gluten-free chocolate wedding cake recipe

photo credits Kelda Aikman

So, we have made is safely to Perth and it is only now, nearly 3 weeks on from our surprise wedding that I am able to catch my breath and do a write up on the gluten-free chocolate wedding cake I promised I would share.
The past few weeks have been a blur of packing, sorting, catch-ups and goodbyes, so I haven’t been able to fully digest the fact that somewhere in the midst of that we managed to get married. To say we feel any different now that we are husband and wife would be stretching the truth a little (we have been together 8 years and have two kids already!), but god it’s been fun teasing each other with “hello husband, hello wifey”.
photo credits Evie Hall

Our wedding came as a surprise to all but 5 of our guests. My Mum and Dad weren’t even aware of our plans, until that very morning for Mum and 2 minutes before the ceremony for Dad. I had even forgotten to tell Dad to dress up! But that’s what I loved about the day the most. It was so casual; some people dress up, while others wore tee shirts and jandals. There was no build-up, no expectations, and no stress.
photo credits Kelda Aikman
photo credits Andre Ngapo  
photo credits Kelda Aikman
People came, ate, drank, celebrated, talked, laughed, and shared. It was perfect.
photo credits Evie Hall
photo credits Evie Hall
I have made a few wedding cakes in my time, but attempting a gluten-free one was a first for me. I used my recipe for flour less chocolate love cakes which some of you may remember from my birthday post last year? It is the most intense, gooey, rich chocolate cake, and one that seems to get better and better with time, making it the perfect do-ahead cake. I baked mine on the Tuesday for our Saturday wedding, taking the stress out of the days leading up to our big day. The icing does have to be made and the cake iced on the day, so allow for this if you are making your own cake. It was while I was standing in our kitchen icing the cake, moments before heading out to get my hair done that my Mum decided to pop down from my Nana’s next door. I had to let her in on the secret, which was a shame, but she was over the moon regardless.
To transport the cake to the venue I find placing them into a large cardboard box to be the easiest way to go. Then simply cut the box down the sides to expose the cake, rather than trying to lift the (heavy) cake out. Good luck! Xx
photo credits Kelda Aikman
photo credits Kelda Aikman

P.S My darling lemon thyme has been nominated for's top 100 mom food bloggers! Please click "like" if you would like to see me stay there. I am listed under my actual name, Emma Galloway. You'll find me on the first page. Many thanks all xx.

gluten-free chocolate wedding cake recipe
To make the column cake pictured above, you need to make 3x 22cm (9 in) round cakes for the base and 1x 16cm (6 in) round cake for the top, according to the instructions below. This was the first gluten-free wedding cake that I've ever attempted, so there was a little bit of trial and error involved. I was only going to make 2 round cakes for the base but at the last minute I decided I wasn't quite happy with the height. I then made one more slightly thinner cake to make up the height. This cake keeps well in the fridge for up to 1 week and can be frozen un-iced. Serves 50-60.

to make 2 x thicker 22cm (9in) cakes you will need for each one;

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 330g butter
  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 2 1/4 cups almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 9 eggs

to make 1 x thin 22cm (9 in) cake and 1 x 16cm (6 in) cake you will need for each one;

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 220g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 6 eggs

Preheat oven to 170 C/338 F. Grease cake tins and line the base with baking paper.
Put cocoa into a medium saucepan and slowly whisk in the hot water to form a smooth paste. Add sugar, butter and chocolate. Stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes to cool. Stir in the almond meal and eggs. Pour into tin and bake for about 60-70 minutes for the two deep 22cm cakes, 50 minutes for thinner 22cm (9 in) cake, and 1 hour 20 minutes for 16cm (6 in) cake or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool cake in the tin, then remove, cover and refrigerate until needed. They can all be frozen at his stage if you are planning ahead. Cool, wrap in baking paper then cling film and freeze flat (on a tray is good). Defrost over night on the bench.

meringue icing

  • 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 fl oz) water
  • 6 egg whites
  • 500g (1b) cold butter, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, and slowly bring to the boil without stirring. You can swirl the pan slightly, but stirring it can cause sugar crystals to form, which you don't want. Wash down any sugar crystals from the inside of the pan with a wet pastry brush. When the sugar is completely dissolved, increase the heat and bring to the boil. Boil until soft ball stage on a sugar (candy) thermometer (116 C/240 F). If you don't happen to have a sugar thermometer, simply drop a little syrup into a glass of cold water, and if it forms a soft sugary ball you're good to go.

Beat the egg whites with a electric hand mixer in a large bowl until firm peaks form. Continue beating and pour in the sugar syrup in a steady stream into the egg whites. Beat for 3 minutes or until the mixture stops steaming.

Continue beating and add the butter, a few cubes at a time, until its all incorporated. Beat for a further 15 minutes (the mixture will look curdled at first), then use a metal spoon to mix in the vanilla. Keep in a cool place (not in the fridge) until needed.

