Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

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Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake
Story and Photos by Chrystalla Georghiou 

At the age of 23, Victoria De La Fuente found out that her life will no longer be filled with sweets. De La Fuente, a graduate student at St. Mary’s University studying for an MBA, learned recently that she was allergic to the one ingredient most often found in desserts: gluten.

After graduating from St. Mary’s with her bachelor’s degree in business, De La Fuente decided to continue with graduate studies at the university. “I’ve always loved the small community feel of St. Mary’s–coming from a small town, it’s just what I wanted in a school,” she says.

“I wanted to start cooking gluten-free foods because my doctor told me I am allergic. I decided that I want to live a gluten free-lifestyle whether my doctor tells me that it’s ok to eat gluten-free foods or not. Gluten is not something that the human body was designed to digest, therefore it is not healthy for people to eat food which contains that ingredient,” says De La Fuente.

Gluten intolerance, also known as Celiac disease (or Coeliac disease) is a genetic disorder that makes one intolerant to gluten. It is caused by a reaction to gliadin (a gluten protein found in wheat) and affect all types of people; however, it seems to be more prevalent among those of Northern European descent. In the U.S., about one in 133 people suffer from Celiac disease.

Since learning of her condition, De La Fuente has given up some her favorite foods like pasta, grilled cheese sandwiches and red velvet cake. “Luckily I don’t have to give up tortillas. I think I would not be able to survive if I had to give up tortillas,” says De La Fuente.

Because most desserts contain some form of gluten, gluten-free desserts are among the most difficult to prepare. De la Fuente says that the most challenging part of a gluten-free diet is the selection of gluten-free foods. When cooking a red velvet cake, De La Fuente believes that “following the recipe matters more than anything else. All it takes is one simple mistake to ruin a whole cake.”

Some tips De La Fuente advises to young chefs include always making sure to preheat the oven, cleaning up as you go and never eating the frosting before the cake finishes cooking.

“I chose this recipe because it is gluten-free and I love red velvet cake. It’s not every day that I get to eat desserts, therefore, I was so excited to see that I could have my cake and eat it too,” De La Fuente concludes.


  • 3/4 c brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c coconut flour
  • 3/4 c sorghum flour
  • 3/4 c tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 c canola oil
  • 1 1/2 c white sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 oz red food coloring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans with gluten-free flour. In a bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, coconut flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, and 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder in a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat canola oil and sugar until thoroughly combined, and beat the eggs in one at a time until fully incorporated. Stir in the applesauce. Beat the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, alternating with buttermilk, in several additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix the remaining 1 T of cocoa powder with the red food coloring and vanilla extract to make a paste; gently stir into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting. Makes 12 servings.



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