Category Archives: Chocolate Cakes

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Birthday Dragon Cake

ioc dragon cake

I’ve never made a show-off decorated cake before… Or, indeed, anything with show-stopper decorating before. But, with Zoë’ in my world now, many things are changing… Up until now, I’ve done fairly simple cakes for her birthday parties. But her best friend, Ivy, had had a Peppa Pig cake for her 3rd birthday and then had a Princess Castle one for her 4th birthday. Zoë’s birthday is 5 weeks after Ivy’s and, as her 4th birthday approached, I realised I was going to have to step up to the mark.

I decided to try something from Juliet Stallwood’s book, Icing on the CakeBilled as the ultimate step-by-step guide to decorating baked treats, the book tells you that “like your very own fairy godmother, Juliet Stallwood will transform you from humble home baker to icing queen with a wave of her piping nozzle!” Great – sounds like just what I needed!

Zoë and I chose the Dragon Cake. I made it in a slightly different order to the recipe below, just because I only had the evenings to make it in, plus I was making a gluten-free and dairy-free version, and I find that dairy-free frosting works better if it’s chilled in the fridge. I started off by making 2 gluten-free and dairy-free sponges – that was Thursday night, after work. Then, on Friday night , I made a dairy-free frosting and then left it in the fridge to chill and firm up. Then I rolled out some modelling paste and coloured them. I used natural colours, which is why it ended up pink and yellow – (plus Zoë loves pink). I made all the parts for the dragon and left them to harden overnight. I remember texting a friend a picture of the bits at about 11pm at night and then heading off to bed, slightly nervous…

Dragon bits

The following morning, I sandwiched and covered the cakes with the frosting, and then covered the whole thing with a layer of the modelling paste. Modelling paste feels a little weird at first, but once you get used to how stiff it is to work with, it gets easy. Then I attached all the dragon and flame bits and I started to smile for the first time in the whole process… It had seemed like it was going to be difficult and it took quite some time. But, in fact, it was fairly easy. And it felt FANTASTIC when I’d finished it.

ioc kids

Zoë was suitably impressed. So were all her friends. Yay! Now I’ve just got to go one better next year…!

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, citrus-free

Makes 1 cake

Ingredients:

  • icing sugar, for dusting
  • 150g/5½oz coloured modelling paste (I used a natural red dye and added just a few drops to the paste, and kneaded it in, to make pink)
  • 60g/2¼oz coloured modelling paste (I used a natural yellow dye and added a few drops then kneaded)
  • 2 x 20cm/8in round sponge cakes (I made gluten-free and dairy-free chocolate ones)
  • 1 recipe quantity frosting (I made a dairy-free chocolate one)
  • 100g/3½oz seedless raspberry jam
  • 800g/1lb 12oz white sugar paste
  • 200g/7oz red-coloured sugar paste (I used a natural red dye and added lots of drops then kneaded)
  • edible glue or cooled, boiled water (I used boiled water)
  • 5g/¹⁄8oz black-coloured sugar paste (I used a raisin, instead)

You will need:

  • small rolling pin
  • 5mm/¼in marzipan spacers (optional)
  • sharp knife
  • dragon and flame templates (see this link)
  • tray lined with baking parchment
  • 20cm/8in round cake drum
  • small paintbrush
  • ruler
  1. Dust the work surface with a little icing sugar, then knead the first colour of modelling paste until it is soft and pliable. Roll out the kneaded modelling paste until it is 5mm/¼in thick, using marzipan spacers if you like, and cut out the dragon’s head, ears, body and legs, using the templates. Indent the toes and mouth with the sharp knife, then smooth the edges of all the parts with your fingers. Repeat with the second colour of modelling paste to make the tummy and wings, indenting the line details on both parts with the sharp knife and smoothing the edges with your fingers. Without assembling the dragon, transfer the parts to the prepared tray and leave to dry overnight, uncovered, in a cool, dry place. Roll the trimmings into balls and store in an airtight container so the modelling paste does not dry out.
  2. When the dragon parts have dried and, using the cake drum as a firm base, layer the sponge cakes, then fill with frosting and jam to make one tall 20cm/8in cake. Cover the cake with the remaining frosting. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours. When the frosting has set, dust the work surface with a little icing sugar, then knead the white sugar paste until it is soft and pliable. To cover the cake with the kneaded sugar paste, roll out the kneaded sugar paste until it is 5mm/¼in thick, using marzipan spacers if you like. Carefully lift the rolled sugar paste and gently place it over the top and side of the cake, taking care not to stretch or pull it. Use your hands to smooth it over the top and side of the cake, making sure to smooth out any air bubbles. Trim off any excess sugar paste at the base of the cake with the sharp knife. Roll the trimmings into a ball and store in an airtight container so the sugar paste does not dry out and crack.
  3. Dust the work surface with icing sugar, then knead half of the red sugar paste until it is soft and pliable. Roll out the kneaded sugar paste quite thinly and cut out about 10 flames, using the template. Brush the back of each flame with edible glue or water, then press them vertically onto the side of the cake. Repeat with the remaining red sugar paste until the side of the cake is covered in flames.
  4. Brush the back of the dragon’s body and head with a little edible glue or water, then attach them to the top of the cake. Attach the ears, tummy, legs and wings, securing each part with edible glue. To make the nose, roll a tiny ball of the first colour of modelling paste, then flatten it slightly and indent with the end of the paintbrush. To make the eye, roll out a very small ball of the remaining white sugar paste. For the pupil, roll out a tiny ball of black sugar paste and attach it to the eye (although I used a raisin), then attach an even tinier ball of white sugar paste to the top of the pupil, flattening it slightly as you do so. Attach the nose and eye to the head with edible glue or water. To make the tail, roll the remaining first colour of modelling paste into a long, tapered sausage about 15cm/6in long. Flatten the wider end of the sausage to form the base of the tail, then attach the base to the top of the cake with edible glue or water, making sure it lines up squarely with the body. Mould a tiny ball of the second colour of modelling paste into a triangle and attach it to the tail tip with edible glue or water. Curl the end of the tail slightly to form an s-shape over the top and side of the cake, securing it in place with edible glue or water. Roll the remaining second colour of modelling paste into tiny balls, then attach them to the body and head of the dragon with edible glue or water, flattening them slightly as you do so. Leave the cake overnight to allow the sugar and modelling pastes to dry.
  5. Tips: You will need to make the dragon parts at least a day before they are needed. And you can change the expression of the dragon by altering the position of the pupil.