To assemble and ice the cake

Turn the 3 large 22cm (9 in) cakes upside down and stack one on top of the other on a 12 inch cake board. You may need to fiddle around with the cakes, turning them around until you feel the top is completely flat. Measure the total height of the column (it should be between 14.5-16 cm tall) and cut 4 pieces of dowel (I buy a metre of 1cm dowel from the hardware store and cut my own pieces) to this measurement. Insert the 4 dowel pieces in a square pattern on the top of the surface of the cake. Place a 6 inch cake board over the pieces of dowel, make sure it's central and then place the 16cm (6 in) cake on top.

To ice, spoon on a large dollop of icing first, then smooth out working from the top of the cake down. The icing doesn't need to be smooth, use even, sweeping motions. I find a small off-set palette knife to be the best tool for the job. If it's a hot day, chill the cakes before icing.

Unless you can decorate the cake just before the reception, use flowers that can stand with a snipped stem. Roses are the best, but if like us, your budget doesn't allow for them, try to find other hardy flowers like Lisianthus (which we used), frangipanis, or gardenias. Place the flowers on the cake up to two hours before.

Keep the decorated cake in a cool place until needed, but not in the fridge or cool room as the icing will set too hard.


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  • Haideestar
    March 11, 2011 at 6:31 am

    So amazing , it really looks like the perfect wedding – lovely . Bet words cant describe , gorgeous photo's too . so happy for you all xx

    March 11, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Thanks for the recipe. And I love the party!

  • Sam
    March 11, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    What a gorgeous cake and a lovely wedding! Will definitely be giving the original recipe a go. And welcome to Australia!

  • Pat @ Elegantly, Gluten-Free
    March 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Such a beautiful cake…and wedding! I love the comfortable, casual side of it, too. Congratulations to all!

  • Anna
    March 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    What a beautiful looking wedding, congratulations! The cake looks gorgeous too.

  • Janet NZ
    March 12, 2011 at 1:06 am

    How gorgeous! The cake too… 🙂

  • Blandine
    March 12, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Beautiful pictures and beautiful cake!

  • Ina
    March 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    What a beautiful cake! Congratulations!

  • Karina
    March 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous (and delicious looking!) wedding cake. Beautiful photos. Looks like a lovely, intimate and soulful wedding. Cheers!

  • Raj @ Flip Cookbook
    March 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Wow — what a gorgeous cake! Congratulations on the wedding!

  • emma
    March 19, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Thank you all for your kind words. It was indeed a very special day and the cake was delicious! 😉

  • james
    April 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Hey Em, I was thinking of using this for our wedding, the icing looks quite complicated. Do you think you have another easy icing I could use with a similar effect? Ella x

  • emma
    April 19, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Hey Ella, the icing really isn't hard. But if you like, you could just go for a regular vanilla butter cream icing, of which there are loads of recipes out there. Or even a white chocolate ganache? When's the big day? Xx

  • james
    April 20, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Yeah good idea! I never have been all that good with desserts. I should just give it a test run. BIg day is in a week & a half. I hope aussie is going well. x

  • emma
    April 20, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Wow that's real soon Ella! Yes, definitely do a small test run cake. Maybe just a little cake like the top layer? Or even half that. Just so you feel confident doing the rest. Make sure you have plenty of time and help on the day to ice it too. If you use a butter cream icing, I reckon you could get away with icing it the night before. Try it out with your test run cake. I was really pushed for time doing the meringue icing on the day. Email me if you have any other questions, I'll be without a computer for the next few days until we get connected at our new house. But I'll try get back in touch asap if you need any advice. Xx

  • Anonymous
    August 8, 2011 at 6:27 am


    The cake looks beautiful and the recipe sounds amazing. If I was going to make a bigger cake, for approx 100 people, how do you suggest I alter the recipe and the cooking times? Thanks!

  • emma
    August 8, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Hi there, it all depends on whether or not you are going to be serving the cake as part of your dessert or just as "the wedding cake". If you are just having it as the cake and serving other things for dessert I'd say you could get away with using this recipe, we had ample left and I was cutting large slices (many guests came back for seconds and thirds too ;-). Just make sure you cut small slices, the average size for slices of wedding cake is really very small. Just a taster really.

    But if you are planning on serving your cake as the dessert I would use a 12 inch cake tin for the bottom layers and a 9 inch for the top/smaller layers. I'll leave it up to you to work out the amounts of ingredients you'll need. It will be a lot!
    And as far as cooking times go, you'll just have to wing it. Use my times as a guide and keep checking every 20 mins thereafter. Sorry I can't be of more help, but unless I am the one actually baking it it's hard to say…
    Or you could always bake this recipe and then bake more as back up ones to serve later?

