Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, Gluten-Free (a perfect birthday cake)

by Jeanne on December 17, 2011

Yesterday was my birthday! Contrary to what most people think, growing up with a birthday so close to Christmas was terrific. My mom made sure that I always had presents for both my birthday and Christmas. And if she combined them, they were big enough to justify the combination. The world was always decorated for my birthday (in the form of Christmas decorations) and festive music was always playing (Christmas carols). And there is an advent calendar window to open for my birthday. You can’t get much better than that. For quite some time, I even thought I had my own “Day of Christmas”–the third one, Three French Hens, until someone explained to me that the days of Christmas start on Christmas, not end on it.

I will admit that, as a young adult, my birthday was a little more challenging due to its calendar location. In college and in grad school I had finals or huge papers due on my birthday. My friends were always busy with holiday parties and other commitments, or they were flying home for the holidays, so it was hard to get folks to come over and celebrate. People wanted to mark my birthday in some way, but were so busy that they often brought me Christmas ornaments as birthday presents. I have to say, in case you get any ideas, I have more ornaments than will ever fit on one Christmas tree, thanks. Years ago, these types of things used to drive me a bit nutty. It all felt unfair. No one gave an August birthday person Christmas ornaments for their birthday, did they? I would stomp around and complain to myself and get a little bitter.

Then I grew up a bit and got more Zen about the whole thing. I now use it as an excuse to relax during the holidays. More than anything, I like to hang out. I bake, I knit, I shop in pretty stores. I gather with friends and family. I make and eat meals with loved ones. Girlfriend and dAhub get the Christmas tree, put it up, and decorate it (with all of the ornaments I’ve received over the years), while I putter in the kitchen. I get a few presents, but they aren’t what this time is about for me. It’s about going a little bit underground and being more quiet and less crazy.

And sometimes we have a birthday party. Sometimes not. Regardless, I make my own birthday cake. It’s something I love to do. Ever since Girlfriend was about 2, I’ve made the same birthday cake. In fact, it’s the same birthday cake I make for all of our birthdays. It’s an adaptation of a recipe from my most favorite cake baking cookbook ever, The Whimsical Bakehouse, by Kaye Hansen and Liv Hansen. This book comes from a mother-daughter team whose cake philosophy is the same as mine: to make cakes that taste as good as they look. My whole life I have never understood the appeal of cakes that look beautiful but taste horrible. Isn’t the whole point of a cake that it taste good? During my brief stint as a wedding cake baker, I was always leafing through cake books that were all about making beautiful cakes out of fondant–which tastes awful to me. What’s the point? I want a yummy cake with a delicious frosting.

Anyway, The Whimsical Bakehouse is an amazing cookbook. I recommend it to anyone who wants a cake cookbook that is as fun and educational to read as it is to bake from. It contains so much good cake information–it’s like a cake class. It explains how to make excellent buttercream. It has charts on how many people different-sized cakes will feed. It has a chart on what food coloring one uses for buttercream or for melted wafer chocolate to get the right effect on your cakes. It explains, with pictures, how to pipe out cute designs. And the recipes are delicious. Every one is a winner.

They have also written several other cookbooks which are awesome, including Christmas Cookies From the Whimsical Bakehouse, which includes a gingerbread mantel hung with stockings rather than a gingerbread house. So dang cute.

Anyway, the recipe I always use for my birthday cake is an adaptation for the Chocolate Chip Pound Cake from the cake book. This recipe is incredible versatile. It bakes up into two cake pans for a traditional layer cake. Or in a 9 cup Bundt pan for more of a coffee cake presentation. And it can be doubled to bake up in two large (10 inch) square pans for a square layer cake for a party. This cake is perfect. I highly recommend it.

Up until recently, I frosted it with a traditional chocolate buttercream frosting, which, if you know frosting, contains a lot of eggs. Now that I need to avoid too much egg in my diet, I’ve switched over to a sour cream chocolate frosting that I’ve adapted from Smitten Kitchen.  But this also goes nicely with a lovely chocolate ganache. The frosting possibilities are endless.

