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One Bowl Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

One Bowl Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

This easy gluten free chocolate cake is rich, dense and fudgy, and it’s all made in just one bowl. Make a double layer or single, with the simplest chocolate ganache frosting. Say hello to your new favorite chocolate cake recipe!

One bowl gluten free chocolate cake baked as a single layer cake, served on a plate with one single, rich bite taken.

How do you make a gluten free chocolate cake from scratch?

There are many ways to make chocolate cake from scratch, and most of them aren’t any harder than making it from a mix. All the mix does is provide you with already-measured dry ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt.

When you’re using a mix, you still have to add eggs, oil, and often water. As long as you’re adding eggs, oil, and water, you may as well add some sour cream, too, and make it into this cake.

That’s really all it takes. You have to provide the pan either way, right? And bake it in your oven.

Just whisk the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and sugar) and you have your chocolate cake mix. Make a well in the center, and add the wet ingredients and mix. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake.

This gluten free chocolate cake is rich, dense and fudgy, and it's all made in just one bowl. Make a double layer or single, with the simplest chocolate ganache frosting.

What makes this chocolate cake special?

Sometimes, you just need a rich, dark gluten free chocolate cake that you make in 1 bowl, without even melting any chocolate. Usually, to get a really rich chocolate cake or cupcake, your best bet is to use both melted dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

But this one bowl gluten free chocolate cake gets the job done with just the right mix of cocoa, sour cream, and oil instead of butter. It’s also dense, but never heavy.

This cake is tender enough that you can make it days ahead of time. You can even store it in the refrigerator without its drying out too much.

Raw batter for one bowl gluten free chocolate cake being spread evenly in the baking pan.

How to make a gluten free chocolate layer cake

This is the cake you make when it’s someone’s birthday and you don’t want to disappoint—but you haven’t planned ahead. But if you’re making it as a celebration cake, you may want to make a layer cake.

No problem. Simply double each ingredient of the recipe to make two layers. Use a large bowl, or measure everything out into two bowls.

Place half of the batter into each of two prepared 9-inch cake pans. Smooth the top, and place them in a 350°F oven. If the oven isn’t really large (like mine isn’t), after about 20 minutes rotate the pans with one another so everything bakes evenly.

This gluten free chocolate cake is rich, dense and fudgy, and it's all made in just one bowl. Make a double layer or single, with the simplest chocolate ganache frosting.

How to make the easiest chocolate frosting

Chocolate ganache sounds fancy, but it’s deceptively simple. When you make just chocolate ganache, it’s not really a frosting. But if you whip it, you’ve got the easiest rich chocolate frosting.

Make the ganache by heating heavy whipping cream (or coconut cream, if you’re dairy free) until simmering. Then, pour the simmering cream over chopped chocolate.

Allow the two ingredients to sit for a bit, until the chocolate begins to melt. Stir until the chocolate is melted, the liquid is fully incorporated, and the mixture is smooth. That’s chocolate ganache.

This gluten free chocolate cake is rich, dense and fudgy, and it's all made in just one bowl. Make a double layer or single, with the simplest chocolate ganache frosting.

Whipped chocolate ganache

To make it from simple chocolate ganache, use the proportions specified in the recipe below. Once the ganache has cooled to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator to chill until it can be scooped with a spoon. That should take a couple hours.

Remove the chilled ganache from the refrigerator. Whip it with a hand mixer until it’s thick, light and fluffy, and add a bit of confectioners’ sugar if you’d like it a bit sweeter, and a bit thicker.

One bowl gluten free chocolate cake baked as a single layer cake, served on a plate with one single, rich bite taken.

Ingredients and substitutions

Not only is this one bowl gluten free chocolate cake easy, it also doesn’t have a lot of other potential allergens in it. No wonder it’s one of my very best gluten free chocolate cakes.

Dairy

There isn’t as much dairy in this cake as you might expect. Since cocoa powder works well to create chocolate richness with oil, there isn’t any butter in this recipe. Just be sure the chocolate you use in your ganache is dairy-free.

The only dairy in the cake itself is the sour cream. Sour cream can be replaced in baking with plain Greek-style yogurt. If you’re dairy-free, use nondairy yogurt.

If you only have plain regular yogurt, try straining out enough liquid until it’s looks like sour cream. Then measure and use that. If you’re dairy-free, again just use nondairy plain yogurt.

The dairy in the ganache is heavy whipping cream. That can be replaced with coconut creme, if you’re dairy-free.

Just be sure not to use canned light coconut milk, which has added water. Your coconut cream must be from a can, not from a carton of milk which is nearly all liquid.

Eggs

There are 2 eggs in this recipe, and they’re important. But since there are only 2 in a rather substantial cake, you might be able to replace each of them with one “chia egg.”

A “chia egg” is made with 1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds and 1 tablespoon lukewarm water. Just mix them together in a small bowl (times 2, here, for 2 eggs), and allow them to sit until they gel. Then add them when you would add the eggs.

