This is THAT cake. The one I’ve been making roughly every other week for the past few months and sharing mercilessly across social media. The one that needs very few words but plenty of photos.
The one that stops people in their tracks when they taste it, and again when they realise it’s not only gluten free but nut free and dairy free and soy free too, and again when they hear about the frosting.
The one I held off on posting until I could justify making a four layer cake by taking the non-cut half to a meet-up to remove at least some of it from my house because there is no self control when it comes to this cake.
The one I made just one more time as a single layer when I should have been packing because I had to shoot the not-buttercream.
The one I took a slice of on the plane because avec chocolat is the only way to fly, especially when one flies cattle class.
The one my sister-in-law asked me to make as soon as I got to Philly, and which we proceeded to eat for breakfast the next day (and the one after that).
The one my niece insisted be served to her with a candle — no singing, just a candle to blow out — every time she had a piece.
The one that gets better the next day, and the day after that — if it lasts that long.
The one that is filled with Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream and iced with the most unbelievable nut, dairy, gluten, soy, refined sugar free Vegan Chocolate Not-Buttercream.
This is THAT cake.
Best Ever Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
Yes, really. I know it’s a big claim but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. This is not a traditional flourless chocolate cake, it’s fluffy and moist and has a perfectly perfect crumb and I will not enter into any arguments to the contrary. Now go have some cake.
Makes one 8″ wide x 2″ high cake or two 8″ x 1″ layers (see note). Double recipe for the four layer cake in the photos.
- 2 cups finely grated raw pumpkin (260 g)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup syrup, see note
- scant ½ cup oil, see note
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda (bi-carb soda)
- ½ tsp flakey sea salt
- ¾ cup cocoa or raw cacao
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- 1 batch Vegan Chocolate not-Buttercream, optional
- 1 batch Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream, optional
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease an 8 inch (20 cm) baking tin and line base with baking paper.
Whisk grated pumpkin, eggs, syrup, oil and vanilla with a fork. Sift over dry ingredients and mix well. Scrape into prepared tin and smooth surface flat with an offset/pallet knife.
Bake 35 – 40 mins, until edges pull away from the tin and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cake in tin 10 mins, run a knife around edge and turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
Spread Vegan Chocolate Buttercream frosting over top and sides before serving — see “make it a layer cake” below for tips on making it more than a single layer. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
gluten-free // dairy-free // refined sugar-free // nut-free // soy-free // probably paleo
FAQS & COOK’S NOTES
- Taste & Texture
- This is a very moist cake but it does have a lovely crumb. The cake gets better the next day so if you can bake it in advance and refrigerate overnight it will benefit.
- Due to the delicate crumb the cake will not slice through the centre into layers very well so it’s best to follow the “make it a layer cake” directions below.
- This is not an overly sweet cake but if you’re a fan of unrefined and naturally lower sugar recipes this is the one for you. If you want something tooth-achingly sweet then you’re best coating it with a very sweet frosting or going with another recipe.
- Maple syrup is the sweetest of the syrups — use it for the entire syrup quantity for the sweetest option. I prefer using all maple syrup or a combo of 2/3 maple and 1/3 rice syrup.
- Honey is ok as a substitute but can overwhelm the chocolate so I don’t recommend it.
- All rice syrup would be ok but is less sweet than the others.
- In a pinch mix ½ cup packed rapadura sugar (or even brown sugar if you must) with ¼ cup water to make a syrup.
- I don’t use natvia or granulated stevia sugar substitutes so can’t vouch for how they would work.
- I’ve made this with macadamia oil, avocado oil and a combo of coconut and olive oils — all work well. If you’re not a fan of the flavour of a certain oil, it’s best to avoid it.
- I’ve used Jap/Kent/Kabocha and Butternut Pumpkin (called Butternut Squash in the US) — all work well.
- If possible grate pumpkin finely, but the coarser side of a box grater does work in a pinch.
- Readers have substituted both carrot and sweet potato with great success. You can see what they say in the comments below.
- Yes, pumpkin should be peeled, de-seeded and raw.
- No, I haven’t made it with cooked pumpkin puree, but I’ve had reader feedback that it worked well for them.
- I’m not a fan (in this recipe) of substituting with raw grated beet as when I tried it the slivers of beet did not melt into the cake like the pumpkin does.
- Eggs/Vegan Version
- Proceed with caution when substituting eggs as they are really the only thing holding the cake together, I haven’t fully tested alternatives to eggs at this point but some commenters have.
- A few people have left comments below that they’ve had luck making this vegan with psyllium husk eggs and powdered egg replacer eggs. Remember that one egg is 1/4 cup liquid so if your replacement egg is less than that, or thicker than a standard egg, the batter will be much thicker and may take longer to bake.
- Coconut Flour
- Coconut flour is the product left over after coconut milk is made from coconut flesh. It’s dried and finely ground, and absorbs an enormous amount of liquid. You cannot substitute desiccated, flaked or shredded coconut for the coconut flour, nor can you substitute the same amount of wheat or gf flour.
MAKE IT A LAYER CAKE
The cake is too delicate to slice through the centre as you would for a standard layer cake, so baking the thinner layers individually is the best way to go.
Be gentle when stacking — unless refrigerated overnight it can break when picked-up and handled like a traditional cake. Sliding the cooled layers from the rack onto your cake platter (or onto subsequent layers) will give them a bit more support.
- Tall two layer cake (picture below): Make a double batch of Gluten Free Chocolate Cake batter and prepare as in the recipe above, using two 8 inch pans to bake the cakes. Fill and frost with Vegan Chocolate not-Buttercream, or fill with Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream and frost with the not-buttercream.
- Simple two layer cake (not shown, resembles half of the pictured 4-layer cake): Make a single batch of Gluten Free Chocolate Cake batter. Grease and line two 8 inch pans then divide batter evenly into two thin layers and smooth tops. Bake 18 – 22 mins until edges pull away and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 mins before turning out. Fill and frost with Vegan Chocolate not-Buttercream, or fill with Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream and frost with the not-buttercream.
- Tall four layer cake (pictures above): Make a double batch of Gluten Free Chocolate Cake batter. Grease and line four 8 inch pans then divide batter evenly and smooth tops. Bake 18 – 22 mins until edges pull away and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 mins before turning out. I only have two pans so I bake them in stages. Fill with a double batch of Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream, frost with Vegan Chocolate not-Buttercream.
sue/the view from great island says
This is just…awesome. I can’t believe that grated pumpkin can do this!! 🙂
Hey there I’m very interested to try this, I’m wondering about the grated pumpkin though. Do you peel it first? I assume you are using the fleshy inside as well if using butternut? What about pure canned pumpkin instead of doing the grating myself (not to mention pumpkin I can’t get here in Canada right now) butternut I can get though. Thank you so much, hoping to make it myself for my ???? 31 bday.
Hi Tannele, yes, peel the pumpkin so you only use the flesh. Not sure what you mean by ‘fleshy inside’ but you should scoop out the seeds (as well as peeling the outside) before you grate it as neither the skin or seeds are used in the recipe. No, canned pumpkin won’t work as it is different to raw, but as mentioned in the Cook’s Notes section of the recipe butternut is fine. If you read the below comments you’ll see that people have had luck with carrots as well. Hope you enjoy it!
Tom Gardiner says
Made this cake on the weekend for my wife’s birthday…
Yep. It’s worth the hype – and I proved that even a man with limited culinary skills can master it.
I made a double recipe and baked in two separate tins. I used dairy free Sweet Williams chocolate spread for the icing (frosting) and made it a two-layer cake.
Thanks very much – this one’s going in the recipe book!
Thanks for the lovely feedback Tom! ~ JJ
Can zucchini be used instead of pumpkin?
Hi Gean, it can be but will significantly reduce the sweetness so you may need to add a bit more syrup. The zucchini should probably be squeezed out too, as it has more moisture than pumpkin. ~ JJ
Thanks for the great recipes- I used beetroot instead of pumpkin which is an old family secret for chocolate cake – mmmmmmm……
And also pear instead of cauliflower – cos I don’t like cauliflower – even more mmmmmmm……!
Jenny Dyson says
I’m a big fan of beetroot as well. Just wondered did you grate the beetroot finely & did it affect the consistency of the cake? ?
Hello Gosha – I was just reading your comment on a post from 2015 (eeeek) regarding the Best Ever Gluten Free Chocolate Cake recipe that you used pear instead of cauliflower for the vegan chocolate buttercream. I was wondering how many you used and how you used it, ie did you chop and then boil for 25 mins like the recipe said for the cauliflower?
Hi Krissy, Gosha didn’t provide any more information re the pear, however I’d use them peeled and fresh (not boiled) as ripe pears are roughly the texture of steamed cauliflower. Same measurements, replace pear mash for cauliflower mash – the number of pears will depend on size. Due to the moisture in pears the buttercream may be softer than with the cauliflower as well. ~ JJ
Sandra Salas says
Would this batter work for cupcakes?