So, for my birthday gift to you, I offer the perfect birthday cake. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, Gluten-Free (edited to add where to use eggs)
Yield: 1 two layer (8 or 9 inch) layer cake


For the cake
2 1/4 cups (315 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose flour mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks; 230 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 package (8 oz; 230 g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons gluten-free sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (6 oz; 170 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the frosting
2 1/2 cups (15 oz; 425 g) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or in chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee (I use decaf Starbuck’s Via) (optional)
2 1/4 cups (16 oz; 455 g) gluten-free sour cream, room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4. Line the bottom of two 8 in or 9 in round cake pans with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium high for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium high for 2 more minutes. Scrape down sides. Add the sugar, and beat on medium high for 1 minute. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Scrape down sides.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beating after each addition.  Scrape sides.  Add the flour mixture and beat until combined. Remove bowl from mixer and mix in chocolate chips by hand.

Scrape batter into prepared cake pans.  The batter is quite stiff–so you will need to push it around it to fill out the edges and to smooth the top.

Bake at 350 degrees until a cake tester comes out clean–about 30 minutes for 9 inch pans and 40 minutes for 8 inch pans. Let cake cool in pans for 5 minutes. Release onto wire racks, remove parchment paper, and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting
While the cake is cooling, make your frosting. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan set over low heat, heat chocolate until just barely melted. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk to smooth. Add instant coffee powder, if using, a whisk to combine. Let sit for a few minutes until the chocolate has cooled to room temperature. Add sour cream and whisk until well-combined. This will take a bit of whisking. Add honey and vanilla extract and whisk until combined and frosting is smooth.

Set aside frosting at room temperature until cake is completely cool. The frosting should firm up a bit and become a thick, spreadable consistency. If you want to speed up this process, stick it in the fridge for awhile, about 30 minutes. My kitchen tends to be on the cool side, so I just let it firm up on the counter. This makes more than enough frosting for a typical 2 layer cake.

To frost the cake
Place the bottom layer on a serving plate, top side down (so the side that the parchment paper was on is up). I like to add a dab of frosting on the middle of the plate and place the cake layer down on top of it–this will help the cake stay in place. Frost the top of this layer. Place the top layer on top of the frosting, top side down. Frost the top layer and then frost the sides. Smooth all.  You will find that you have more than enough frosting. Store the leftover frosting in a jar in the fridge and use as a midnight treat :).



{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea von Kampen April 11, 2015 at 6:52 am

Hi Jeanne, I was wondering if this recipe would turn out well it I omitted the chocolate chips (and replace with 1/4 cup sprinkles for “funfetti”). I’ve looked around at other recipes but would prefer to use one of yours I know I can trust to use to build my son’s 2nd birthday party cake.


Jeanne April 16, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Andrea: Sure, go ahead and try it. Also, make sure the sprinkles are gluten-free. Some of them are made with wheat starch.


Angie Green January 26, 2015 at 9:39 am

Sorry for a silly question, but was wondering how to store the cake. Was hoping to make it a day (or two) before my daughter’s birthday party. Can it be frosted and refrigerated (or frozen) for a day or two and be fine? Please let me know what you recommend.


Jeanne January 26, 2015 at 10:18 am

Angie: I wouldn’t frost and then freeze it. I recommend that you wrap each layer individually and freeze them. Place in fridge about 24 hours before you want to frost it. And then frost the layers while cold–they will actually be easier to frost this way. You can frost them in the morning and then serve it later in the day as long as your kitchen isn’t super warm. You can also frost it in the morning and then place in the fridge until evening (uncovered–let the frosting serve as the seal.


Julie December 23, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Holy moly, Jeanne, what a perfect cake! Moist, not too heavy or sweet, and full of flavor. It’s going to the top of my rotation. Happy birthChristmaskuh!


Jeanne December 26, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Julie: Yay! I’m so glad you guys liked it. And thank you so much for coming–it was wonderful to see you!


Kate June 22, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I made this last weekend for a picnic and it was the hit of the party. (I did use the Smitten Kitchen frosting recipe that Mel suggested above since it would be sitting out for a while in the heat and didn’t know how the sour cream frosting would fare.) My husband has a looong list of allergies, and I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is to use a recipe for which I don’t need a single substitution other than the soy-free chocolate chips that I always have anyway. From the bottom of my heart, and my husband’s happy stomach, thank you, Jeanne!


Jeanne June 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

Kate: ooo, yum! And yay–I’m so glad!


Lisa April 30, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Hi, I’m new to the GF life and looking forward to giving this receipe a try for my daughter’s bday. I was wondering if anyone has done these as cupcakes, and if so, do I need to adjust anything?
Thanks so much!


