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PBS 112: Chocolate Domingo Cake and White Velvet Cake

Jul 15, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose

This chocolate cake, dedicated to tenor Placido Domingo, will probably always be my favorite chocolate layer cake. I framed the telegram he sent me saying: After tasting your cake, I am proud to have it named the Chocolate Domingo. Bravo! Placido Domingo

The White Velvet Cake (dedicated to no one in particular) continues to be one of the most popular cakes for weddings and special celebrations. THE RECIPES


Thank you Molly! I do appreciate the time and consideration you gave your reply! I hope the gluten-free transition is going well for you. I have been eating wheat-free for 15 years, or more, but have only begun baking like I do now...I never thought I'd be able to enjoy cake as much as I do today.

I am amazed at all the resources available for gluten-free (and allergy-free) eating; it's wonderful. With that said, I have had success making some really great gluten free cakes, but a white cake?! They tend to be dry and lackluster. I have discovered that adding glycerin to an otherwise "dry" cake seems to help, but a few recipes still allude me. I think this is one for the trial and error, so I'll get bake to baking.

I do hope some of our respected and renowned bakers help us with the science of gluten-free baking. The recipe library can only grow, right! In the meantime, if you discover a wonderful gf white cake, I'd love to hear of it.

Thanks again!


I was diagnosed with Celiac disease this year and have since been on a quest for gluten free recipes and resources. There are many helpful sites. Frankly, I've had luck with mixes (gasp!) which I never used in baking before. There are several pretty good brands, but I"m not sure I've seen a white cake one.

When baking with GF flours, you can't just subsitute one. You have to use several - at least three and at least one or two starches to get a good result. It's like taking chemistry class and requires some experimentation. A formula I've had success with for making a variety of GF flour mixes is this:

Choose 700 grams of any combination of the following flours (it works best to use weight instead of volume):

White Rice
Brown Rice
Roasted Soy
Sweet Brown Rice
Coconut flour (tends to suck up a lot of moisture so you have to adjust the recipe a bit)

This means that you can make your own blend. If you are allergic to corn, and you know you can’t eat the certified gluten-free oats, blend up 100 grams each of brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, sweet brown rice, and teff. Or make it easy on yourself: 350 grams of buckwheat and 350 grams of millet. (The flavor you find by blending all these different tastes is fascinating. It’s amazing how boring regular AP flour seems after you use this.) Find your own favorite combination.

And then throw in 300 grams of any combination of the following:

Potato Starch
Tapioca Flour
Sweet White Rice Flour (different than regular)

Mix really, really well. When baking your recipe you must also add some xanthum gum (follow the amount recommendations in your recipe or on the xanthum gum package).


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Jessie
02/22/2013 10:53 AM

Hi Jessie,
In both the Cake Bible and Rose’s Heavenly Cakes there are several flourless cakes, but not any for a white cake. We do not have any general guidelines for substituting gluten free products for bleached cake flour or other flours. With any recipe, we always recommend making it according to the author's recipe to establish a control to see and taste the author's intentions for the recipe. However, we do understand that many bakers and bloggers have specific dietary needs.
There are many cookbooks, television cooking shows, and websites that specialize or have expertise in sugar free, dairy free, gluten free, low fats, and other dietary specific baking. Please investigate and try some of their recipes or contact them for substitution recommendations as these are not our genre of baking. Rose has several listed linked sites including: Fran Costigan (vegan cooking), Bitter Sweet Vegan Blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, and Go Dairy Free.
Rose & Woody


I am making a wedding cake and indeed need a wonderful white cake! However, a crucial step in the White Velvet Cake keeps the flour from developing gluten. I need to make a gluten-free cake. Have you experimented with GF flours in this recipe? Would you add the Xanthan gum to the egg whites and milk before adding to the flour? Or do suggest using the creaming method with these same ingredients? Or do you have a different recipe you'd recommend for a GF white layer cake?

Thank you so much for your help!


Hermione Hairpie
Hermione Hairpie in reply to comment from Woody Wolston
03/18/2012 11:56 PM

I recently bought an oven thermometer just to check and make sure my oven was on temp and it was. My oven was set for 350 and the oven thermometer read a perfect 350 so that couldn't be the problem.

Also, the recipe says to bake for 30 to 40 minutes. I tested it at 30 minutes and it was still giggly and didn't spring back and also the cake tester came out soaking wet. At 35 minutes it sprung back when touched and the cake tester came out clean, so that's when I took it out and set it to cool.

