Tag Archives: Gluten Free

The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

petal cake with candles 1I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS CAKE!! Sorry for the shouting, but I can’t contain my elation. As Joy would say, this cake is “Bonkers Awesome.” My search for a blog-worthy gluten free chocolate cake has been going on for quite a while now. My youngest son follows a gluten-free and casein-free diet. For special occasions he goes off the wagon, but he doesn’t feel all that great when he does. This week is his birthday and I wanted him to celebrate without feeling sick.sliced cake with glass of milkThe problem with most gluten-free cakes is that they have a dry and crumbly texture. They often fall apart when you bite into them. The main reason for this is that gluten is a protein that provides structure and strength to baked goods so they don’t crumble and fall apart. Gluten also forms air pockets in the batter which leads to light and fluffy baked goods.

The good folks over at America’s Test Kitchen have figured out how to get around these problems and created a stellar GF chocolate cake. I made the cake twice. The first one was served to my son’s co-workers at his office. No one could believe this was a GF cake. Unfortunately, I could not photograph the inside of that cake, because it would be kind of rude to serve a previously sliced up cake. I made the second cake to have at home with friends and family. To them I served a cake that had been hacked up and photographed, because that’s what you do with family.3 slicesThe cake batter comes together very quickly and does not require a mixer. I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour Mix. In gluten free baking, it is important to use a blend of different gluten free flours, not just one kind. Using both melted bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder provide the perfect chocolate flavour. Baking soda and baking powder give the needed lift and xanthan gum supplies strength and structure. Xanthan gum is a common ingredient in gluten free baking. Without gluten you need something to act as the binding agent for the flour. It keeps things moist and helps to hold the cake together without crumbling.

Vegetable oil, instead of butter is the perfect fat of choice as it keeps the cake incredibly moist. I substituted coconut milk for whole milk, as I wanted my version to be dairy free. Almond or rice milk would work too.

To keep the cake super moist, I brushed the cooled cake layers with a coffee flavoured simple syrup. For the frosting, I decided to make a mocha flavoured Swiss buttercream. I substituted unsalted margarine for butter, because I wanted to keep it dairy free. While the taste and texture of margarine will never beat that of butter, in this application, with the addition of chocolate and coffee to create a mocha frosting, the results were very delicious.Ingredients for Swiss Meringue ButtercreamA Swiss buttercream is a bit more complicated than an American buttercream. In an American buttercream you simply beat powdered sugar and butter, and any flavouring you like. With a Swiss buttercream, egg whites and granulated sugar are whisked and heated to 160°F and then whipped into a meringue. Softened butter (and any flavouring) is then added to the meringue. Swiss meringue is smoother, lighter and less sweet than American buttercream. Yes, it’s more work, but I think it’s worth it. You will need a stand mixer and a candy or instant read thermometer.cooking meringuewhites and sugar whipped to stiff peaksmocha buttercreamI decided to decorate the cake with a petal frosting technique. It looks quite impressive but is actually quite simple to execute. You will need a 1/2 inch round piping tip, some disposable piping bags and a small spoon or off-set spatula. First, pipe a vertical row of dots. Next, spread the buttercream dots with a small spatula or spoon. This creates the look of petals. Repeat, one vertical row at a time, until you go all the way around the cake.petal cake 1I have demonstrated the technique in this video.

sliced cake with milk pitcher

Click here to print recipe for The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.

slice with milk


Gingerbread Autumn Leaves (Gluten-Free)

drying-on-black-background-72-dpiWhile the leaves have already finished falling where I live, I couldn’t resist making these gorgeous edible ones. It’s just too soon to start making winter cookies. I refuse to get sucked into that vortex this early in the season.  I wanted to make the cookies gluten free since one of my sons follows a gluten- free diet and I was curious to try out Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. It is a blend of white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum. You just substitute it cup for cup in your regular recipes.

I was inspired by Elizabeth over at  lizybakes and crouton crackerjacks on youtube.

Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper and freeze for about 30 minutes before trying to cut out shapes.rolling-out-doughI got some beautiful copper cutters from coppergiftscom. They have thousands of different shapes. If you are a cookie lover it is easy to spend lots of time (and money!) over at their site. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. cutting-out-leavesI mixed up 4 colours of royal icing for my leaves. The formula to get these colours is in the recipe at the end of this post. I like to place the piping bags in a tall drinking glass. I place a crumpled up dampened paper towel in the bottom of each glass too keep the icing from drying out and getting all crusty, once you cut a hole in the piping bag. autumn-coloursYou can only decorate one cookie at a time as the icing must be wet to create the marbling effect. You will need toothpicks and a paper towel to wipe the toothpick off after dragging it through the wet icing. ready-to-pipeI created a video to show the technique.