Hi Sandra, they should work fine. Use paper liners and fill the cups three quarters full (remember that they will rise but won’t dome in the middle). Start checking at 20 mins with a toothpick. Not sure how many a single batch will make, let me know if you try it!
The batter works great for cupcakes. There was enough for a dozen. I also used pumpkin purée. Love this recipe!
I tried making cupcakes, needed it to be organic, so I used butternut squash in place of pumpkin. They were very moist, too moist.
Eggs ca be replace with a soft banana
Hi Paulina, have you tried to replace the eggs with banana and had it work? As mentioned above the eggs serve as a binder and while a chia or psylum egg will work I don’t believe banana will provide the right structure. ~JJ
Claire Cameron says
Stop it! This looks way too easy to be that healthy JJ! Now I have the painful wait until fruit and vege day on Friday to try it. Note to self… add extra pumpkin to shopping list.
I’m not sure if I can quite call it healthy but that certainly hasn’t stopped me from eating it for breakfast ;D
Why ever not??
Hi Sharon, there is a bit of sugar per serve – and while less than regular cakes it is still there! Of course that doesn’t stop me from eating for breakfast anyway 😉
Brenda Hayes says
Yes, Yes, Yes!!!
Sounds so interesting and I love the use of pumpkin and maple syrup. Must give it a try!
This is incredible JJ! But you’re killing us! We need that “not buttercream” frosting too! Hahaha!
The Hungry Mum says
Pumpkin! Who’dda thunk it?! This looks incredibly decadent – no wonder you wanted it out of the house so you wouldn’t keep eating it!
Martine @ Chompchomp says
Grated raw pumpkin – that is an original idea. I haven’t seen that before. Looking forward to giving this GF deliciousness a go. Thanks JJ xx
Thalia @ butter and brioche says
Wow I am so craving a slice of this cake right now.. looks definitely chocolaty and delicious. Pinned!
omg, this looks so so good and delicious!!
Sarah Merion says
Hi! I just made this cake and OMG was it incredible! I’ve made other gluten free cakes before, and this one takes the cake (pun intended). Thank you so much, and kudos for your creativity and clean eating approach to a delicious cake! No one even knew it was so healthy. Can’t wait to make this again this again!
Oh thank you so much for sharing! Glad you enjoyed it! xx
Hello, this looks so divine. Just curious, if I don’t have access to coconut flour in here, is there any alternative flour to substitute it? Thank you so much. Always in awe of your work!
Hi Agnes, no other flour really acts like coconut flour (which absorbs a huge amount of liquid by volume) so with this recipe it’s really the only option. Sorry about that! You could make coconut flour by making coconut milk with fresh coconut then drying the leftover pulp and blending it really finely… but it’s a bit of work
One of my friends reacts to coconut products, so for me I would need to try another something for coconut flour. Do you think I could try potato flour?
Hi Benita, as mentioned above the recipe was developed for coconut flour and it acts differently to any other product so I don’t have any suggestions on replacing it. I haven’t done much baking with potato flour (I use potato starch from time to time which is a different product) so I don’t know how it relates to coconut flour… Let me know how it goes if you try it! ~ JJ
I just made this and replaced the coconut flour with equal parts sweet potato flour and teff flour. It worked fabulously!!
Thanks for the note Joanne, that’s great to know! I’ve never used sweet potato flour before, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it ~ JJ (this specific comment string has reached it’s max 5x replies so I’ve replied in-comment)
can this be made into cupcakes?
I don’t see why not! Remember though that they won’t dome in the middle 🙂 Use paper liners and fill the cups three quarters full. Start checking at 22 mins with a toothpick. Not sure how many a single batch will make, let me know if you try it!
Hi! I wanted to make this for Thanksgiving this year to bring to our cousin’s house. She has a gluten intolerance so it would be perfect for her- the only problem is that my son has egg, dairy and nut allergies. Any suggestions for substituting the eggs? Would flax ‘eggs’ work? It’s always fun working with SO many different dietary restrictions, but aside from the eggs I think this cake would work.
Hi Jenny, eggs are the one thing I haven’t been able to test a solid substitution for as of yet since the cake is pretty delicate even with them… I don’t think flax egg will be binding enough, you’d probably be better adding 2 Tbsp psylum husk plus 1/2 c liquid (mix the psylum through the flour, mix the liquid into the batter) or using one of those egg replacers that have a potato starch base and following the instructions on the packet. Also, if you can, refrigerate the cake before icing or stacking as it does firm up more when really cool. Hope that helps and would love to know if either solution works, have a Happy Thanksgiving! ~ JJ
Don’t know if this would work, but other recipes seem to use pureed apple as a substitute for eggs!
Hi Jenny, yes apple sauce/puree can be used to sub for eggs when the eggs simply add moisture or viscosity but in this recipe they add binding, holding the cake together so it wouldn’t really work. Good thought though!
Hey! I can’t wait to try! Did you try making this with pumpkin purée first? Just curious as to how you came to the conclusion to use grated pumpkin. Your mind works in mysterious ways lol 😀
Hi Bre, I hope you do! No, I went straight to the grated pumpkin, think the logic at the time was somewhere between carrot cake, chocolate beetroot cake and a wedge of pumpkin in the fridge ;D
Hi! I am wanting to make this for mine and my moms birthday celebration in February, the only problem is Pumpking is not readily available in our area then. Do you think I could substitute sweet potato? or is there another suggestion you have?
Hi Tanya, can you get butternut pumpkin (butternut squash) then? If so it works perfectly. If not then you could use sweet potato I’d imagine, just make sure to grate it very finely or it won’t ‘melt’ into the crumb. Carrot may work as well too and perhaps better than sweet potato as it is closer to the moisture content of pumpkin. I’d try a single cake first before the celebration (plus then you’ll have cake, everyone wins). Let me know how you go! ~ JJ
So I trialed with Carrots. The cake is unbelievable!! I kept eating the batter lol
Yay! And thanks for letting me know!
Our birthdays have come and gone and the cake was a unbelievable hit! My mom was calling up her neighbors, my dad was wanting to take some to work for his curious co workers to try. All around a big hit! Thanks so much! Can’t wait to try with pumpkin this fall
Hi there. This looks amazing! I want to try this for my dad’s birthday! Curious, how well does it stand up overnight? If I wanted to make it the day before does that work? Maybe I wouldn’t layer it until the day of, but just want to make sure that when I make the “not-buttercream” it wont turn into liquid over night.
Hi Suzanne, the cake is actually better the next day! Just make sure you store it in the fridge after you layer and frost it. If you’re worried about how it will look you can always do the layers and crumb coat the day before, and then the final coat of frosting the day of 🙂 Let me know how it goes!
Hi, I baked this yummy looking cake this morning but it didn’t rise in the centre, so it looks a bit like a bowl. Any idea what happened? It cooked through and tastes fine so I hope the icing will disguise its droopiness. It’s for my six year old anyway and he won’t care…it is CAKE after all!
Hi Reb, not sure, I’ve never gotten anything but a flat cake… Did you change anything about the recipe? And did you use an offset knife/spatula to smooth the top flat before baking?
I didn’t change anything about the recipe because I’m still fairly new to gluten free baking and I wanted it to turn out right. I did smooth the top with a spatula instead of shaking the pan to level the batter. It tasted amazing, so rich and moist, so it cooked fine. I covered the top with generous icing, too. I’m trying again today, so I might try a different tool to smooth the top and see if I get a better result.
Thanks for your ideas!
Good luck this go! The only other things I can think of are that your baking powder may be old (so it won’t work as well) or that your oven temp is off (do you have an oven thermometer?), both which can impact the rise. At least you’ll have cake either way ;D
Second time around it worked better and came out flat, but I also divided the batter in half to do two layers, so it’s hard to compare. My oven temperature is off, too, but I’ve learnt how to compensate for that. Whether it’s flat on top or saggy in the middle, this cake still tastes amazing! Got lots of comments on how chocolatey it is! Thanks for a great recipe.
Amazing. I can’t wait to try it! After my kids are asleep, so I don’t have to share… 😉
Made this today for Valentine’s Day/boyfriends birthday. I did a two layer cake with the vegan frosting and a layer of fresh strawberry purée in the middle. It was soo moist and delicious. Boyfriend had three slices… I did end up adding some extra maple syrup and vanilla extract to the icing. Thanks for the recipe!
Oh that’s great to hear, thanks for letting me know! ~ JJ
would this recipe work for cupcakes??
Hi Bobbi, they should work fine. Use paper liners and fill the cups three quarters full (remember that they will rise but won’t dome in the middle). Start checking at 20 mins with a toothpick. Not sure how many a single batch will make, let me know if you try it!
Hello, I am preparing to make this and I have a question… Should I squeeze the excess moisture out of the grated squash? I normally do that when making zucchini bread or carrot cake, so I was wondering if it’s something I should do for this cake. Thanks in advance!
