Saturday, May 31, 2008

Treasure Chest Cake--Gluten Free Yellow Cake

Yes, I'm crazy when it comes to birthday cakes. My mother always made the coolest cakes for us, and so I have to do the same for my daughter. In the past I've just not made them gluten free, but this year I figured I'd give it a shot. She decided she wanted a yellow cake to look like gold inside the treasure chest. I've had okay success with yellow cakes in the past, but nothing that I love, and nothing remotely like the yellow cake you get from one of those wheat-filled mixes at the store. While I was searching online, there seemed to be only one recipe for yellow cake, posted over and over again. Overall, the reviews were quite good, but there were a few bad ones that stuck out to me. So, i found a recipe for a moist yellow cake using cake flour, and I modified it. It actually worked pretty well, except it was far too thin and dense for me to make a treasure chest from, and it didn't seem at all like what I was looking for. It was a good butter cake recipe that would be good as a base for certain things, I'd particularly like to try it with the tres leches, but we'll see. After making that cake, I decided I needed another one, and I might as well take the opportunity to test out "the" yellow cake recipe. I used some of the advice I saw online and baked it with water in the oven to keep it moist, and it seems to have worked well. I had to cook it longer, but it really looks more like a wheat cake mix cake than I've seen gluten free before. I'm not sure about the taste, but I can work on modifying that later.
I am slightly paranoid that in my search for candies that would look like gems and make the decoration look good that I might have slipped some gluten-filled candies in, but hopefully John can just pick those off, get a slice without the treasure. By the way, to assemble the cake, I used Family Fun's template, but I needed to use a 9x13 pan's worth of cake, and I really only needed a 9x9 square cake but I made another 9x13 and had leftover cake. I cut the cakes down so that there are two layers of 9x5 1/2" cake, with chocolate sour cream frosting (made from Better Homes and Gardens recipe), then I cut off a 1" section from the middle of the cake and cut it diagonally down the center to make the wedges (I had to do this with the second yellow cake recipe) which I placed together, about 2/3 of the way to the back of the cake. I played around with them until they seemed they would support the lid in an open position. Then I frosted the bottom, added the wedges, frosted it, put the top on, made sure everything was frosted, and went to work on the decorations, made mostly of fruit by the foot and m&m minis. Voila!

Moist Yellow Cake
4 eggs, separated
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups Featherlight mix
1/2 cup GF mix
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 pan. Separate the eggs, putting whites in a large glass or stainless steel bowl, and yolks in a small container, being careful not to break them.

Sift together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In another large bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated, starting and ending with the flour mixture.

Now, beat your egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix in the egg whites using a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan itself for 15 mins and then gently tap it onto a cooling rack.

"The" Gluten Free Yellow Cake recipe (can be found all over the web)

1 1/2 cups Featherlight flour mix
3/4 cup GF flour mix
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. I used Pam to spray a 9x13 pan.
Mix the white rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together and set aside.
Mix the eggs, sugar, and mayonnaise until fluffy. Add the flour mixture, milk and vanilla and mix well. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, with a pan filled with steaming water on the rack below the cake. Cakes are done when they spring back when lightly touched or when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cool completely, then frost.
So, I wanted to post a follow-up on this cake. I thought it would be helpful to see this cross-section of the cake to see the difference between the two recipes, as well as to see how I constructed the cake. you can see the two wedges supporting the lid layer, as well as the candy holding up the rim. I also feel that you can see a real difference between the two types of cake. The very bottom layer is the first recipe, the one I modified. It really tastes great, a good dense butter cake, but not a typical birthday cake. I really loved how well the second recipe rose, and stayed fluffy. I didn't, however, love the taste. That needs to be modified, but, all in all it really was a good recipe, especially for this cake.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gluten-Free Scotcharoos--Thanks to Erewhon

I was so excited the other day while in Giant I saw this:First Rice Chex goes Gluten Free, and now a real crisped rice cereal! Life is looking up.
Rice Krispie treats are one of the things I miss being able to make for John, and myself. Especially the Scotcharoo kind. I LOVE butterscotch, and I love sugar. These are so good! And, they're better for you than regular rice krispies, so I didn't feel quite so bad adding all the sugar and fat, though, I try not to think too much about that stuff when I'm making treats.
So, for those of you who don't have the recipe for this great little treat, here is it. I actually still have it on an envelope from my neighbor Rachel when she gave it to me about five years ago.

