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Where Did I Go Wrong With This Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake?

gluten-free cake chcoolate

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20 replies to this topic

#16 Seeking2012

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:08 AM

If I were you, I would go for an entirely different recipe.


Either I'm a total dummy when it comes to gluten-free baking, or gluten-free cooking from scratch is quite a complex task. Here is the recipe I used this time:
  • 1 cup butter - softened
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 10 eggs (at room temperature)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups coconut flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup milk or half n half
  • Coconut oil
Here's the icing recipe I used:
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
I substituted canola oil in place of the coconut oil, as I do not yet have coconut oil. Everything else I did exactly as the instructions say. The good news is that the cake came out moist, velvety and had a deep chocolate color. The texture was very good. The flavor was also more chocolatey this time compared to the other cake I had attempted in the OP.

Here's how a slice cut from the cake looked (each slice is 1/8th of the cake):
Posted Image

But here's the bad part. This cake put me through a lot of pain. Literally. I was a huge dummy and didn't realize until after I had eaten half a slice of this cake that it has so much caffeine in it from the cocoa powder. I am extremely sensitive to caffeine. I don't drink sodas (haven't for years), and I don't drink coffee either (never have). The caffeine gave me a headache, pain in my neck, shoulders, back and arms. it also made me dizzy. Repeated exposure (I had another half slice yesterday because I didn't learn my lesson the first time) will cause more symptoms, such as hardened stools followed by diarrhea. The caffeine upper body pain lasts for many hours and continues into the following day, though at a lesser degree.

In case you think I may have mistakenly been glutened, nope, that is not the case. The coconut flour has one ingredient: coconut flour. The cocoa powder also has one ingredient: cocoa powder. Also, I am unaware of any gluten sensitivities that I may or may not have; for example, I can eat a wheat flour burger bun or a wheat flour dinner roll and experience no trouble whatsoever. I am on this forum learning about celiac and gluten-free cooking because my sister has celiac and therefore I'm genetically predisposed to get it too.

Anyway, this leaves me with many questions:

1. Did I overdo it on the cocoa powder (I did experience some mild pain from the other recipe in which I used 1/2c though)?
2. How do the conventional wheat flour-based chocolate cake mixes at the store, which include cocoa powder, get that full, rich chocolately flavor without the painful effects of the caffeine? Are they decaffeinating their cocoa powder? I've eaten many a cake-mix and don't remember ever experiencing caffeine pain from them.
3. Why can I eat a 60% cocoa Ghirardelli bar (yes, the whole bar) and not experience any side effects from the caffeine? Are they also removing the caffeine?
4. Is there some sort of cooking/processing technique that renders the caffeine ineffective?

Comparison of this gluten-free cake to a wheat-flour based chocolate cake mix at the store:
- A wheat-flour based chocolate cake mix always comes out light and fluffy, and goes down the throat smoothly. The cake will be somewhat filling.
- This gluten-free chocolate cake came out more dense and was extremely filling. I mean EXTREMELY filling, to the point where I can't finish a whole slice. Also, the cake will still feel a little "rough" when going down the throat.
- This gluten-free cake doesn't hold together very well; it crumbled apart during the process of taking it out of the pan, applying icing, and cutting it. Note that all these tasks were performed after the cake had thoroughly cooled in the fridge.

I don't get it. Maybe someone out there knows the answer.

