Gluten-Free Yellow Cake: as good as...? No comparisons necessary!

Isn’t this just the nicest looking yellow cake?

Close/fine texture, yet still moist; high-rising, not crumbly… and the crown of chocolate doesn’t hurt, either!

I’ve surveyed a number of people recently (friends, family, colleagues) and have discovered a surprising number list yellow cake with chocolate frosting as their birthday cake of choice.

I’m a pure chocolate fan, through and through – and the darker, the better.

Yet I’ve read that vanilla and chocolate are neck and neck for top honors as “America’s favorite flavor.” And that milk chocolate gets more votes than dark in any kind of chocolate poll.

Thus, when I think about it, it stands to reason that yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting would be a favorite. And the following version really takes the cake.

Want to know something surprising? I’ve gotten this far in the cake’s description without mentioning that it’s gluten-free.

Usually folks writing about gluten-free baking start right out with, “This gluten-free [cake, cookies, brownies, bread…] is as good as regular [cake, cookies, brownies, bread…].”

AS GOOD AS. Like the comparison is inevitable.

Gluten, good; gluten-free, also-ran.

Not so with this moist, tender cake. It’s gluten-free, and it’s GOOD.


Let’s bake!

Many of our gluten-free recipes use our King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour, which includes ingredients that reduce the grittiness sometimes found in gluten-free baked goods. Our flour also increases the shelf life of your treats, keeping them fresh longer.

The following make-at-home blend, featuring stabilized brown rice flour, works pretty well when substituted; and it tastes better than a blend using regular brown rice flour.

Whisk together 6 cups (32 ounces) King Arthur stabilized brown rice flour; 2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) potato starch; and 1 cup (4 ounces) tapioca flour or tapioca starch. Store airtight at room temperature.

Note: You can substitute white rice flour for the brown rice flour if you like; it’ll make your baked goods grittier (unless you manage to find a finely ground version).

Here’s another ingredient you’ll want to keep on hand when you’re baking gluten-free: xanthan gum, which adds structure to your baked treats in the absence of gluten.

First, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease two 9″ round cake pans. Line the pans with parchment, and grease the parchment; this extra step, while not strictly necessary, will insure your baked cake won’t crumble if/when you turn it out of the pan.

Next, whisk together the following in a small bowl:

2 1/4 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour or brown rice flour blend
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons gluten-free King Arthur Cake Enhancer, optional, for moistness and keeping qualities

Set the mixture aside.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1 3/4 cups sugar
16 tablespoons soft butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon gluten-free vanilla extract

Use an electric mixer to beat everything together for 45 seconds at medium-high speed, until smooth.

Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and add 1 large egg.

Beat for a minute or so at high speed, until fluffy.

Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Beat in another large egg; the mixture should become quite fluffy. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl again.

Add two more eggs (for a total of four), repeating the beating/scraping process.

Next, you’re going to add the dry ingredients you whisked together earlier, and 1 cup milk, at room temperature. Do this alternately; with the mixer running at low speed, add some of the dry ingredients first…

…then about half the milk.

The mixture may look curdled once you’ve added some milk.

That’s OK; adding more of the dry ingredients will smooth it out.

Add the remainder of the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients.

There! Doesn’t that look better?

Scoop the batter into the prepared pans.

Spread it right to the edges.

Bake the cakes for about 32 to 36 minutes.

They should rise nicely.

You want to bake the cake about 3 to 4 minutes past the point where it springs back when touched lightly in the center, and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean; this extended bake time will help prevent gumminess. The finished cake’s internal temperature should be about 210°F.

After about 10 minutes, loosen the edges of the cake…

…and turn it out onto a rack.

Peel off the parchment.

Pretty good – just one little air hole. Doesn’t matter; I’ll just flip it over and no one will be the wiser.

Next up: chocolate frosting. A simple milk chocolate ganache will do nicely.

Combine 12 ounces chopped milk chocolate with 6 ounces (3/4 cup) heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl, or small saucepan.