I think if I make this cake again I'll go with at least 16 TBSN of butter (2 sticks) and maybe do a full cup of sour cream. I will also frost it instead of doing the recommended powdered sugar topping, which saddens me because it looked very appealing that way. :(



The problem could also be the cocoa that you used. I've had the use of low-fat cocoa ruin cakes for me--they turn out bitter and dry. Now I always make sure that I use full-fat cocoa.


Hi Hermione,
Rose describes in The Cake Bible why she uses cocoa for most all of her chocolate cake recipes. I have made this cake several times and our tasters have always commented that the cake has a melt in your mouth texture. You may want to check the Heavenly Cake Bake Along link to read other blogger's experiences with making this cake as Bernachon.

We ask how did you confirm that your oven is at the proper temperature of 350?
Was the cake pulling away from the pan's sides when you took it out of the oven?

A dry cake is usually the result of either over baking or evaporation of liquid ingredients. Since there is no evaporation concerns from the cocoa being combined with the sour cream and eggs, the problem is likely from over baking.
Virtually every oven I have used when tested with an oven thermometer is hotter by up to 25 degrees higher than what the oven's temperature setting indicates.


Hermione Hairpie
Hermione Hairpie
03/18/2012 10:47 AM

I just made the chocolate Domingo cake and have to say it is quite dry and disappointing. I was careful to weigh and measure properly all the ingredients. The butter and eggs were are room temp. I thoroughly sifted the dry ingredients and most importantly I double checked and made sure my oven was cooking at the proper temp of 350.

Perhaps if the recipe was made with chocolate instead of cocoa it wouldn't be so dry. As it currently is the cake has the texture of sand and doesn't have that melt in the mouth quality that has been claimed about it. My dinner guests were less than impressed. :(


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Molly
08/28/2011 12:44 AM

Hi Molly,
In The Cake Bible you will find your batter measurements for the White Velvet in the Wedding and Special Occasions Cakes chapter. Rose has developed the Rose Factor page 490 for batter proportions for most sizes of cakes. You should beable to apply the Rose Factor to the Domingo for batter proportions but may need to adjust the baking powder. You will need to experiment.
We have been working on wedding cakes recipes for the new book and have had to experiment. The Rose Factor also gives servings per cake size.


I love this recipe and wonder if you have adjusted it for larger pans, particularly a 10" and a 12" round. I am making a wedding cake and assume you must have a solution for this problem. Thanks for your help!


Thanks for the reply, Woody. I guess the problem was that I baked the cake in one loaf pan instead of two 9-inch springforms. My cake had a separate crust that seemed to suggest that it had risen very high due to overleavening before falling again. I guess the high ratio of leavening works would work when the batter is divided into two pans? Thanks!


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Henry
04/ 4/2011 01:33 PM

Hi Henry,
There are different elements involved here. The Domingo is a one layer cake where the White Velvet is a two layer cake with 35% more batter. Chocolate also adds a variable for leavening. Please read our article postings on "the Power of Flour" which we detail how baking powder needs to be adjusted for whole eggs, egg whites, and only yolks butter cakes.

The amount of leavening has been worked out for each recipe and taking into account whether the cake is to have a slightly domed appearance for a single layer cake or flat as possible for stacking for layer cakes.


Thank you Rose. I noticed the high amount of baking powder in the recipe for the white velvet cake. Would the amount of leavening be too much for the amount of flour in the recipe? Many thanks.


Actually I wrote to his business manager asking permission and the reply was that he was on a diet and didn't want to be associated with food! On a great note of irony, when the cake bible was published, the new York times ran a two page story with recipes and coincidentally, at the bottom the second page, just under the recipe for the Domingo, was a photo of Pavarotti raising a toast and the caption read: Pavarotti end diet..



Just a suggestion -- your White Velvet Cake could be dedicated to Luciano Pavarotti, one of the world's greatest tenors and a colleague of Placido Domingo. Pavarotti surely would have appreciated this honor, and the cake as well.


This is totally new to me, I'm well versed with European cakes but not so much American. Thanks for showing us how to make this.


Oh, thank you for sharing these! I love the white velvet cake (thank you for showing me the error of my predjudice against white chocolate - this is a wonderful platform for its best qualities!)
But the domingo cake has been calling my name, and so many people in the forums have raved about it....this video may just be the impetus for me to make it this week!


Thank you Rose, I always enjoy and appreciate seeing these videos!



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