First, grease well a 9x13 pan.
1 cup Karo syrup
1 cup sugar
Combine in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally, until it starts to boil. Add
1 cup peanut butter and mix until smooth.
Then add 6 cups crisped rice.
Mix all together and pat into the prepared pan. Let cool.

Melt together 1 cup butterscotch chips, and 1 cup milk chocolate chips. I just place them in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave for a minute, then more if they still need it. Mix them together until smooth and spread them over the cooled treats. Let the chocolate sit so that it hardens.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Joy of Baking Banana Bread-Gluten Free

So, right now I'm big on two different things: 1) brown rice flour and 2)
And I've combined the two to make what I believe is an excellent banana bread. The flavor isn't as strong or maybe as sweet as I wanted when I ate it right out of the oven, but I always forget that banana bread always tastes better after sitting over night. I also think that using regular butter as opposed to the unsalted butter that the recipe called for would also fix that. But the texture of this bread is so heavenly. At least to me. So, I'm sharing it with you. I know that the usage of flours is a bit funky, but I was just experimenting, and I'm really happy with the result. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)

1 cup Featherlight flour mix (made with brown rice flour)

½ cup GF flour mix (again, made with brown rice flour)

¼ cup Sorghum flour

3/4 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

4 ripe medium bananas, mashed well (about 1-1/2 cups)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place oven rack to middle position. Spray a loaf pan (I used a slightly smaller pan, 8x4) with a non stick vegetable spray. Set aside.

Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Let cool and then chop coarsely.

In a large bowl combine the flours, xanthan gum, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nuts. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients (banana mixture) into the dry ingredients just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. (The important thing is not to over mix the batter. You do not want it smooth. Over mixing the batter will yield tough, rubbery bread.) Scrape batter into prepared pan and place the slices of banana on top of the batter for garnish. Bake until bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. This bread can be frozen.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Flourless Molten Chocolate Cakes

While I really love the other recipe I've posted (and actually prefer it), I'm always being asked by non-celiacs what they can make for celiac friends, without having to buy different flours or xanthan gum. So, I decided I wanted to try out a flourless version of these favorite cakes. My friend Megan, who's a pastry chef, introduced me to I had checked it out before and bookmarked some recipes I thought would be good to try for later (Hummingbird cake, and a Pavolova) and that's where I got this recipe. I didn't deviate at all, so you can find the recipe there, but I'll also type it up here for your convenience. As I was searching for the recipe I wanted to use, I found it funny that one article I was sent to was talking about how flourless cakes are all the rage in restaurants now, and how they're almost passe. I thought that was funny since the inclusion of a flourless torte on a menu makes it so much easier for a celiac. If you can't tell, though, this family doesn't eat out much, preferring to make sure our food is gluten-free.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 0z (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate pieces (my favorites are Hershey's and Baker's)

3 eggs yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. It's best to separate the eggs, and then let them sit for about a half hour until you whip them up. Be sure to put the egg whites into a glass or metal bowl that is clean and grease free. Otherwise, the whites won't whip up. Prepare your ramekins, or cups for baking by generously buttering them and dusting them with granulated sugar. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.

Combine the butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 1 minute. Stir until all of the chocolate melts. Set aside.

Whip the yolks with the sugar in a large bowl. Whip them for a few minutes, until they are pale and fluffy, and drop like ribbons from the beaters. Beat in the vanilla. Slowly fold in the chocolate mixture.

Beat the egg whites until they're frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar until the peaks become stiff and glossy. Fold into the chocolate mixture.

Fill your prepared ramekins about 3/4 of the way full. Place baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cakes a cooked, but are still a bit gooey in the center. Try not to over bake. Pull them out of the oven and let them sit only about a minute or two before removing them from their ramekins onto plates. Serve with whipped cream, powdered sugar, or my favorite, ice cream.

