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Yellow Birthday Cake Recipe – Gluten Free, Dairy Free

I love sprinkles.


I don’t talk about food much on the blog anymore. I don’t like to interrupt other people’s journeys with talk of where I am and what I’m doing, because it is 100% tailored to the things that don’t make me feel like shit. And it bugs me when people get evangelical about their diets, like veganism can save the world and all cavemen go to heaven. Whatever and ever. Amen. Plus, along with the spiel, there is usually some sort of implied (or overt, let’s be real) fat shaming, and that’s just not cool. But, one of the things I do enjoy is experimental baking, and let’s be honest, when you can’t eat much fun stuff, everything is experimental.

But, in case you are like me, and you don’t feel like experimenting, here is a cake recipe that works.

If you aren’t like me, and can eat all the wheat and dairy you want–you should be able to substitute regular flour, butter and milk for all the gluten free, non-dairy ingredients in this cake. If you do, let me know how it goes!

I had big plans before the holidays to make myself a French Opera Cake, which is super complicated, and basically takes the whole day. Sometime around Christmas–probably about the time I was making my third batch of frosting in as many days–I decided that I didn’t want fancy and complicated. I wanted simple and classic.

Ah, yellow cake


Enter my favorite standby: yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It doesn’t get any better than that. And this is my favorite recipe. I love this recipe because it makes a nice, light, moist, spongy cake, and that’s not too sweet. It’s a texture that can be hard to achieve with gluten free flour. If a cake recipe has too many liquids in it, the texture can turn gummy, which is just gross. Ew.



  • 1/2 cup butter substitute, I use Earth Balance Soy Free Vegan Buttery Sticks, softened
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 3 eggs (or 3 flax eggs to make vegan)
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend. Use your favorite, and don’t forget the xantham gum if you need it. If you’re new to gluten free baking, try Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 flour that already has the xantham gum mixed in. It’s very close to the blend I mix myself.
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk (I used 1 cup full fat canned coconut milk–shaken–and added 1/4 cup filtered water to dilute.)



  • 1 cup buttery sticks, softened
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-3 tablespoons coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk–I didn’t want to open another can of coconut milk for two tablespoons, so I just used water.)


Now here’s a pet peeve of mine. When I read baking blogs, no one ever whips their butter. Sure they’ll tell you to cream your butter and sugar, but no one ever says to whip your butter (or in this case butter-like-stuff and coconut oil) before you add the sugar. In this recipe that step is crucial. Don’t skip it. In fact, don’t skip it again, ever. If a recipe starts “Cream butter and sugar” whip your butter first, then add the sugar a little at a time to keep your butter fluffy. Trust me. It works.


Note, this recipe includes a lot of whipping and mixing. While ideally, a Kitchen Aide mixer would be used, not everyone has one of those. If you’re like me, you think, “Oh, having one of those would beĀ so nice. Maybe for Christmas.” Then you look at your kitchen, snort, and say, “When I have someplace to effing put it.” So, if you have a fancy Kitchen Aide, whip out that paddle attachment and get going on that butter. If not, a hand mixer will work. And if you don’t have one of those either, no worries. I have made this recipe with a wooden spoon and a whisk. Make sure your butter is very soft before you begin, and it’s a totally cool way to get rockin arms, I promise.


Layer cake for the win!



  1. Spray and flour 2 8- or 9-inch round pans. (You could use a 9×13 cake pan, but let’s be honest, we all know sheet cakes are lame–unless it’s Texas Sheet Cake, and really, that’s almost brownies anyway)
  2. Preheat over to 375F
  3. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together in medium bowl and set aside
  4. In large bowl, whip butter, scarping the sides until silky and light. (If you’re beating something, you better be scarping those sides, I’m just sayin.)
  5. Add sugar to butter 1/4 cup at a time, whipping until smooth in between, beat for one minute after last cup of sugar
  6. Add eggs one at a time, whipping for about 30 second in between eggs
  7. Add vanilla (and yellow food coloring if you want a really yellow cake) and whip until combined
  8. Alternate adding flour mixture and coconut milk until everything is well combined. You should have a fluffy, silky smooth batter that’s almost too thick to pour.
  9. Divide evenly into two pans and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
  11. Once cool, frost and build cake. Decorate as desired.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  1. Whip buttery stuff until smooth and creamy, scarping sides
  2. Sift in two cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth
  3. Sift in 3/4 cup cocoa powder and beat until smooth
  4. Sift in remaining 2-3 cups of powdered sugar to taste, adding no more than a tablespoon of liquid at a time thin the frosting as needed.

I like a thick, rustic looking frosting job. Cake decorator I ain’t. If you like to get out pastry bags and rummage through drawers for icing tips, good on you. Have fun with it, but you’ll likely want to make a slightly thinner frosting. Be careful about adding too much liquid at once. Always add it little by little until you get the consistency you want. It doesn’t take much to go from frosting to glaze.


Happy Birthday to Me!


So yes, tomorrow is my 33rd birthday. I’ll have my typical birthday post up then. And if you follow me on instagram you can watch for updates as I go on my birthday adventure.