Hi Margie, nope! Just grate the pumpkin or butternut squash (or even carrot) and use it as is. The dry ingredients accommodate for the moisture. Hope you enjoy! ~ JJ
Thank you so much for the quick reply! I’m making this tonight and I can’t wait to try it!
Looooved it! I’m not gluten free, but my friend is, so when I invited her over to help celebrate my birthday, I took on the challenge of finding a delicious gluten-free chocolate cake. I chose to bake this one because it looked interesting, and I’m always one for adventure! It. was. DIVINE!!! Everyone loved it! We ate it with ice-cream which was perfect! So moist, a perfect crumb, light, but it held together when cut. I made a double batch, two layers. Ran out of butternut pumpkin (a cup and a half short, although I did buy more than 500 g ???), so I took Tanya’s advice and made up the deficit with carrot. I refrigerated everything overnight and the flavours came together so beautifully! I’ll be making it again, and I don’t think I’ll be waiting for any gluten-free friends to come over first!
Hi Clare, that’s brilliant! Pumpkin loses quite a bit of weight once the peel and seeds are removed so that may have been the issue, I usually start with double what I need then just roast or steam any extra for dinner 🙂 Thanks for popping back over, I love to hear when recipes make people happy!
Oh I hope you can answer this quickly as need the cake made today! My husband forgot to buy maple syrup – I’ve got white sugar, brown sugar, castor sugar, honey, golden syrup, coconut sugar and cane sugar…which should I use instead? Thanks so much, so looking forward to trying this!!! He also forgot the cauliflower so can’t make the icing 🙁 but I bet the cake is fine without!
Hi Carmel, oh dear! There is a Cook’s Note in the recipe about this but it can get a bit lost in the instructions 🙂 : In a pinch mix 1/2 c packed rapadura sugar with 1/4 c water.
You can substitute the rapadura with brown sugar (for sweeter syrup) or coconut sugar (for a less sweet syrup.
As for the cauliflower you could make an avocado chocolate icing (avocado, cocoa, banana like this recipe http://84thand3rd.com/vegan-chocolate-ice-cream/ but not frozen ) or a coconut cream chocolate icing (cold coconut cream, cocoa, maple syrup or coconut sugar), or use a chocolate glaze like in this recipe http://84thand3rd.com/macadamia-coconut-choc-cherry-truffle-bites/ and they would all be lovely. But yes, the cake is pretty good without anything on top!
Good luck and hope it goes well! x JJ
Ok so it will be 1/2cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup water…..and I’ll give the avocado chocolate icing a try. Will let you know how it all goes!!
oh this is not good – accidentally put in 3/4 coconut flour instead of 1/4 🙁 trying to fix it…..
Sorry for all the updates! But I now have a rather large batch of the batter and the first cake is in the oven 🙂 a couple of cupcakes of it are all ready done and I tasted it – I had to use half a cup of avocado oil as I ran out of olive and it kinda tastes rather overwhelmingly of that now. Do you think there is anything I can add to the remaining batter (which would still make at least one more cake) that might dilute that avocado oil taste a bit? It still tastes great, but yea would be better without that avocado oil taste….
Hi Carmel, I’m not sure as I haven’t had an issue with avocado oil flavour in the past due to the amount of cocoa in the recipe. Hope the cake was ok in the end.
Hi – made this cake the other day but didn’t work out. Not sure what went wrong. Cake rose fine and pulled away at edges (i thought), but upon slicing into cake – it was still very, very moist. I’m told that it wasn’t cooked enough, but skewer said otherwise. Possible that I grated pumpkin too finely? Pumpkin was very moist and I grated on smallest hole on grater (hand-held grater). Batter was very runny. What consistency should batter have and how moist should cake look like. When slicing into it, should it have the same finished consistency of other cakes? PS. how can i make it more sugar friendly for those who think it’s not sweet enough? thanks
Hi Maria, if the skewer was clean, the cake rose and it pulled away from the edges I’d say it actually did work!
It is a very moist cake (too moist to cut into layers through the middle as noted in the recipe) but should have a crumb to it as seen in the photos.
The batter is pretty standard (pourable but not really runny), perhaps your coconut flour had too much moisture in it to begin with? I grate my pumpkin really finely so that isn’t an issue. If you want it sweeter have a look at the Cook’s Notes section re syrup options – you can also add more syrup if using all maple doesn’t make it sweet enough but for every extra Tbsp syrup add an extra tsp coconut flour. Hope that helps! ~ JJ
Amber Lynn says
Was looking for a delicious dairy free, gluten free cake and stumbled upon yours. Utilized half olive oil, half coconut oil and kabocha squash. It was amazing! The icing hasnt been made yet, but I’m sure it will be 10 times better! Thanks a bunch!
Oh thanks so much for popping back over to let me know! xx
Hi, will this cake take being decorated on? My son wants an airport scene on top!
Hi Nadia, would you be doing a flat scene with icing or something 3D with fondant/toys? The flat icing will be fine, the 3D would be ok so long as it isn’t really heavy!
Followed the recipe almost exact (no pumpkin so I used butternut squash) and this is by far the worst cake I’ve ever made. It’s inedible. It’s bitter and it legit fell into pieces. Not tasty at all 🙁 I’m so so sad because it was not a quick prep with all the squash grating, and I was making it for my grandmothers 81st birthday. Glad others had better luck…but for me it was not good.
Hi Elle, sorry to hear that. While it is a lower sugar cake, with butternut pumpkin (squash) and the full 1/2 c maple syrup it should be more than sweet – or at the very least not bitter. And while it has a delicate crumb if eggs and coconut flour are used (not desiccated or shredded coconut and not egg substitute) it should turn out of the pan cleanly and hold up well for any frosting. Hope you have better luck with another recipe.
I made this cake on the weekend and it was so bitter I threw it out the next day. A friend made it also and hers was delicious. Just can’t work it out. We both used the same ingredients etc. mine was a great texture and consistency but very bitter.
Hi Ann, I honestly have no idea without being a fly on the wall as you baked! The only thing I can think of is that the quantity of one of your ingredients (either the cacao or the syrup) was off somehow. Glad your friend’s version came out well and hope you have better luck in the future! ~ JJ
Hi There! can i substitute the cacao powder with another flour??? my son is allergic to choc, soy & dairy 🙁 thanks
Hi Nicole, as it’s a chocolate cake I haven’t tried to sub the cacao with a flour of any kind…
You could start by replacing it with a bit less white flour (maybe 3/4 c minus 2 Tbsp?) or sub it with rice flour to keep it GF? When you take out the cacao you may need to reduce the sweetener as well. Keep in mind that this cake has a pumpkin base so you’ll end up with a pumpkin cake.
I’d recommend doing a few searches on replacing cacao or cocoa with flour and see if anyone has had success. On the other hand you could try this cake http://84thand3rd.com/cinnamon-cauliflower-coffee-cake-caramel-sauce/ and take out the spices. ~ JJ
I tried this recipe today and used sweet potato instead of the pumpkin and it worked out beautifully. I just wanted to share that, as I had seen others that had tried carrot instead of pumpkin. Definitely a winner at my house!!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a beautiful recipe!
Hi Lorraine, that’s great to hear – thanks for letting me know and glad you enjoyed the cake! ~ JJ
Babs UK says
Hi I tried making this today for a friend who is gluten free.
I had some trouble with flavour. Crumb was great and turned out well.
Seemed too bitter, like it needed less cocoa or more sugar.
I substituted pumpkin for squash. Apart from that followed it to the letter.
I wish I knew what I did wrong.
Hi Babs, Sorry to hear it wasn’t sweet enough for you. What kind of sweetener did you use? This is not an overly sweet/sugary cake, however if you use all maple syrup (the sweetest of the options) it should be fine, but everyone’s tastebuds are different. The kind of frosting you use (and the sweetness of that) can also make a difference in the flavour of the final cake.
O. M. G. Thank you!!!! This is the most delicious cake EVER! I made it this weekend, and it was a hit…and no one knew it was healthy! The cauliflower blew everyone’s minds!
Woohoo! I love hearing feedback like this, thanks so much for stopping back to let me know 😀 ~ JJ
FYI for folks who need an egg-free version: I made this with psyllium egg replacement (1 tbsp to 2 tbsp water per egg), and I’d say it worked quite well. The batter is thick, but you just smoosh it down as best you can. One note: I always use ghee instead of any sort of vegetable oil, and I think it really helps with the flavour. I made it into 12 cupcakes and I should mention that it takes quite a while to become done in the middle–next time I may lower the temp and bake it for nearly an hour. But for a first experiment, success!
Hi Amy – thanks so much for your notes!
I wonder if it took quite a long time to bake due to the lack of egg. As a side note 1 egg = 1/4 c liquid which is why the batter was quite a bit thicker with your 2 Tbsp replacer 😀
Thanks again ~ JJ
Happy to chip in some knowledge for science! I’m just thrilled to have found a way to get the egg out, even if I have to do some fiddling. My kids adore it and now my daughter can eat it without any tummy trouble. It’s such a wonderful, nutritious recipe 🙂
I’m wanting to make this beautiful cake for a work function.
