Category Archives: Sweet Things

Gluten Free Basic White Cake

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Gluten Free Ratio Rally

Baking with a cause: YOU and getting you back in the kitchen too!

I’ve written this post a million times over since I decided to host this month’s Gluten Free Ratio Rally.  Way back in the beginning, I signed up for this with high hopes – and I was being completely selfish when I chose the task:  cakes.  And white/yellow cakes.  (Sorry, chocolate cake fans..although a few bloggers appealed to you, I was really on the hunt for fabulous GF white cakes.)

I say selfishly because I do have some fabulous cake recipes.  My favorites are my sponge cake recipe and the mini-vanilla filled cupcakes.  But really, I have been longing for layer cakes due to their versatility.  My favorite cakes have always been white layer cakes.  It’s true!  Even since I started making cakes in our house when I was in elementary school. (I did a fine job of both trashing the kitchen and baking a decent cake.)  My favorite white cake recipe is still being worked on to convert it to gluten free.  I needed some help.  And some inspiration.

And (I hoped)  I can’t be the only one with an aversion to chocolate cakes. (Right??)

And I say that reluctantly because I know that some very fabulous people in my life have made some incredible flourless chocolate cakes for me (birthdays at work, etc).  I’ve eaten each slice with a smile.  But I have a confession to make:  I’ve never liked chocolate cakes.  At the age of six, I completely overindulged:  chocolate cake + chocolate ice cream + first day in new state/neighborhood/house = bad news for the future of chocolate cake in my life.  I am refraining from using details here … after all, this *IS* supposed to be a food blog.

So you see, I am selfish in my quest for the *perfect* gluten free non-chocolate cake.  I’m not the only one who realizes the beauty of a white cake – the versatility, etc.  Oh yes. A white cake is where it is at, people!  And you will see from this month’s ratio posters just how fabulously versatile it is!

I fell on a sword this month taste-testing over 9 cake recipes ideas in four weeks.  Not too pointy of a sword, mind you.  If the cake tasted great, but failed?  I have crumbled them into a baggie and made some “cake pops” for my daughter(s) and I.  We share one “cake pop” after swim lessons.  But I think I’m going to have to invest in some swim time for myself after a month of cake eating.  Ay ay ay!

I’ve discovered a few things about cake baking – especially gluten free cake baking – that I’d taken for granted previously.

  1. Watch your baking time CAREFULLY and check often – especially within the last 5-6 minutes.  An over baked gluten free cake = the Sahara Desert in your mouth.
  2. Have your eggs and butter at room temperature.  But don’t do this if you live without air-conditioning and your house is 80F.  Not cool.
  3. Add your eggs one by one and beat them in for a couple of minutes before adding the next.  (No matter how hard your child pulls on your legs/hands.  Add the eggs one at a time!)
  4. Parchment lined/bottomed cake pans are just as fabulous as dusting them with gluten free flour – and easier for me.
  5. Gluten free cake batter is definitely thicker than gluten-filled cake batter.  Don’t stress when you see it.
And most importantly:  the RATIO makes a difference.  You really do have to measure the flours by weight if you are going to change up the flours you chose to use.  If you see a cake within the several that will be shared today as part of the rally, please do take the time to use the flours they chose to use.  For each of the cakes I made, I used 228g of flour.  Sometimes this was the equivalent of 1 cup of rice flour + 1/2 cup tapioca flour OR 1 cup of rice flour + 1/3 cup potato starch OR 1 cup millet flour + 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sweet rice flour.  Yikes.
I wanted to make a cake that anyone could make with readily available flours that are relatively inexpensive as far as gluten free flours go.  I wanted it to be something your best friend could make for you or your mom or your colleague if they wished to.  So many times our diet is intimidating and expensive.  I just wanted to simplify it all.  (And I’m not going to tell you about my initial starts of using whole grains, less sugar, etc because <girl smacks self in head now> I was making a cake.  I gave myself permission not to think about applesauce in lieu of butter, etc.  I just wanted a cake.  And a good one at that.
I ended up with several.  From one recipe too.

