Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Dessert

Cake Formula

I'm a sucker for a good formula. Though I fought them in high school (I very nearly failed physics two years in a row because I hated memorizing formulas so much), I came to understand their value once I stepped into the kitchen. Years ago I spent a lot of time trying to develop a perfect gluten free cake recipe and succeeded after many, many mishaps (there was a batch of cupcakes so spongy they could have doubled as stress-balls). I used that recipe for a long time, and somewhere along the line I realized that I could play with the ingredients as long as I kept the ratios intact. It was a formula I had inadvertently crafted, not a recipe. Formulas, while terrific for calculating the weight of a distant planet orbiting some unseen star, are even better put to use for cake.

I've published that cake recipe under a number of monikers on this website, and at the behest of a dear friend I am finally also revealing the formula. I can make this cake blindfolded by now, with no need to look at the recipe at all. I know the ratios by heart, and I have such faith in them that I make this cake as often as I can. It's infinitely disguised, you can bake it chocolatey one week and lemony the next for the same dinner guests and they'll never be the wiser.

Be creative, have fun, memorize the formula (gluten free or not) and keep kicking ass. 


  • 1/2 cup Whole Grain Flour (Brown Rice, Millet, Corn Meal,etc)

  • 1/3 cup Starchy Flour (Tapioca, Potato, Corn Starch, Wheat Flour, etc.)

  • 1/3 cup Other Flour (Almond, White Rice, Wheat, Millet, etc.)

  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum (only necessary if you’re using a trifecta of gluten free flours)

  • 3 Eggs

  • 3/4 cup Sugar

  • 3/4 cup Milk (of any kind, cow, goat, coconut, almond, etc.)

  • 3/4 cup Oil (neutral like grape seed and rice bran, or flavorful like olive and walnut, melted butter or ghee will work here just as well)

  • Vanilla Extract, Almond Extract, Lemon Zest/Juice, Bourbon, melted chocolate, whatever



  1. Whisk your dry ingredients together in a small bowl, making a uniform blend of all the flours, powders, salts, and gums.

  2. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until it has thickened, become slightly foamy, and is pale yellow. This is muscly work and it should take about two minutes of constant whisking. The aeration of eggs with sugar is a necessary step that most people want to skip because it’s tiring. But if you skip it, then the cake will fall flat in the center.

  3. Whisk the milk, oil, and any extracts or flavoring into the egg and sugar base.

  4. Stir in the dry ingredient blend until combined.

  5. Pour this into a 8/9-inch round pan, or an 9x13 baking dish, or a loaf pan, or cupcakes, or whatever.

  6. Bake at 350 for 20-50 minutes depending on the shape and density of your cake (a loaf cake takes the longest, an 8-inch round is somewhat in the middle, and cupcakes are the quickest)


  • I often roast fruit with a little extra sugar in the bottom of my cake pan while I’m preparing the batter. When the batter is ready, I pull out the hot pan and pour the batter over the cooked fruit. Put the whole thing back in the oven and when it’s finished, let it cool and then flip it over so the fruit is on top.
  • Or make frosting, dust it with powdered sugar,  drizzle with caramel, spread it with jam, JUST HAVE FUN.