I live in Australia and I am having some trouble identifying some of the ingredients.
Is Cocoa the same as coco powder?
We use coco powder for hot chocolate and chocolate cake.
Baking powder and baking soda?
Do you have to use both of these?
I have baking powder but it is very hard to get baking soda here, can I add a extra spoon of baking powder to substitute for the baking soda or do you need both?
I’m Making this for the 15th of May.
Hi Sheridan, I’m in Australia too 🙂
– I’ve never seen anything labeled ‘coco’ powder anywhere. Cocoa (pronounced ‘coco’ but spelled with an ‘a’ on the end) is the unsweetened powder found in the baking isle (Nestle makes one in a red tin, Cadbury makes one in a purple box). You don’t want the one in the coffee isle that has sugar added to it. Cacao is the raw version found in health food stores and is more expensive. Both will work.
– Baking soda is quite easy to find – also in the baking isle – it’s usually labeled as Bi-carb or Bi-carb soda. You do need both as they have slightly different functions.
– An extra note – make sure you’re using coconut flour and not desiccated or shredded coconut.
Hope that helps! ~ JJ
The one thing I’d note here too is be careful what baking powder you use because there are some out there that aren’t GF. In Australia the mackenzies brand is GF so look out for this one in the supermarkets.
Love this cake JJ. I’m making it for a dinner party where one of my best friends has Coeliac disease and so it’s been challenging to find something delicious that everyone will enjoy. To be completely honest it probably wasn’t as sweet as I would’ve liked but I made a proper buttercream and iced it with that and that just kicked it out of the park. I’m testing it again today and I’m going to try whipped coconut cream instead of the buttercream to see how that works out
Thanks for sharing this great recipe!
Great point re the baking powder, and glad the cake worked out for your party! ~ JJ
Thankyou for this recipe! I am going to attempt this to take to work. I have one lady I work with who is celiac and cannot eat gluten or dairy and another who is allergic to nuts so hopefully we can all have a slice!! I will let you know how we get on! 🙂
Hi Laura – I hope you enjoy it! It gets better the next day so making it the night before, frosting it and storing in the fridge is the way to go 😀
Hi! I’ve never written a comment on a recipe before, but I made this cake today and absolutely cannot believe how good it is! I was diagnosed with coeliac disease 10 years ago and have tried many gluten free chocolate cakes since then, but I think this has to be the best! Love the texture, so moist but not too heavy, and so easy to make! Perhaps next time I make it I’ll cut back the cocoa and add a bit more coconut flour to make it a bit less rich – would that work? Thank you so much for this recipe ?
Hi Louise, thank you for stopping back to comment, I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake!!
Regarding the cocoa, I wouldn’t replace it with coconut flour as they do have very different functions (coconut flour absorbs a ton of liquid and any more than the current 1/4 c will get a bit mealy tasting, the cocoa adds bulk and flavour). If you reduce the cocoa I’d replace with an equal amount of almond meal or maybe brown rice flour? I haven’t tested either though – I’d recommend starting with no more than 1/4 c. If you do try it please let me know how it goes! ~ JJ
THANK YOU!!! I made this cake for my son’s birthday this week, and it was absolutely fantastic. I have never had success with layered cakes of any kind before, and this one turned out perfectly. Not only did it look decadent, but it *actually* tasted like chocolate cake, amazingly enough. Even my Dad, who is basically allergic to anything remotely healthy, had a second slice. Thank you for sharing this recipe. My own birthday is in a few weeks, and I’m going to attempt a four layer cake, because it’s that good.
Hi Kristyn – yippee! I love to hear when people enjoy the cake! My only tip for more layers is to slide each one off of a board or rack onto the previous as they aren’t quite firm enough to lift up and move. Happy future birthday ;D ~ JJ
So, I did attempt the four layer version, and despite the fact that three of the four layers broke as I tried to take them out of the baking pan (not sure why, except that I didn’t have cooking spray, as we were at the cottage when I baked them). BUT. Once I assembled and iced it, no one could tell. I served it for my birthday party last night, and EVERYONE loved it.
A note for other readers who are worried about baking/icing in advance: I baked the four layers last week, let cool, then wrapped in plastic wrap and froze them. I transported them home from the cottage (sandwiched in a tin between layers of thin cardboard), and let defrost in the fridge for 24+ hours. Iced it the day before the party, with lots of icing (I made a double batch), covered it and popped it in the fridge, and it was still perfect when it came time to serve.
I seriously cannot say enough good things about this cake! I’ve been calling it “magic cake” because nobody can believe that these ingredients come together to make something so magical and chocolate-y delicious 🙂
I finally got all the ingredients and am gonna start making this cake (had my eye on it for weeks) any minute now. And I just noticed that somehow I managed to overlook where you say that the cake is “filled with Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream”. What is that?? I just assumed that the lighter-colored layers inbetween were the cauliflower icing thingy, just like on the top of the cake. Was I wrong? I’m kinda freaking out a bit, thinking my efforts and expectations are ruined now, so if you could respond as soon as possible, that would be great.
I went with the cauliflower thingy for in between the layers. Anyways:this cake is freaking awesome!! Aaaaa…!!! So good! People, if you’re reading the recipe and wondering “what the hell?”, just go with it!
I feel torn whether or not to tell my family (who are gonna try it tomorrow) what it’s made with. I don’t know how you thought of this recipe, but you’re possibly some kind of genius. Please promise that you’ll keep using your powers for good, or I think the world would be in serious trouble ;). I feel like some kind of genius just vicariously, by preparing this!
I’m hopeless when it comes to wanting to change recipes (this was my first recipe to follow exactly, ever), so I’ll keep trying some stuff with it. I’m thinking next time I might add a bit of spelt flour, 1/2 cup or so, maybe 1 cup, to see if it will hold together better(with adjusting the wet-dry ratio as best I can, of course(compensate with some milk maybe?)). I’ve never done a combo like that before so please stop me if you think that would be a disaster. I don’t mind gluten, and it’s enough for me to know that it has less wheat because of all the vegetable in it. Desserts just being a little bit healthier and lighter is enough to get me excited. I only have a 10” pan, so even a doubled batch made two very thin layers. And it broke into many pieces in my attempt to stack it neatly. (Luckily, I’m not fussy about the aesthetics of my food.) How you got yours to look so neat I do not know.. you must be a wizard. Or I underbaked my batter. Or both.. I did kinda wish it was less mushy and messy, hence the idea to add flour. I’m also wondering if the batter ‘minds’ waiting while one layer is in the oven? In case of lack of pans. I’m wondering because I know that baking soda/powder start reacting the second they touch the wet ingredients and I heard that when that happens the batter needs to be exposed to heat immediately… In case I wanna try more layers.
(Oh yeah.. and the icing…. that thing is so good it’s scary.)
Hi Tea, Yeeeaaaahhh, it is possible that I haven’t yet posted that filling due to not being happy with the pics for it (whoops, I may have to make it again soon!), but good call filling with the cauli choc buttercream.
I’m surprised that a double batch made two thin cakes, even in a 10″ pan, as in an 8″ pan one batch in one pan is very high (as seen in the photo under the recipe) and while it is a very tender crumb it shouldn’t be mushy which makes me think it perhaps wasn’t doubled correctly?
Re the spelt, coconut flour acts very differently to spelt, you could add 1/2 or 1c spelt and a bit of milk to see how it goes but I’m not sure how it would turn out.
The trick to the layers is to make sure they are very well cooled (even refrigerated) and slide them on to one another (from a board or rack) rather than lifting to move. Re timings and baking powder/soda – the soda acts with acid and should be baked immediately, the powder acts with heat so can withstand resting, because this has both it’s usually ok if you need to wait due to pans.
Oh, and I do try to keep my evil genius under control through cake ;D ~ JJ
This cake is amazing! I love everything in it, the taste, the texture, even though I replaced some of the cocoa powder with poppyseed flour, while I forgot to count with the double batch, when I went shopping.
I replaced the eggs with a replacer powder and it worked! 🙂 It was the first time when I used it to replace more than 3 eggs, and it went well. 🙂
At first, I was worried, while it seemed too moist, when I took it out of the owen, but after it cooled down, the texture was just right. I cannot thank you enough for this recipe! 🙂
Hi Claudia, poppyseed flour?? I’ve never even seen it – great quick thinking! So good to hear the egg replacer worked well – it’s really only 2 eggs per batch though so that probably helped. Yeah, the cooling really makes a difference, glad you waited and that you enjoyed it! ~ JJ
Laurel Carlson says
This looks amazing! How many people do you think the 4 layer cake will feed? Thanks!
2? Maybe 3? Just kidding, sort of ;D – I tend to say that an 8″ round cake with multiple layers will feed from 10 or 12 up to 18 depending on how large you want your slices.
