Why This Recipe Works

A good yellow layer cake should melt in the mouth and taste of butter and vanilla. But many of the gluten-free layer cake recipes we tried tasted overly sweet, and most came out dense and gummy. If those problems weren’t daunting enough, all of the initial recipes we tried were terribly greasy. The standard amount of butter in a traditional yellow layer cake (two sticks) was way too much. As we have learned time and time again, the starches in gluten-free flour just don’t absorb fat (especially butter) all that well. We dramatically reduced the amount of butter in our working recipe, but predictably that left the cake too lean and dry. Replacing the milk or buttermilk used in classic recipes with sour cream was a step in the right direction, but we needed more richness. In the end, we borrowed a trick that works for chocolate cakes—melted chocolate—to help solve this problem. Rather than using unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate (neither acceptable in a yellow cake), we turned to white chocolate, and it worked like a charm, boosting richness without making the cake greasy. With one big problem solved, we now focused on lightening up the crumb. Adding extra baking powder and a bit of baking soda helped give our cake better rise and a tender texture. To create a really fluffy texture, we needed to whip the egg whites with some sugar to create a stable meringuelike mixture that could provide greater lift in the oven. Whipping the egg yolks with a bit more sugar ensured that sufficient air was in the batter. Note the relatively low oven temperature, which we found allows the layers to cook through without excessive browning. These lofty layers were tender yet sturdy enough to stand up to a thick coating of frosting.


Print Shopping List

6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
11 ounces (1 3/4 cups plus 2/3 cup) ATK All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs, separated
Pinch cream of tartar
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
cup sour cream
4 cups frosting
Nutritional Information


Per Serving (Serves 10)

  • Calories 794
  • Cholesterol 110 mg
  • Fat 35 g
  • Sodium 485 mg
  • Saturated 14 g
  • Carbs 114 g
  • Trans 0 g
  • Dietary Fiber 3 g
  • Monounsaturated 9 g
  • Sugar 88 g
  • Polyunsaturated 8 g
  • Protein 6 g

The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

From Our Shop

From Our Sponsors


Serves 10 to 12

Once frosted, serve the cake within a few hours.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, and grease parchment.

2. Microwave chocolate and butter together in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, about 2 minutes. Whisk mixture until smooth, then set aside to cool slightly. In separate bowl, whisk flour blend, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda until combined.

3. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip whites to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes; transfer to bowl.

4. Return now-empty bowl to mixer, add egg yolks and vanilla, and whip on medium speed until well blended, about 30 seconds. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, increase mixer speed to high, and whip until very thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium, add chocolate mixture and sour cream, and whip until combined, about 30 seconds. Reduce speed to low, slowly add flour blend mixture, and mix until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.

5. Using rubber spatula, stir one-third of whipped egg whites into batter to lighten. Gently fold in remaining whites until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops. Bake until cakes begin to pull away from sides of pans and spring back when pressed lightly, 30 to 32 minutes, switching and rotating pans halfway through baking.

6. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of cakes to loosen. Remove cakes from pans, discard parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours. (Cake layers can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.)

7. Place 1 cake layer on platter and spread 1 1/2 cups frosting evenly over top using small icing spatula or butter knife. Top with second cake layer, press lightly to adhere, then spread remaining 2 1/2 cups frosting evenly over top and sides. Serve.