This 6” gluten free cappuccino cake is perfect for smaller gatherings or parties. It’s made with three layers of brown sugar espresso cake and covered with a vanilla espresso buttercream frosting.
Recipe updated slightly 7/2020
If you love coffee or espresso drinks, you will love this Gluten Free Cappuccino Cake!
I’m really not a coffee drinker anymore. I used to live on the stuff, but once I was diagnosed with Celiac I found I needed to cut out a lot of acidic foods and drinks as I was healing my gut (the acidity from coffee first thing in the morning was especially bothering me). So I switched to tea and have been drinking mostly that for the past few years.
I still love the flavor of coffee, though, and love to bake with it every now and then!
This cappuccino cake starts with a brown sugar espresso cake. It’s just perfectly moist and has a pretty strong espresso flavor. I layered it with an espresso buttercream for the ultimate coffee-lovers cake!
This recipe makes a three-layer 6” cake. I’ve been making a lot of 6” cakes lately… the cake pans seem really small compared to the standard 8” pan, but these small cakes really serve a lot when you stack them high! This recipe will still serve 10-12 people, so it’s perfect for family gatherings and birthday parties.
What Flour To Use For Gluten Free Cappuccino Cake
For all my cupcake and cake recipes, I use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free baking flour. This is the flour that I have been using since my Celiac diagnosis and seems to work the best for me! Not all gluten free flour mixes absorb moisture the same way, and they all have different proportions of ingredients used, so keep in mind that this recipe was designed specifically for this flour mix.
I always measure my flour by weight to ensure I’m using the exact amount needed, as even just a little bit more or less could change the texture of the cake. It’s also nice because I don’t have to dirty as many measuring cups, so I just spoon my flour into a bowl on my kitchen scale to weigh. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can measure your flour by spooning it into your measuring cup and then leveling it off before adding it to your dry ingredient bowl. This helps to prevent you from using too much flour, which can happen when you scoop it out of the bag with your measuring cup.
I haven’t tested this recipe with other flours, so I can’t guarantee that your cake will turn out the same if using a different flour mixture. If using a different gluten free flour mixture, I recommend using a 1:1 mix that contains xanthan gum and measure by weight. I have seen some bakers make my recipes successfully with Pillsbury gluten free flour. If you made this successfully with a different flour, please let me know!
Can I Make Other Substitutions?
Gluten free baking is very finicky. I don’t recommend making a lot of substitutions as this it can really change the structure and texture of the cake. For example, if you swap out the brown sugar, you remove a lot of moisture in the recipe and your cake may turn out quite dry. Similarly, adding additional milk in place of yogurt also removes necessary added moisture.
However, there are a few that I have personally done that work well:
Dairy: For the yogurt, I usually use plain low-fat yogurt. You can use a dairy free yogurt or swap it for sour cream if you need to. I don’t recommend using greek yogurt as it’s had most of the liquid strained out and might make the cake a little dry or give it a different texture. For the milk, you can use regular cow milk or a non-dairy version. Canned coconut milk is too thick and has a different fat content and will not work well (I have tried it).
Oil: You can use any neutral oil you’d like in this gluten free cappuccino cake recipe. Melted or liquid coconut oil will also work, however depending on what type you use it may give the cake a coconut flavor.
Frosting: If you don’t want to use more espresso in the buttercream, you can simply leave it out and add additional vanilla extract for a vanilla frosting – or leave out the espresso powder and mix in ½ cup of caramel or dulce de leche for a caramel frosting (it’s delicious and tastes like a caramel latte cake). If your frosting is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add a little extra heavy cream. It should be smooth and fluffy and easy to spread.
How To Store Gluten Free Cakes
One thing I’ve found really helps with the texture of gluten free cakes is to refrigerate them before and after frosting. This cake is still great without refrigerating, but it’s even better when chilled as refrigerating helps to lock in the moisture and keep the cake from drying out.
Once the cakes have baked and cooled for about 10-15 minutes, carefully remove them from the pans and place on a wire cooling rack lined with parchment paper to cool completely.
After they have cooled completely, place the cakes on a large parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a piece of parchment (to help prevent the cake tops from sticking) and cover tightly with foil. Then, place the baking sheet into the refrigerator until they have chilled at least one hour. You could also do this step the night before and keep the cakes chilled overnight. This not only helps to keep the cakes very moist but also makes it much easier to stack and frost.
Once you have filled and frosted the whole cake (the frosting for this cake recipe makes just enough to fill and lightly cover the 6” cake), you could either eat it immediately or store it in the fridge for later. My cake recipes all work well for making up to one full day ahead of time. Just cover the assembled and frosted cake either with a glass cake dome or in an airtight cake container/carrier, then place it back into the refrigerator – just bring it out at room temperature 15-20 minutes before you are ready to serve.
6” stacked cakes are usually anywhere between 6-8” tall (or taller depending on if/how you decorate the top of the cake), so make sure your cake dome is large enough. If you don’t have a cake dome or airtight cake storage container, you can also place the cake on a large plate and cover it with a large stockpot if it fits in your fridge! The cake just needs something over it to prevent air from getting in and drying out the cake, as gluten free cakes tend to dry out quickly.
Store any cake leftovers in the refrigerator under the cake dome, or you can pre-slice and store in airtight containers. The cake should stay fresh this way for 3-4 days before it starts to dry out.
I truly hope you enjoy this gluten free cappuccino cake as much as my family and friends did! If you make it, be sure to comment below, add a Pinterest review, or tag @zestandlemons on Instagram.