I made the four layer cake, and it fed nine adults (each with a decent-to-generous sized piece) with three pieces left over 🙂
Made this cake yesterday with carrots and it turned out absolutely amazing!!!! I was nervous about making this vegan for my daughters who have egg allergies after reading all the comments, but I used 2 chia eggs and it held together beautifully! i put the chia eggs in the fridge for an hour to make sure they thickened enough. Initially the cake seemed fragile but after putting it in the fridge for a while it firmed up nicely. And the frosting is out of this world incredible!! I added 10 small dates for extra sweetness and it was perfect! I made a 6″ three layer cake. Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe! 🙂
Thanks for replying.
It was a false alarm, cause once it chilled over night, the crumb part stiffened up, and the whole thing shaped up very nicely, and had a much neater look in the cross section and you could tell the layers apart perfectly. A night in the fridge drastically demushified it’s texture It’s really important to believe you on the whole “it’s better the next day”-thing. I thought it couldn’t possibly matter that much, but you’re right, it really does. And it’s my bad for not refrigerating the layers first, it truly would have helped the stacking process. Impatience got the best of me. But the whole thing was enjoyed nonetheless and it won’t stop me from making it again (possibly with carrots or beets this time) and even experimenting with it (I suspect I’ll probably just butcher the original recipe a few times until I just give up and make it as it’s supposed to be. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try. Though I will be sure to report back if some unlikely genius breakthrough happens as a result of my tinkering). Oh, and I wasn’t gonna sub coconut with spelt, I was gonna put both, plus the veggie (see-butcher, what did I say?)
I was wondering regarding the frosting; if you think it can be easily transformed into a lemon-based thing. I really wanna make some non-choc icing for something and am wondering if I can keep the same base ingredients. Or is the cocoa powder really important to mask the vegetableness of it? I thought I’d better see if you tried it already, before I throw away ingredients. Maybe even without the avocado; I saw you made a cauli-lemon layer on some cheesebars, would that work as frosting? (And how important do you think it is that it’s just coconut oil? Would butter do? I don’t want a coconut flavour this time and don’t wanna spend on another jar of coconut oil (unrefined this time) as I just bought the ‘real’ stuff recently for this cake.
Hi Tea, Oh that’s good to hear! You can definitely use the lemon layer of the cheesecake bars as a cake frosting (or the cheesecake layer for that matter), and there are a few others here: http://84thand3rd.com/tag/frosting.
There is only 1/4 c coconut oil in the lemon version but yes, butter should work the same way as it’s liquid when melted and solid when cold (just at slightly different temps than the coconut) and would taste gorgeous. Just remember to blend the cauli and whatever oil until it visibly changes to a very silky consistency. I’d suggest making it then refrigerating to firm up and re-beating if necessary before spreading on the cake. ~ J
Thank you for your response.
I’ll definitely try that then. It’s a relief to hear that I’m not speaking nonsense with my ideas :). I love experimenting, but I don’t like that feeling of fearing that I’ll probably either have to throw food away or eat something unpleasant.
I’m guessing that the avocado can stay in there only in case I’m interested in its color for effect?
I felt inspired to share this, it’s just a link to a dessert blog I came across recently and this specific creation by the lady writing the blog reminded me of our little discussion. (Maybe it even prompts some more evil-geniusing on your part;) ).
All the best!
Thank you so incredibly much for posting this recipe! It was polished off between six people in the span of about 3-4 hours (and I now have cravings to bake/eat again…. it was very, very addictive)!! Seriously, thank you so much, I am not a very good cook at all (in fact, I’m terrible and probably still made some mistakes!) but your recipes for the cake and icing were so accessible and easy to follow that I could make a truly “inclusive” cake (hurrah!!!) which everyone could have and love together! Thank you so so much!!
Hurrah is right! So glad you enjoyed the cake and thanks for letting me know! ~ JJ
Just made these as cupcakes with egg replacer and it’s amazing! It made 18. I topped with a whipped coconut cream to cut through the intense chocolatey goodness. I want to make these for a kids party so I might add a touch more maple syrup to sweeten it a bit more! Amazing recipe, thank you for sharing.
Hi Naomi – brilliant, thanks for sharing! They would look so pretty topped with the white coconut cream too 😀 ~ JJ
Hi, is the whipped frosting just coconut cream? Thanks ??
I think Naomi used a straight whipped coconut cream instead of chocolate coconut cream or the vegan buttercream. I have a whipped coconut cream here http://84thand3rd.com/raw-banana-cream-pie-whipped-coconut-cream/ or you can google tips for it 🙂 ~ JJ
I made this cake today as a test for my son’s birthday party on the weekend because I am not good at baking. And stress! Haha. Seriously, I have no words. This cake is freaking delicious and I LOVE that it has pumpkin and my husband couldn’t tell! He loved it! You are some other kind of amazing! I am so excited to try the frosting (and also not tell my hubby what it’s made of 😉 THANK YOU 😀 only problem is I need it to serve 30+ people D: haha
Hi Kate, heehee that’s brilliant! I hope the one for the party came out well 🙂 ~ JJ
Hi, fantastic cake. Super yummy! Has anyone ever tried covering it with fondant icing? I know not healthy but I want to make this cake for my son’s 4th birthday. The icing would get picked off but it’s good for decoration purposes. Thanks! ????
Hi Kirsty, thanks! You can cover it with whatever you want but remember that it’s not as dense as a heavy mud cake so you have to be a bit more gentle with it. ~ JJ
How does this recipe work as cupcakes instead of a cake? Also, I’m mixing coconut and olive oil, as my local grocery doesn’t have macadamia or avocado. Equal parts of both? And lately, extra virgin olive oil or just regular? I’m not a baker (or good cook at all in general, so lots of questions. Also, I’m thinking of using your icing recipe and topping that with blackberries. Thank you!!
Hi Sarah, some people have commented above that they’ve made it as cupcakes very successfully. Re oils whatever percentage is fine, half/half is a good place to start. It’s a pretty easy recipe, just make sure to take a look at the FAQs 🙂 Hope you enjoy it! ~ JJ
This cake was absolutely divine. Amazing. I wasn’t crazy for the frosting though. How do you make your whipped chocolate coconut cream? I don’t see your recipe for that one. Thanks! Amazing cake!!!
Hi Sarah, oh that’s lovely to hear! The choc coconut cream is 1 can coconut cream, cream scooped off, a dash of maple syrup and a few Tbsp cocoa or cacao – I need to re-make and photograph to post…! ~ JJ
OMG!!! Spectacular! Seriously.
I am not one for comments on blogs, but felt I had to add to the story of how amazing this cake is. I was invited to dinner and as the host was pregnant, the normal bottle of wine would not suffice. I decided to bake a cake (knowing there was a nut allergy in the household) and stumbled across this recipe. Really? I thought… But literally whipped this up and frosted it with the cauliflower frosting in just over an hour (admittedly the frosting melted a little) but it was DELICIOUS! And no one could believe it satisfied three serves of veg ?
Thank you SO much!
I’m now going to search through your blog for other amazing ideas!
Hi Sam, oh thanks so much for your comment – it made my day. I hope you find plenty of other things too! ~ J
Hi JJ. I’m about to make this cake (very psyched!) but all I have is canned pumpkin! You mentioned in the cooks notes that you’ve had reader feedback that puréed pumpkin worked well for them. Any hints about how they did that? Did they use less? I’m afraid of messing up and the cake is for tomorrow!
Any advice is musc appreciated.
Hi Barbara, If you look below this comment in the ‘Trackbacks’ the second one (from thehartinkitchen) used pureed pumpkin. If you click through on that link to her post you may get some tips. If you have carrots you can grate them and use that instead – good luck! ~ JJ
Suzanne Allard says
JJ, this cake is to live for, really. I will certainly dazzle my sister-in-law for her 40th b-day with this distinctive creation.
I cannot thank you enough!!
Yay!!! ~ JJ
2 questions: have you heard from anyone who has used this (amazing) recipe but substituted chia eggs or veggie eggs? And, if not yet frosted, would you leave this cake out overnight or in the fridge? Thanks! Making this awesome recipe (again) tonight for my daughters birthday party, but we are now eating a vegan diet and need to sub the eggs out. Thanks!!!
Hi Sarah, if you scroll up the comments to Amy – May 5, 2015, Claudia – June 23, 2015 and Naomi – July 20, 2015 it appears they’ve all had luck (one with psylum egg and two with egg replacer powder).
Either weay – frosted or unfrosted – I’d refrigerate the cake overnight as it helps the crumb structure to set and will make it easier to stack and decorate the next day. Happy Birthday to your daughter! ~ JJ
Hey – wondering if I could make this ahead of time and then freeze it (without the icing) as I want to take this to a Christmas event but would need to make about 4 days before.
Hi Mel, I don’t see why not but I’ve never tried. If you do freeze it, cool completely – even refrigerating for a few hours once cool – then wrap in a couple layers of plastic. I’d suggest thawing it in the fridge for a day before icing. Merry Christmas!
wondering how beets would do in place of the pumpkin… Have you ever tried it or have any of your readers?
