Gluten Free Cake Recipe – featuring Dark Chocolate, Butterscotch and Vanilla Bean Ombré Cake

by Irvin on September 30, 2013 · 27 comments

Gluten Free Cake Recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love | | #glutenfree #cake #recipe

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I will re-plate everything you bring to the party. It’s not you, it’s just a thing I do.” said my friend Sang who was hosting the party. Sang’s a bit particular about how things look, especially when it comes to food. But what else would expect from a commercial food photographer whose client list include Martha Stewart, Bon Appetit, Gourmet and Every Day with Rachel Ray? I shot him back an email and told him that he was welcome to re-plate my layer cake that I was bringing, but he was responsible for any buttercream repairs necessary in the transfer. He relented and responded back that he would make an exception for me. That’s when I started thinking about a gluten free cake recipe to make… resulting in My Gluten Free Ombré Birthday Cake with dark chocolate, butterscotch and vanilla bean cake layers that would go untouched by him – well until it was served that is. (Jump directly to the recipe.)

Gluten Free Cake Recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love | | #glutenfree #cake #recipe

Of course, once I hit the “send” button on that email I realized I better bring my A-game. Not only was I make a cake, I was making a birthday cake for my partner AJ. A cake that I specifically told Sang that was too precious to re-plate. It better be good and, almost as important, it better look pretty. The party wasn’t specifically a birthday party for AJ, but some of his cycling friends were in town and wanted to get together and this was the best date for everyone. So now I had to make sure my cake was something that AJ would approve of, and all his friends. Of course, one of the people at the part was also gluten intolerant so I figured I would make the cake gluten free as well. Good times!

AJ watching as friend Megan eats a spoonful of ice cream. Photo by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love |

Ombré cakes are fairly popular out there in the blogosphere. Sadly most of them include crazy neon colors filled with food dyes that look beautiful but makes me dubious as to how they taste. I’m not one to avoid food coloring when necessary, but I wanted something a little more natural, something a little more subtle. Thankfully the idea of a dark chocolate, butterscotch and vanilla bean layer cake works perfectly into a graduated ombré cake. Make a batch of frosting and add some chocolate and cocoa to some of it and I was good to go.

The birthday AJ loading up his plate full of food. Photo by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. |


AJ slicing into the Gluten Free Ombre Cake. Photo by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love |

Sang didn’t grumble too much when I arrived with it already plated on a cake stand (actually he was too busy outside grilling up some gorgeous citrus chicken to even notice I had brought in the cake). I tried to pick a cake stand that was contemporary but also organic, a style that I knew would fit his aesthetic. Plus I’ve been dying to use that particular cake stand ever since I found it. I have a bit of cake stand addiction (much to AJ’s consternation as we have no storage space in our apartment). Sang and his partner Bob grilled late summer vegetables, citrus chicken and the group dined in style around the living room. And though I don’t think my cake will be making the cover or Martha Stewart Living anytime soon, everyone seemed to like it. In fact, I believe my friend Eric said it was second favorite thing he’s ever tasted that I’ve made. Or maybe it was his first favorite. I can’t remember. But apparently my friends are now keeping running tabs on my baked goods. I’m not sure if I should be scared or pleased by that.

AJ and his cycling buddies hanging out Photo by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love |

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren at Keep It Sweet September 30, 2013 at 5:31 am

Looks like your cake lived up to its hype! What a gorgeous cake, I really like this version of a natural ombre. It sounds incredibly delicious, too!


Ruthy @ Omeletta September 30, 2013 at 6:11 am

What a beautiful, beautiful cake! So much classier looking than the rainbow cakes popping up on Pinterest lately. I’m way impressed you made this gluten free, and you’re spot on with that cake stand- where did you get it?


Irvin October 1, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Would you believe I got it at Cost Plus World Market? Yep. Total score.


Belinda @zomppa September 30, 2013 at 6:23 am

You did what no one could!! Gorgeous , not only do I love that this isn’t full of dyes but the flavors are pretty much my jam. I’m so hungry right now and it’s not fair. Not fair.


Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar September 30, 2013 at 8:04 am

I love the layers in this cake! Such a fun recipe :)


Daniela @ FoodrecipesHQ September 30, 2013 at 12:11 pm

This cake is so beautiful, looks like a piece of art!


