If you ever need a “perfect” gluten-free recipe, then look no further than Nicole Hunn of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring. This lovely woman is a testing and precision machine, and it shows in not only the recipes on her blog, but also in her cookbooks. To give you a sample of her style, this Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe is from her latest cookbook, the second edition of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap.
Photo by Jean Schwarzwalder
I must disclaim upfront that Nicole does use dairy in many of her recipes. But I still believe her formulas are priceless for anyone who cooks and bakes gluten-free. Why? Because they work! I’ve tried several of her recipes over the years (adapting for dairy-free), with delicious results every time. Experienced dairy-free home chefs should have no problem in making substitutions, when needed, for most of her recipes.
And Gluten-Free on a Shoestring does have several dairy-free surprises within:
- From-scratch staples like Savory Olive Oil Crust, Pizza Dough, Wonton Wrappers, and Flour Tortillas
- Homemade Asian sauces to replace store-bought versions, which typically contain gluten
- Fun breakfast delights like Tortilla Espanola and Easy Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
- Plant-based favorites for Sweet and Sour Beets, Glazed Carrots, and Lentil Sloppy Joes
- Comforting soups including Tomato, Matzoh Ball, and Tortilla
- Asian-inspired meals such as Szechuan Meatballs, Beef Potstickers, Sweet and Sour Chicken and Lemon Chicken Chinese Style
- Specialty desserts like Ladyfingers, Chocolate Chip Biscotti, Pumpkin Bread, and the Perfect Gluten-Free Chocolate Birthday Cake (sample recipe below!)
Dairy-Free Chocolate Frosting
And what would the perfect birthday cake be without frosting? In the photo, Nicole uses a simple, drizzly chocolate ganache, like the one in this recipe. For other dairy-free options, you can use my Amazing Mylk Chocolate Frosting Recipe (a crowd favorite!), enjoy some contrast with Dairy-Free Cream Cheesy Frosting, or mix things up with Coconut Pecan Fudge Frosting.
Special Diet Notes: Perfect Gluten-Free Chocolate Birthday Cake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, and vegetarian.
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (157 g) all-purpose gluten-free flour (see below)
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using the flour blend below or if your flour blend already contains it)
- ⅞ cup (70 g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt
- 1⅛ cups (225 g) granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons (84 g) vegetable oil or other neutral oil
- 3 eggs (150 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature, beaten
- ¾ cup (6 fluid ounces) lukewarm water
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease or line a standard 12-cup muffin tin or 9-inch cake pan and set it aside.
- In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum (if using), cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center, and add the oil, eggs, and water, mixing to combine well after each addition.
- Fill the prepared wells of the cupcake tin ⅔ of the way full or transfer the cake batter to the prepared round pan and smooth the top with a wet spatula. Place in the center of the preheated oven, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean or with a few moist crumbs attached (about 19 minutes for cupcakes; about 28 minutes for the cake).
- Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the pan for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. For the cupcakes, repeat with the remaining batter.
This recipe is reprinted with permissions from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap (2nd edition) by Nicole Hunn. Copyright © 2017. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.