Sugar Free Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake with Crumb sidesI’ve never been a fan of sugar free anything…please, I am a baker and true sugar junky. However my dear friend Laura gave up sugar many years ago and it’s great except I was never able to make her a cake. That is until I found this sugar free cake recipe on Sharon’s fabulous blog I tweaked the recipe just a bit.  I was very nervous tweaking the recipe  because scratch recipes are much pickier than doctored box mixes but I couldn’t resist.  I used 1/2 regular cocoa and 1/2 dutch processed cocoa and I also added a little almond flavoring which is my favorite with chocolate cake.  Next time I’m going to try all dutch processed cocoa and see how it goes.   

Sugar-free Chocolate Cake 
2 cups flour (I used Swan’s cake flour but AP should work as well)
1½ cups Splenda (granular no calorie sweetener)
¾ cup non-dairy creamer powder
¼ tsp salt
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp regular cocoa powder
¼ cup Hershey’s special dark cocoa (Sharon’s recipe uses all regular cocoa)
¾ cup vegetable oil (can sub ¾ cup apple sauce for oil)
1 cup + 2 Tbsp milk
3 eggs separated
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond flavoring
Fresh strawberries for filling and decoration    

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl reserving ¼ cup Splenda. In another bowl mix the oil, milk, vanilla, almond and 3 egg yolks.   fluffy egg whites    

  In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until fluffy, slowly adding the remaining ¼ cup of Splenda. 

  Folding egg whites into batterGently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.  

I had read that sugar free batter doesn’t rise as much as regular cake batter so I decided to use 2 six inch pans to ensure I got a nice height to each layer.      

 To prep the pans I used my homemade cake release (recipe is at the end of my Go To Chocolate Cake post). Squirt some cake release in the pan and spread it around using the pastry brush. Be sure to fully cover the bottom and sides of each pan.      

chocolate batter in pans

Prepping Pan with Homemade Cake Release

Cake release in squeeze bottle, silicon pastry brush and two 6 inch cake pans.

         Fill pans 2/3 of the way full. I overfilled just a bit because everyone said sugar free cakes don’t rise as much as regular cakes. 

Cake Dome

The original recipe says to bake at 350 which I did (even though I normally bake at 325). The reason I decided to follow the recipe is because of how picky scratch recipes are and also because everyone said sugar free cakes don’t rise like regular cakes. Ummmmm…see for yourself.   

Bake the cakes until a toothpick comes out clean. These took about 40 minutes in my oven.  Next time I will definitely be baking at 325. But believe it or not that super tall mound worked out in my favor this time.  (Keep reading to see why).

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then take a sharp bread knife and lay it along the top edge of your pan and level each cake while it’s still in the pan.  Save the scraps.You need tto remove the dome to turn the cakes onto a cooling rack.       

Cooling cakeHave 3 cooling racks handy. Take the first cooling rack and place it over the cake pan, holding the rack tightly to the pan, flip them both over..keeping the cake pan firmly against the cooling rack. Because the cake release is so great, the cake normally let’s go with just a subtle shake of the pan.   (Note I do NOT run a knife along the edge of the cake when using cake release. This usually creates crumbs and issues when I ice my cakes). Here you can see that you also get a really nice side to the cakes (no crumbs) using the cake release.      

Take another cooling rack and lay it on top of your cake. There should be a cooling rack on bottom, cake in the middle and a cooling rack face down on the cake, firmly (but gently) hold the cooling racks together and flip the cake over. The cut side of the cake should now be face up on the cooling rack. Do this for both cakes. Let the cakes cool completely (for a 6 inch cake this is usually 45 minutes to an hour).      

While the cakes are cooling, make your frosting.      

A single batch was just enough frosting to cover a 6 inch 2 layer cake.       

1 Large box sugar-free chocolate instant pudding mix
1-cup low fat milk
2 cups heavy cream      

In a mixing bowl, pour the milk. Measure out the heavy cream in a separate container  and open the pudding box. Quickly pour the pudding into the milk beating just until absorbed. (Here is where I screwed up. I over mixed the pudding and left it sitting just long enough it got globby). Then add the heavy cream and continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Place frosting in fridge until ready to ice the cake.      