Kiran @ September 30, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I’ve never attempted an ombre cake before. The layers of flavors here are divine, Irvin :)


Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet September 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Oh. My. I just drooled. Seriously.


Ryan September 30, 2013 at 3:36 pm

That cake looks unbelievable.


Christina @ The Hungry Australian October 1, 2013 at 3:38 am

Beautiful cake, Irvin. I agree, I love the look of ombre cakes but all the artificial colours scare me – especially as I have two kids who are already bouncing off the ceilings! Looks like you had a lovely night.


Mary@SiftingFocus October 1, 2013 at 8:29 am

Spectacular cake Irvin! Love the combination of flavors. A little something for everyone. We share the same addiction to cake plates. Just acquired a few more. I’ve been trying to come up with ingenious ways to store them but nothing yet. They are just scattered throughout the house and garage. Oh well, I guess there are worse things to be addicted to, right?


Irvin October 1, 2013 at 11:54 pm

I actually ended up clearing out a shelf in my closet, got rid of some old clothes and fit most of them there, precariously stacked on top of each other. Probably not the best place for them, living in San Francisco – earthquake central. But what are you going to do?


Ash-foodfashionparty October 1, 2013 at 10:14 am

Loving the subtle colors of this ombre cake. I’m sure it made a statement especially with the cake it.
I’m guilty of replating all the time. I generally put out platters, and when the food arrives, I try not to be very obvious but transfer food on to my plates…:)
thanks for the t.


Jenn October 1, 2013 at 11:04 am

Really cool cake concept, looks like it was a lot of work! Question – why use a completely different GF flour base for each cake layer? From looking at it, it seems like it just complicates the recipe…


Irvin October 1, 2013 at 11:30 am

Good question. You can certainly use the same flour base for each layer, which would definitely simplify things. But the flours I picked actually add flavor to each layer. The teff and mesquite work really well with chocolate, the teff has a slightly maltiness that compliments the butterscotch and the millet is slightly sweet and nutty, adding a nice touch to the vanilla bean. Those flours also add color to each layer, making them distinct and adding to the “ombre” cake layers without adding artificial dyes.

I person am not one to use a straightforward basic flour mix. I prefer to use flours that add flavor to the baked good (and in this case color) and not just one that mimics bland all purpose wheat flour. But the recipes can certainly be made with whatever all purpose gluten free flour mix you want (I made a note of substituting all purpose flour in the headnote, just follow the same amount for your gluten free flour mix of choice).


Liz @Life Made Sweet October 1, 2013 at 6:49 pm

I think you are one of my new favorite people…simple because that cake stand is SOOO fabulous! Your cake looks delicious too :)


Annalise @ Completely Delicious October 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Perfect, Irvin!


Trevor October 2, 2013 at 8:06 am

Had he not relented I would have just brought the ingredients and let him bake it too. Telling Irvin Lin you are going to replate his food seems a bit boorish to me.


Shikha October 2, 2013 at 9:13 am

This is fantastic! Thank you for being honest about how long this project takes because I can never gauge. Lovely fall cake!


Lora @cakeduchess October 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Fabulous! I love every part of this cake. Every layer (I never would have dreamed of all the different combos and the flavors…wow!). It’s so pretty and so moist and AJ is beaming:)) Looks like his part was super fun and delicious (love the art work on the wall:) xx


Jennie @themessybakerblog October 4, 2013 at 8:24 am

Wow, that is one impressive cake. I bet AJ was quite pleased. The party looked likd good times. Pinned!


Rita October 6, 2013 at 12:48 am

sigh. I want this. Day-long projects are pretty much out for me right now. maybe I can con someone into making it for me. or maybe I can do the doubling-each-layer-as-its-own-cake thing three times over the coming months, and just imagine them combined . . .


Rita October 6, 2013 at 12:49 am

And I am in love with that cake stand.


merri October 7, 2013 at 10:34 am

happy birthday, AJ!


Pamela DuVal October 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Can I pay you to make it for me and send to NC?????


Ashley January 26, 2014 at 1:41 pm

I love this cake! I adore the stand and I can not wait to make this as a special birthday surprise for my wonderful sister-in-law. I do have a question about the chocolate cake. Can the cake layer be made without the coffee and use the cream to heat and melt the chocolate instead? I know coffee will make a difference in flavor…


ana June 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

i know this sounds daft but what should we do if we want to us ap flour instead because over here in india all these types of other flours are not available ANYWHERE


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