Heat until the cream is very hot: it’ll be steaming, and small bubbles may have formed around the edge.

Remove from the heat, and start stirring.

Gradually, the mixture will come together as the chocolate melts.

Stir until it’s completely smooth…

…then drizzle atop the cake.

Use a spatula to push the icing to the edge and over the sides of the cake, if necessary.

At this point, you can use your spatula to smooth out the dribbles; or just leave them. I think they’re pretty, actually.

You can either make two single layers, or stack the rounds atop one another. I like to make two: one to keep, one to give away.

Enjoy your fine-textured, high-rising, wonderfully yummy gluten-free yellow cake!

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Cindy Schmalenbach

    I would like to try this recipe, but I’m allergic to corn so can not use the Xanthan gum. Can guar gum be used in place of the Xanthan gum, and if so would I need to use the same amount 1 teaspoon? Also I live at high altitude, about 5000 feet, so would I need to make any adjustments to this recipe, if so what do you recommend? I’m gluten free and have never had a gluten free white cake so I’m really excited to try this recipe for my birthday cake. Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Cindy! We haven’t tried this recipe with guar gum, but xanthan and guar gum can be used interchangeably in most cases so we’d say give it a go! For suggestions on baking at high-altitude, you’ll want to check out our High-Altitude Baking chart. We hope you enjoy this cake and happy baking! Morgan@KAF

  2. Evie

    How should I store this cake? And hoe many days does it last in the fridge?I am wondering if it doesn’t last as long as cakes with wheat flour since it’s made of rice flour. Thanks!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Evie! We’d recommend keeping this cake covered on the countertop for 2 to 3 days. You could keep it in the fridge but it would dry out faster. Gluten-Free baked goods, in general, don’t last as long, so it’s best to eat it up quickly or freeze it for up to a month. Annabelle@KAF

  3. Sharon

    Thank you Elisabeth!! Today was a trial run for an Easter Bunny cake that I’ll be baking in a couple of weeks, so I cut the recipe in half and made a dozen cupcakes. I used the lemon oil, but didn’t have a fresh lemon on hand for zest – will definitely do that next time to boost the lemon flavor. Also added a couple of drops of yellow food coloring, and these cupcakes are gorgeous! Flavor and texture make these the most successful gluten-free cake recipe I’ve tried – nice to know that it’s somewhat versatile.

  4. Sharon Kerr

    Anxious to try this recipe, but wondered if you could suggest a way to make it a lemon cake. I’ve considered lemon extract, KAF lemon juice powder, actual lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and/or lemon curd. Which would give the cake the most lemon flavor without compromising the texture, and in what amount?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I hesitate suggesting the use lemon juice in place of milk. In doing so, you will have to adjust the leavens. Plus, the milk lends so much to the end result. Without it, the cake will probably be drier, not brown as well and not stay as fresh as long. You may try one of the following: 1) 1/4 – 1/2 t. lemon oil 2) 1 – 1/2 t. lemon extract 3) In addition to 1) and 2) add 2-4 t. lemon zest 4) Use lemon curd as a filling in between cake layers 5) Flavor a frosting with lemon curd for an extra zing, too! Good luck in your quest for lemon! Elisabeth@KAF

  5. Catherine

    Do you know whether I could scale up this recipe for up to a 14″ layer (for the bottom tier of a wedding cake)? Are there any alterations you would recommend–other than increasing the baking time, of course. Also, if I reduce the sugar by a tablespoon or two per recipe–to allow for a sprinkling of syrup to keep the cake moist–will that ruin the structure?

    Thanks so much for any advice you can give.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I would suggest to call our Baker’s Hotline so we can help with this, Catherine. Jon@KAF 855 371 2253

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re sorry it was confusing, but if you click on the link at the end of the post “Gluten Free Yellow Cake” , it will link you to our recipe page. That recipe makes two layers, so you can eat one and freeze one, too. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

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