Cocoa powder

Dutch-processed cocoa powder tends to be richer than natural cocoa powder, which is why I prefer it in this recipe. If you only have natural cocoa powder, you can use that without changing anything else.

Natural cocoa powder is not processed with alkali, like Dutch-processed, so it requires a bit of baking soda to offset its acidity. But this recipe already calls for some baking soda.

 
This easy gluten free chocolate cake is rich, dense and fudgy, and it’s all made in just one bowl. Make a double layer or single, with the simplest chocolate ganache frosting. Say hello to your new favorite chocolate cake recipe! https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/one-bowl-gluten-free-chocolate-cake/This gluten free chocolate cake is rich, dense and fudgy, and it's all made in just one bowl. Make a double layer or single, with the simplest chocolate ganache frosting. This gluten free chocolate cake is rich, dense and fudgy, and it's all made in just one bowl. Make a double layer or single, with the simplest chocolate ganache frosting.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients

For the cake
1 1/2 cups (210 g) all-purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

14 tablespoons (70 g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

3/4 cup (168 g) sour cream, at room temperature

1/2 cup (112 g) neutral oil (vegetable, grapeseed, peanut, canola all work)

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (6 ounces) warm water (about 80°F)

For the ganache topping
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream

8 ounces (or 10 ounces, for whipped ganache) dark chocolate, chopped

1 cup (115 g) confectioners’ sugar (for whipped ganache)

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round or square baking pan and set it aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, and water, and mix to combine well. The batter should be very thickly pourable. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth into an even layer and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out mostly clean or with a few moist crumbs attached (about 30 minutes). Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  • While the cake is cooling, make the ganache topping. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream until it just begins to simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size bowl, and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Allow the cream to sit on the chocolate for about a minute, until the chocolate begins to melt, and mix until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.* Pour the warm ganache over the top of the cooled cake, and gently spread toward the edges so the ganache begins to drip down the sides of the cake. Allow to set at room temperature before serving.

  • *To make whipped ganache frosting, use 10 ounces of chopped chocolate with the 6 fluid ounces cream and follow the same instructions. Allow the ganache to cool at room temperature until no longer hot to the touch. Cover and place in the refrigerator until firm enough to scoop with a spoon. Transfer the cooled ganache to a large bowl and beat with a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until thickened and fluffy. The ganache will also lighten in color. Add the optional confectioners’ sugar and beat until well-combined. Frost as desired.

  • This recipe was first published on the blog in 2014. The photos and text are updated but the recipe remains the same. 

Love,
Nicole

  • Mira
    July 5, 2020 at 9:28 PM

    this came out great!! I’ve made several GF cakes before with questionable success, and I read something recently about sour cream (or Greek yogurt which is what I used here) being the trick to making sure a gluten free cake doesn’t come out too gummy. I’m glad I searched for that specifically this time because it was delicious! Still a pretty dense cake, but in a good, fudgy kind of way, and not gummy or weird at all. I used bob’s red mill baking flour.

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 6, 2020 at 10:44 AM

      You will have significantly better results if you use a better quality, better-balanced flour blend, Mira. Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour blend is not either of those things, and it’s the reason you are getting gummy results. Please see my gluten free flour blends page for a full explanation. The key is the right recipe, and the right flour blend. Not sour cream or Greek yogurt!

  • Helen C
    June 25, 2020 at 1:53 PM

    Hi Nicole, thank you for this recipe! As a busy mum of three little ones a one bowl cake is the best! I’ve made this today (just the cake without the ganache) (Thursday) for my sister’s birthday on Saturday afternoon – any thoughts on whether it will last ok until then or should I freeze it tonight and take out and add the topping on Saturday morning? Many thanks, Helen

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 25, 2020 at 1:56 PM

      Hi, Helen, Definitely freeze it! Not that it won’t last, but wrap it tightly and freeze it, then defrost at room temperature and it will be good as new when you serve it!

  • Beverley
    June 21, 2020 at 9:13 AM

    Your cake looks delicious! I’m out of gf flour. Could I substitute the same amount, 1 1/2 cups, of regular regular flour? Thx!

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 21, 2020 at 10:18 AM

      I’m afraid that baking with conventional flour is not at all the same as baking with gluten free flour. I really recommend that you find a recipe that is developed for conventional flour, Beverly.

  • Amanda Cantrell
    June 20, 2020 at 9:00 AM

    Do you think the cake would hold up well enough to triple the recipe for a 3 layer cake in 8 inch cake pans? I’m trying to put together a hodgepodge of recipes to create a chocolate covered strawberry cake for my husband’s birthday, and the simplicity of this recipe looks promising plus I just love that you list your ingredients by weight!

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 20, 2020 at 9:05 AM

      Since you’ll be measuring by weight, Amanda (the only way to bake successfully!), I think you could triple the recipe. Depending upon the size of your oven, though, you may have to bake in batches. Lucky birthday man!

