What's your best nut-free cake recipe?
June 21, 2010 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm my girlfriend's birthday in a couple weeks and my non-baking self is looking to bake a cake. What's your best nut-free cake recipe?

Like I said above, I'm not much of a baker, so it'll need to be a pretty clear recipe. I have a few cake recipes around but I'd really like to make her something with some unique flavors or ingredients. I have a couple weeks to prepare, so that ought to be enough time to get a hold of any hard to find ingredients or baking implements.

So the specs are:
- Nut free
- Fairly easy to follow recipe
- Some unique flavors or ingredients.
- Bonus points if it includes chocolate.
posted by tuck_nroll to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Chocolate cardamom bundt cake is nice.
posted by jeather at 1:31 PM on June 21, 2010

Best answer: Smitten Kitchen's chocolate stout cake is the best damn chocolate cake out there.
posted by jacob at 1:37 PM on June 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Chocolate Guinness cupcakes!

For the frosting I use the amount of cream cheese called for in the glaze recipe, skip the milk, add 1-2 tablespoons Bailey's, and blend in enough powdered sugar to get a consistency that looks spreadable.

Best. Cupcakes. Ever. They taste like bittersweet chocolate, not like beer.
posted by corey flood at 1:39 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've baked a few different chocolate cakes from a variety of recipes, and this one from allrecipes is still my favorite one. I enjoy baking but am occasionally careless; in my experience, this one has been pretty tough to screw up.

I like it best with a strong coffee icing. I use this recipe for quick white icing 1, but use either espresso or a lot of instant coffee crystals in a small amount of water to get the coffee element strong enough for my liking.
posted by phunniemee at 1:39 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not chocolate. I'm n ot home, so the choco cake standard recipe of the Seamus house is not available.

But my wife, myself and my kid all like this recipe.
Though last weekend, the kid decided that instead of just banana and pineapple, he wanted peaches and blueberries too, so I will add that twist at the end. I left the nuts in the recipe, but I prefer the cake without them.

Hummingbird Cake
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 3 large eggs, beaten
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
* 1 cup chopped pecans
* 2 cups chopped bananas

Cream Cheese Frosting
* 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
* 1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup chopped pecans


Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.

Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy.

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.

To do my kid's 4 Fruit version, buy a small can of peaches in light syrup. Replace half of the pineapple with chopped peaches in syrup (approximate the liquidity of the pineapple). When cake batter is mixed, fold in one cup of cleaned, fresh blueberries.
It's actually pretty good.
posted by Seamus at 1:47 PM on June 21, 2010

Just to clarify: nut-free as in "doesn't like 'em" or nut-free as in "highly allergic"? I'm guessing (hoping!) that if it's the latter, you know the stats about nut allergies, particularly the ingredients that don't have nuts in them but may have had nuts processed on the same factory equipment.

My very favorite cake recipe is Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread. It's not as easy as dumping a mix in a bowl and stirring, but it's reasonably straightforward and hard to mess up. (I've never made it the same way twice!). The flavor is strong but not overwhelming, and would probably appeal to a chocolate lover without being, you know, chocolate.
posted by Madamina at 1:51 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: "nut-free as in "doesn't like 'em" or nut-free as in "highly allergic"?"

Nut free as in "mildly allergic to some nuts" - so it's best to just leave them out all together.
posted by tuck_nroll at 2:33 PM on June 21, 2010

For ease and chocolatey-ness, try Martha's One Bowl Chocolate Cake.
posted by TrarNoir at 2:56 PM on June 21, 2010

I made a flourless, nut-free, chocolatey wonder this weekend and topped it with a raspberry coulis based on this recipe. It's definitely not a cake. Epicurious calls it a torte, but I don't think that's the correct terminology either. Anyway, it requires sugar, eggs, chocolate, butter, water, and a springform pan. Easy peasy. Fresh berries would be a tasty replacement for the coulis, too.
posted by esoterrica at 3:49 PM on June 21, 2010

There are a hundred Chocolate Decadence Cake recipes out there, but this is my favorite. It was the first cake I learned to make from scratch as a teenager, and everyone who eats it thinks it's incredible. It involves one pound of chocolate and one tablespoon of flour, but still comes out light in texture thanks to the preparation. In terms of equipment, this requires an electric hand mixer, some wax paper or parchment paper, at least two mixing bowls, and one round 9" cake pan (spring form works best).