I’ve tried raw grated beets and wasn’t as happy with the texture as the beetroot stayed firmer instead of melting into the cake – but you can always give it a go! If you roast the beets first then grate them it may work better. ~ JJ
Thanks for sharing this recipe. Made it and it was just delicious 🙂 I made two batches for a two-tier tall layer cake. First one sank a little, so for the second layer I added a couple extra tablespoons of coconut flour (it seems to vary quite a bit across brands) and ended up with a perfect flat-topped cake. For me the layers rose to 1.5″ tall. I used carrot instead of pumpkin. I filled my two cake layers with caramel sauce (http://www.bakerita.com/paleo-caramel-sauce/). Frosted it with the vegan buttercream. The buttercream is genius but I personally found it a bit sickly; this however is most likely just due to my tastebuds having changed as I haven’t eaten cake or frosting in three years! I think the caramel filling and a dusting of cocoa on top would have been perfect for me.
Hi Nays, thanks for your comment! Yes, coconut flour can differ (and can absorb quite a bit of moisture from the air depending on how it’s stored and how humid it is where you live), glad you worked it out. Your reaction to the frosting is interesting – most people have commented that it’s not near sweet enough, perhaps the combo with the caramel sauce (which sounds amazing but is quite sweet) was simply too much. Good to hear you enjoyed it overall though! ~ JJ
I would like to make a 3 tier 9″ layer cake instead of 4 x 8″ layers from your lovely looking recipe. Has anyone ever done it that way. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?
Hi Connie, 3 x 9 inch cakes instead of 4 x 8 will be fine. You’ll want to bake it for somewhere between 20 and 35 mins (the times for a single deep 8″ and two thin 8″ cakes), testing with a skewer from about 25 mins then every three mins or so after that. Hope it turns out well for you! ~ JJ
I just put this in the oven, I used butternut squash and the double recipe for 2 taller layers. I doubled everything but the batter was extremely thick, like I had to spend it into the pans, thicker than brownie batter even. I added a couple tbs of coconut yogurt to add some extra liquid but I’m hoping the squash releases liquid as it cooks and it’s not too dense. Any idea why?
Cakes were done in 35 minutes and the looked great, didn’t see to rise much which was odd given the very high amounts of bs and bp (I used fresh just bought today too!) but we’re nice and perfectly even. I cooled on a rack for hours and when I went to pick one up it broke into pieces- I made it the bottom layer and tried to smoosh it together. Made the buttercream and filled with that plus a raspberry purée. I slid the other layer off the rack rather than try to pick up.. It was much easier. I hope it tightens up a bit overnight, sure it will. I tried a bit of the broken layer and it was good flavor, a bit dense and light at the same time!
Hi Kate, I’m not sure why the batter has turned out so thick for some people – my only guess is that coconut flours can vary greatly in moisture content. The layers don’t really hold up to lifting like a standard cake – at least not unless they’ve been refrigerated overnight. Good call on sliding off the rack, that’s how I tend to transfer them! I’ve updated the layer cake instructions with a bit more detail to the same, thanks for the comments and I hope it all came out well in the end. Love the raspberry idea by the way! ~ JJ
Naomi Axe says
I have just made a double batch and mistakenly used eggs when I was meaning to make it vegan! Fortunately I have another party next week, will the batter keep till then or if I make the cakes up would they freeze well? Really don’t want to waste all of the ingredients I have used!
Thanks and i wait to hear from you,
Hi Naomi, you’ll want to bake the batter as soon as you can (if you’ve had it in the fridge make sure to bring to room temp first). The cakes should keep well in the freezer – cooled completely, wrapped well in plastic then foil. Un-thaw in fridge the day before frosting and keep the final cake in fridge overnight before serving. ~ JJ
My gluten free friend gave me this recipe to use for the top tier of her wedding cake! I usually bake (hene being tasked with wedding cake!), but very rarely for food intolerances. I am beyond freaked out! How long should I expect this to last? Should I be cooking it the day before? Or will it cope with two days before and refrigerated? Can I double this recipe with success? I have a 5×4 inch round tin and I’m worried about it cooking through. Maybe I should layer two half filled tins?
I have 3 days until the wedding, so hopefully I get a quick reply otherwise I guess Ill go solo and hope for the best!
Hi Edwina, oh how excellent! The good news is this cake is pretty foolproof (esp if you understand baking!). It improves both in texture and flavour when baked the day before and firms up for handling – although is still more fragile than standard ones. It can probably stretch to two days prior – and I’ve eaten it from the fridge for up to four ;). You could bake (for a Saturday) on Thurs evening, store in fridge, crumb coat and frost between layers Friday morn then frost either Friday eve or Saturday morn depending on the frosting you’re using (if it’s the vegan one that goes with this remember to keep everything refrigerated as long as possible). Make sure to use gf icing mixture (some have wheat flour others use tapioca or corn) if your icing is a traditional buttercream!
For the tin I’d definitely split into two layers as a 4inch high one may not bake through. Good luck! ~ JJ
Beth Mathews says
Do you think that this cake and frosting is stable enough to work under fondant. Marshmallow fondant to be exact. I would refrigerate the cake for a while before covering, but what do you think? Thank you, this recipe looks awesome!!! Have you tired it with a egg replacement yet?
Hi Beth, the cake would be fine, especially after refrigerating overnight before covering. I’d only do the frosting as a crumb coat as it would be too thick under the fondant otherwise (but between the layers would be fine of course!). There are a few people who’ve had luck with egg replacer options including the store-bought powder, psyllum husk and chia – check out the comments above and you’ll see what they have to say :). Good luck! ~ JJ
Beth Mathews says
Thank you very much!! Do you know if flax “eggs” work, I will look more on this thread! Oh this is going to make one little girl very happy!!! Thank you!!
Hi there! I’m planning on making this cake next weekend for my cousin’s daughter’s 2nd birthday. My cousin and her husband eat gluten and dairy free for various health reasons, so this looks like the perfect cake everyone can enjoy! One thing I’m a tad worried about is the cake not being sweet enough for my family’s tastes- do you have any tips for making it a touch sweeter? Also, do you have the recipe for the chocolate coconut cream filling? I looked around your website and can’t seem to find it. Thanks so much! I’m excited to make this cake!
Hi Alexandra, per the FAQ’s Maple syrup is the sweetest of the syrups — use it for the entire syrup quantity for the sweetest option – it will be quite sweet with all maple.
You can add a bit of extra maple syrup to the Vegan Buttercream if using that recipe too, simply make it to the quantities then add more to taste per the notes and add a touch more coconut oil to maintain texture.
Yeah… the filling never quite made it here as I wasn’t happy with the photos, thanks for the reminder to add it in! I used a can of refrigerated coconut cream (1 3/4 cups) and whipped it with 1/4 c cocoa powder and 2-3 Tbsp coconut sugar 🙂 Hope the party goes well! ~ JJ
Thank you so much JJ! I look forward to making this cake!
Hi there I LOVED the look of this recipe. I’m a food and hospitality high school student and this looks like something I can use for my class. Just wondering how this recipe would work if it was made into cupcakes, and how many it would make (approx)? Thanks
Hi Bec, a few people have commented above that they’ve had luck with cupcakes – getting anything from 12 to 18 from a batch. Remember though that they won’t dome in the middle, use paper liners and fill the cups three quarters full. Start checking at 22 mins with a toothpick. Let me know if you try it!
I’ve read all the comments as I’m hoping to do this egg free – what do you think about adding guar or xanthan gum?
Hi Heidi, from what I can tell none of the people who have made this egg-free have used guar or xanthan – I never use either as I hate the gummyness so I can’t advise on amounts if you were to use. With egg replacer I’d make sure you do the refrigerating step mentioned in the FAQs and Layer Cake points above so the cake is firmer when stacking. ~ JJ
I have just made this and substituted carob for chocolate, as I am allergic to chocolate and it was absolutely gorgeous. My husband couldn’t believe it was made out of pumpkin and I felt like a normal person eating ‘chocolate’ cake for the first time since forever. I used a different icing as I am allergic to avocado but it was just as yummy. My daughter will love this for her birthday cake in a few weeks time. Thank you so much.
Hi Ruth – oh that’s excellent, thanks for popping back to let me know!! As for the icing you can replace the avo with an equal amount of (extra) cauliflower and an extra Tbsp of coconut oil if you ever want to try it. Happy birthday to your daughter! ~ JJ
Hi there 🙂
I just love the look of this cake and was super excited to try it for my son’s second birthday. He has lots of food allergies and cannot have gluten, dairy, egg, coconut and all nuts except walnut so this recipe was perfect. He seems to be able to tolerate a tiny bit of coconut flour and oil.
Anyway, I made just the cake tonight (a practice run) and baked it exactly as stated in a 8in cake tin at 180degC and after 40 min I checked and it wasn’t done. Checked again, 10, 20 and 30 min later and still it wasn’t done! After an hour I figured it must be done but still my toothpick came out with cake on it when inserted in the middle. I left it out and when I checked on it some time later it was ok on the outside but extremely gooey on the inside and very rich and sweet. It tasted ok but I felt as though there is no way I could add a sweet frosting to it and be able to eat an entire piece, it was that rich to me.
