Before I present you with my first attempt at a “naked cake,” let alone a gluten-free chocolate naked cake, I’m going to give you a few disclaimers: I’m not an especially talented cake decorator (I did live across the street from the Cake Boss bakery in Hoboken for two years, but I did not acquire any skills by walking by on my way to the PATH train). I’m also not an expert at gluten-free baking.
A few weeks ago, Brad’s parents were visiting and we went up to have dinner with them at their home in the suburbs (though they live in Colorado full time so we only recently met). Of course, Brad told me we didn’t need to bring anything but I was obviously not going to listen to that directive and he very well knew it.
Because we were celebrating his mom’s birthday I thought it was a nice opportunity to take a stab at a birthday cake.
Normally, when I want to make someone a birthday cake I resort to my old faithful, a recipe from my grandmother’s collection for sour cream chocolate cake. Because Brad’s mom Marsha has celiac disease, that recipe was off the table.
I thought about making a cheesecake, or a fruit-based dessert, or something a little simpler, but Brad had told me his mom liked chocolate so I found a King Arthur recipe and made some small tweaks to it.
Brad’s mom is really health conscious, so I didn’t want to use a ton of frosting on the cake. My goal was to make a ‘naked cake’ with only a thin layer of frosting on the outside.
That sort of worked, because when you make a naked cake, an important thing to do is freeze the cake layers so that you don’t mind up with frosting speckled with cake crumbs. I forgot that step, so of course I would up with, you guessed it, frosting speckled cake.
The savior: fresh berries. Not only were they a beautiful cake topper, but they hid a lot of mistakes. Next time, I would slice some strawberries and place them between the cake layers.
It helped that we also had a good amount of wine before dinner.
By the time we got to birthday cake, nobody noticed that it was imperfect. I highly recommend this strategy to all budding cake bakers, especially when the need for a gluten free chocolate naked cake arises.
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1½ cups gluten-free multi-purpose flour (I used King Arthur brand)
- 1 cup dutch-process cocoa
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1⅓ cups water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8" or 9" round pans with butter or gluten-free olive oil spray.
- In a free standing medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a mixing bowl with a hand mixer) combine oil, eggs, water and vanilla extract. Beat well until combined.
- Slowly blend in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing as you add, about one cup at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go.
- Once all of the dry ingredients have been blended, beat at medium-high speed for 2 minutes, until the batter smoothes out. Pour into the prepared pans.
- Bake the cakes for 30 to 33 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean (or until internal temperature reaches 210°F).
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes before turning them onto a wire rack to cool further. Frost with your favorite vanilla frosting and decorate with fresh berries as desired.