This batter can be made ahead, but be sure to let it sit out before baking until it becomes room temperature, otherwise, it won't create the molten centers.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Low-fat Lemon Cheesecake

If you can't tell, I love cheesecake. And, I can be a real cheesecake snob. Typically, I won't eat no-bake cheesecakes. But, I also know that my body can't handle all of the calories in a piece of cheesecake that often. So, when my mother found this recipe for a low-fat cheesecake that actually tastes good, I took note. The base recipe comes from, but I'll tell you how I made it, partly to change some of the fat and sugar content to my liking (I don't think fat free cream cheese is ever good), and partly because of what I had on hand. First of all, I skipped the crust entirely. This is a good cheesecake that doesn't need to be marred by bad gluten-free cookies. I do think, however that a crust of a few gluten-free sugar cookies, crushed up would be good, but why mess with something that's good enough?

1 pkg sugar free lemon Jello
1 cup boiling water
1 8 oz pkg 1/3 less fat neufatchel cheese
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
Cut up strawberries, sprinkled with granulated sugar (maybe another 2 Tbsp per one pint)

Dissolve lemon jello powder in boiling water. Let sit for about 5 minutes to cool. Put mixture in blender, add cream cheese and cottage cheese. Blend, pulsing and stopping to scrape down sides, until all is smooth. In a separate large bowl, whip the cream and sugar until soft peaks form, and the cream holds its shape. Slowly pour the mixture in the blender into the cream, folding as you go. Pour into an eight inch springform pan and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or until set. (I actually didn't have four hours tonight, so I put it in the freezer for about an hour and a half, then set it out to thaw, and it worked out just fine.)
Serve with the fresh strawberries. This is not a very sweet cheesecake, and therefore it's nice to add a little bit of sugar to the berries if they're also very tart. My mother also adds some lemon zest in with the berries for a stronger lemon flavor and to make it look pretty.
Enjoy, knowing that you don't have to worry about running to the gym directly after eating this.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Basic Coconut Macaroons-Cholocolate Dipped

We were quite nervous and anxious for our first dinner party after John's diagnosis. We had no idea if John would be able to eat anything, and didn't want to offend the host. Thankfully, she knew he was celiac and had gone to great lengths to cook his chicken without any flour leaving off the sauce, to dress her own salad with oil and vinegar (no croutons) and even make polenta as the side dish. Then, she made excellent ricotta cream tarts (she set aside cream and berries in a bowl for John) and chocolate dipped macaroons. This was honestly the first time I had even thought about Macaroons as being an easy thing to make gluten free. Especially in its most basic recipe, which I prefer for its excellent chewyness. It's now a recipe that I crave often, and I made on a whim last night.

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 14 oz bag of sweetened flake coconut
1 tsp vanilla

Mix ingredients together. Drop by spoonful onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. I try to smash the lumps down a bit. I like my cookies to be a bit flatter, so they brown better and are chewy throughout. If they're in balls, the centers don't cook so well, and I don't like them as much. The cookies will spread a bit, so keep that in mind. I wondered last night while making them if it would be good to add a tablespoon or two of flour to try to keep that spreading at bay.
Bake in a 350 oven for 10 minutes, turning once during cooking to brown evenly.

I remove the entire sheet of parchment to the cooling rack since the individual cookies are still quite sticky. Once they're dried a bit and are easy to pull off the parchment, I melt some dark chocolate in a shallow bowl. My favorite thing to use it just Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips. Then, I drop the cookie in the bowl, and push the chocolate up around the sides. Then, lift it with a fork or spoon and drop it back on the parchment to cool overnight. They're simple, but they're also elegant.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

GF Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

My mother makes the best banana bread, and I really loved it growing up. So it has been very frustrating for me to try a lot of bad gluten free banana bread recipes. I finally decided to try and work from my mom's recipe to make a better banana bread. Then I found some great recipes on the web for chocolate, and chocolate chip banana breads. I can't remember exactly what recipes I used to mix together to make mine, but this is what I used today. It's not perfect, and I think I want to play around with adding a mix, but it was pretty good.

