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.

Strawberry Buckwheat Thumbprint Cookies {gluten-free, vegan}

Buckwheat, despite containing the word “wheat”, is actually gluten-free.  It is native to Asia and the key ingredient in soba noodles and sundry other prepartions like French galletes, and Russian blinis. This psuedo-grain is often referred to Kasha here in the states. It imparts a subtle woodsy flavor to baked goods that I absolutely love.  Another feature to note is that buckwheat is related to rhubarb…which got me thinking, if rhubarb and strawberries are such a dynamic duo, wouldn’t buckwheat and strawberries make a great pair, too?

The verdict?  The little ruby colored gems did not disappoint.

STRAWBERRY-BUCKWHEAT THUMBPRINT COOKIES
The buckwheat shortbread would make lovely cookies on their own. The addition of strawberry jam just makes them extra special. Do use good jam; in an effort to finish up random ingredients in our fridge, I went with a weird low-sugar jelly for half the cookies and then some Knott’s Berry Farm jam on the other half. The cookies with Knott’s jam were far tastier!

This recipe makes about 1 dozen cookies using a round tablespoon measure for the dough. I used a round 1/2 teaspoon to make the even sized craters for the filling or you can use your thumb, hence “thumbprints”. Also, my filling shrank some while cooking. So, I simply heated a little more fruit spread in the microwave for 30 seconds and re-filled the craters before the cookies cooled completely. This worked well and the filling set perfectly.

Dry Ingredients:

1/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour*
2 tablespoons white or brown rice flour, or more sorghum flour
2 tablespoons potato starch (not potato flour!)
1 tablespoon tapioca or arrowroot starch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:

7 tablespoons Spectrum organic shortening (or 4 tablespoons coconut oil)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a bowl whisk together the dry ingredients
  2. Using a stand mixer beat the wet ingredients until just combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until a dough just comes together.
  4. Measure out tablespoons of dough and gently roll into balls. Arrange 1 1/2″ apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using your thumb or a round 1/2 teaspoon create indentions in the center or each dough ball. Fill each indention with jam. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Bake 15 – 20 minutes until edges of cookies just begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, refilling any craters with additional jam if necessary.

* If you’re not gluten free, simply replace all the gluten free flours except the buckwheat with about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.

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.