The cookies will need to dry overnight before you can package them up. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. drying-on-wire-rackPerfect with a glass of milk or an afternoon latte!cookies-and-latte-72-dpi

Click here to print recipe for gluten-free-gingerbread-autumn-leaves.


Za’atar Roasted Carrot and Avocado Socca Pizzas (Socca Palooza: Chapter 3)

carrot avocado pizzaThis socca pizza is the creation of Gwyneth Paltrow. Regardless of your feelings for Gwynnie, this socca is pretty awesome! (For the record, I’m a fan) It was featured in this spring’s In Style Magazine. Bookmark this one for when you have to cook for those annoying vegan friends. (No judgement here!!)

Toss sliced carrots with olive oil, salt and za’atar. Bonus points if you can find some purple and yellow carrots to mix in with the orange ones. Roast them in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. roasted carrotsAvocado, cilantro and lime join the party. A lemon-tahini sauce makes a fine accompaniment to drizzle on top.carrot avocado pizza toppings

Click here to print recipe for Za’arat Roasted Carrots with Avocado Socca Pizzas.



Farinata and a leap of faith.

Sometimes in life, you just have to take a leap of faith and believe that it will all turn out ok. I am not what you would call a worrier. I have discovered that the things you stay up all night angsting over usually never end up happening. It is those things it never even occurred to you to worry about that blindside you and whack you over the head. So I live my life somewhat like a turtle, not waiting for catastrophes to befall me. Disasters know where to find me if they need me.

Today’s blog post involves a recipe that takes a leap of faith to make. I was served Farinata (Italian Chickpea Flatbread) by my girlfriend Marla last week. I was visiting her in Toronto and she served me this unusual flatbread. It was a crispy and golden on top, and addictively chewy in the center. The bottom crust had a thin film of deliciously fruity olive oil and the flatbread was flavored with rosemary, salt and black pepper. She discovered the recipe on the lovely blog, Kalyn’s Kitchen.

My friend Marla is one of the brightest and accomplished women I know. She was recently named one of Canada’s Top Women Entrepreneurs. In addition to being smart as hell, she is also quite elegant and stylish. She drinks Champagne cocktails. And on top of all that, she is a fantastic cook. Everytime she cooks for me, I leave with exciting new ideas and recipes to try.

Farinata is a thin flatbread made from chickpea flour. It originated in the Italian region of Liguria. It is quite a popular snack there. Bakeries throughout the Ligurian region post the time in their windows that the farinata will be coming out of the oven and customers line up around the corner for a hot slice. I did not post a sign letting my family know when it was coming out of our oven, but somehow they knew exactly when to appear in the kitchen to devour it.

It is the perfect appetizer to serve with drinks. Marla suggested topping room temperature slices with arugula, shaved slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh figs and then drizzling the whole thing with a good aged balsamic vinegar. I was unable to find the fresh figs, but even without them, it was amazing. My friend Josh said it tasted like summer!

The leap of faith for this recipe comes when you mix all the ingredients together and look at the “dough”. Chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt are mixed together in a large bowl. I ended up switching to a whisk to make the batter smooth. The batter was so thin and watery I just couldn’t believe that this would turn into a flatbread.

After mixing, the batter is left on the counter to rest for several hours. I was quite busy and did not get back to it for about 8 hours. When I returned, it looked exactly as it had that morning. For some reason I had expected it to have thickened or at least risen or bubbled. But it still resembled a very thin crepe batter. I preheated the oven to 475° F and once it was hot I placed a 12 inch round pizza pan in the oven for about 10 minutes to get it blisteringly hot. While I waited, I chopped up some fresh rosemary and mixed it into the batter. You could also use a 9 x 13 inch baking sheet with sides.

Once the hot pan comes out of the oven, cover the bottom with a thin film of good olive oil. I used about a tablespoon. Pour in the batter, sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper and prepare to take a second leap of faith, that you will get the pan from the counter into the oven without spilling any batter. I placed my pizza pan on a sheet pan, but still managed to spill some on the bottom of my oven when I was sliding it in.

I kept turning on the oven light to see if anything was happening. I was convinced I was going to end up with chickpea soup. Sure enough, at around the 10 minute mark, it started to solidify around the edges, and after a further 10 minutes, I had a golden chickpea flatbread!

This is wonderful served plain without any toppings, but let your imagination go wild. Pecorino Romano, pears and honey would be fantastic. I would also love to try it with burrata, basil and ripe summer tomatoes!

Click here to print the recipe for Farinata.