Chocolate Decadence


16 oz. semi sweet chocolate (chocolate chips are best)
5 oz. sweet butter (preferably unsalted)
5 eggs
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
4 tbsp. sugar

1 pint heavy whipping cream
vanilla extract and powdered/confectioner's sugar to taste

1 to 2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen, though defrost before using frozen ones)
about 1 tsp. lemon juice (to taste)
about 3 tbsp. sugar (to taste)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Line the bottom of a cake pan with parchment paper (or wax paper), and grease the sides of a 9" round pan.

Melt chocolate and butter together (about 4 minutes on medium in the microwave).

Separate eggs – the whites into a large bowl, the yolks into a smaller one. Whisk egg yolks, 3 tbsp. of sugar and flour into a mixture.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form then put in the last tbsp. of sugar. Beat until stiff.

Combine melted chocolate and egg yolks, mix thoroughly. Fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites, using as few strokes as possible, so that the egg whites stay fluffy.

Pour into pan immediately. Bake for exactly 15 minutes the cake will rise at the edges, but still seem wet in the middle.

Cool cake completely before removing from pan. The cake will fall a lot.

Top with freshly whipped cream (beating in a little sugar and vanilla extract improves the flavor), and serve with raspberry glaze (puree raspberries with sugar to taste and a splash of lemon juice - best done in a blender or similar, but I've just crushed the ingredients together with a fork in a pinch). The cake is best if made at least two hours before serving.

Feel free to memail me if you want to try this and have any questions about the procedure!
posted by unsub at 6:39 PM on June 21, 2010

Just as a reminder, be sure to check labels on everything. Almost all chocolate "may contain nuts". Guittard is one of the few brands that does not, in case you go with a chocolate recipe.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 6:49 PM on June 21, 2010

It might sound odd, but this beet cake with dried cherries and cream cheese frosting may very well be the only cake recipe I bother making until the day I die.
posted by wreckingball at 7:07 PM on June 21, 2010

Best answer: My family has this recipe called Mary's Cake, and it's been in our family for about 80 years. I can assure you that it is almost impossible to screw up, and always tastes great and stays moist.

-6 Tbs. butter, softened to room temperature
-2 cups white sugar
-2 large eggs
-2 tsp. vanilla
Mix these ingredients together (most recipes call this step "creaming")

-2.5 cups all-purpose flour
-7 Tbs. cocoa
-2 tsp. baking soda
Sift these dry ingredients together into a separate bowl than the wet ingredients above

-2 cups sour milk (add 2 tsp. vinegar to 2 cups regular milk to make sour milk. 1% milk is what I normally use, but it doesn't really matter)

Now you are going to mix all the ingredients together by adding the milk and the dry ingredients in turns into the wet ingredients bowl. I add a little of each at a time, and then mix. You can use a handheld electric mixer, or simply a fork (I use a fork for the arm workout!). Keep adding in the milk and dry ingredients until they are all completely mixed into the wet ingredients. Voila, you have delicious cake batter!

For baking, I use two 8 inch round, stainless steel cake pans, and then stack the cakes once they're baked, but you can use whatever pan or pans you have available. I grease the pans with butter, and then swirl flour around in them afterward. This stops the cake from sticking. Bake at 350 degrees. If you're using two pans, it takes about 45 mins, but if you've got the whole recipe in one pan it will take longer - close to 1 hour 15 mins. You can tell when the cake is done by whether edge of the cake has pulled away from the pan, and also whether a fork stuck in the middle comes out with batter stuck to it or not.

This recipe can also be halved exactly, if you want a smaller amount.

As for icing, it looks like you got some great suggestions above! I usually make chocolate icing.
posted by just_ducky at 9:16 PM on June 21, 2010

Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Banana Cake is delicious and really easy; it's pretty much the only banana cake I've ever encountered that tastes like _cake_, not gussied up banana bread--it's dense and sticky and gooey inside, yum. It looks like this, but I recommend using this ganache instead of Nigella's less tasty and icky corn syrup-usin' glaze. The ganache tastes better, is in my opinion actually prettier (here's a pic of it on another cake I made), and is just as easy (you don't need to do the "drip it on pans" step in the Orangette directions; I just glazed it like any other cake).
posted by ifjuly at 10:50 AM on June 22, 2010

Oh, and I forgot to mention the cake I always recommend: Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake. So good. And I've frosted it before (salted caramel frosting) instead of going the recommended classy restrained route of dusting the top with confectioners' sugar.
posted by ifjuly at 11:10 AM on June 22, 2010

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