Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Quinoa Flour {gluten-free, vegan}

It has been a very long while since I’ve posted anything here. Please excuse the dust. However, I have a wonderful reason for my time away…

Our sweet son, Cecil!

This time last year he was still growing in my belly. I was elated, engrossed, and understandably monomaniacal about it all. Hence, the reason for my absence around these parts.

Then, in early January, he arrived.  We’ve never known such love.

He’s almost eight months old now(!) and fantastic, such a delight. And this new role, the wonderful chaos of it all, has nearly become second nature. For me, that means there is time to not only make dessert, but occasionally take a photograph, as well.

So, what better way to celebrate and begin anew than with a cake?

This recipe has been a long time coming. I have been tweaking it for a couple of years, tinkering away with the combination of whole grain flours, the ratio of liquids, different sweeteners, etc. I think I finally have it dialed in.

First, I love this cake’s thrift and convenience. Since the ingredient list consists of pantry goods, you can make it on a whim, no dashing out to the store for some last-minute perishable. I like to think this is the kind of cake our great-grandmothers would have made, perhaps when times were lean, but there was still reason to celebrate.

You’ll find no butter, milk, or eggs, a rare feat for any cake. Instead we have just the right amount of vinegar, oil, and water, a wet slurry that when combined with a bit of baking soda creates some sort of miraculous leavening concoction. Aside from being vegan, the cake is gluten-free, too. I’d rather not dwell too long on what’s missing, though, because this is not a glass-is-half-empty kind of cake. It is, in a word, exemplary: moist, dense, super chocolaty, with a lovely crumb.

The use of quinoa flour adds an almost undetectable, nuanced compliment to the cocoa, not to mention a hefty nutritional boost. You just taste complexity. I’ve talked about this combination before: chocolate + quinoa flour.  It’s a real favorite of mine.

Please, do give it a try and let me know your thoughts. I think it might just become one of your favorite cakes, too.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Quinoa Flour
Truth be told, we’ve been known to have a little sliver alongside our morning cup of joe…just an idea. Also, I offer a range for both the quantity of water and the baking soda. If you live at sea level you’ll likely need the higher range of each, or 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. I live at an extremely high altitude so I almost always need less liquid and slightly less leavening. One last note, this batter, when immediately poured into your baking dish, is pretty thin and pourable. If you wait, the batter begins to thicken.

Dry mix:
1/2 c. quinoa flour
1/2 c. brown rice flour
1/3 c. potato starch
3 T. tapioca starch
1/3 c. cocoa powder
3/4 t. xanthan gum (a heaping 1/4 t. if using Bob’s Red Mill xanthan gum)
3/4 – 1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Wet mix:
1 c. turbinado sugar (or white sugar)
3/4 – 1 c. water
1/4 cup neutral-tasting oil like grape seed
1 T. apple cider vinegar (white vinegar works also)
1 1/2 t. GF real vanilla extract

  1. Preaheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Let the wet mix sit for a moment to give the turbinado sugar a chance to dissolve. This is when I oil my pan.
  4. Add the dry mix to the wet mix and whisk until fully incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into an 8″ round, oiled pan.
  6. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so.
Advertisements

Confetti Kale Slaw {gluten-free, vegan}

We whip this up all the time and scarf it down almost as quickly.  This kale slaw also makes a great addition to any Tex-Mex spread like enchiladas, fajitas, tamales, etc.

CONFETTI KALE SLAW

Kale is a tricky dark, leafy green to eat raw because it can be quite bitter and tough.  That’s where the avocado and lemon juice come in.  By massaging the guacamole-like dressing into the kale, the heat from your hands along with the lemon juice break down the tough, bitter leaves, resulting in a much more mellow flavor.  The avocado adds creaminess and you punctuate the newly tender green with sweet bell pepper and the warmth of a little onion. All these ingredients work together to make a pleasantly tangy, creamy, sweet and spicy salad.

Serves 6-8 as a side

  • 2 bunches of kale, chopped into thin 1/4″ x 1″ strips
  • 2-3 ripe avocados
  • juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced

In a large bowl mash up the avocados with the lemon juice, olive oil and a little salt and pepper until you achieve the consistency of a somewhat smooth guacamole.

Add the chopped kale and massage into the avocado spread, continue working in the avocado until the salad has shrunk by about half and the kale is flexible.

Add the bell peppers and onion, mixing thoroughly with your hands. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. I usually end up adding more lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve immediately. We like to let ours sit in the fridge a few hours and allow the flavors marry.

Blueberry Cardamom Breakfast Cake {gluten-free, vegan}

This cake is a year-round staple for us.  It is full of whole grains, dotted with plump blueberries and sweetened just right for a breakfast dish. My favorite part is the crunchy raw sugar top, and of course, the spicy warmth of the cardamom.

BLUEBERRY CARDAMOM BREAKFAST CAKE
When it comes to vegan baking, especially cakes, I always err on the side of a dryer batter than a wetter one. A cake with too much moisture results in a sunken gooey mess which is impossible to salvage.

I love the rumpled irregular surface of this cake. It looks so old-fashioned and rustic, the lumps only add to its charm.

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour (for GF use – 3/4 cup millet flour, 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour (or more brown rice flour), 1/2 cup tapioca starch, 1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 mashed ripe banana (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup butter or ghee, at room temperature (for vegans substitute – coconut oil, Spectrum organic shortening or vegan margarine)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup warm water or milk of choice (rice, almond, cow)

Additions:

  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon or more raw or turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a 9″ round cake pan.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. In a stand mixer combine the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined.