Super Easy Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Chocolate Easter Cupcakes

Cupcakes really are EASY to make. What’s more, they cook very quickly and the frosting doesn’t need to chill in the fridge – so they’re ready very quickly. (Something that Zoe appreciates hugely!) I’ve made these with cocoa powder in both the cupcakes and the frosting, instead of melting chocolate. And I’ve used a mixture of rice flour, ground almonds and buckwheat flour because it’s an excellent recipe to use buckwheat flour in (which is very nutritious). But you don’t need to use buckwheat flour, if you don’t have any to hand. (Just use 75g rice flour and 50g ground almonds, instead.)

I made these with a little helper – Zoe. She was excellent at helping to mix and at putting all the cupcake cases into the bun tin. She kindly licked the spoons to make them clean and helpfully tasted each stage to make sure that it tasted good. Unfortunately, though, once they were made,  I heard a crash in the kitchen while I was having a bath. Cries of “Mummy” came from the kitchen, followed by Peter coming to explain that Zoe had tipped the container over and the cupcakes were now squashed. Luckily I’d already taken the picture – and I guess we’ll just have to eat the squashed ones quickly and make some new ones now for Easter day!

Happy Easter! x

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, citrus-free

Makes 10     Preparation time 15 minutes     Cooking time 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 150g/5½oz dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 150g/5½oz/heaped ¾ cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50g/1¾oz/heaped ¼ cup rice flour
  • 20g/¾oz/scant ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • scant ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 55g/2oz/½ cup ground almonds

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 200g/7oz dairy-free margarine
  • 400g/14oz/scant 3¼ cups icing sugar, or ground fruit sugar
  • 120g/4¼oz/1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and arrange 10 cupcake cases in a bun tin. Using an electric mixer, beat the dairy-free margarine and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well mixed.
  2. Sift the rice flour, buckwheat flour, gluten-free baking powder, xanthan gum and cocoa powder into the mixture. Quickly fold in the ground almonds, using a spoon and mix well, but take care not to overmix. Divide the mixture evenly into the cupcake cases.
  3. Bake for 15–18 minutes, until well risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  4. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Put the dairy-free margarine, icing sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl and beat, using a whisk or hand-held electric mixer, until smooth, light and fluffy. (I find that my electric mixer makes the icing sugar cloud up at the beginning, so I use a wooden spoon initially to blend the ingredients together and then I use the electric mixer. Some mixers, though, work fine if you simply add the icing sugar in slowly.)
  5. When the cupcakes are cooked, remove from the oven and turn out of the tin, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  6. Spread or pipe a little of the frosting over each cupcake and serve.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Chocolate Birthday Cake

Here’s the Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe from my new book, Simply Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free published today! This was inspired by one my sister made for her husband’s birthday. It’s light and moist, with dark truffley chocolate flavours and a rich, creamy icing, all covered with sweetly sharp raspberries. Happy Birthday to my book!

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, citrus-free

Makes 1 cake (14–16 slices)     Preparation time 25 minutes, plus 10 minutes and at least 12 hours soaking to make the cashew nut cream icing
Cooking time 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 150g/5½oz dairy-free margarine, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g/7oz dairy-free dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, chopped or broken into pieces
  • 175g/6oz/scant 1 cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 60g/2¼oz/scant ¼ cup rice flour
  • 60g/2¼oz/¹⁄₃ cup chestnut flour
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • 150g/5½oz/1¼ cups raspberries or strawberries, hulled, to decorate

Icing:

  • 200g/7oz dairy-free dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, chopped or broken into pieces
  • 300g/10½oz/scant 2 cups cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 pitted dates
  1. Put the nuts in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak at room temperature overnight or for at least 12 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse the nuts thoroughly, then put them in a blender. Add the vanilla extract and dates and pour in 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup water. Blend for 10 minutes or until smooth.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and lightly grease two 23cm/9in springform cake tins with dairy-free margarine. Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and rest it over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat the dairy-free margarine and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Using a large spoon, carefully fold in the melted chocolate mixture. Sift the flours, gluten-free baking powder and xanthan gum into the mixture and fold in. Make sure the mixture is well mixed but take care not to overmix it. Evenly divide the mixture into the cake tins and level the surfaces with the back of a spoon.
  5. Bake for 35–40 minutes until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks and leave to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, put the chocolate for the icing in a large heatproof bowl and rest it over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted. Put the blended nut cream and date mixture in a food processor or blender, add the melted chocolate and blend until well mixed.
  7. Put the cake on a plate and spread half of the icing over the top. Put the other cake on top, flat-side down, and spread the remaining icing over it. Decorate with the raspberries and serve.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake… with a Rich Dairy-Free Creamy Icing

I have to admit, I adore chocolate! I spent ages perfecting this recipe, because I think it’s important to have a truly divine chocolate cake recipe in your life! The secret to the lightness and moistness of this gluten- and dairy-free chocolate cake is in the method. By using two cake tins, wrapping them in greaseproof paper and baking them for a longer, less heat-intensive time, the flours in the mixture cook through but don’t burn or get too dry on the sides. I hope you love this!

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free

Cooking time 45 minutes;   serves 10-12

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 200g dairy-free dark chocolate, with at least 70 per cent cocoa solids
  • 150g dairy-free margarine, plus extra for greasing
  • 180g fruit sugar or xylitol
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 80g rice flour
  • 20g gram flour
  • 20g maize flour
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum

Icing:

  • 200g dairy-free dark chocolate, with at least 70 per cent cocoa solids
  • 80g fruit sugar or xylitol
  • 200ml soya cream
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease 2 x 22½ x 7½cm baking tins with dairy-free margarine.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a large heatproof bowl. Rest the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir from time to time until the chocolate has melted.
  3. Using a hand-held electric whisk, beat the margarine and xylitol or sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the vanilla extract and then the egg yolks, one at a time.
  4. Put the egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk using the clean hand-held electric whisk until they form stiff peaks.
  5. Sift the flours, baking powder and xanthum gum into the bowl containing the margarine, sugar and egg yolk mixture and carefully fold in with a metal spoon. Fold in the whisked egg whites making sure the mixture is thoroughly combined but not stirred too heavily, or the air will be lost.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, dividing evenly, and spread it into the corners with the back of the spoon. Cover the tins with 2 pieces of greaseproof paper, making sure the ends of the paper are tucked under the tins. Bake for 40 minutes until risen and firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre has just a little mixture sticking to it. Remove from the oven, remove the greaseproof paper and discard. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  7. When the cake layers have cooled, prepare the icing. Melt the chocolate as above. Add the sugar and stir in until thoroughly blended. Meanwhile, heat the soya cream in a small saucepan. Add 1 tbsp water to the cornflour in a small bowl and stir to form a smooth paste. Add the cornflour paste to the soya cream and, using a hand-held electric whisk, whisk the mixture until it has thickened. Pour into the chocolate mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed in.
  8. Take one of the cake layers and spread more than half of the icing onto the side which was on the bottom of the cake tin. Sandwich the two layers together and spread the remaining icing on the top.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake


This is heaven in rich, dark, more-ish mouthfuls!  The secret is all in the eggs and the chocolate.  I try to use the freshest, organic eggs and a wonderful dairy-free dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. If you want a lighter cake,  just ignore the topping part of the recipe.

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, citrus-free

Preparation time 10 minutes    Cooking time 25–30 minutes    Serves 10

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 110g dairy-free margarine, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g dairy-free dark chocolate, with at least 70 per cent cocoa solids
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 125g fruit sugar

Topping:

  • 150g dairy-free dark chocolate, with at least 70 per cent cocoa solids
  • 150g chestnut purée
  • 30g fruit sugar
  • 30g dairy-free margarine
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Lightly grease a deep 20cm cake tin with dairy-free margarine and line the base with a circle of non-stick baking parchment.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a large heatproof bowl. Rest the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir from time to time until the chocolate has melted. Add the margarine to the bowl and continue stirring occasionally until it is completely melted and mixed in with the chocolate. Remove from the heat.
  3. Put the egg whites in a mixing bowl and whisk using a hand-held electric whisk until they form stiff peaks. Add the sugar and continue whisking until they form glossy peaks.
  4. Lightly beat the egg yolks in another bowl, then stir into the melted chocolate mixture until well blended. With a large metal spoon, carefully fold in the whisked egg whites until they are thoroughly mixed in.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the hot oven for 25–30 minutes until risen and cooked around the sides but still slightly soft in the centre. Insert a skewer into the middle of the cake and if there is only a little of the cake mixture sticking to it, the cake is ready. Take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Melt the chocolate as above. Add the chestnut purée and sugar and stir well, then stir in the margarine until thoroughly blended. Remove from the heat, leave to cool and serve with slices of the cake.