Gluten Free German Chocolate Cake

This cake turned out so well – moist, rich, and chocolaty! Ever wonder what makes German chocolate cake so creamy and moist? It’s the buttermilk, as well as butter and sugar. A gluten free German chocolate cake recipe uses the same exact ingredients as a traditional one, except for the flour, and the brands of certain ingredients. German chocolate is very sweet. I use a mixture of good bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder instead. In addition, traditionally it is made with 3 layers; this is 4, or you can make just 2 layers (and use less frosting). It tastes good at room temperature or cold. Enjoy!

Be sure and see the tip for baking in a 9×13-inch dish thanks to recipe tester Billie!

Gluten Free German Chocolate Cake

Yield: Serves 6 - 8.

Gluten Free German Chocolate Cake

A moist and tempting gluten free German chocolate cake that no one will know is gluten free.


    For the Cake:
  • 2 1/2 oz. (squares) German 48% cocoa (or semi-sweet chocolate - 56%), chopped (Scharffen Berger brand)
  • 1 1/2 cups Carla's Gluten Free Cake Flour Blend recipe
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder* (Rochelle brand)
  • 2/3 cup water, heated to room temperature (70-80°F)
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 10 Tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting:
  • 2 cups regular or heavy whipping cream (or evaporated milk)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 cups shredded coconut, sweetened, unsweetened, or reduced fat (Let's...Do Organic or Baker's brands)
  • 2 cups finely chopped walnuts, pecans or additional coconut
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    To Make the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Oil two 8 x 1 1/2-inch or two 9 x 1 1/2-inch round baking pans; line with parchment; set aside.
  3. Add chopped chocolate a heatproof bowl; rest it on to of a small sauce pan of water; bring to a boil; lower heat to simmer; allow chocolate to melt (or add smaller heatproof boil to a sauce pan of boiled water, removed from stove); remove from heat and allow to melt; stir and set aside to cool;
  4. In a mesh strainer; sift the flour blend and cocoa powder together into a bowl; whisk to combine; set aside.
  5. In yet another separate bowl, combine the water and buttermilk; set aside.
  6. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle tool (if you have one), or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes (longer for hand mixer); add the sugar and continue beating and scraping sides and bottom of bowl often, until the mixture is well combined, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time; mix until well combined after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix to incorporated; add the melted chocolate and mix until combined.
  7. Add half of the flour mixture and mix well; pour the buttermilk mixture in slowly while the mixer is running (do not add additional milk until what you have added is incorporated into the batter; add the rest of the flour mixture; beat until mixed well, scraping the sides during this entire process as needed. The batter should be the consistency of a fluffy frosting.
  8. Divide the batter equally between the 2 prepared pans; smooth out the tops using a rubber spatula; tap on the counter to release any large air bubbles and to even out further.
  9. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until toothpick clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Baking time will vary slightly on size of pans and ovens.
  10. Place pans on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes; invert each cake, one at a time, onto a small cooling rack (too fragile to use your hand); remove parchment paper immediately; place each layer on the cooling rack, paper side down; allow to cool completely.
  11. Wrap each cake in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 2 hours, 4 - 8 hours is even better. This makes the cakes easier to slice in half without crumbling. As an option, you can always make a 2 layer cake, however, refrigeration makes it easier to frost, as well. It will shrink a bit so you don't have to worry about it being too domed to layer.
  12. To Make the Frosting:
  13. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat; add cream/milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and salt; whisk constantly until it boils; lower heat so the mixture simmers and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes; remove from heat; add coconut and vanilla; stir; allow to cool at room temperature until it is thick enough to spread, about 1 hour.
  14. To Assemble the Cake:
  15. Place one layer on a chopping board; with a long serrated knife, saw in half to create 2 layers; place the top layer upside down onto a serving plate; add frosting; add the other layer (doesn't matter if it is upside down or right side up; add frosting; repeat above steps with the other layer, frosting between each layer. When you reach the last layer, place it round side up, and frost; and frost sides. Store at room temperature or refrigerate.


*If you use Dutch chocolate cocoa powder the cake will turn out darker and will contain less acid. It is pictured with regular unsweetened cocoa powder. It did not taste acidic due to the addition of the bittersweet chocolate.

If wish the cake to be less fragile and have less of a crumb, add additional butter.

To color the frosting, add a pinch or two of cocoa powder to the frosting mixture.

To bake in a 9x13-inch pan bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Only make half of the frosting for the top and serve.

13 Replies to “Gluten Free German Chocolate Cake”

  1. I just made this but it did not rise. I’m not sure what I did wrong. I utilized the Bob’s Red Mill GF 1 to 1 flour. Any idea what I may have done wrong? Thank you.

    1. Drea Ann,

      You can’t use bobs red mill flour in this recipe because it calls for my homemade blend of self rising cake flour. See the link in the ingredients list. You must have a leavener such as baking powder in a cake recipe.


  2. I have made this cake a couple of times in the last several months and it is quite possibly the most delicious cake I have ever had.  It is ABSOLUTELY the most delicious cake I have ever made.  And, it is from scratch.  And, it is gluten-free (but no one would ever know). 

    Update – July 19, 2017,
    Carla – I made this last week in a 9×13 cake pan and it turned out great. I set the timer for the low end of the bake time. Checked and gave it another 5 minutes. Half the frosting recipe and done. It got raves from everyone (10 adults, only my nephew and I are are GF). Layers are great, but one pan is easier and seems to go further (even if that is perception and not truth). Just wanted to share!

      1. Thanks! I made it today for my husband (with Celiac) for his birthday. I used 8T of butter and it turned out fine. Since there are just the two of us, I made a one layer cake and the rest were cupcakes for the freezer. No one would know that this is gf!

  3. Could you give me the amounts of baking soda and baking powder for the German Chocolate Cake if I choose to use a different flour mix that doesn’t have these two ingredients in it?

    1. Carla’s gf cake flour blend recipe make 3 cups, and the cake recipe calls for half that. So in addition to the quantities listed above, you’d need 3/4 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder.

  4. Thank you for this recipe- it is delicious! I made 1 1/2 times the recipe and made 3 layers. I made it in to a black forest cake and it tasted just the same or better than the homemade buttermilk chocolate cake recipe I have baked for my husband’s birthday for many years. No one would be able to guess it is gluten free.

  5. This looks like a very good cake! I will have to give it a try sometime. I miss a luscious, moist German chocolate cake from my gluten days!

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