I followed the recipe exactly except that I could not use eggs so I used psyllum husk seeds with water exactly as you recommended to add the seeds with the flour and the water with the wet ingredients.
Do you think that’s why it came out so incredibly gooey? Or I just needed to leave it in for longer?
I still have some time to correct this as my son’s birthday is not for another month. I would be very grateful for your insight and any suggestions please.
Thank you so much for a lovely recipe and I will most definitely have a look around your website for other ideas.
All the best,
Hi Jessica, I sent you an email reply a while ago to try and help you work it out but never heard back so I’m hoping it all went well! ~ JJ
Just made this cake and omg it is beauuuutiful!
Followed the recipe exactly and made it into mini muffins for me and my LO to snack on when we’re craving something naughty.
Excellent! Thanks for letting me know 🙂 ~ JJ
Wow! I love this recipe… THANK YOU! I didn’t show my family what went in it and they all rated it 9/10 (including a 9yo and 12 yo)! I would give it 10/10! Easy to make, and looked fantastic! And tasted amazing! Thanks… will be making it again and again…
Oh that’s brilliant, thanks for the feedback! ~ JJ
Being lactose intolerant and gluten free, I would love to try making this cake for my wedding in October. My question is will it still be moist and tasty if I make it the Thursday before my wedding. My wedding is on the Saturday but I wont have
time to make it the day before with set up ect.
Thanks so much!
Hi Melisa, It should be fine, It is better the next day and holds for a few days after that as well. Just make sure to keep it in the fridge until it’s set-up for the reception.
I’d recommend doing a test in advance – even with just one or two layers – to see how it holds and to make sure you like it (also, test cake is always a good idea 😉 ) ~ JJ
My non-buttercream didn’t turn out as smooth as yours pictured. Should I steam the cauliflower longer and blend up the avocado instead of mash?
Hi Holly, I’m not sure what you mean about the avo, per the recipe it’s added to the cauliflower mixture then blended, not just mashed and stirred in. It could be you didn’t steam your cauli for long enough (it should be very soft) or simply didn’t blend for long enough. ~ JJ
Lynn Kronschnabel says
I made this cake tonight for a birthday dinner and it was FABULOUS! I was so intrigued by the use of cauliflower in the frosting recipe that I had to try it. Thanks for your wonderful experimentation, and a cake that has just the right texture and flavors and not too sweet, and so full of healthful ingredients.
Cheers Lynn! ~ JJ
Hi JJ. I used blitzed carrots and the brown sugar and water option. Also subbed 1/4 c cocoa powder with almondmeal Doubled everything ecept the sugar.. i stayed with the original 1 measure. Made a gorgeous 2 tier cake and frosted with choc avocado icing. Took to rhe office and it was demolished during morning tea. I even heard people opening the fridges and wailing that there were no leftovers … so it was a definite sucess. Thanks so much for the recipe.. a definite keeper!
Hi Renee, Great substitutions, thanks for letting me know how it went! ~ JJ
Can I freeze this in advance?? Making one now for my son’s birthday 3 days from now
JJ, this is the best chocolate mud cake ever. Thank you so much for sharing.
I’m making this for a friends 30th in December.
Can it be made ahead of time and frozen?
Hi Vicki As mentioned above, the cakes should keep well in the freezer – cooled completely, wrapped well in plastic then foil – but it’s not something I’ve done. Un-thaw in fridge the day before frosting and keep the final cake in fridge overnight before serving! ~ JJ
I looked at this recipe after I saw your vegan chocolate buttercream recipe. I’m quite disappointed it’s not vegan as well.
Hi Anna, had you taken the time to read the FAQ’s instead of trolling with a rude comment that overlays your beliefs on my space you would have seen the notes regarding making the cake vegan.
Had to write and say thank you for this amazing recipe, it has helped me change a little girls life. My niece cannot have dairy, gluten or soy. Being the primary cake maker in our family when she moved to Australia from Canada I was on a mission to make her 3rd birthday cake. She has previously identified foods like cake as hurt my tummy foods. Upon presenting this cake decorated with a Disney frozen theme (of course), she was amazed to learn she could eat some too. It was from that moment on referred to as Rylies special no hurt my tummy cake ! Years on and I’ve just lifted her 5th birthday cake out of the oven (my house smells amazing !). Thank you again.
Oh Claire thank you for the wonderful comment, it made my day!! I love that this cake really has made a difference in people’s celebrations. ~ JJ
Bit late to the party but wanted to say… I made this recipe as cupcakes the other day, subbing carrots for the pumpkin (didn’t have quite enough so topped up with grated apple), but completely forgot to add any oil – doh! – so waited nervously as they cooked, especially as I’d confidently doubled the recipe! Well they still turned out absolutely delicious, soft and moist with a beautiful crumb! They have a pretty rich chocolate flavour so for kids I will be adding a sweet (vegan) buttercream – husband declared them “excellent” with a little Elana’s pantry vegan white chocolate frosting – and he’s a sweet-toothed gluten fiend! Looking forward to seeing what difference the oil makes next time round, and definitely intrigued to try the cauliflower-based frosting. Thanks so much for the recipes!
Hi, so glad it came out for you! The grated apple probably added a bit of moisture that would have been missing from the oil. Thanks for popping back to let me know how it went! ~ JJ
Was my post deleted? Rather in bad taste don’t you think?
I’m not sure what you mean? What post?
Don’t have a copy but I think it was posted on the 16th or so. Basically the cake did not turn out to be very stable for me. It kept crumbling and wouldn’t stay together at all. I used pumpkin puree instead of the grated fruit so possibly that may have been the reason..
That’s too bad, I’ve had feedback that pumpkin puree works well so I don’t think it would be the issue (if you read the post listed below in the trackback from thehartinkitchen you can see that she had luck with it). Is the grated pumpkin the only thing you changed? There are a few other tips in the FAQ’s about texture too so perhaps those may help.
Aghna Harte says
Hi! Sorry if this has been asked already! Looking for a GF, Dairy Free chocolate cake for a baby shower and this looks amazing! Just wondering if this would stand up to a fondant covering? Thanks 🙂
Hi Aghna, I’ve never used fondant on it but some others have asked above. I’d imagine that you can cover it with whatever you want but remember that it’s not as dense as a heavy mud cake so you have to be a bit more gentle with it. ~ JJ
Frank McColl says
Do you think this would work with celeriac instead of pumpkin for a lower carb cake?
Hi Frank, I’ve never tried but I can’t imagine why not. However it would be a fair bit less sweet as you’re taking away the sweetness from the pumpkin. Not sure where carrot sits on the carb scale however people have had luck with using that instead. If you do try let me know! ~ JJ
i tried making it tonight with celeriac and norbu as the sweetener. The texture and flavour was good, but as you suggested it wasn’t sweet enough. I’ll try again with more sweetener next time.
Cool, thanks for letting me know! I’m not familiar with norbu as a sweetener, I’ll have to look it up. Cheers ~ JJ
Hi this looks amazing and I would like to make one for my friend’s birthday party so it needs to be a bigger one. I would like to make one simple 2-layer cake with 12 inch cake pan. Would the double recipe do it? As I will be using only one tin at a time to bake the two layers, I also need to know how much of the cake batter to put in each (how high should it be? as I don’t know how much the cake rise) and how long should I cook it for?
Hi Kanako, if you double the recipe and bake in a 12 inch pan instead of an 8 inch pan you don’t need to know how much of the cake batter to put in each – simply bake one batch of batter in the pan then repeat for the second. For timings a rough guess is 25 mins, the edge will still pull away from the pan slightly when done. ~ JJ
I saw this on Pinterest and thought it would be perfect. I am having a party with some of my friends and there are quite a few large dietary restrictions. I am allergic to nuts, and I have a friend allergic to dairy and another who can’t eat gluten. So I open it up and find that it does haves nuts in it, coconut flour. So for all you out there, this is not nut-free.
Is there an alternative for coconut flour?
Hi Margaret, coconuts are not tree nuts from an allergy perspective, and while some people with tree nut allergies are also allergic to coconuts they are mutually exclusive (similarly those allergic to peanuts are not always allergic to tree nuts, although peanuts are generally included in ‘nut free’ disclaimers). Coconuts are botanically considered a drupe, not a nut, hence the ‘nut free’ label on this cake.
Regardless of classification, in terms of substitution coconut flour acts very differently to other flours as it absorbs an enormous amount of liquid and does not add elasticity. Your best bet is to search google to see if there are any proven substitutions for baking. ~ JJ
Hello! Thanks SO much for a healthy and delicious recipe!! My picky-eater son loved it!! I did add a little bit more of maple syrup, maybe a couple of tablespoons, and also decreased a tiny bit the amount of chocolate (used Hershey’s Cocoa – 100% Cacao – unsweetened). I made a cashew “frosting”, but I really want to try your suggestions next time (the Whipped Choco Coconut Cream and/or Vegan Chocolate Not-buttercream). We are not vegans, but I really enjoy finding delicious AND healthy recipes, more so for cakes and sweets stuff. Thanks again!! Ups! Forgot to mention that I used the raw butternut squash, “grated” in my food processor (2 cups)!!
