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Tom Sawyer Devil’s Food Cake

Tom Sawyer Devil’s Food Cake

Welcome back to The Great Gluten-Free Flour Test. Don’t know what that is? Here’s the skinny. And by skinny, I mean the lowdown. ‘Cause all this cake is not helping a girl be actually skinny.

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.* May the best flour win!

Today’s flour is Tom Sawyer. Followed closely by Huckleberry Finn. Get it? Huh?

For real – we’re nearly done with the cake category. And not a moment too soon. I’m running out of frosting ideas. And notches on my belt.

Pretty good lookin’, huh? If I do say so myself. He makes a nice flour, Tom does.

Have you heard of this flour? I think it’s big out West. Where it’s hot. And dry. And I wish I lived, ’cause I hate humidity so very much.

*Scroll down for the complete results.

If you’re interested in the white frosting, this time it’s my White Chocolate Frosting. Made with dairy-free white chocolate. Amen to that.

Here’s the flour as I poured it out of the bag. In the 5 pound size, by the way, there is no inner lining, so be careful how you open it. That’s a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do type of situation. If for no other reason, I’m here to learn the hard way. So you don’t have to. :/

The batter is really, really smooth. And much thinner than the others. In fact, it’s readily pourable.

So I poured it. In the wells of my cake panel pan. The raw batter tasted quite nice, if you’re wondering. Yes, I eat raw eggs from time to time. Occupational hazard.

When I baked it, this is how it looked back at me from the pan.

And then I cooled it. It’s more cracked on top than I would have expected.

All of these flour formulas are, of course, proprietary. So we know what is in them, but not the proportions. Tom Sawyer flour has unflavored gelatin, and xanthan gum. My assumption is that it has less xanthan gum than many of the others (perhaps the gelatin is meant to stand in for some of the xanthan gum?). That must be what makes the batter so pourable and what allows the tops to crack.

They also took a bit longer to bake than their other flour cousins in the test. I vowed not to modify the recipe from one to the next, but I made an executive decision and resolved to make sure everything at least baked through. This just took a bit longer.

But the crumb was super tender, which made for a really nice mouth feel. Good cakes, all around. I’m not sure how it will do in bread, but I’m pretty happy with these cakes.

Have a look-see:

Cake Challenge

Tom Sawyer GF Flour
Score (1-10)

Cup for cup replacement claim10
Cup for cup replacement result8.5
Ease of use10
Raw texture10
Cooked texture8.5
Finished appearance8
Finished taste9
Mouth feel10


P.S. Next up in the Great Gluten-Free Flour Test: Pastry! Who will win? Who will … not? I’m trying to create some suspense. How am I doing?

P.P.S. I haven’t posted most of the frosting recipes. But I can. If you want ’em. Do you want ’em?

P.P.P.S. I’m totally pinterest-friendly. Pin away! Permissions all-around!!

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  • Julia
    April 1, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    I am happy to see someone such as yourself review Tom’s flour. I use it for my cookie making. Turns out wonderfully! Interesting you noted that it takes longer to bake up. Had not put that together that my baking times had increased. But yes I would agree there is a longer baking time required for this flour. :)

  • Bill
    March 29, 2012 at 8:05 AM

    Love the idea as I have used most of these flours (currently have been buying Jules). Would you be willing to show how you are calculating the cost per cup?
    With all the vendors offering different bulk rates I think this could lead to misleading cost if one is at a 5 bulk pack of 5 LB and the other is based on 20oz package.

    Thanks you all your post and looking forward to final results. – Bill

    • March 29, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      Hi, Bill,
      Glad you’re enjoying the series. In the first post of the series, in which I explain the terms, I explain that I am using the absolute best price for each flour. So even though I bought 5 pound bags of Jules and Tom Sawyer, since that is what made the most sense for me, I priced them per cup based upon their best bulk price, respectively. And I calculated the “best” price myself, rather than relying upon what the companies themselves call the best price, since with at least one company, what they call the best price was, in fact, slightly more expensive than another of their own purchasing options.
      Best – Nicole

  • Michelle Dunton Olejar on Facebook
    March 28, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    From looking at the 4 cake results, BB looks to have scored the best. I am not surprised.

  • Elizabeth
    March 28, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    So Nicole,
    The cake round goes to Better Batter with an overall score of 9.778. I am keeping up with your score and have averaged each of them. I am looking forward to the rest of the experimentation. Please feel free to ship any goodie you make during this test to me…I will sacrifice for the good of your waist line.
    Thanks for everything you do.
    2nd place C4C/9.444;
    3rd place Tom Sawyer/9.333;
    4th place Jules/8.889

    • March 28, 2012 at 5:55 PM

      Hi, Elizabeth,
      Thanks for following along so closely! I love that.
      I would be so happy to ship it all to you. You have no idea! Not so much for the sake of my girlish figure, but because I’m … actually sick of chocolate cake!
      I honestly have no idea who will win the Pastry Challenge. We shall see!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Deborah Nowland
    March 28, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Can you put all of the comparisons next to each other on your blog? Or do we have to print out each one and look at them side by side?

    • March 28, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      Hi, Deborah,
      It should be easy enough to pull up multiple windows of the blog at the same time and do the comparison. Perhaps, at the end of the whole test, I’ll do a post with all the side-by-sides.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Kristi
    March 28, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Thanks for doing this test/challenge. I am really enjoying it.

    I am so curious about how these flours will compare in a loaf of bread.

    Regarding the frostings, yes please!