Jeanne May 2, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Lisa: Cupcakes should be fine. They will bake in less time than the cake uses. I would bake them for 20 minutes and check with a cake tester to see if they’re done. If not, bake in 5 minute increments until baked through.


Lisa February 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Happy late birthday! I’ve been enjoying your blog (I’m supposed to be doing my taxes!) and hopped over from Dianne Jacobs’ blog. This post caught my eye – I have the same china and haven’t seen it used in a blog, I might have to make a cake just to use the plates!


admin February 14, 2012 at 7:18 am

Lisa: Yay! It’s so funny–there are a group of up that have the same china. I always hear from folks who have it. We should start a club! Thanks for coming over!


Mel February 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Reporting back! The cake was super dense, but turned out well. I used Smitten Kitchen’s Instant Fudge frosting and the family loved it. I have pictures posted here:


Mel January 25, 2012 at 10:44 am

Will do! I’m going to make it for my father in law’s birthday this weekend and need to do it with the ingredients I have at home—no time to go shopping (boo!).


Mel January 25, 2012 at 8:52 am

Can this cake be made with all-purpose flour using the same amount as you listed for non-gluten?


admin January 25, 2012 at 10:20 am

Mel: Yes, I think that would be fine! Let me know how it goes!


Judy January 23, 2012 at 6:28 am

My sister and I made this last night. Absolutely delicious! Thank you for the recipe. Am planning on making one for our next family celebration.


admin January 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

Judy: Yay! Thanks for letting me know!


Lucy January 9, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hi Jeanne,

Yes, the Decadent Chocolate Cake is the best! Thank you for creating it!
I’m looking forward to making the Chocolate Chip Pound Cake. It sounds amazing!
I’ve tried several other gluten free recipes, and I must say yours are by far the best ones.
Thanks again!


admin January 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Lucy: Aw, thanks!


Lucy January 6, 2012 at 5:32 am

Hi Jeanne,

Thank you so much for such wonderful recipes. I love your decadent chocolate cake. It is so moist and delicious. I wanted to know if the chocolate chip birthday cake is also moist? Thanks!


admin January 6, 2012 at 9:19 am

Lucy: Yes! It is very moist! And I’m so glad you like the chocolate cake–isn’t that the best?


Amy W December 30, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Thank you for the correction. I’m one of those OCD kind of people about following instructions. LOL. The cake is awesome! I think it is the closest thing to a gluten cake as I’ve made yet! Thank you!


admin December 30, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Amy: No, thank YOU for pointing that out! And I’m so glad you like the recipe–yay!!


Amy W December 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Hi! This recipe looks amazing! I’m in the middle of making it and I’m a little confused, though. There are eggs in the ingredients list, but no mention in the instructions. In the intro you say you need to avoid too many eggs, so did you intend to leave them out? Or is it an oversight in the instructions?

Thank you!


admin December 29, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Amy: Gah. I am a space. You add the eggs after you add all of the fats. I have edited it to include the direct instruction. Thanks for the head’s up!


Amanda December 19, 2011 at 7:06 am

Thanks for the recipe! I can’t wait to give it a shot. It might be a Christmas cake for us this time.


admin December 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Amanda: yay!


Maura December 18, 2011 at 4:25 am

Happy Birthday! Hope you had a wonderful day! Thank you for sharing the recipe!!!


InTolerant Chef December 18, 2011 at 2:47 am

happy happy birthday to you! My daughters birthday is the 22nd, and we usually celebrate by going to the movies. To make sure her friends were available we would havea party on the2nd or the12th, andi have to say we have never combined her birthday gifts with Christmas.
I love the recipe, and agree that cakes should never sacrifice taste for looks:)


Ginger G December 17, 2011 at 9:30 pm

… with a December 31 birthday, will have to make this!


Kelly December 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm

well happy birthday to you!!!


admin December 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Thank you so much, Kelly!


Shirley @ gfe December 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Happy birthday, Jeanne! I know this cake would make me very, very happy for my birthday! :-) I never understood the appeal of those fussy cakes either. ;-) I’m glad you got more zen about your birthday being so close to Christmas as you got older. It make sense to embrace it, doesn’t it? Son’s birthday is January 2 … it’s kind of squeezed in there with the holidays, too. Made for some great celebrations though!



admin December 17, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Thank you, Shirley! And happy early birthday to your son, too!


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