This gluten free vegan chocolate cake is hands down one of THE BEST cakes I’ve ever tasted. The sponges are perfectly moist, soft and chocolatey, but also sturdy enough so you can handle and stack them without them crumbling or cracking. Both the sponges and the vegan chocolate buttercream frosting contain both cocoa powder and melted dark chocolate, and the end result is a rich, ultra-chocolatey cake that simply melts in your mouth.
The recipe makes a small batch 6-inch/15cm cake, but you can easily double it to make a larger 8-inch/20cm version.
I’m back with a brand new small batch cake recipe – and it’s a winner.
This is hands down one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever made or tasted… and it’s both GLUTEN FREE *AND* VEGAN!!!
The flavour of both the sponges and the frosting is just incredible: intensely chocolatey, rich and decadent, the whole thing is basically every chocoholic’s dream come true. Because I wanted to stuff as much chocolate into the cake as possible, there’s both cocoa powder AND melted dark chocolate in both the frosting and the sponges.
Now, chocolate in any cake sponge tends to have a tenderising effect: which basically means that it makes the sponge a bit more delicate and crumbly. That can be a problem when making a sponge that doesn’t have any of the usual binding agents – that is, there’s no gluten and no eggs in there.
Nonetheless, I’ve optimised this recipe to give gluten free vegan chocolate sponges that are perfectly moist, soft and chocolatey, but also sturdy enough so you can handle, level and stack them without any issues whatsoever.
And once you’ve added the luxurious, fluffy vegan chocolate buttercream, the end result is a chocolatey explosion of a cake that simply melts in your mouth and will satisfy all chocolate cravings. Plus, it’s just ridiculously easy to make.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this amazing cake – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
The moist & rich gluten free vegan chocolate sponges
The gluten free vegan chocolate sponges are incredibly easy to make: all you have to do is melt the chocolate and oil together, combine them with the wet ingredients, sift together the dry ingredients, and then mix it all together into a luscious, chocolatey batter. Yes, that’s all there is to it.
It’s very important that you keep the ingredient ratios as they’re listed in the recipe below – I’ve optimised the recipe to give gluten free vegan chocolate sponges that taste just like the “regular” equivalents. So, they’re perfectly moist and soft and rich, but without being too delicate or too crumbly.
That means that you can easily handle, level and stack them without having to worry about them cracking or crumbling! Just make sure that they’re completely cooled to room temperature before you level them (that is, cut away any doming) and start assembling the cake. Hot or warm sponges are much more delicate, so resist the temptation to handle them too much before they’re fully cooled.
What’s the best oven temperature for gluten free vegan chocolate cake?
I’ve tested this recipe at two different oven temperatures: at 350ºF (180ºC) and at 320ºF (160ºC), and the slightly lower oven temperature of 320ºF (160ºC) gives noticeably better results, with a more even crumb, less doming and a slightly sturdier, less crumbly cake.
The sponges baked at 350ºF (180ºC) rose less in the oven and also rose more unevenly, with a more pronounced dome in the centre. They were also crumblier and more difficult to level off.
In comparison, the sponges baked at 320ºF (160ºC) rose higher, were almost flat (with only a small amount of doming) so that they required minimal levelling, and they were also less crumbly and therefore easier to handle.
So, I definitely recommend baking this gluten free vegan cake at a slightly lower oven temperature of 320ºF (160ºC) for best results. Note that these oven temperatures refer to a conventional/non-fan oven. If you’re using a convection/fan oven reduce the temperature by 25ºF (20ºC). This is a general rule of thumb that holds true for most recipes.
The fluffy, velvety vegan chocolate buttercream
The vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is based on the one that I use in my highly popular Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake. It’s my favourite, go-to chocolate buttercream frosting that’s insanely luscious and chocolatey, and really the only difference in this vegan version is that I used a vegan butter alternative instead of regular butter.
Specifically, I used the Stork vegan butter block that’s available here in the UK. However, most firm vegan/dairy free butter blocks will work well – just make sure that you don’t use a soft vegan spread (as that would result in a loose, soft buttercream and that can cause issues when you go to stack and frost the cake).
If you’re not a huge buttercream fan, you can try the vegan whipped ganache frosting from my Small Batch Vegan Birthday Cake recipe instead.
Can you scale up the recipe to make a larger cake?