GF Basic White Cake
The basic cake.  With only the primary frosting on.  I had intended to frost this further, but the Chicklet got a hold of the sprinkles and she went to town.  So, it stayed just like this:  minimal frosting and a fabulous crumb.
GF Basic White Cake with Raspberry Jam center

For these little cupcakes, we filled them with a dollop of raspberry jam – (and some with Nutella – YUM!).  No frosting was needed.

GF Basic White Cake with Strawberry Jam and Strawberry ButtercreamSimilar to the one above, filled with sliced strawberries and topped with fresh strawberry buttercream frosting.  All things pink are met with approval from the Chicklet.

The ratio for a basic cake is as follows:

1:1:1:1

Egg : Sugar : Flour : Butter

I’m not convinced that I’ve achieved the cake I dream of.  But, in looking at the titles of the cakes of my fellow GF Ratio Rally participants, I see that I have a fabulous future of cake testing ahead of me.  (Tiramisu! Confetti Cake! Lemon Tea Cake! – just to name a few!)  Maybe one of you will find a way to make it even more fabulous.  That is the beauty of being a gluten free community:  learning, sharing and growing together.

Basic Gluten Free White Cake

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces – 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces – 1 cup (226 grams) sugar
  • 4 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 226 grams “My” gluten free flour mix, sifted (1 1/2 cups + 2 teaspoons)
  • OR 175 grams (1 scant cup) rice flour + 50 grams (1/3 cup) potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line the bottom of two 8 inch cake rounds with parchment paper OR butter each and flour with rice flour (NOT the rice flour called for in the recipe – please use 1 Tablespoon or 2 in addition to that called for in the recipe).
  2. Beat butter in the mixer until light and creamy.
  3. Add sugar.  Beat again for several minutes (3-4) on medium until light and fluffy.
  4. Add one egg.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Add next egg and beat again 2 more minutes.  Repeat until all eggs have been incorporated thoroughly.
  5. Add extracts.  Mix in.
  6. Sift together flour(s), baking powder and salt.  Add to cake batter.  Mix in carefully so as not to lose the softness created from mixing in the eggs/sugar.
  7. Divide into cake rounds evenly.  Smooth the surface with a wet spatula.  (I found it helpful to have a glass of water nearby and I kept dipping the rubber spatula into the water to keep the batter from sticking.)
  8. Bake until the top is just golden brown and a toothpick (or cake tester) inserted comes out shiny but not sticky – about 18-20 minutes.  Check your cake as you approach the 15 minute mark at a minimum to avoid over-baking.
  9. Remove from pans by flipping on to cooling racks after removing from the oven.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.
If you want to, this recipe easily converts in to cupcakes.  Bake for 15 – 18 minutes for 12 cupcakes.  When making cupcakes, we loved adding dollops of goodness (homemade raspberry or strawberry jams, Nutella, etc) in to the center of each cupcake and then we topped them with more batter.  These additions also added moisture to the cakes as well and helped them last longer. (Well, as long as a cupcakes can last around kids.)

Please check out the other fabulous Gluten Free Ratio Rally participants and their cakes, I know I will be doing taste-tests frequently from their ideas.  In fact, my sister-in-law is coming this week for a visit… so we have another birthday cake to make.  (Great excuse, huh?)

Gluten free Fresh Ginger and Rhubarb Crisp

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Fresh ginger and rhubard crisp:  Gluten free, of course.

Growing up we used to have a couple rhubarb plants outside the cabin door.  I’m sure they were there every year, but I didn’t always notice.  After all, there were blueberries in our yard and across the street.  BLUEBERRIES!  Yum!  And I’m sure my childhood memories are off in their timing, but I remember always wishing for a “blueberry pie on the 4th of July” as my Dad would say was possible when he was little.  But really? I don’t think we hardly ever had the luck of a pie on the 4th.  I never minded the blueberry hunt, however.

But one year my mom made strawberry and rhubarb pie for our 4th of July.  (Once again, no blueberries were to be found in time.)  Oh, that pie  was delicious.  Ever since that pie, I paid attention to that funky looking rhubarb plant with new interest.  That thing had potential!

While we didn’t receive the rhubarb in our CSA, it was available through the local food organization we’ve been trying out this month.  (See this post for more info.)  And even though I didn’t have a clue as to what I would end up doing with the bunch I ordered, I went ahead and ordered them anyway.