  • Elyse
    June 17, 2020 at 4:08 PM

    Thanks so much for the wonderful information and recipes you provide! I’d like to make this cake, but I’m out of sour cream – any chance of replacing with Greek yogurt? I have a bunch of that in hand now because we love your pizza and monkey bread recipes!!

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 17, 2020 at 4:28 PM

      Hi, Elyse, You should be able to use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, yes. I wouldn’t recommend using nonfat yogurt, though, for this cake. It needs the fat!

  • Annie
    June 15, 2020 at 4:16 PM

    The best gluten free chocolate cake I have made. Really lovely moist texture. Fab! Thank you

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 15, 2020 at 5:05 PM

      I’m so glad you loved it, Annie. It’s a “back pocket” recipe!

  • Priya
    June 8, 2020 at 2:53 PM

    Hi Nicole. This looks amazing and I’m actually making it now for my brother’s birthday! Just a query-the video shows you adding vanilla, but it’s not in the ingredient list. I’m adding it anyway but thought I would ask for future reference. :) thank you!

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 8, 2020 at 3:30 PM

      Thank you for pointing that out, Priya. I don’t always add it, to be honest, but it certainly doesn’t hurt! I added it to the ingredients list. Oh, and happy birthday to your brother. This is my family’s go-to chocolate birthday cake. :)

  • CarolM
    June 7, 2020 at 5:26 PM

    This was my 1st time making any form of ganache. I used unsweetened bakers chocolate, and learned the hard way that you meant a semi sweet or bittersweet type dark chocolate, like a bar of 70 or 85%. I’ve added the confectioners sugar and given it a bit of a beat, and it’s edible, but I’ll read up more on ganache before I try it again. Would semi-sweet baking chips work?

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 7, 2020 at 7:12 PM

      Oh no, Carol, never use unsweetened chocolate unless a recipe calls for it! You can’t use chocolate chips to make ganache properly, since they have a fair amount of wax in them. That’s what helps them hold their shape even in the oven.

  • Elena B
    June 5, 2020 at 10:15 AM

    Thanks for the great recipe!
    I used this cake to go with a buttercream I just had to try (Tahini honey – tastes like Halva, link to recipe below) but I reduced the sugar to 1/3 cup to make it a darker cake.
    Was not expecting that much of a rise but the tops are trimmed and waiting to be made into a cake sandwich thingie!
    10/10 would make again
    Link to the tahini honey chocolate cake – https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/baking-and-desserts/chocolate-tahini-and-honey-celebration-cake/

  • Trish
    June 1, 2020 at 7:53 AM

    Since my husband is a diabetic, is there a sugar substitute, perhaps monkfruit, one can use?

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 1, 2020 at 8:15 AM

      Hi, Trish, I would try Lankato monkfruit granulated sugar substitute. It does tend to be drying, though, so you may need to add a bit more liquid. Add it about a teaspoon at a time, and try to match the precise consistency of the batter that you see in the videos.

  • Susan
    May 23, 2020 at 8:55 AM

    Loved the cake-easy and very delicious. Question on the whipped ganache– While icing the cake, the whipped ganache became very stiff. Any ideas as to why? Thank you

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 23, 2020 at 10:38 AM

      Hi, Susan, I’m afraid I can’t possibly know, but whipped ganache has to be thoroughly whipped. Perhaps you didn’t?

  • Ronni M
    May 19, 2020 at 6:03 PM

    At last! I can eat chocolate cake again!! It’s perfect and I can’t thank you enough. Looking forward to trying ALL your recipes.

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 19, 2020 at 7:46 PM

      That’s awesome, Ronni! It sounds like you’re feeling really encouraged, and that’s the best.

  • Brenda
    May 18, 2020 at 7:26 AM

    Thank you so much for this amazing recipe. I have been gluten intolerant for many years and this is the first time a cake recipe has turned out perfectly. Cake is delicious and moist without the ganache, such a welcome treat during day #? of lockdown. Thank you again Nicole.

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 18, 2020 at 8:31 AM

      I’m so glad, Brenda! Well, I mean I’m not glad it’s taken all these years, but I’m so glad you have a reliable chocolate cake recipe you love. That’s pretty important, if you ask me. 🙂

  • Julie Sherman
    May 18, 2020 at 12:54 AM

    Nicole,
    I was reading your review of gluten free flours and wanted your opinion on King Arthur flour blend.
    Thank you,

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 18, 2020 at 8:31 AM

      I discuss King Arthur Flour on the gluten free flour blends page, Julie. I’m afraid it isn’t properly balanced, and tends to be gritty, so it won’t work in my recipes. It’s so readily available that I wish it were otherwise, but I’ve tried and tried and just can’t recommend it.

  • Sherry Matthews
    May 17, 2020 at 7:47 PM

    Thank you for all the great recipes! They all turn out so well! Do you have a cookbook by chance? I’m interested! Take care and stay safe.

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 18, 2020 at 8:29 AM

      I have 5 cookbooks, actually, Sherry. You can find information about each of them in the gluten free cookbooks page. Thanks for your interest!

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