1/2 cup margarine, cut in little pieces
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1 cup Featherlight
1/2 cup GF mix
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray. Cream together margarine, sugar, and eggs. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Add xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and flours; mix well. Blend in sour cream and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for about an hour, checking for doneness at about 50 minutes.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


I've realized that all flours are not created equally. I switched brands of rice flour because of convenience, and am not happy with the current brand I have. I bought the Arrowhead Mills white rice flour because that was available at the closest grocery store, as opposed to the Indian brand I typically use (which name escapes me now because I don't have a package handy). The old brand was much finer, and so I liked the results it produced much better.
I find it funny that this is on my mind since just a few years ago, I'd never even heard of rice flour, or anything other than good old all-purpose flour. Maybe I'd heard the distinction between "wheat flour" and "white flour", but now find that to be a bit paradoxical. Which reminds me of another tangent. This scene in "Stranger than Fiction" struck a chord with me. When Harold brings Anna flours. I of course loved the wordplay, and thought it was so sweet and personalized for a baker. And, it reminded me of me. I have at least ten flours in my kitchen at any given time, not to mention the various mixes I keep around. This whole celiac thing has certainly opened my eyes to a lot of variety out there. And, it's really exciting in many ways. So, hope you enjoy my little non-sequitor. Sorry there's no recipe attached.

Pastel de Tres Leches--Gluten Free

I did a class for my church on Authentic Mexican cooking, and for that class, I got a recipe from a friend for a Tres Leches cake. I didn't make it then, because the recipe was based on a cake mix, but I figured that it would be a good thing to try with a gluten free cake once I got a good recipe. I hadn't thought much about it until we were at a dinner party at John's advisor's last week. His wife, Mimi, is amazing. And she made a Tres Leches cake, and I was sure that I could do it gluten free. So, I started searching. I didn't use the same recipe as Mimi, because this one was simpler, and I figured I might as well just try to modify the easy one first. It tasted really great. So, here's the basic recipe.

The cake is a dense cake that relies on its shape from the folding in of the meringue. I think that this may not require the xanthan gum, but since I always have it on hand, I put it in just to be sure.
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Featherlight flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350oF. Generously butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Beat 3/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in the milk, vanilla, flour, xanthan gum, baking powder. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, adding the cream of tartar after 20 seconds. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and firm, but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour this batter into the buttered baking dish. Bake the cake until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let the cake cool completely in baking dish. Pierce the cake all over with a fork, taking care to not tear it up.

While the cake is cooling slightly, whisk together the following ingredients.
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Pour the syrup over the cake, spooning the overflow back on top, until it is all absorbed.Place the cake in the refrigerator over night so that it can soak up all three of the delicious milks. I started to peel away some of the skin on top of the cake to see how it was absorbing, so that's why the cake looks weird on the one side.

Then, right before serving the cake, whip up some cream.
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Spread this over the cake and serve immediately. I love any excuse to use strawberries, and so I garnished mine with fresh berries as you can see.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

GF Oreos, Softer Version with Peanut Butter Filling

I'm always changing my recipes, depending on the day and what I want. I've been wanting to adjust the Oreo recipe to make it slightly softer, a bit more cake like. I've also wanted to play around with the butter, and see what combination works the best. And today, I've been in a Reese's kind of mood, and I thought that a peanut butter frosting would make a great center for these cookies. So, here's the newer, softer GF Oreo:

3/4 cup Featherlight flour
1/2 cup GF flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup Special Dark cocoa
1 small pkg chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup sugar (I think this could be bumped up, even to a full cup)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup margarine + 2 Tbsp butter
2 eggs

Mix together dry ingredients. Add softened butter and combine. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Divide into small, even balls, flatten. Bake at 350 for 7 minutes on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.


1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat together butters until nice and fluffy. Add sifted powdered sugar, mix on low until combined, then mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.
This makes for a thicker filling for the oreos. It's not super sweet, hence my suggestion to add more sugar to the cookie itself, but it is delicious. It's also a very large batch, so that you have plenty to use to overstuff the cookies. For this filling, I just frosted one cookie, then covered it with a cookie of similar size. As you can see, these cookies are nearly as perfect and round as the others I made, but I kind of like the rough look of these. They're small, only about 1 1/2 to 2 inchs in diameter, I'm just zooming in a lot on the cookie. The pictures almost make them look like whoopie pies, but they're really just like a double-stuffed Oreo.