Yes!!! This recipe makes a small batch 6-inch/15cm cake, which serves about 4-6 people (or up to 8 if you cut smaller pieces, as the cake is fairly rich), but you can definitely scale up the recipe.
To make a larger 8-inch/20cm cake, just double the recipe (that is, double all the ingredient quantities in the recipe below).
And there you have it: the most perfect, outrageously delicious gluten free vegan chocolate cake that’s easy to make and that you’ll want to make over and over (and over) again.
I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
More amazing chocolate cake recipes
If you’re looking for more incredible chocolate cake recipes, you’re definitely in the right place!
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
- 6-Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Loaf Cake
- The Most Epic Triple Chocolate Layer Cake
- Small Batch Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
- Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake
- Super Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake
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Small Batch Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake
Gluten free vegan chocolate sponges:
- 70 g (2½ oz) dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 45 g (3½ tbsp) sunflower oil or other neutral-tasting oil of choice
- 110 g (⅓ cup + 2 tbsp) hot water
- 110 g (⅓ cup + 2 tbsp) non-dairy milk, room temperature (You can use almond, rice, soy or oat milk (provided that you’re not sensitive to oats), but I don’t recommend using coconut milk.)
- 30 g (2 tbsp) plain vegan yoghurt
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 130 g (1 cup + 1½ tbsp) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour that doesn't have any xanthan gum added. You can also mix your own gluten free flour blend using this recipe. Note that for this homemade blend, 1 cup = 150g, so ideally use a kitchen scale for best results.)
- 150 g (¾ cup) granulated sugar
- 25 g (4 tbsp) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 tsp xanthan gum (If your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum, reduce the amount to ¾ tsp.)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
Vegan chocolate buttercream:
- 250 g (2¼ sticks) vegan butter block, softened (I used the Stork vegan butter block that’s available in the UK. However, most firm vegan/dairy free butter blocks will work well – just make sure that you don’t use a soft vegan spread.)
- 180 g (1½ cups) powdered/icing sugar, sifted
- 65 g (⅔ cup) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- ¼-½ tsp salt (you can adjust the exact amount to your personal taste)
- 120 g (4¼ oz) dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), melted and cooled until lukewarm
Gluten free vegan chocolate sponges:
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 320ºF (160ºC). Grease two 6-inch/15cm round cake tins with vegan butter and line their bottoms with rounds of parchment/baking paper.
- In a heat-proof bowl, either in the microwave or over a pot of simmering water on the stovetop, melt the chocolate and oil together.
- Add the hot water, non-dairy milk, vegan yoghurt and vanilla to the chocolate-oil mixture, and whisk well until combined. Set aside until needed.
- In a large bowl, sift together the gluten free flour blend, sugar, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and whisk well (with a large balloon whisk) until you get a smooth cake batter with no flour clumps. The batter will be fairly runny.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake tins and smooth it out into even layers.
- Bake at 320ºF (160ºC) for about 30 minutes or until well risen and an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached.
- Allow the sponges to cool in the cake tins for about 15 minutes, then carefully transfer them out of the tins and onto a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure that the sponges are 100% cooled to room temperature before you level them and start assembling the cake.
Vegan chocolate buttercream:
- Using a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and powdered/icing sugar until pale and fluffy, for about 5 minutes.
- Sift in the cocoa powder and salt, and whip for a further 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally, until fully combined.Tip: You can tailor the amount of salt to your personal preference – add it slowly (pinch by pinch), mixing well after each addition, and taste before adding more.
- Add the melted and cooled chocolate, and whip until fully combined.
Assembling the cake:
- If the sponges are domed, level them using a sharp, serrated knife.
- Place the bottom sponge on a cake stand or serving plate of choice.
- Spread a generous layer of buttercream on top, but leave enough buttercream for the top and sides of the cake. Smooth it out into an even layer, using a small offset spatula.
- Place the other sponge on top, with the bottom of the sponge facing upwards (this will give you a nice flat top).
- Use the remaining buttercream to cover the top and sides of the cake. Decorate the cake by creating swirls of buttercream – you can do this with a small offset spatula or with the back of a spoon.
- Slice and serve.
- The gluten free vegan chocolate cake keeps well in a closed air-tight container or wrapped in plastic wrap/cling film in the fridge for 3-4 days.Before serving, take the cake out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature for at least 15-20 minutes. The chocolate buttercream frosting will be fairly firm directly out of the fridge, and leaving it at room temperature for a while softens it to its original luscious, velvety texture.