  • Anonymous
    April 10, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Hey Em, Tina here. Your cake was soo awesome looking. Love the finished looked, the flowers, the icing. It all looked cool. So i am doing my first Gluten free wedding cake and i am using this recipe. Its in the oven as we speak. So thaks for sharing such a tasty recipe ( I know this from licking the bowl)Great website by the way. Will be using a few more of your awesome recipes.


    • emma
      April 11, 2012 at 6:49 am

      Hey cool Tina! Would love to see a photo of the finished cake xx

  • Anonymous
    April 12, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Hey Emma, just a quick question. Does the cake normally seem doughy inside, like a little brownie like? i hope i didnt under cook it. I baked for alomst 2hours and it looked like the your photos but when i cut it to add my filling it seemed really really moist….So good though.

    • emma
      April 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      This cake does have a very moist brownie-like texture. But it should be 'set' in the centre if that makes sense. You don't want any runny bits, if a skewer comes out clean it should be fine. It firms up more if chilled in the fridge too. Xx

    May 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I have been creating and decorating wedding cakes, birthdays, you name it for 30 years. I am stumped on this gluten free baking which I would like to offer the choice to my customers. Having adult ADHD, I try to stick as close to a gluten free diet as I can. The trouble I am finding is which is better the pre-made flour, or package flour already made up. Every website I come across has a different set of flours, to go with there recipes. So I am really confused, as to which way to go and what to buy. I buy the packages of gluten free brownies, and cake mixes in the grocery store, but they are to expensive to buy on a regular basis. I could use any help you can give me. Thank you, Starla

    • emma
      May 14, 2012 at 10:50 am

      check your email love xx

  • Olivia
    July 10, 2012 at 2:27 am

    Hi this cake looks gorgeous, I was thinking of making a smaller version for my sisters engagement lunch. Would I alter the recipe much to make 2 smaller tiers or maybe I could just do one cake ? Also did you just put the flowers straight onto the cake ?

    Thanks Liv

    • emma
      July 10, 2012 at 6:29 am

      Hi Liv, to be honest you'd have to just play around with amounts etc. That's what I did when I made this. It all depends on if you are wanting to make your cake smaller (in diameter) or the height smaller. Here's the original recipe for this cake that just makes one 9 inch cake.
      Might be easier to work from this and see how you go… hope that helps? Also, yes I just pushed the flowers into the icing. Good luck!

  • Olivia
    July 18, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Hi Emma
    I used your recipe to make my sisters Engagement cake and wow it was AMAZING. Not only do it look beautiful, it tasted even better. Everyone commented on how delicious it was ! My sister loved it so much she has now asked me to make her Wedding cake ! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe, its definately going to be added to my list of favourites !!
    Liv :))

  • Leah B
    October 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I have been searching high and low for a recipe for my wedding cake that is chocolate and gluten free! Can't wait to do a trial. Although we are having approximately 100 guests with the cake as dessert, so I will most likely add another tier and also may make a second cutting cake to store in case we run out! Thanks again. Stumbled across this searching google for ideas and love your blog – welcome to Australia too!

  • Andrea Meehan
    December 15, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Thank you for sharing your recipe! I made this cake for a wedding last year, and it was such a delicious, gorgeous success that I'm making it again this year with the addition of ganache and raspberry filling between layers. Any alterations you'd make to the icing for a hot wedding day?

    • emma
      December 15, 2013 at 6:39 am

      Hi Andrea glad you liked it! I wouldn't use this icing recipe if it's a super hot day and you're unable to get some kind of refrigeration. Maybe stick with a buttercream-type icing. Any icing in hot weather is hard to work with though, unless you go for a traditional royal icing (the one you roll out like pastry).

  • Anonymous
    January 13, 2015 at 3:06 am

    Hey Emma, love all your recipes they are fail-proof!! Do you think this icing would keep overnight or does it have to be made on the day? Fiona

    • emma
      January 14, 2015 at 3:10 am

      Hi Fiona, thanks for your lovely words! I haven't tried keeping this icing recipe overnight before and I'm not sure I would try. It can't be refridgerated so I'd say if you can just try and make and ice in on the day xx

    • emma
      January 14, 2015 at 3:13 am

      Oh, should have also said. A regular buttercream icing (google and recipe, there's many) could always been used in place of this meringue-based one. Then you can ice the cake the day before and just store the whole thing in a (large!) fridge. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving. xx

  • Anonymous
    January 18, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Just about to start making this cake for my brothers wedding, it's my first gluten free cake and my first so it should be an interesting experience (especially with 2 babies!), I am doubling the recipe so it will be huge and hopefully impressive, will share a pic when it's all done 😉 Thanks for a great recipe.

  • Anonymous
    April 15, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    I have been asked to make this cake for a wedding next weekend. How many cups of chocolate did you use? And did you get a special kind of chocolate?