Old Fashioned Chocolate Birthday Cake – Gluten and Dairy Free

IMG_20160711_181722547I have a deep love of old fashioned birthday cakes. By old fashioned, I mean cakes that invoke memories of boxed mixes and the old Dominoes’ butter cream frosting recipe that had salt in it. I used to make chocolate infused versions full of dairy and wheat. Now I can’t eat gluten, and some of my kids can’t eat dairy. For years, I didn’t have a birthday cake. Now I do. The omnivores in the family say it’s awfully close to the “real thing”. After all these years, I don’t remember what the “real thing” tasted like, but my kids are painfully honest about food, so I believe them.

This recipe uses the gluten-free flour described here. My husband, who created this recipe, measures by weight, not volume. He uses 280 grams, which is about 2 cups plus 1/4 cup . This recipe makes two a standard 9-inch round two-layer cake or 24 cupcakes. The recipe for the icing is at the bottom.



  • 1 and 2/3 cups of sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour (280 grams)
  • 2/3 cups of cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons of xanthan gum
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2/3 cup of dairy-free margarine
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 and 1/3 cup of water

Set the margarine on a counter until it reaches room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prep your cake pans or cupcake pans as you prefer. (We use parchment paper for the cake pans and liners for the cupcake pans.)

Whisk the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt) in a bowl until they are evenly mixed.

Mix the wet ingredients EXCEPT the water (margarine, eggs, vanilla) in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for three minutes. You can’t really cream it (as you can with butter), but get it thoroughly mixed. If you don’t have a mixer, use a fork and really go at it for a couple of minutes.

Add the dry ingredients alternating with the water into the wet ingredients a bit at a time. Use the mixer on low or use a large spoon. Once they are all combined, you will end up with a lovely cake batter.

For 2-layer cake:

  • The batter doesn’t flow as easily as regular batter, so once it is in the pan, you might need to shake it to get it to lay down.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Sometimes this recipe will take more than 35 minutes. Test the cakes with a toothpick until it comes out clean.
  • Let the cakes cool in the pan before you remove them.

For 24 cupcakes:

  • Use a large spoon and measure out equal dollops.
  • Bake for 23 to 25 minutes. Test with a toothpick until it comes out clean.



  • 1/4 pound dairy-free margarine
  • 4 cups of confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • up to 1/4 cup of water

Set the margarine out on the counter to let it soften. Heat or microwave the unsweetened chocolate until just melted. Use a beater to mix the margarine, confectioners sugar, salt, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Add the melted chocolate, then add the sugar a little bit at a time. Beat the mixture till smooth.  If you need a smoother consistency, add water until it is reached. Spread on the cake or cupcakes immediately.


Dairy Free Chocolate and “Butter” Cream Easter Eggs

IMG_20160326_173914540Buying Easter candy that is safe for people with dairy, nuts, and peanut allergies is hard.  So much chocolate-y or creamy candy isn’t okay. When I was growing up, my favorite Easter candy was the butter creme eggs made by a local church that came in flavors. Last year I had the “duh” moment of realizing that we could make these safely for our kids in vanilla, chocolate and maple.

This recipe is based on a thoroughly unsafe for dairy allergies recipe at The Abundant Wife.  It’s similar to what I ate as a child, and I was grateful to have it to use as a base.  This recipe will make five eggs.  Below are the ingredients for Vanilla, Chocolate and Maple flavors. They are all made using the same process, which is at the bottom of the post.

Vanilla Cream Egg Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1/8 lb softened non-dairy Margarine (we used Fleischmann’s Unsalted – the Salted has dairy)
  • 1 Tbsp Water
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 6 oz non-dairy Chocolate Chips (we use Divvies)

Chocolate Cream Egg Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1/8 lb softened non-dairy Margarine (we used Fleischmann’s Unsalted – the Salted has dairy)
  • 1 Tbsp Water
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 6 oz non-dairy Chocolate Chips (we use Divvies)

Maple Cream Egg Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1/8 lb softened non-dairy Margarine (we used Fleischmann’s Unsalted – the Salted has dairy)
  • 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 6 oz non-dairy Chocolate Chips (we use Divvies)



IMG_20160326_180118036_HDRIn a bowl, mix the sugar into the softened margarine, as well as any additional ingredients except the chocolate chips. Mix until a consistency that can be molded into eggs.  Place in the refrigerator to cool.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips.  At this point you have two choices.IMG_20160326_181359094

  • If you want, you can simply cover the filling with chocolate by pouring it on one side, chilling it, flipping it over, and chilling it again.
  • If you want fancier eggs, get a silicon mold in the shape of eggs.  We use this one. Paint the interior of the molds generously with chocolate using a brush. You want a strong shell. Insert the filling gently while the chocolate is soft. Chill in the fridge.  IMG_20160326_165022728Once the chocolate is solid, remove the half eggs and place back in the fridge.  Wash the mold and paint generously again with chocolate.  Insert the half eggs into the molds and press very gently to create a seal. Chill in the fridge until the chocolate in the mold is solid and the eggs can be safely removed.

