Thursday, 26 October 2017

Mocha Celebration Cake (gluten free; nut free; rice-free; optional dairy free sponge and frosting)

It doesn't matter what time of year it is, there is always a birthday or celebration to be part of and what better way to celebrate than cake. This Mocha Cake is pretty straight forward to make and tastes amazing...... Rich, fudgy chocolate cake with a hint of coffee bitterness, smothered in sweet, creamy mocha butter-icing and decorated with simple piping and mocha beans.

Sounds good? you bet!

Recently I have lost my blogging mojo, partly fuelled by the tyranny that is social media follow up, but also just the challenge of trying to fit in baking, photography, editing and writing it all up alongside a full-time job.

I actually made this cake to celebrate Miss GF's birthday back in the summer..... She seems to have become quite obsessed with coffee recently.... hot, cold, iced, in cake, icing, biscuits, ice cream..... anything goes. Unsurprisingly therefore, the cake didn't last long, although we did share a few slices with friends..... there were no complaints!

With Christmas coming, this would be a great cake to add to the party table. It is grown up enough to excite the adults, but all the kids we tested it on, wolfed it down too (with no hyper-effects as far as we could tell....).

But why wait until Christmas? If you haven't got any other celebrations coming up, treat yourselves anyway and enjoy a slice with a cup of tea and a good book for Sunday Elevenses. It will bring a decadent smile to your face and make you feel happy inside.

I am sharing this Mocha Celebration Cake with :

Cook Blog Share with Recipes Made Easy

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

We Should Cocoa with Tin and Thyme

Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel and Free From Farmhouse

Bake of the Week with Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello

Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain

Fiesta Friday #195 with Angie, Everyday Healthy Recipes and Indfused

Mocha Celebration Cake (makes 1 x 8 inch/20 cm sandwich cake)


Sponge Cake  - adapted from a Cake Angels recipe by Julia Thomas
2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder
125 ml cold water
200g good quality dark chocolate - cut into pieces
200g unsalted butter - cubed (or dairy free alternative)
170g gluten free plain flour (I used the GFA rice-free blend from this post)
1½ teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
400g golden caster sugar
25g cocoa powder
75 ml milk/dairy free alternative
½ tablespoon lemon juice
3 large eggs - beaten

Mocha Butter Icing
200g good quality dark chocolate - chopped
240g unsalted butter - softened
1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder (mixed to a smooth paste with 1 teaspoon boiling water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
180g icing sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk/dairy-free alternative

17 chocolate Mocha Beans
8 dark chocolate cigarillos
a dusting of finely grated chocolate


  1. Sponge : Base-line 2 x 8 inch (20 cm) round deep loose-bottomed non-stick cake tins with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.
  2. Mix the coffee powder with the water in a small saucepan and add the chocolate and butter. Heat, stirring frequently, over a medium heat until just melted. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl (or shake vigorously in a sealed airtight container), making sure the mixture is well blended and all lumps are completely broken down. Set aside.
  4. Heat the milk either in a microwave or in a small saucepan over a low heat until almost simmering and then take off the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir until the milk thickens and looks curdled.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until well blended and light.
  6. Add the milk mixture to the eggs and beat again.
  7. Pour the milk-egg mixture and the chocolate mix into the bowl of flour and stir with a large spoon or spatula until you have a well blended and smooth batter.
  8. Pour the mixture into the two tins and bake for 1¼ to 1½ hours until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes, before loosening the sides with a spatula and turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Butter Icing : Place the chocolate in a small glass bowl and melt in the microwave on medium setting, 30 second bursts, stirring well between each until smooth (or in a heatproof bowl set above a saucepan of lightly simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth).
  11. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a little icing sugar and the vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the icing sugar, the coffee, the melted chocolate and enough milk to ensure a thick, creamy, spreading consistency, beating between each addition. (if it seems a little too loose, keep beating until thick and/or add a little extra icing sugar).
  12. Putting the cake together : When the sponges are cold, place one on a decorating board and  spread the buttercream in a thick, even layer across it, before placing the second sponge on top.
  13. Using a spatula, spread a further layer of buttercream across the top and sides (making sure you leave some icing to pipe decorations) and smooth to the look that you want.
  14. Arrange the cigarillos across the top in an even 'spoke' pattern and using a wide, star-tipped nozzle and piping bag, pipe flower decorations on the sides and top of the cake.
  15. Finally add the Mocha Beans and a light, fine grating of dark chocolate.
  16. Chill in the fridge for about 40 minutes (to firm up the icing), before transferring to a serving plate. The cake can be stored at ambient temperature. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated


  1. The words that just came from my mouth were 'Corr that looks nice' Beth and I had a lovely GF cappuccino cake yesterday, reckon we'll love this even more xx

    1. I saw that cake on Insta. Looked yum, but this one is so good, I reckon it would compete! x

  2. As someone who doesn't drink coffee I have been surprised to read that harry potter in book 5 is drinking coffee (or tea). It always seemed such a grown up drink to me - though I probably had very little coffee in my childhood as my parents were confirmed tea drinkers - probably quite different for kids today where the coffee culture is so strong! This sounds like a grown up cake but if I was a coffee lover I would be all over it. Sorry to hear about your blogging mojo but glad you are hanging in here!

