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.
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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.

Sunrise Banana Bread

Rosy-fingered Dawn cast such a pretty light on my banana bread that I thought I ought to change its name. I am all about banana bread. I love it’s golden crumb, the characteristic black specs from the cooked bananas, with or without nuts. Chocolate chips? Yes, please. Coconut? Sure. Gooey dates? Why not? However it is tricked out, I am sure to be a fan.

And then there is Sunrise Banana Bread.

There is a reason I make this particular recipe time and time again. It is the one I always come back to. What makes this banana bread so special is the addition of quinoa flour (pronounced Keen-Wa). You should get to know this pseudo-grain if you haven’t already. Here, I’ll introduce you…

Quinoa, native to the South American Andes, was a sacred food of the Incas AND has been eaten for 6000 years (!), for good reason, too. The grain-like seeds are nutritionally dense: high in protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Quinoa is also gluten-free, lucky me.

Its flour, though rather pricey, imparts a subtle nuttiness to baked goods and pairs particularly well with bananas, dark chocolate and nuts, hence the ingredient combination. I also really appreciate that I don’t get the sugar blues after a few bites. The addition of quinoa, with its high protein and fiber content, means you digest it s-l-o-w-l-y, which is great for your blood sugar. This is health food, People! Health food with a sweet facade.

SUNRISE BANANA BREAD
I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but alas, I can not. This is adapted to be egg-free from Bea’s recipe at La Tartine Gourmande.

Dry Ingredients:
3/4 cups quinoa flour
1/2 cup white or brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup very ripe mashed bananas (about 2 1/2 bananas)
2/3 cup blond cane sugar (or white sugar)
1/3 cup olive oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Egg Replacer:
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Add In:
1/2 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour a 5×9 loaf pan, tapping out excess flour.
  • Whisk together dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients until relatively smooth.
  • In a third small bowl mix the egg replacer.
  • Add the egg replacer to the wet ingredients and then fold in the dry ingredients, mixing until there are no more lumps.
  • Stir in the chocolate and walnuts.
  • Scrape/pour into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If your loaf browns too quickly, simply cover with aluminum foil. Allow bread to cool slightly before loosening from the pan.

Chocolate Chip Cookies {gluten-free, vegan}

Doesn’t that cookie look sad? All alone, no friends left. Depressing really. I was feeling empathetic, so I ate it for breakfast. It was the honorable thing to do.

Seriously, though, these were an outstanding batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. They’re vegan, too, not that anyone noticed. I really am beaming with self-satisfaction right now.

My husband said, “Wow, they look like real cookies!” That could be taken any number of ways. I took it as a compliment, which was of course his intention.

GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
These are an exemplary cookie even without the usual suspects (glutinous flour, butter and eggs), best fresh from the oven, when the middles are still warm and soft and the edges crisp. Enjoy them immediately.

I recommend increasing the salt in the dough to a 1/4 teaspoon OR keep it at an 1/8 teaspoon and sprinkle the raw cookie tops with a little coarse salt.

One last note, see those cracks in the surface? They are very important. As important as the cracks in a brownie’s crust. I’m not sure why or how, but they just are.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup sorghum flour (or brown rice)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon tapioca flour/starch
4 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon teff flour (or sorghum flour or rice flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add:
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I chopped up a bar of 70% cocoa)
coarse sea salt or Kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheet approximately 2 inches apart, gently flattening into a thick, round disk. Sprinkle the cookie tops with a few grains of coarse salt. Bake 7-9 minutes, just until brown.
  5. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to cooling rack.

Makes about 1 dozen cookies.