If you want, you can decorate the eggs.  Otherwise, just eat and enjoy.

Not My Strawberry Bread & Lemon Brownies

There are two deserts we make that people adore and we didn’t invent. We simply adapted recipes on the web so they would be gluten free and dairy free.  Moister deserts, especially ones with fruit as a main component, frequently adapt well. I’m including the links with tweaks here.  So everyone who wants to know how to make these – here you go.

Lemon Brownies – We make two changes to this recipe.  The first is that I use our gluten-free soy/corn/tapioca flour.  The other is using Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine instead of butter.  (Pick carefully – their salted margarine has dairy.) Remember that margarine starts out softer than butter, so keep an eye on it when you set it out to soften.  Don’t let it get too soft.  The directions on this recipe are spectacular, and I advise reading them carefully.

Strawberry Bread – The major change to this recipe is substituting in our gluten-free soy/corn/tapioca flour.  It also works with our oat based flour. For oil, we use canola.  We don’t add the nuts, because we’re a nut-free household.  If you can eat them, I’m sure they’re a lovely addition.  The recipe is very simple, and it really is as easy as it reads.  If you like apples, a friend experimented and discovered that it works nicely with moister apples like McIntosh.

More recipes can be found here

Blueberry Muffins – Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

IMG_3284Baking muffins started as a weekend tradition because of my children with food allergies.  It was too hard to find muffins free of cross contamination in a store.  When I had to go gluten free, I figured my days of sharing in that tradition were done.  However, my husband came up with a recipe that tastes – and just as importantly – feels like an excellent blueberry muffin.



  • 3/4 cup (or 105 grams) gluten free flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • IMG_32701 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

IMG_3273Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.  Beat the wet ingredients together in their own bowl until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. The batter does not act like gluten muffin batter.  This photo shows how it should look.

IMG_3281Fold the blueberries into the batter. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.  Drop the batter into the liners until it reaches the top.  Do not smooth the batter down.  Bake for 22 – 26 minutes They are done when a toothpick comes out cleanly.

More recipes can be found here.



Brownies – Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Useful for Bribes

IMG_3205I hesitate to share this recipe. A guy once offered to have my husband’s babies because of these brownies. (Yes, it was a guy. ) I have used them as barter. People love them. It’s a useful recipe to keep to yourself. However, it is the season for giving. Maybe you have a gluten or dairy free chocolate lover who would enjoy them.


  • 3/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (if not in flour already)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water (if using soy flour mix)
Ingredients for a double batch ready to mix

Mix together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cocoa powder until well mixed.  (The quality of the cocoa will affect the brownies. The better the cocoa, the richer the brownies. I’m lucky to have a Penzeys near my house. Use your favorite cocoa powder, but remember that it makes a difference.)

Liquid ingredients in motion and at the right consistency

Enthusiastically beat the vanilla, vegetable oil, and eggs until the mixture starts to thicken.  You want to beat enough air into the liquid ingredients that they start to have a little bit of texture.  See the photo for how they should look in motion (not at rest).

Batter using soy flour before water is added

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat with either a wooden spoon or two metal spoons doubled up.  The batter is going to get thick if you are using the soy flour, so you want a strong spoon.  Also if you are using the soy flour, the batter will look like this photo, and at this point you add the water. If you are using wheat flour or our oat based flour, then you won’t need to add water.

Batter properly mixed

Continue to mix until the batter is smooth and moist, as shown in this picture.  (Again, if you aren’t using the soy flour, then the batter should look this way without the addition of water.) Gently fold in one cup of chocolate chips.  We use Divvies.  If you need to worry about soy allergies, Enjoy Life makes dairy and soy free chocolate chips.

Consistency of batter heading into the pan

Pour the batter into a greased 8″ x 8″ or 9″x 9″ pan.  Use a wet spoon to distribute the batter and smooth the top, but do not push down.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  (Remember if you hit a chocolate chip, it will not come out clean.  That doesn’t matter.  You’re just worried about the batter.)  This recipe can be doubled.  If you are using a 9″ x 13″ pan, bake it 35-40 minutes.

IMG_3200Cool for at least 20 minutes in the pan before slicing.  If you cut them sooner, the brownies will crumble much more.  A little bit of time makes a huge difference.  Cut with a sharp knife and remove with a spatula.  Eat them, share them, or offer as bribes.