Fold in thawed and drained blueberries. Scrape batter (which will be quite thick) into the oiled pan. Sprinkle top of cake evenly with 1 tablespoon raw or turbinado sugar.

Bake 50 – 60 minutes until firm to the touch and a tooth pick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cover the cake with aluminum foil if it begins to brown too quickly (40 minute mark for me).

* If you’re not gluten free omit the xanthan gum and substitute 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour for the gluten free flours, but I would highly recommend at least keeping the millet flour, because it really lends a unique and complimentary flavor.  If you go that route you only need 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting {gluten-free, vegan}

Cupcakes aren’t usually my first pick for dessert. Most often I hanker for fruit filled pastries and the like, but every now and then a girl just wants something cloying, decadent and over the top. Cupcakes fit the bill swimmingly.

VANILLA CUPCAKES WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING {GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN}
This cupcake recipe itself is a great find. The batter rises beautifully to create perfectly domed, lightly sweetened vanilla cakes. If you don’t have any dietary restrictions these are still great cupcakes!  Especially when you’re out of eggs.  Just substitute 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour for the gluten free flours and omit the xanthan gum.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
3/4 cups rice, soy or almond milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with liners.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flours through salt.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients: milk through vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until thoroughly incorporated. Divide the batter evenly amongst the muffin cups, filling them about 2/3 full.
  5. Bake 350 degrees 20-22 minutes until lighly browned and springy to the touch.  You can also use a toothpick to test for doneness.  Don’t overcook or the cupcakes will be tough and chewy.

Chocolate Frosting:
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine or Spectrum organic shortening (or about 5 tablespoons room temperature coconut oil)
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Using a stand mixer beat the first five ingredients together until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.

Our Daily Bread

Bread – one of life’s simplest pleasures – requires no long-winded introduction. It has its place as a staple in various forms through most cultures, be it a French baguette, India’s naan or Ethiopia’s injera. I can think of no other food that is so humble. It rarely takes a leading role, but would be sorely missed if absent. Consider it for moment: hamburgers without a bun, panzanella sans the croutons, or roast beef with no side of Yorkshire Pudding!

However, for the Celiac or gluten intolerant it can become a swift and crashing reality, at least at first.

I have spent the last three years searching, testing, substituting, trying and trying some more to find a suitable gluten free bread. The worst recipes yeilded flavorless bricks destined for the trash; the best recipes were decent fresh from the oven, but, within hours, turned to a dry, crumbly mess. This irked me to my core. I was also continually perplexed by the odd and, what seemed to me, uneccessary additions to make gluten free bread “work”: vinegar, eggs, yogurt, baking powder? I am a firm believer that good bread requires little other than flour, yeast, water and a touch of sugar, to perhaps feed the yeast.

At last someone proved my hypothesis for me.

This brings me to today’s post: my favorite homemade bread recipe, ideal for tearing and dipping in olive oil, building sandwiches, or toasting with a smear of jam for afternoon tea. So good, you’ll forget it’s gluten free.

Sincerely, you might shed a tear.  I know I did.

MARK ENGELBERG’S MULTI-GRAIN BREAD
from Aprovechar’s post “Bread for the First Time in a Long Time”

I have googled this Mr. Engelberg with nary a result other than this recipe. I have no idea who this gentleman is, but he is surely a saint, for this bread is delicious: pliable, pleasantly chewy, perfectly moist and it stays this way for days; not to mention the flavor: subtle whole grain complexity with a pleasantly sour tang from the yeast. Please do study the perfectly irregular air holes, the crispy outer crust. Most cherishing of all, this bread is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free and vegan.

I bake the suggested two loaves at a time, feel free to halve the ingredients, if you wish. I store one loaf in an air tight container at room temperature and freeze the other for future use.

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups millet flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour!)
1 cup cornstarch (or more potato starch)
1 cup tapioca flour
4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (not instant)

Wet Ingredients:
4 teaspoons olive oil
3  1/4 cups warm (not hot) water

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the dry ingredients: millet flour through yeast.  Add the wet ingredients
  • Using the paddle attachment, add the wet ingredients (water and olive oil) and beat until thoroughly mixed, scraping down the sides if necesary. There’s no gluten, so you can’t over do it.
  • Evenly distribute the dough between two oiled loaf pans.
  • Allow dough to rise until doubled in size or until it climbs a little over the edge of the pans, 30-60 minutes. Here are three ways to do this:

Option 1: Set loaves, covered, in any warm location.
Option 2: Preheat your oven to 200 degrees while mixing the dough, turn the oven off and allow the bread to rise in the warmed oven.
Option 3: Per Sally at Aprovechar, heat a glass of water in your microwave until it boils. Set the glass to the back and enclose the loaves in the steamy microwave to rise.

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Once risen, bake both loaves for 10 minutes then cover with foil and bake an additional 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool 10 minutes or so before removing from the pan.  This slices better once completely cool.  However, I never have the patience to wait that long before digging into it.

 

*** TROUBLESHOOTING OR SUBSTITUTIONS ***
If you have any trouble with this recipe or have questions about ingredient substitutions click over to Aprovechar’s original post and read through her comment section.  She has over 250 comments regarding troubleshooting and substitutions.  I make her recipe exactly as written and I’ve never had any trouble with it, so I can’t speak from experience about using any ingredients other than those listed above.