I have made a GF rhubarb cake, but that’s not what I was craving. I wanted more rhubarb flavor.  We had strawberries on hand so I was thinking a pie like my mom made.  But the strawberries were demolished by my Love and the girls with such glee that I just had to find a plan B.

So I called my mom.  :D

I asked her for her recipe for a rhubarb crisp.  She found one for rhubarb pudding that called for an egg.  An egg?  That did not convince me.  I’m not really a “pudding” kind of gal.  And then was the possible bread pudding with rhubarb.  Again, not appealing.  Not only do we not have GF bread on hand, but I really wanted the rhubarb to have its bold flavors be the center stage.

I read to her the section about rhubarb from the book “The Flavor Bible“.  (This book lists fabulous flavor combinations/suggestions but is not a recipe book.  I’ve been loving the fact that I have this on hand, especially for my CSA deliveries.  It’s helping me change things up a bit from our routine cooking/baking.)  When I saw ginger listed, I knew I had to try it.  I love fresh ginger and we had just purchased some that is so fabulously yellow and bright flavored, I couldn’t resist.

I only wish my mom were here to reap the benefit of recipe planning over the phone with me.  I think she would have enjoyed this too. We have a lot of telephone-recipe conversations.  These calls happen A LOT when I am at the grocery store and saw something fabulous.  I call my mom and she’d tell me what she would make/do with whatever I had in hand.  My poor mom.  But hey, at least she knows that we’re eating healthy!  LOL

So, here’s to you, Mom.  Make this o the 4th of July for the family.  I’m sorry we won’t be there to see the scraggly rhubarb plant (if it still there) in person. I can’t wait for my girls to get “Up North” and play like I used to.  Maybe they will take an interest in that rhubarb plant too.

I love you, mom!

GF  Fresh Ginger and Rhubarb Crisp

You can open a printable copy of this recipe here.

Ingredients:
3 cups cleaned, chopped rhubarb (halve the stalk, then 1/4 inch pieces)
1 cup sugar
1/2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
Crisp topping:
1 cup certified gluten free oats
1/3 cup crushed nuts (walnuts or pecans) optional
1/3 – 1/2 cup butter, room temperature  (more if you want bigger chunks of topping, less if you want it more crumbly)
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Clean, halve and chop your rhubarb stalks into 1/4-1/3 inch pieces.  Toss into a large bowl.
  2. Grate some of the fresh ginger (about 1/4 of it) over the rhubarb.  (I used a microplane, so I had some ginger juice dripping in too.) Finely chop the remaining ginger (into slices, then smaller pieces).  Add to the rhubarb.
  3. Over the top of the rhubarb, pour the sugar, orange juice and sweet rice flour.  Mix well.
  4. Pour into a 9 by 13 inch baking dish/pan.
  5. In the same bowl, add your room temperature butter, oats, brown sugar and salt.
  6. Squish together (I either use my hand or a potato masher).
  7. Sprinkle on top of the rhubarb.
  8. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until the crisp topping is golden brown and the crisp is bubbling nicely around the edges.
  9. Allow to cool a bit before enjoying (hot sugar!).
  10. Serve as is or with a dollop of coconut ice cream.

Enjoy!
~Kate

PS.  If you are looking for a basic crisp recipe, here’s the one I shared ages ago (again, with love from my mom):  GF Apple Crisp

Unbelievably fabulous: Gluten Free Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Really. Un-freakin’-Believably DELICIOUS.

GF Oatmeal & Peanut Butter Cookies

GF Peanut Butter, Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo by Kate Chan

I have finally clicked “POST GRADES” on my last class for the semester. The finals are all stacked up neatly and ready to be returned to the students. And I am DONE DONE DONE! I truly love my job (parenting wins, but teaching is great too! LOL) but the paperwork involved is insane. Really. It is.

It follows you wherever you are: classroom desk, reminders written on post-it notes scrunched quickly into pockets or my purse, email (everywhere!), class web page updates, in the car next to the kids day-care bag rides my school BAGSSSSSS, and on every spare surface in the family room/office of the house. Teaching paperwork hangs around link a lingering perfume. And after a while, you are almost drowning in it. And it never ends.

