Gluten Free and Proud

A member of our family, the only Irishman we’ve got (who would like to be known as Pinocchio here, because he just wants to be a real boy who eats real gluten food), recently learned that he has Celiacs disease.  He is distressed, understandably, because he thinks this means he will never eat real bread or cake again.  (Its mainly the cake that makes him sad.)

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But he is wrong.  Gluten free food can be just as good as glutenous food, maybe even better.  And yes it involves buying different types of flour.  But isn’t that part of what makes cooking fun?  Using different and new ingredients to create foods that someone enjoys.  The enjoyment is the most important part.  Making food is about sharing something you love.  And if someone can’t partake in the food, well that just makes the cook sad.

I decided to make bread and cake for Pinocchio on St. Patrick’s day.  A type of French bread.  And a birthday cake.  It was pink, not green, but no one complained.

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The cake comes from the blog Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.  And the bread comes from Pamela’s Modern Family Table.  The cake turned out better than the bread, but that may just be because cake is more well liked than bread in general.  I liked them both, but I thought they could both use some improvement.

I loved that the cake was lemony and bright, with hints of vanilla.  I filled it with lemon curd, as the recipe suggested, although I used David Lebovitz’ recipe instead of the Pierre Hermé one the Gluten Free Girl liked.

However, it could have been lighter.  I whipped the butter for longer than was suggested, and I think that helped to lighten the cake considerably.  I would want to try it with an extra egg white maybe, but honestly, my gripes are pretty small and inconsequential.  This was a great cake and everyone loved it.  Especially Pinocchio.

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The bread was a bit heavy and I think it could be improved with some beaten egg whites.  But for now, it will do.  It looks and tastes like bread (although right out of the oven I thought I had baked two small bricks), which is the most important part.  I’ll share the recipe here, but I will have a better version soon.

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Pinocchio must now feel less depressed about the lack of baked goods in his life.  Because there IS real cake, it just has cooler flour in it.

Gluten Free Cake:

Adapted from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef

1/2 cup of each (sorghum flour (70g), white rice flour (70g), tapioca starch(50g), and potato starch(96g))

3/4 teaspoon guar gum

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup (8 ounces, 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups (400 grams) sugar

5 eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used meyer lemons to great effect here)

3 tsp lemon zest

1 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tsp Cointreau

1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350˚.  Butter and line with parchment paper two 9-10 inch round cake pans.

In a stand mixer or using a handheld beater, beat the butter for one minute, scrape down the sides of the bowl, add in the sugar, and beat for 5-8 minutes until fluffy, smooth, and lightened in color, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides.

Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Mix for one to two minutes on medium high after all the eggs have been put in until the batter is smooth and shiny.

Beat in the vanilla, lemon juice, zest, and Cointreau.  Add in the dry ingredients all at once, fold with a spatula a few turns, and then mix just until combined.  Add in the sour cream and mix until there are no more white streaks in the batter.

Evenly distribute the batter (it will be a bit runny) between the two prepared cake tins, and then bake, rotating at least once, for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned.  Let cool in the pans and then cool further on wire racks.  Do not fill until completely cool.

Lemon Curd:

Adapted from David Lebovitz

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter cut into little cubes

Mix everything besides the butter together in a medium saucepan.  Add in the butter and whisk constantly over low heat until the butter melts.  Turn the heat up to medium/medium low.  Continue to whisk constantly until the curd thickens.  Once it holds the lines of the whisk and seems thick enough, take off the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer.  Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting:

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

1/4 cup raspberry jam

1/4 cup fresh raspberries

1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon Cointreau

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.  Add in the sugar and beat until it is mixed in. Add in everything else and beat until it reaches your desired consistency.

To Put it Together

The cakes were pretty flat and did not need much trimming.  If you find yours do, trim them so that their tops are flat and they are the same size.  To fill, place the cakes on a cake stand with strips of parchment paper underneath the cake.  Put about 3/4 of the lemon curd on the center of the bottom cake.  Spread it out evenly, leaving a half inch margin on the outside.  Put the other cake on top.  Remove any lemon curd that may have squeezed out.  To ice, use a spatular or an icing spatula to spread as much frosting as you want around that cake.  Top with fresh raspberries and enjoy!

Gluten Free French Bread:

Adapted from Pamela’s Modern Family Table

2/3 cup millet flour (94g)

1/3 cup sorghum flour (47g)

1/3 cup cornstarch (43g)

1/3 cup tapioca flour (33g)

1 1/4 teaspoons guar gum

4 teaspoons sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup very warm water

Grease two bread pans or one long french loaf pan.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Add in water and olive oil and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another three minutes.  Scrape the mixture into prepared pan(s) and cover with a clean tea towel.  Let rise for 40-50 minutes or until doubled in size.  Preheat the oven to 400˚.  Fill a pie plate with water and place it on the bottom of the oven.  Bake the loaves for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and they sound hollow when you tap the bottom of them.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then serve.  Keeps for a couple days if well wrapped at room temperature.

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5 comments
  1. Barty Crouch Jr. said:

    sounds delicious!

  2. Sam said:

    Oh wow this looks so beautiful! How perfect are your layers! Mine are always hideously slanted I seem to have no hand eye coordination whatsoever when it comes to knife skills x

    • Eliza B said:

      Mine are normally terrible too. I worked in a cake shop briefly and well lets just say I had the most slanted cakes in the shop. For some reason, people don’t think slanted cakes are the prettiest. But with this cake the cakes themselves just turned out perfectly even, it was quite lucky.

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