I am so sad; I am going to have to throw out all the remaining 7 slices of this cake. I am on the verge of giving up on gluten-free cakes. But what bothers me the most is that I haven't yet found the answer. I wanted to be able to make my own recipes from home because this gives me more control over what I am eating, but then my own cooking ends up hurting me? I am devastated. :(

Edited to add this: I just got off the phone with Now Foods (the company I bought the cocoa powder from) and they said that their product is the ogranic, non-alkalinized "real" thing, and that it may just be too much for my digestive system to handle. This is what their product page says: "each serving of NOW® non-alkalinized Organic Cocoa Powder naturally contains 21.5 - 107.5 mg of cocoa flavanols (polyphenol)"

Maybe it's not just the caffeine; maybe it's the theobromine, polyphenols and flavanols that's doing it to me...
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- Diagnosed Celiac in May 2014. Gluten-free diet immediately

- Tested VERY high for thyroid antibodies May 2014 but T4, T3 and TSH are in "normal" ranges

- Have experienced chronic fatigue and decreased cognitive and memory function for years

- Sister has been diagnosed with Celiac, autism, schizophrenia and depression

- Mom, dad and other sister are "weak positives" for Celiac
- Mom has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes


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#17 Takala

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:53 AM

Maybe go to a different flavor of coconut flour cake, such as.... coconut ? add coconut extract and flaked coconut, plus the vanilla, and then just use chocolate icing ? Maybe try a different brand of cocoa powder? Or carob powder icing ? Or use mashed banana in the cake batter ?

Don't give up, everybody has made something they thought was pretty good and then ..... the reaction. :ph34r: Then you feed the leftovers to somebody else. :lol:
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#18 JNBunnie1

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:14 PM

You could also try making a cake with a different set of flours. There are gluten free
cake mixes out there. You can also bake from scratch gluten free with rice flour,
sorghum flour, all kinds of flours. This will result in a cake more like what you're
used to. It's entirely possible you're just intolerant to coconut......
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If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill

#19 Seeking2012

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 02:48 PM

Maybe go to a different flavor of coconut flour cake, such as.... coconut ? add coconut extract and flaked coconut, plus the vanilla, and then just use chocolate icing ? Maybe try a different brand of cocoa powder? Or carob powder icing ? Or use mashed banana in the cake batter ?

Don't give up, everybody has made something they thought was pretty good and then ..... the reaction. :ph34r: Then you feed the leftovers to somebody else. :lol:


I am going to try another brand of cocoa powder or go with carob instead. And I've become very pessimistic about coconut flour in general because it is so extremely finicky. I tried making muffins with it the other day and they turned out a soggy mess. Not to mention the taste was absolutely horrible; could not get it down. And the smell was equally bad.

You could also try making a cake with a different set of flours. There are gluten free
cake mixes out there. You can also bake from scratch gluten free with rice flour,
sorghum flour, all kinds of flours. This will result in a cake more like what you're
used to. It's entirely possible you're just intolerant to coconut......


Perhaps, but the starchy flours are too high on the glycemic index for me. I need something lower in carbs. Gonna try almond flour next time.
  • 0

- Diagnosed Celiac in May 2014. Gluten-free diet immediately

- Tested VERY high for thyroid antibodies May 2014 but T4, T3 and TSH are in "normal" ranges

- Have experienced chronic fatigue and decreased cognitive and memory function for years

- Sister has been diagnosed with Celiac, autism, schizophrenia and depression

- Mom, dad and other sister are "weak positives" for Celiac
- Mom has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes


#20 JNBunnie1

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:54 PM

I am going to try another brand of cocoa powder or go with carob instead. And I've become very pessimistic about coconut flour in general because it is so extremely finicky. I tried making muffins with it the other day and they turned out a soggy mess. Not to mention the taste was absolutely horrible; could not get it down. And the smell was equally bad.



Perhaps, but the starchy flours are too high on the glycemic index for me. I need something lower in carbs. Gonna try almond flour next time.



Ahhhh, I see. In that case coconut flour and almond flour are good choices. Also, try looking
up recipes made with almond butter, very easy and it usually turns out amazing. Very good
brownie recipe using almond butter on Elana's pantry website.
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#21 JNBunnie1

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 09:22 PM

Also, do not replace liquid sweeteners in gluten free recipes with granulated
sugar- sometimes it will work, most of the time it will not. Keep in mind that batters
are not going to behave the way you're used to, and you can't use the look/
consistency of the batter as a gauge the way you used to do either.
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