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake, which I made for VJ’s birthday last winter. That recipe’s major appeal is that it’s ridiculously easy—it doesn’t require making flax eggs or using a complicated gluten-free flour blend, instead relying on blanched almond flour, a mix of potato starch and cornstarch, unsweetened applesauce and leaveners. The results are soft, moist, and delicious. I would have been content to only make that cake for my gluten-free vegan friends forever…but then another friend requested a chocolate version for their birthday last May. And so, here we are.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeThis triple-layered chocolate masterpiece is gluten-free and vegan, yes, but also moist and tender and chocolaty AF—exactly what you want in a layer cake, gluten-free and vegan or not. I used Dana’s (The Minimalist Baker) Vanilla Cake formula as a starting place for the batter, relying on almond flour and potato starch for structure, and swapping in natural unsweetened cocoa powder instead of cornstarch. I’ve traded the applesauce for pure pumpkin purée, mostly because I almost always have a can of pumpkin and almost never have applesauce. The remaining ingredients are the usual baking powder and soda, granulated sugar, salt, and a mixture of almond milk and vinegar, which acts as a vegan buttermilk swap. I also add a little granulated espresso to accentuate the chocolate flavor.

You’ll notice that there is no added fat in the cake batter—this is because there is plenty in the blanched almond flour. In combination with the moisture from the pumpkin and soured almond milk, this cake always turns out soft and springy.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeIf you’re looking at this list of ingredients and wondering where to find them, the answer is almost any well-stocked grocery store. Blanched almond flour is available at Trader Joe’s and Costco, as well as my local supermarket. Potato starch is usually in the specialty flours section or the Kosher foods aisle.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeAs for the swoopy, pipeable Vegan Chocolate Buttercream…well, first of all, good luck not just eating it straight from the bowl. It’s as flavorful and creamy as traditional chocolate buttercream, thanks to a base of equal parts vegan butter and coconut oil-based shortening, along cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeI recommend using shortening in vegan buttercream for the textural magic it works in the absence of dairy butter. Shortening is a polarizing ingredient, to be sure, but it’s what makes this butterless buttercream so incredibly luxurious and pipeable. I am a fan of Nutiva’s coconut oil formula, but I’ve used regular Crisco in a pinch with good results. If you are anti-shortening, feel free to swap in an equal amount of vegan butter—I’ve been using Miyoko’s lately and totally love it. With an all-vegan-butter frosting, your results may be a little less fluffy than mine, but I promise they will still be delicious. We’re talking about chocolate frosting here—how could it be anything but wonderful?!Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeThis buttercream recipe makes a lot—enough to fill and frost a cake and then pipe it to the gills! I have had no problem finding things to do with any leftovers (vegan buttercream candies, anyone?), but if you’d like to do a naked cake or have less frosting around, feel free to halve the ingredients.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeBut really, is there such a thing as too much chocolate frosting on a chocolate cake? I don’t think so, especially on one like this that can feed nearly all my friends! This vegan, gluten-free dessert is as delicious and beautiful as it is inclusive. Heck, that in itself is almost enough reason to make one.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake
adapted from The Minimalist Baker

makes one 3-layer 9-inch round cake

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
~2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons potato starch
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon granulated espresso
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add almond milk until liquid reaches the 2 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until curdled. Stir in pumpkin purée and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, granulated espresso, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add liquid ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined.

Divide batter among prepared pans and smooth with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap each pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out with only a few crumbs.

Let layers cool completely in their pans on cooling racks. Run a thin, flexible knife around their edges before inverting to release. Fill and frost as desired with Vegan Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below).

Frosted cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days and refrigerated for up to 4. Unfrosted layers may be triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream
makes enough for a 3-layer 9-inch round cake with piping

4 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
8 ounces (1 cup) vegan butter, room temperature (I like Miyoko’s)
8 ounces (1 cup) shortening, room temperature (I like Nutiva)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine confectioners sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat vegan butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Mix in dry ingredients in three installments, mixing until combined and fluffy. Mix in vanilla.

Use to frost layer cakes, as a sandwich cookie filling, or to make vegan buttercream candies.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake