Gluten-Free Yellow Cake: as good as...? No comparisons necessary!

gluten free yellow cake

Isn’t this just the nicest looking yellow cake?

Close/fine texture, yet still moist; high-rising, not crumbly… and the crown of chocolate doesn’t hurt, either!

I’ve surveyed a number of people recently (friends, family, colleagues) and have discovered a surprising number list yellow cake with chocolate frosting as their birthday cake of choice.

I’m a pure chocolate fan, through and through – and the darker, the better.

Yet I’ve read that vanilla and chocolate are neck and neck for top honors as “America’s favorite flavor.” And that milk chocolate gets more votes than dark in any kind of chocolate poll.

Thus, when I think about it, it stands to reason that yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting would be a favorite. And the following version really takes the cake.

Want to know something surprising? I’ve gotten this far in the cake’s description without mentioning that it’s gluten-free.

Usually folks writing about gluten-free baking start right out with, “This gluten-free [cake, cookies, brownies, bread...] is as good as regular [cake, cookies, brownies, bread...].”

AS GOOD AS. Like the comparison is inevitable.

Gluten, good; gluten-free, also-ran.

Not so with this moist, tender cake. It’s gluten-free, and it’s GOOD.

Period.

Let’s bake!

Many of our gluten-free recipes use our King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour, which includes ingredients that reduce the grittiness sometimes found in gluten-free baked goods. Our flour also increases the shelf life of your treats, keeping them fresh longer.

The following make-at-home blend, featuring stabilized brown rice flour, works pretty well when substituted; and it tastes better than a blend using regular brown rice flour.

Whisk together 6 cups (32 ounces) King Arthur stabilized brown rice flour; 2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) potato starch; and 1 cup (4 ounces) tapioca flour or tapioca starch. Store airtight at room temperature.

Note: You can substitute white rice flour for the brown rice flour if you like; it’ll make your baked goods grittier (unless you manage to find a finely ground version).

Here’s another ingredient you’ll want to keep on hand when you’re baking gluten-free: xanthan gum, which adds structure to your baked treats in the absence of gluten.

First, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan. Line the pan with parchment, and grease the parchment; this extra step, while not strictly necessary, will insure your baked cake won’t crumble if/when you turn it out of the pan.

Next, whisk together the following in a small bowl:

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour or brown rice flour blend
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons gluten-free King Arthur Cake Enhancer, optional, for moistness and keeping qualities

Set the mixture aside.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract

Use an electric mixer to beat everything together until smooth.

Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and add 1 large egg.

Beat for a minute or so at high speed, until fluffy.

Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Beat in another large egg; the mixture should become quite fluffy. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl again.

Next, you’re going to add the dry ingredients you whisked together earlier, and 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature. Do this alternately; with the mixer running at low speed, add some of the dry ingredients first…

…then about half the milk.

The mixture may look curdled once you’ve added some milk.

That’s OK; adding more of the dry ingredients will smooth it out.

Add the remainder of the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients.

There! Doesn’t that look better?

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan.

Spread it right to the edges.

Bake the cake for about 25 minutes.

It’ll rise nicely.

You want to bake the cake about 3 to 4 minutes past the point where it springs back when touched lightly in the center, and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean; this extended bake time will help prevent gumminess. The finished cake’s internal temperature should be about 210°F.

After about 10 minutes, loosen the edges of the cake…

…and turn it out onto a rack.

Peel off the parchment.

Pretty good – just one little air hole. Doesn’t matter; I’ll just flip it over and no one will be the wiser.

Next up: chocolate frosting. A simple milk chocolate ganache will do nicely.

Combine 6 ounces chopped milk chocolate with 3 ounces (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl, or small saucepan.

Heat until the cream is very hot: it’ll be steaming, and small bubbles may have formed around the edge.

Remove from the heat, and start stirring.

Gradually, the mixture will come together as the chocolate melts.

Stir until it’s completely smooth…

…then drizzle atop the cake.

Use a spatula to push the icing to the edge and over the sides of the cake, if necessary.

At this point, you can use your spatula to smooth out the dribbles; or just leave them. I think they’re pretty, actually.

Enjoy your fine-textured, high-rising, wonderfully yummy gluten-free yellow cake!

Note: Follow this blog post to make a single-layer cake, as pictured; to make a double-layer cake, please follow the Gluten-Free Yellow Cake recipe on our recipe site.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Steph

    I’ve seen this in a handful of recipes but I’m wondering why it its: why do you alternate the flour mixture and the milk? What’s different than just dumping them all in together?
    Hi Steph,
    By adding the flour and milk alternately, you are giving the mix time to get more aerated in the beating process, keeping it light and airy. In a regular flour cake, it keeps the flour coated in fat so that too much gluten doesn’t form and make a tough cake. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. NANI

    hello, the cake looks very good, definitely I will make it for this weekend.Q- if I want to make it as a chocolate cake how meny coca powder to add?
    I would suggest giving our Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake recipe a try if you are looking to go that route! ~Jessica

    Reply
  3. freya1924

    Oh pooh. Here I was all excited; but you had to put in potato starch. Neither myself nor my other gluten free friend can touch the stuff.

    Any suggestions for subbing out?
    While our Potato Starch is also Certified GF, I’m sorry it’s an ingredient you cannot use! Using any other form of binder would be an experiment, since we stand by the potato starch as the ideal candidate for this recipe to come out as nicely as it does. ~Jessica@KAF

    Reply
  4. glpruett

    Can I bake this as cupcakes? If so, how long would I bake them?

    Sure…..same cake temperature, different cupcake time – try 20 to 25 minutes. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  5. DelilahB

    Will this batter make good cupcakes?

    Absolutely! In general, a one layer recipe equals 12 cupcakes and a layer cake or two layer recipe equals 24 cupcakes. This recipe yields 12 generous cupcakes. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  6. Steph

    Thanks for the answer, Mary Jane! Your response brings up another question – would the same effect be achieved by dumping them all in at once and just mixing extra? Also, how does being coated in fat prevent gluten from developing? Thanks! :)
    Hi again Steph,
    Looks like you’ve got some great questions, and those would be perfect to email along to the baker’s hotline. (bakers@kingarthurflour.com). They can talk with you about mixing/gluten etc. to your hearts content, and then you won’t have to keep checking this blog for the responses. :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. chinchillalover

    My brother is on a 20 grams of fat per day diet, so would there be any way to reduce the fat in this by at least a couple grams? Please at least give me a recipe he might like. He has been moping around the house because of his diet.
    Hi there,
    Because gluten free baking is so very different from regular baking, it’s not just a matter of reducing the butter content etc. to reduce the fat. If your bro is seeking a sweet low fat treat try GF angel food cake, GF meringues or even marshmallows. Those might please his sweet tooth. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. catieartist

    I made this cake recipe for someone who wanted Pineapple Upside-down Cake. It is a wonderful, tender, yet dense batter perfect for that kind of thing.

    I posted the recipe in the blogs, in response to someone asking for Gluten Free Pineapple Upside-Down Cake .

    I am going to make this with the Boston Cream Pie addition. That is another favorite of mine and I was so happy to find the Yellow Cake recipe to use!
    Thanks!

    Reply
  9. catieartist

    Now that I see my post, ahem… I see I forgot the question.
    I will make the glaze above, half milk and half dark chocolate for the Boston Cream Pie Glaze, I would like it to be thicker and not drip on the sides (messes with the Pastry cream on the edge when it overflows). If I use half the cream, do you think that would be enough, or would more structure be needed? I can add a tsp. of cream at a time if half is too much removed, but I wondered if perhaps I should add confectioner’s sugar or if thicker would be enough, or dry too hard.. your thoughts?
    The best way to ensure that your ganache will set up more firmly, is to use a higher ratio of chocolate to liquid, so yes, using less cream would be the best solution. ~Amy

    Reply
  10. Lisa

    Thanks for the post about gluten-free baking! I went from being an avid baker making my own sourdough and everything to being diagnosed with a wheat allergy so, needless to say, baking looks a little different around here these days. One question – does the Everbake spray have any flour in it? I’m looking for a baking spray that works great without flour. It was a sad day that I made a great gluten-free cake then realized I’d used my normal flour-blend baking spray and couldn’t eat it!
    Hi Lisa! Sorry to keep you waiting. We contacted the vendor to find out whether Everbake is made in a Certified Gluten-Free Facility. The company says it is Naturally Gluten-Free. If you wish to find out if it was made in a GF facility, please send us an email here so we can keep you updated when we hear back! Thanks for your patience. :) ~Jessica

    Reply
  11. cmananian

    OMG! Fabulous! Do you have a gluten-free recipe for black and white cookies? They have the consistency of sponge cake-like shortbread than a typical hard “cookie”, with chocolate and vanilla fondant on top. I’m a north Jersey native and I miss this piece of home like crazy, but you can’t find gluten-free black and whites anywhere.
    I am very familiar with Black and White cookies. I used to work for a Brooklyn native and we made these daily for his bakery. They were one of my favorites. The icing, so sweet, my teeth would ache! We do have a non GF recipe for Black and White Cookies on our site. You could try converting this recipe by using a GF multi purpose flour and adding xanthan gum (1/2 t. per cup of GF flour). I am not sure this batter, in its GF version, will be one that can be just placed onto parchment paper (piped or scooped). You may need to bake the batter in a pan, like a hamburger bun pan for support! Elisabeth

    Reply
  12. mfb

    I am trying to make GF lemon poppy seed cake. Can I start with this batter and just add the flavorings? also can I incorporate sour cream for additional moistness? the non GF recipe that I am using for inspiration calls for sour cream. thanks!
    Sure. 3/4 cup of sour cream should work fine in this recipe, but you will need to omit the milk. ~Amy

    Reply
  13. barb

    how can you use any of these GF products without dairy?
    my granddaughter is allergic to wheat and dairy?
    thank you…. Try substituting soy, coconut, or almond milk. Eggs are another story. Some of the recipes and mixes will not work without the use of eggs.

    Reply
  14. DaprincessNora

    Hi,
    I was looking for a gluten-free cake recipe from scratch and i found this really interesting!
    But unfortunately, my friends’ son is having more allergies,
    Can this recipe be alternated to diary free ?
    I mean can i subsitute the milk with soy milk or coconut milk? And whats better for the taste?
    Can i substitute the butter with vegetable margrine?
    For the chocolate ganache…i don’t have around diary free whipping cream, can i substitute that with any other kind of milk?

    And last, i read thoroughly about the importance of xanthan gum in stabilizing the cake, however i couldn’t find it anywhere, can i substitute it with corn syrup or wilton gum tex ?

    I know thats lots of questions, but really i want to make something especial to that kid.
    Question 1. Yes, you can substitute soy or coconut milk for cow’s milk. I like almond milk but he may be allergic to nuts also. Question 2. Margarine will be a fine substitute for the butter, just remember that margarine usually has salt in it so you may want to cut back on the salt in the recipe. Question 3. After speaking with our resident Chocolate-er….she recommends using canned coconut milk(not the low fat one). Boil the milk remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate. Whisk together to emulsify the ingredients. Glaze the cake while the Ganache is still warm. Question 4. Find some Xanthan gum. These recipes have been tested using this specific ingredient. If you have more questions please don’t hesitate to call our baker’s hotline 802-649-3717. betsy@kaf

    Hi Nora – we sell xanthan gum. Good luck with the cake – PJH

    Reply
  15. Sarah

    Amy,

    Your link to the Pastry Cream receipe is all purpose flour in it. Can I substitute the GF multi-purpose flour in the same amount?
    HI Sarah,
    That should work just fine. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  16. Tammy T

    Very good! And because I love dense very moist cakes, the second time I made it I included 2 vanilla pudding cups and 1/3 veg. oil. I also replaced the reg. milk with Carnation can milk. (it is thicker and adds a rich taste when baking).
    Thanks for sharing your substitutions! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  17. jakb

    I am not often moved to comment but this cake is WONDERFUL. Far better than any other recipe that I’ve tried since starting a GF diet. I used the flour mix recipe with regular brown rice flour, and no cake enhancer, and it was just terrific. Thank you so much for this awesome recipe!!

    You’re very welcome – so glad we could help you “bake your best” on a GF diet… PJH

    Reply
  18. Tarah

    I attempted two vanilla cakes from other recipes and they were huge disappointments. This was by far the best recipe and I ended up using it for my daughter’s birthday cake. It’s just delicious. I made my own gluten free blend with 20% sorghum, 20% brown rice flour, 30% potato starch and 30% tapioca starch. I left out the cake enhancer. This really is a great cake. This will be my go-to recipe now for a vanilla cake.

    Fantastic comments, Tarah! I’m so glad you found a cake recipe that works for you and with your own GF flour blend! We love it when people share their own blends as it means there are more possibilities–always great to have in the GF baking world!! Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  19. Hilda

    Has anyone had success substituting some or all the butter with extra virgin coconut “oil”.

    I don’t believe this is something we have tried, but I have heard that others have had successes with refrigerated coconut oil.-Jon

    Reply
  20. Nancy Bricks

    Hi,
    My 16 year old cannot have anything.. Lactose free,gluten free,no chocolate..
    I finally found Xanthan Gum and made these tonight.. OMG she had 3 of them. THANK YOU to whoever got this recipe.. My daughter can now have sweets again!! I love you so much for this!!!

    Reply
  21. Steve

    Did anyone else have trouble with this recipe? I followed it pretty strictly and I found I had to add way more milk than it called for just to make it into a batter like consistency

    It is possible that some of your ingredients were measured incorrectly. If you measure by volume then we suggest to “fluff up” your flour (gluten free or otherwise) and then spoon it into a cup. For best results; I would stick to a scale!-Jon

    Reply
  22. Jasmine

    Hi-I just want to make sure you can make this with just the King Arthur flour blend and xantham gum. You do not have to blend the King Arthur with brown rice flour potato starch and tapioca right? King Arthur and xantham work fine? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Absolutely! This recipe was made to work with our Gluten Free Multi-Purpose flour and xanthan gum. No other flours needed! Jon@KAF

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