    1. Thanks Johanna. I think the kids today have a very different experience..... coffee is a huge part of our culture and even at school, Miss GF can choose to exchange rewards for Coffee vouchers at a well-known coffee house!
      As for the blogging mojo.... it's not just the blog, pretty much everything feels like hard work at the moment.....maybe it's the time of year, maybe I just need a change of life-direction, but hopefully I'll find the answers soon xx

  3. This looks utterly amazing. Lucky lucky Miss GF! If you've lost your blogging mojo then I am seriously impressed! Your blog is incredible x

    1. Thanks Vicki. You're too kind. The blog has definitely been taking a back seat. I used to have a sense of a plan for what I would be making and how I would photograph and write about it, but recently, I just do an occasional random bake when I feel a bit creative and (if it's yummy) throw it on the blog almost as an afterthought! Maybe I am better at coasting than I thought, but I would much rather feel more organised. x

  4. OMG I NEED a slice of this immediately!! **Shuffles off to make a me safe version**

  5. Oh yum! This cake looks incredible - and I can just imagine how good it tastes. Really wish I had a slice right now, actually!! Eb x

    1. Thanks Eb.... so do I.... but it has all been eaten (sad face) x

  6. YUm Yum Yum, I have been making a lot of brownies lately, but a slice of this mocha cake would be most welcome. I like coffee I don't mind coffee flavoured things, esp. cake. I understand about the blogging mojo, you may have noted my blogging is less frequent and also blog posts with little in the way of words of whats going in, but hopefully for the both of us it will return. I am personally in a work rut at the moment and so desperate to get out, but it may be next year that happens.

    1. Thanks Shaheen. Sorry to hear you are also struggling with 'mojo' right now. For me too, the blog struggle seems to be associated with other work issues and I am exhausted emotionally.
      As you say, hopefully it will return for both of us soon xx

  7. I know what you mean about keeping up with everything, it's such hard work! This cake looks stunning!

    1. Thanks Kat. It is hard work for sure and that takes away much of the fun of doing it. I think I need a bit of a rethink on how I manage it x

  8. What a stunning cake Kate,I had to smile when you said that the kids wolfed it down with no hyper effects as far as you could tell! - Kids have soooo much energy don't they, I'm exhaused after spending a couple of hours with our young niece and nephew! I too know just what you mean about the amount of time it takes to prepare a post :-[ - it aint easy! it's great that you're hanging in there Kate :-D and thankyou for joining in with #BakingCrumbs :-)
    Angela x

    1. Ha ha... yes.... If we could bottle just a small amount of the energy that kids have, we would be rich.
      Thanks for your kind comments Angela...... Just about hanging in! x

  9. That looks a fabulous cake and I am pinning as I have several members of the fmaily who are gluten free that will be coming to stay over the next few months . Thank you for linking to #CookBlogShare I hope you get your full blogging Mojo back soon (agree the social media followup can be quite demanding and a chore at times)

    1. Thanks Jacqueline. You're welcome. I hope the recipe meets expectations. x

  10. What a stunning cake! I am in awe that it is GF, nut free and rice flour free.
    Yes this would be good for any celebration.

  11. Kate, I don't know how you do it. I've been struggling all this year with my blog, especially the last couple of months what with moving and dealing with all my MIL's stuff as well as our own. And I don't have a full time job on top. It's the social media which is the real killer I find.

    Hang on in there, because you bring brilliance to the blogging world as well as lots of excellent gluten-free ideas.

    Your cake looks stunning as always, but I'll hand my slice over to CT who loves anything coffee in cake. I'm not so keen. Thanks for sharing with #WeShouldCocoa.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Choclette. I really appreciate them.
      I do find it so hard sometimes to keep the blog going and feel quite frustrated that the social media stuff makes it harder and less enjoyable. But if something's worth making and eating, then it should be recorded and shared, so I will do my best to hang in there and one day, Miss GF will have the best GF recipe book ever x

  12. We all have times when blogging becomes hard and tedius but I find that it comes and goes and a little break is a good idea. I know what you mean about social media and there are times when I just leave it for a while and do less of it too or none at all for a few days. Your recipes and photos are wonderful though do not give up xx

    1. Thank you Alida for your support. I really need to give myself less of a hard time and just do what I can xx


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