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Jules Devil’s Food Cake

Jules Devil’s Food Cake

The Great Gluten-Free Flour Test. It’s back, baby!

In case you missed what came before, here’s the 411.

Once more time, though, in a nutshell: 4 all-purpose gluten-free flour blends (Better Batter, C4C, Jules, Tom Sawyer), 4 recipe categories (cake, pastry, yeast bread, cookies), 10 ratings categories.* No excuses!

Okay, maybe a few excuses.

Can we pause for a moment and talk about what a nail-biter this is for me? I’m all jumpy and nervous. I’m a wreck! I’m not a purveyor of flour, but I’m an author. And I know all too well that, when you put something out there (like a book; like a flour), people are going to have something to say about it. The thing is—I’m not usually the one having the say. I’ve never even written an Amazon review in my life. On anything. I believe strongly in living by The Golden Rule. And the Hippocratic Oath (what? whoever said it was only for doctors?). And that time heals all wounds. It all evens out in the end.

But this is different. You want to know. You deserve to know! Heck, I want to know.

I deliberately chose 4 flour blends that I fully expect to work – some better in cakes, some better in breads. Some will taste better raw, some will bake more evenly. “All-purpose” means it’s good for all purposes. Not necessarily great for each and every purpose (by the way, it’s the same with conventional gluten-containing all-purpose flour – that’s why they sell bread flour and cake flour and self-rising flour).

But I’m rooting for each and every one of the 4 blends! And I am calling it like I see it.* Even though I’d rather just keep my mouth shut.

To help keep track of things, I am using a different frosting on each of the cakes. But the cake inside is prepared in precisely the same way—except for the flour blend being used.

The recipe for the Gluten-free Devil’s Food Cake being used can be found in the first Devil’s Food Layer Cake post, using Better Batter.

Without further blah blah blah from me, here are the results using Jules Gluten Free:

*Scroll all the way down for today’s results.

Jules has such cute illustrations. That’s not part of the scoring, but even though I’ve never met Jules, I picture her very jaunty and happy. And baking bread! And not for nothing, but I think this flour is going to make some great bread.

On the left is the plain flour itself, just as I poured it from the package.

Here’s the batter. It looks nice and smooth to me. The few bumps you see are air bubbles. Don’t mind those.

See? Smooth as silk. And the raw batter tastes good, too (once again, if you don’t hear from me for a few days, do me a solid and pick up the phone, then dial 9-1-1).

The cakes baked a wee bit faster on the outside than they did on the inside, so they cracked a bit. And I am certain of my oven temperature (I used 2 separate oven thermometers in different parts of the oven), and I made two completely separate batches just to be sure.

Here’s what they look like from the side.

And here’s the center, after I leveled off the tops for the mini layer cakes.

These cakes were chewier than the others, and I presume that is because Jules flour contains both Expandex (a modified tapioca starch) and xanthan gum (which is also in Cup4Cup and Tom Sawyer). That’s not my favorite texture for cakes, but I think it’s going to make a killer gluten-free bread. We’ll just have to wait and see!

To assemble the mini layer cakes, I frosted the center with a simple chocolate buttercream. I also did a crumb coat after placing the second cake on top, just like I did with the other cakes. It helps fill i the gaps between the cakes (and to seal in the crumbs).

And this time around, I frosted with a chocolate ganache. Ganache is super easy. Just simmer some cream over a low flame, and then pour the hot cream over chopped semi-sweet chocolate and stir (figure 1/4 cup cream to each 3 ounces of chocolate).

As the ganache cools, it becomes more spreadable (what you see just above). But what you see at the top of the post was a warmer ganache that I just poured over top for a smoother finish. Or you could wait for it to cool even more, and then whip it and use it for piping like traditional frosting.

Cake Challenge

Jules GF Flour
Score (1-10)

Cup for cup replacement claim10
Cup for cup replacement result8
Ease of use10
Raw texture10
Cooked texture8
Finished appearance8
Finished taste9
Mouth feel7


P.S. Next up in the Great Gluten-free All-Purpose Flour Test, Tom Sawyer gluten-free flour bakes devil’s food cake. Last one! Good thing, because I had to find out the hard way that one can, indeed, have too much chocolate cake. After cakes, we go to Round 2: Pastry. *yikes*

P.P.S. If you have questions about how I’m conducting the test (and some of you have had questions already), please leave a comment and I will do my best to explain my method and the reasons for it. But be polite! I’m really trying my best to be very even-handed.

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  • April 1, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    I am a big fan of Jules flour and so far it is my favorite of the all purpose GF flours. I’m not sure what kind of bread you will be making but the Jules flour makes the best tasting GF pizza I have ever had! I actually save my Jules (because it is so expensive!) for pizza and pie crust and use cheaper things for muffins, quick bread etc.
    I usually use Jules recipes for her flour and I’ve never had one of them fail!
    Thanks for doing the comparison for us, that is a lot of work and it’s helpful for all of us!