More c0oking blog posts can be found here if you are interested in other recipes.

Corn Bread – Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Corn Bread - FinishedThe final tweak to this recipe happened one night when I was tired. I thought I remembered that the baking powder was 4 tablespoons instead of 4 teaspoons.  The corn bread tried to crawl out of the pan while it was baking, but it was wonderfully light.  A couple batches later, I had the correct amount and this recipe.


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum if using our flour mix
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 canola oil (or oil of your choice)

Preheat the over to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9″x9″ pan.

Dry ingredients ready for the wet ingredients
Dry ingredients with an indentation

Mix all the dry ingredients together.  Leave an indentation in the center.

Beat all the wet ingredients together with a fork or whisk until the egg and honey are well mixed.


Corn Bread - Stirring
Spongy texture forming in batter

Add the wet ingredients in the center of the dry ingredients.  Beat immediately with a spoon for at least one minute.  You are watching for the batter to develop air bubbles and a spongy texture when pulled apart by the spoon.

Batter glopping into pan
Batter glopping into pan

Place the batter into the greased pan.  It won’t pour.  You will need to glop it into the pan.  Carefully move the batter around to cover the surface of the pan.  Do not push down on it or try to flatten it.

Corn Bread Fully Cooked
Corn Bread Fully Cooked


Bake for a total of 20 minutes.  At the ten minute mark, turn the pan around in the oven so it cooks evenly.  At 20 minutes a toothpick should come out cleanly, but ovens vary so check.  The cornbread should cut easily and can be served immediately if desired.


Corn Bread - Header
Corn Bread – Ready to eat!

Gluten, Dairy, Nut, Peanut, Rice Free Flour Mix

Flour - Final Product
Soy, Corn, Tapioca Flour Mixed and Ready to Go

Finding a tasty flour to use in a house with multiple food issues can be tricky. My kids can eat gluten, so we bake with it and segregate it to one small area in the kitchen. However, I needed a flour that all of us could eat for general cooking. The commercial mixes weren’t safe for all us.

Our experiment started with the basics laid out on the “Gluten Free Girl” website.  She explained that we needed a 40% protein and 60% starch (by weight) mix. If you want to create your own flour, take a look at her webpage. Below are the two flour mixes that worked for us and for many people we’ve fed who didn’t realize they were eating gluten free bake goods.  It’s simple to do, but you will want a scale to measure your ingredients.

Ingredients and tools to make the Soy, Corn, Tapioca Flour
Ingredients and tools to make the Soy, Corn, Tapioca Flour

Baking dairy free? Milk ingredients create browning and add a different feel to baked goods. We use a mix of water and honey to replicate that effect. If the recipe calls for butter and you replace it with margarine or oil, add a tablespoon or two of honey. We usually use a mixture of 3/4 water and 1/4 honey. The honey gives a nice browning and gives a slightly non-sugar sweetness that rounds out the flavor.

Flour - Unmixed
The unmixed Soy, Corn, Tapioca Flour shows the difference in colors between the ingredients

Soy, Corn, Tapioca Flour Mix
Put the following in a larger sealable (airtight) container and mix them up thoroughly by shaking. If I am baking, then I add 1 tsp xanthan gum to every cup of flour I use.  I don’t add it to the mix because I don’t need the xanthan gum if I’m using the flour as a coating or thickener.

  • Corn Starch – 454 grams or one 1 lb box
  • Tapioca – 454 grams or one 1 lb box
  • Soy Flour – 605 grams

If you are using this flour in a recipe designed for gluten flour, you will probably need to increase the liquid and bake it at a lower temperature. We usually don’t exceed 375 degrees because soy burns easily.

Buying Hints: Ener-G brand Tapioca and Potato Starch come in a 1 lb box. We’ve found soy flour that is free of all our cross-contamination issues at Honeyville at a very reasonable price, but it only comes in a very large quantity. Soy flour will keep in a freezer.

For both flour mixes, shake thoroughly to blend them.
For both flour mixes, shake thoroughly to blend them.

Potato, Oat and Tapioca Flour Mix
We developed this flour to feed a group of people that included a gluten free person and a soy free person. It has a slightly earthier taste that is very slightly like the difference between whole wheat and white flour. Again, use 1 tsp of xanthan gum per cup of flour for baking. Please note that some gluten-free people can tolerate gluten-free oat flour, but others have problems with it.

  • Potato Starch – 454 grams or one 1 lb box
  • Tapioca – 454 grams or one 1 lb box
  • Gluten Free Oat Flour – 605 grams

This flour doesn’t require increasing the liquid or baking at a lower temperature.