I am just getting better at carving out time for me and my family. There are several hours each day when we are just here together – wherever that may be. But together? Always.

And now both babes are engaged in conversation and action (the baby just sat up for the first time tonight by herself!), life is getting good. The Chicklet and I have been whipping up cookies, rolls and pancakes like nobody’s business. And she has some interesting ideas for flavors. In her mind, everything needs a little cumin. I’m fairly certain that this influence comes from two things: (1) my mention of needing milk and cumin as the purpose for our grocery trip MONTHS ago and (2) her dad will eat anything and EVERYTHING with cumin in it. ;D

I know I’ve been stressed about the paperwork/semester finals etc when we’ve made several batches of cookies. And once again, it’s fabulous to have colleagues to happily volunteer to munch on your test batches of cookies or my booty would seriously needs its own zip code. :D

Do you have a favorite cookie flavor?

I enjoy peanut butter cookies and my sister’s blue ribbon winning “Aunt Selma’s Oatmeal” cookies. But when I decided to make some cookies, a couple things came up. First, I’m not a fan of using vegetable shortening any more. I can really taste it after making something with it. So that was something I needed to modify from the Aunt Selma’s recipe. And two: I wanted some chocolate! :D And that is always a happy thing – unless there isn’t a lot of chocolate in the house.

Anyway, after a few attempts, I have my perfect hybrid recipe. This one is easily adapted too. I’ve used it with almond nut butter in lieu of the peanut butter. I’ve used peanut butter and sliced almonds (instead of the oatmeal) too. I’ve used my GF flour mix with delicious results, and my favorite batch used just millet and sweet rice flours. YUM! Oh – and you can make large or small cookies – and even freeze the little dough balls for “cookies on the fly” if you would like. (This was particularly helpful for me as I am the only cookie-sweet-tooth in the house.) And there is no need for gums of any kind.

Genius, right?

Well, okay. Not really. But it is fabulously tasty. And I will continue to make this recipe over and over again. I think my next trip to the store will involve some hazelnut butter, sliced almonds and dark chocolate chunks. :D It’s going to be a fabulous weekend.

How will you make yours?

GF Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe makes 24 -28 small (1.5 inch) cookies or 12 -18 large (2.5 inch+) cookies

Download a printable copy of this recipe here.

Or get a PDF copy of it here. (with a photo to remind you)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, cold but not hard
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1 egg
1 1/12 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup GF Flour OR 2/3 cup millet flour + 1/3 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 GF-certified oats (OR 1/2-2/3 cup sliced almonds)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (OR peanut butter-chocolate chips, or chocolate chunks, etc)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F if baking (not freezing) the cookies.
  2. Cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar for 4 minutes on medium.
  3. Add vanilla and egg. Beat mixture again for 2 minutes on medium-high.
  4. Add peanut butter. Beat again for 2 minutes on medium-high.
  5. Add flour(s), oats, baking soda and salt. Mix again. Dough will be exactly like regular cookie dough.
  6. Quickly and carefully (so as not to mash them) mix in the chocolate chips and chocolate chunks.
  7. If you are freezing the cookies, form in to the size ball that you want. Place the balls on a plate so that they are not touching. Place the plate of cookie balls with a loose covering of plastic wrap in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When the balls have hardened and are no longer super-sticky, move them into a freezer-ready package (freezer bag or other type of freezer container). Use as you would any other frozen cookie ball. Remove as many as you wish and bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes (small cookies) or 22-25 minutes (larger ones). Watch the baking time as it will vary based on the size of your cookie, how frozen/cold the cookie dough, and your oven. The photo above shows the golden brown tinges that you are looking for to determine “doneness”.
  8. If you are baking the cookies right away, shape into balls. (I use my ice cream scoop when wickedly lazy and wish for large cookies. It works great with this recipe. I might just have to invest in the little cookie scoops.)
  9. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet covered with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 11-13 minutes for small cookies or for 15 – 18 minutes for large ones.
  10. Remove from the oven when the top begins to turn golden brown. (See the photo above.) Allow the cookies to cool for 3-4 minutes before attempting to move them on to a cooling rack. Cool and pack for transport to work (or to a hiding place in the kitchen for your secret stash of goodness).

Enjoy!
Kate

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