When I added the heavy cream my pudding didn’t really dissolve and I ended up with chocolate pudding chunks in my frosting. Next time I may skip the milk all together and just use the heavy cream. I was so disappointed in my frosting because it meant the cake wouldn’t look very pretty. And my friend Laura deserves a beautiful birthday cake. Since the frosting tasted great and just had dark spots in it,  I decide to try the “crumbs” on the side look. This was my first time trying this technique.      

 Crumbs on cookie sheet
 I took the tops I had cut of both cakes and crumbled them on to a cookie sheet. I placed the cookie sheet back in the oven. The oven was off but still warm from baking the cakes earlier. I left them in there about 30 minutes.  I took them back out of the oven and let them cool for just a couple of minutes. I placed the crumbs in a gallon sized zip lock bag and ran my rolling pin over the bag crushing the crumbs so they were very fine.     

Now that the cakes were cool, I needed to level them completely. Because they had risen funny, the top edge was not actually level. I have the BEST cake leveler in the entire world called the Agbay. And before you say it YES I know it’s expensive and YES it’s worth every single penny.       

Level both cakes if removing the dome was not enough. Place a coupler at the bottom of a piping bag with no tip. Fill a piping bag with your frosting. Put a dab of frosting on a 6 inch cake board and place the first layer of cake cut side down.  A bit of the board will be showing, this is OK. Put a thin layer of frosting on top of the cake. Using just the couple (no tip), pipe a border  around the edge of the cake. Place sliced strawberries inside the border just below the top edge. Put another thin layer of frosting over the strawberries just to the edge of your border.      

Place your next cake cut side down onto the frosted layer. Ice the cake normally. I used the edge of the cake board to guide me in the thickness of my icing. At this point my cake had all the little black specks from my pudding frosting.   

Applying cake crumbsSo time for the messy part…applying the crumbs.  I placed my cake on a large  piece of parchment paper then I took  a handful of the crumbs and placed them  gently on the side of the cake. More crumbs ended up on the parchment than on the cake. I repeated this until the sides of my cake were covered.  Obviousely crumbs had also spilled along the top so I carefully applied more crumbs to the top edge of my cake. I placed the cake in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This was going to make it easier to put on my pretty cake board.  I took the cake out of the freezer and set it on a decorated 8 inch cake board covered in wrapping paper then food safe cello wrap and a ribbon around the edge. Then using the star tip I piped small rosettes long the border of the cake and placed the strawberries on top.    With the fresh fruit and whipping cream this cake does require refrigeration.

Laura and I cut the cake and had a nice slice with a glass of milk. I don’t think you would know it was sugar free unless someone told you! I was pleasantly surprised.     

Chocolate strawberry cake      

Happy Birthday Laura.

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  1. My sister told me a couple months ago that she is no longer eating sugar. I had the same let down…now I can’t make her a cake for her birthday (which is this month)! I’m glad you posted this. This looks delicious and I would love to try it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Laura also said the cake was really yummy straight out of the freezer. She had saved the left overs for her hubby.

  3. is this really a 6inch cake? It looks so small

  4. I meant it looks bigger than a 6 inch

    • Yep, it’s a 6 inch cake around and it’s about 4 inches tall. It’s a good size for a small gift cake. Wilton says it will serve 12 people but that’s using the wedding size slice which is not really a normal slice.

  5. Can you use whole wheat flour for the recipe?

    • Hi Diane,
      Yes you can use whole wheat flour but the cake will be a little bit denser than using something like cake flour.

  6. Cristy thank you so much for your response. Also, is my first time baking and this recipe looks amazing. I am making this cake for my moms birthday and she is diabetic. I will like to use a 8 inch how much flour should I use? Sorry for so many question

    • Hi Diane,
      A 6 inch cakes (made with two layers) take approximately 4 cups of batter. I would estimate this recipe makes about 5 cups of batter since I was able to get it to rise so much. It’s been a while since I made it and I didn’t measure how much batter was produced. That said, for an 8 inch cake (two layers) it takes approximately 7 cups of batter. Instead of trying to adjust the recipe to get exactly 7 cups, I would suggest just doubling the recipe and making cupcakes with the left over batter:)

      I hope that helps. Be sure and let me know how it turns out. I’m not usually one for sugar free anything but I really like this cake. Don’t forget to keep it refrigerated once it’s frosted.

  7. YOU ARE THE BEST! Thank you so much! I will Def let you know

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