    I made the devil food cake as cupcakes this weekend with Better Batter and they were GOOD; and gone within in 24 hours! Extra notch in my belt is right!

    • March 28, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      Hi, Kristi,
      I’m really curious, too. I had already planned to do pastry next, but part of me is wishing that I had chosen bread next. More anticipation, though, this way!
      xoxo Nikki

  • March 28, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    I love your site and recipes. I just recently made your wonton wrappers, and they came out great! Thanks so much!! xoxo =]

    • March 28, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      So glad, Juju. Thanks for letting me know!
      xoxo Nicole

  • March 28, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Interesting stuff, this flour. It has a nice looking texture, but the cracking is interesting. Nice fancy shmancy frosting – you keep this up and someone might inquire about you writing a book about cake decorating……

    (I know. I know. Going to my room, now)

    • March 28, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      Hi, Lisa!
      No need to go to your room. No one’s asking me to do a cake decorating book, though! I’m a total cake decorating hack. And I always show you the cake’s ‘good side’. ;)
      Yeah, not so sure about the cracking. I went back and compared it to Better Batter, and, indeed, it’s comparatively a lot of cracks. Hmmm…
      xoxo Nicole

  • Amy Jardon on Facebook
    March 28, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    Oh! I suppose that makes more sense as to how they can look so awesome frosted!

  • March 28, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    They’re actually not cupcakes, Amy Jardon. :) They’re mini cakes. They’re made with a 6-well cake panel pan from USA Pan!

    • Michelle O
      March 28, 2012 at 8:44 PM

      I am very interested in that mini cake pan. It isn’t the same pan as the Hamburger Bun is it? I am wondering if it would work for those mini deep dish pizzas pans of yours I was coveting ;) I like multi purpose pans, and I love USA Pans.

    • March 28, 2012 at 8:52 PM

      Not sure what the Hamburger Bun is, Michelle. It’s the cake panel pan that I link to in the post. It’s a panel, not individual standalone round pans, so I guess you could make multiple, small deep dish pizzas in it…
      I wish they still sold those mini deep dish pans!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Amy Jardon on Facebook
    March 28, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    One of the things that I love about these posts of yours is that the cake looks soooo beautiful, and then upon inspection/reading of the blog, I realize you’re making CUPcakes! My question now is. . . is that a normal size cake pedestal, or a smaller version you use for the small cake? I love using “Gifts of Nature” flour mix, the grocery stores stopped carrying it locally and I have yet to buck up and pay for shipping, but I do love it. cup for cup. Some of these other brands I’ve not heard of.

  • chris
    March 28, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Is there some place where you have the results side-by-side?

    • March 28, 2012 at 9:56 AM

      Hi, Chris!
      Just one after the other on the blog page devoted to the test. If you’d like to see a couple of them side-by-side, I suggest opening multiple windows on your computer desktop. I’ve done it. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • March 28, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Hi! Yes, I do; the general idea being to use flour mixes of brands carried in the larger natural grocery chains. Natural Grocers carries Namaste’s line (we used “Perfect Flour Mix” for the donuts), then a variety of Arrowhead Mills, Bob’s Mill, and Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes. (Fyi, I’ll share my findings with you on how to adopt your recipes for egg-free, too.) Whether you focus on cake mixes (the Cherrybrook works best at our 6500 feet and egg-free) or others, it might resonate. :-)

  • March 28, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Hi, Jene’ Jackson, do you mean boxed cake mixes? Interesting idea. I have recipes for make-your-own cake mixes in my new cookbook, but I never used boxed mixes. I kinda like that idea!

  • March 28, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    I love love love your blog and recipes! My children and I made glazed donuts yesterday, adapting it for my egg-allergy son. And I love your flour test.
    However, I have a similar challenge for you: I would love to see what you find in how to make the most commercially-available flour mixes work best, and which work best. Being able to run to the store and grab a needed-last-minute cake mix is golden, you know? Thanks for all of your hard, brilliant work! :-)

    • chris
      March 28, 2012 at 9:45 AM

      Well, until Nicole has a chance to test box mixes, I will say that Betty Crocker’s gf mixes are wonderful! For my son’s 4th birthday, my mother-in-law made a wonder cake (full of gluten) for us savages and I made a gf cookie cake (Oreo type cookie pan) for my husband and mother-in-law. It was one layer of devil’s food, buttercream in the middle and then a yellow layer. My daughter, 7, (who is not gf) LOVED my cake and wouldn’t eat the other! So if you’re in a pinch, you can trust Betty Crocker’s mixes. The brownies are really good and the chocolate chip cookie mix makes a great crust for a cheesecake :)

    • chris
      March 28, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      um…a *wonderful* cake (sigh)

    • Michelle O
      March 28, 2012 at 8:39 PM

      My personal opinion is that by far King Arthur is the best mix I have had. I have had Betty Crocker, Namaste, Pamela’s, Bob’s Red Mill and a couple others that have escaped my mind because they were so memorable, lol. You will find that chocolate cake is typically easier to make taste better gluten free vs. vanilla. Oh, and King Arthur makes a double layer, not just a single layer so it is worth the extra money. To be honest with you though, I find it at my local Meijers for only $.50 more than Betty Crocker.

    • Meridith
      March 29, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      When doing an egg free cake chocolate works better than yellow cake. The applesauce/baking powder mix (3 Tbsp. Applesauce/1 Tbsp. Baking powder per egg, up to 2 eggs) work well with the Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix.

  • Debby Reiff Greenberg on Facebook
    March 28, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    Yes I would like the frosting recipes. Thanks for testing the flours!

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