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.

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.

Caramelized Banana Bread {gluten-free, vegan}

Caramelized Banana Bread {gluten-free, vegan}
Serendipitously, I was flipping through a magazine in the dentist’s chair last week, all sorts of specialized dental gadgetry filled my mouth, when I stumbled upon this little number.
Caramelized Banana Bread {gluten-free, vegan} Caramelized Banana Bread {gluten-free, vegan}CARAMELIZED BANANA BREAD
Adapted from Rachel Ray’s Everyday

I successfully adapted this to be gluten, dairy, soy and egg-free, with out Ener-G egg replacer, too.  I used clarified butter for the caramelization, but I really think coconut oil would work beautifully, too. And then it would be vegan.

I was nervous that this might be cloying for my tastes, but it was not. As a matter of fact, it had a wonderful balance between caramel sweetness and whole grain goodness. I just might have to make this again on Christmas morning.

3 or 4 large bananas
3/4 cups cane sugar
2 tablespoons clarified butter, coconut oil or butter if you can have it
2/3 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
3 tablespoons potato starch (not potato flour)
2 tablespoons tapioca, arrowroot or cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder (add a pinch more, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon if you’re at sea level)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons canola oil or 1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon vinegar
3 tablespoons sparkling water

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan. Cut the ends off of the bananas using the bottom of your loaf pan as a guide (see above photo) and reserve the ends. Slice the long banana pieces in half, lenghtwise and set aside on a plate.
  2. Bring 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water to a simmer in a large, heavy bottom skillet. Do not stir the mixture, simply swirl your pan to keep the water and sugar mixed. The water will evaporate and the mix will begin to turn amber. Once it has a nice caramel color remove from heat and stir in the clarified butter or coconut oil with a fork. Lay the long banana pieces in the pan cut side down (see below photo) and continue to cook on low heat for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the banana slices to the prepared loaf pan, laying them cut side down. Drizzle the remaining caramel on top.
  3. Mash the reserved bananas and measure out 1 cup (this used all of my pieces). Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the mashed banana pieces with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Add the vinegar and sparkling water (this is your egg replacer) and mix until incorporated.
  4. In a large bowl mix the remaining ingredients: sorghum flour through salt. Add the banana mixture and the oil. Scrape into loaf pan on top of bananas. Spread batter into pan. Bake 50 – 55 minutes until top is firm to the touch and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes. Then run a paring knife along the edges of the pan. Place a plate over the pan and invert the loaf onto the plate.

Caramelized Banana Bread {gluten-free, vegan}