  • Laura
    March 27, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Interesting results. I, too, came across Jules GF flour and cookbooks when I was first diagnosed. I get uneven results when baking but blamed it on my oven (which my seperate oven thermometer says is accurate) and my inexperience in the works of GF baking. Since you don’t have either of those issues, I will rethink my blame game. :-) I have ordered my better batter and am using my Jules GF up while I wait. Thanks for doing these comparisons.

    • March 27, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      Hi, Laura,
      I’m so glad you’re finding this useful. It’s been quite an education for me.
      Your experience, blaming your early inconsistent results on yourself, is very common – and seems quite reasonable at the time. I did the same thing way back when. Yet another reason why early success is essential! Thanks for posting about that.
      xoxo Nicole

  • chris
    March 26, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    This is the one I have been waiting for. When my husband was diagnosed, I found Jules Nearly Normal and tried it. Have also tried her cookie and bread mixes. Then I found you and learned about Better Batter. So I have now tried both and am currently almost out of Better Batter with a bag of Jules’ in the pantry. I’m having a hard time deciding which to order again! I have liked both flours. Maybe I’ll get some more of both. *sigh* But it will have to be Jules first since the Better Batter is out of stock!

    Thank you for this Nicole and feel free to send any extra chocolate cake to Michigan…we’ll take care of it for you :)

    • March 26, 2012 at 2:04 PM

      Is Better Batter completely out of stock, Chris? I didn’t realize that. Kind of frustrating. :/
      Maybe the Jules will last you until BB is back in stock?
      Seriously, I would box up some cake and send it to you in a hot second! And I still have 1 more round to make. Oh boy.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Sherry Coppola on Facebook
    March 26, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Love your self restrain!

  • March 26, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    I’m being very diplomatic, Sherry. Can you tell? ;)

  • March 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    The pictures tell an interesting story even without your witty repartee. Seriously, you should be a writer (oh wait….)

    I can see that it is more dense than the other two. That would certainly make for a chewier texture. I am curious why expandex plus x-gum in a mix, but we might never know why. I agree – I bet it makes awesome bread.

    But I totally disagree that there can actually be too much chocolate cake. Really?

    Looking forward to seeing the next candidate. Two thumbs up, Nicole. This is hard work but a great service to those wanting to know about these flours.

    • March 26, 2012 at 1:36 PM

      Hi, Lisa,
      Really! I’m telling you. Too much chocolate cake! Even my neighbors are sick of it. If they see me coming, they shut the lights and hide.
      Thanks for all your support, Lisa. It means a whole lot. Helps keep me going!
      xoxo Nicole

    • March 26, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      So donuts (doughnuts) (donuts) (doughnuts) are your kryptonite, Naomi? I’ll have to remember that.
      I will not make you any of them, then. I don’t even know what your favorite is, though, but when I find out – I’ll make that. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Karen Langley on Facebook
    March 26, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Thanks Nicole! It’s been so interesting to look at the comparisons and see the strengths of the different types of flours. To be honest I just want to eat all of these yummy cakes :)

  • March 26, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    This is the one I was most anxious to hear about. I love Jules flour (with her recipes) but it just doesn’t rise the same in your recipes. The biggest fail I had was subbing Jules flour in your German pancake recipe – it never rose. Do you think it has anything to do with the expandex? I have had excellent luck with her bread recipe, btw, so will be curious to see how that pans out if you do bread comparisons!

    • March 26, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      Hi, Michelle,
      Interesting. Since this is my first experience with Jules’ flour, I’m even ready to hazard a guess just yet. Perhaps when I try the other categories of recipes I will be able to speak intelligently about that, and about expandex (although I won’t really be able to isolate the effect of expandex in particular). But I should be able to hazard a guess as the test goes on. I think that her flour is going to be very, very good for bread, since bread really can benefit from more coagulation (which both expandex and xanthan gum are meant to do).
      xoxo Nicole

  • jamie
    March 26, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    To test for true cup for cup claimes wouldn’t you want to also do a test using a regular recipe and make it using the gf flours? Or maybe I a misunderstanding the cup for claimes? I am enjoying this series and looking forward to the bread results.

    • March 26, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      Hi, Jamie,
      It’s a good question. This was discussed in the comments on one of the other posts in this series.
      I do not believe that any gluten-free flour blend is truly a cup-for-cup replacement for conventional, gluten-containing all-purpose flour. Gluten-free flours are simply just too distinct from gluten-containing flours to make that a worthwhile comparison, in my eyes. So I’m not testing the cup-for-cup claims of these flours. Rather, I am testing their performance as “all-purpose gluten-free flours.”
      xoxo Nicole

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