Thanks Nidia, great to hear! 🙂 ~ JJ
April Ashton says
Hi did you use raw cacao or dutch process cocoa for this recipe? I believe they will have a different effect.
I made this recipe with butternut squash & Scharfenberger brand cocoa into 12 cupcakes and iced with the not-buttercream frosting. I took most of the cupcakes camping last weekend. I’m gluten intolerant and my granddaughter can’t eat dairy or much sugar. That makes for a tough birthday celebration, but this recipe seemed to fit the bill. My daughter & I thought they were delicious. My granddaughters wanted sweeter icing, but the texture was perfect. My son in law would never have touched these if he knew the ingredients, and he raved about them. We won’t tell him. Today, a little over a week later, I found the 4 I didn’t take camping in the fridge and ate one. It was so much better! Perfect texture cake and frosting. Very fudgey. I might add a little extra maple syrup to the frosting to keep the kiddos happy next time, but this recipe is a keeper!
Hi Linda, Oh this makes me so happy to read! Thanks for popping back to let me know 🙂 ~ JJ
Hi April, I’ve used both and had no issues with either (although dutch process may give you a slightly darker cake). Cheers ~ JJ
Just made it! Thank u so much for the recipe! Tge taste is heavenly But i just wonder it looked like fudge inside. My toothpick wasn’t dry even after aditional 10 min twice. Im in Korea and was using conventional oven. Do you think fudge like is ok or should i bake it till its dry inside?! Thank you.
Hi Tamara, first question is did the edge of the cake pull slightly away from the edge of the pan? If so then it’s done. If not it may depend on the size of your pan, if you substituted the eggs or other ingredients, if your oven is at temp or runs high or low? ~ JJ
I just made this into cupcakes so my daughter can have her own cake when it’s someone’s birthday at school (she can’t have gluten or dairy). So happy to find a good nut free cake as we aren’t allowed to have nuts at school!
She tried one and absolutely demolished it! Thank you 🙂
Also should let you know I think we got about 20 cupcakes from it.
Hi Leah, that’s so good to hear! Thanks for popping back to let me know, and for the quantity note. Also, the cake freezes pretty well so you should be able to make a batch, freeze them and defrost when you need one (or two ;D) ~ JJ
Julie Slocombe says
i am making this tonight for my Mums surprise party tomorrow, in uk so metric – It says 490 grams of butternut – 260 finely grated, what does that mean? Do i use 490 grams or 260 grams?
Thanks in advance
Hi Julie, I’m not sure where you’re seeing 490 grams? The only measurement I mention in the recipe for the pumpkin is 260 g – I’ve even done a word search on the page and the only instance of 490 is in your comment! Was this noted somewhere else?
My only tip is to start with a butternut that weighs a fair bit more than the 260 g you need, as when you remove the peel and seeds you’ll lose weight.
For the recipe you need 260g of grated pumpkin (or butternut) as written above, this also equals two cups. ~ JJ
Julie Slocombe says
Hey JJ, just for other peoples reference the confusion for the grams came from Yummly website, not direct on this one!
The Hype on this cake is spot on, made this for my Mums birthday, it went down like a house on fire with accelerator – was truly delicious.
I used butternut squash as pumpkin is hard to get right now without searching and i used a small amount of coconut sugar in cake. Doubled maple syrup in whipped coconut cream centre and also added extra maple to the buttercream. The result was one of the nicest cakes i have ever eaten – some guests said it WAS the nicest cake they had ever eaten!!!!
OI have given out this recipe to 12 people so far!!!!
The buttercream is out of this world, i cant remember how many times i exclaimed – Avocado / cauli I KNOW!!! Truly a scrumptious cake and will be making again!!!
Thanks So much JJ, divine!! 🙂
Thanks so much Julie! So glad it came together for your mum <3 ~ JJ
Any substitute for the oil? I can’t tolerate oils and wanted to make this cake a bit lower in fat?
Hi Franves, in theory you could use a standard oil substitute like apple sauce/fruit puree for half or all of the oil in the cake however this hasn’t been tested so I can’t speak to the success. Let me know if you try it! ~ JJ
Hello, I was looking for a gluten free, vegan cake for a work party and came acress this recipe. I saw that psyllium husk or the powdered egg replacements can be used to substitute for the egg, but do you know if anyone has had any luck using aquafaba? I’d prefer to use what’s on hand at home and I’ve already seen that you’ve recommended not to use flax/chia seed eggs so was wondering if this option has any potential..
Hi Emily, I mentioned that I’m not sure how flax egg would go but I never recommended not using chia eggs – if you search for the word ‘chia’ on this page you’ll see that a few people have had luck with it. Aquafaba may have potential however I’ve never tested it – let me know if you do!
Hi, I’ve made this cake tonight (twice now) and I just can’t get it to cook all the way through or rise! Not sure what I’m doing wrong. Ovens at the right temp and baking powder was in date, any ideas? It’s been in there for close to two hours now.
Hi Cate, did you use eggs or an egg substitute? That’s the only thing I’ve heard that causes the cake to be more dense and take longer (but not that long!). If it pulled away from the edge that’s often a better indication than the centre. Was it just a single batch in an 8″ pan? ~ JJ
Any substitute for oil to make lower fat? Soy yogurt? Apple sauce? More pumpkin?
Hi Franves, I’ve never substituted the oil, you could try to replace half of it with yoghurt or fruit puree. If you do let me know how it goes! ~ JJ
I have made this once and substituted for all of the oil. I use pureed cannellini beans. Drain and rinse a can of beans, put them back in the can and fill with water back to the original weight. Then tip into a blender and puree. Use the same volume of this puree as the required volume of oil. I made this cake for my birthday last year and it came out really well.
As a couple of other variations, I used 2/3 carrot and 1/3 beetroot as I dislike pumpkin. Instead of a large cake I made cupcakes, and I didn’t ice them, but topped each cake before baking with several strawberry slices and a sprinkle of sugar.
Just wanted to let you lovely people know what alterations I made to the recipe:
-Instead of using pumpkin, I used carrots. Amazing taste, just had to add the smallest bit of water.
-I made cupcakes instead of one large cake. Made exactly 12.
-Used carob powder instead of cocoa.
Turned out amazing, thanks!
Hi Esther – thanks so much for popping by to let me know! Great to know the carob works well for people who can’t have chocolate. ~ JJ
I tried this cake last weekend and was so amazed! I used sweet potato instead of pumpkin and was a little hesitant about using it raw in the recipe. Especially since I was serving it to someone who doesn’t like sweet potato. It worked amazingly though, the person who didn’t like sweet potato said it was his favorite cake! Definitely going to be making this cake again!
Hi Alexa, thanks for the lovely feedback – good to hear the cake was a hit! ~ JJ
Gowra Singh says
Have you made this as a sheet cake?
Hi Gowra, I haven’t but there’s no reason it wouldn’t work, cake is cake regardless of the pan! You’ll just have to keep an eye on how long it bakes depending on how deep the batter is in the pan. Keep an eye on the edges, as soon as they seperate from the pan it’s pretty much done. ~ JJ
Would this be classed as Lactose free too?
Hi! Can I make the cake and icing ahead of time and freeze do you think?
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This is the best cake recipe I have ever come across. I’m gluten and dairy intolerant and my husband is allergic to nuts. I also try to avoid refined sugar, so it’s never easy! This recipe is genius, but on top of that is delicious, so moist and practically fool proof. I think I have made this five or six times in the last year and it’s been great every time. Everyone loves it and asks for the recipe. Thank you!
YUM!!! Instead of grating the pumpkin could you cheat and use a blender?
Amazing cake. I accidentally added more coconut flour, than recipe called for and it still worked great. I used finely grated carrots instead of pumpkin, couldn’t taste them in ready cake at all. I don’t have oven, so baked my sponge layers in 26cm round silicon mould for 5 minutes each (single recipe made 2 layers) on 900w. Best cake I ever made. Another sub – used golden syrup instead of maple one, as it was the only one I had at hand.
Will try to substitute cocoa powder for some cinnamon and raising for carrot cake sponge. Thank you for this brilliant recipe!
Thank you for sharing this recipe, I can’t wait to try it! If you wouldn’t mind, consider changing “Jap” to “Japanese.” “Jap” has been historically used as a racial slur and is offensive to East Asian people (as say this as one of them).
In Australia, JAP is another name for ‘Kent’ Pumpkin, it literally stands for ‘Just Another Pumpkin’ (because ‘Straya). While I understand your comment, the colloquial name for the pumpkin found everywhere in Aussie grocery stores is not derogatory or a slur.