Friday, September 9, 2011

Gluten Freedom: Kiss Me, (Chocolate) Cake!

I'd like to welcome WASB's newest contributor, Shannon, who will write Gluten FREEDOM! on Fridays.
Without further ado...

Hello, and Welcome to the first edition of Gluten FREEDOM!, a new feature on the fabulous "What About..." blog ^_^

Why gluten free? Well, to begin with, 1 out of every 133 people have a gluten allergy or Celiac disease (or so my box of Potato Buds tells me). An even more truly disturbing statistic is that 1 in every two gluten free product tastes like... well, lets just say they aren't very good. If you have ever eaten these so called 'baked goods' then you know what I'm talking about: chalky or gritty texture, dry, crumbly body, and often it tastes nothing like the yumminess we're craving.

Well, I aim to change that. I say: take command of our culinary destinies! Rise up, my afflicted brethren and say "NO!" Say "I'll Pass, Thank you Very Much!", to heathen dishes and lackluster confections! With my spatula held high, I vow to lead the way and share with you my secrets for gluten free baking and cooking so delicious that your friends will never suspect a thing!

To that end, let us begin with this decadent chocolate cake. Rich, fudgey and moist, it tastes exactly like a traditional cake made with flour. I made this for my Mom's birthday and even my Dad, who is normally very leery of gluten free foods, DEVOURED it! It's just that good, I promise. It's based off of a cake from a Hershey's cookbook that my mother used to make years ago, however since that book is lost the recipe has been adapted from memory.

First up, the ingredients:

3 cups of TIGHTLY PACKED dark brown sugar
2 sticks of softened sweet (unsalted) butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs (lightly beaten)
2 3/4 cups of a good, finely milled gluten free flour mix
  • ( I prefer either "Gluten Free Pantry" or "Better Batter"'s blends, but you can always try something else or even make your own blend. Just make sure the flours you use are the finest texture you can possibly get -- this is crucial to the end texture of the cake.)
3/4 cup Dutch Processed Cocoa
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup sour cream (use the full fat kind - no one ever said this was gunna be dietetic guys)
1 cup boiling water

Okay now here's the part where I confess that I am an incredibly lazy baker. If there is a way for me to do less steps, I will take it. Fortunately, this turns out to be a blessing for gluten free baking, because if there is one thing you want to avoid it's over mixing. I think it has to do with the xanthan gum- that stuff can get reaaaaally gross.

Anyway, here's what you do. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take all the dry ingredients and put them in a bowl (sugar remember, counts as a wet ingredient in baking). If your cocoa looks like this:

Don't stress it. And sure, you COULD sift it, but why? It just adds another step! Go ahead, save time ad just dump it all an a bowl and whisk away until your mixture is mostly combined. The big clumps will break up and a few small ones are not the end of the world.

In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar as if you were making cookies. (After getting the butter in the bowl, use the papers from the butter to grease your cake pans - standard 9 inches work fine and deep walled ones are ideal. After buttering the pans, toss some cocoa in them and move the pans in a circular motion while tapping away at the sides and bottom of the pan to evenly distribute the cocoa. This will ensure a clean release after baking.) Add the vanilla and then add your already beaten eggs. To this mixture, add about half of the dry mixture (or a third if it seems easier for you). Mix until it's just coming together and then add some of the sour cream. Again, mix until just together and then add more of the dry. Keep alternating until all of the mix and sour cream are just combined into the batter. DO NOT OVER MIX!

Finally, CAREFULLY measure out one cup of boiling water. If you're mixing by hand, add the water slowly in two installments. If you're using a stand or hand mixer, just add it nice and easy on low. You want minimal air bubbles here. Gently pour the mixture into your prepared pans, using a spatula laid across the top if the pans to help eyeball even distribution and to make sure you don't overfill the pans.

Carefully put your pans in the oven and bake for around 45-55 minutes, but DO NOT OVER BAKE! If you know your oven tends to bake things more quickly, than start checking for doneness at 35 minutes. Use the standard toothpick or skewer method (insert into the center of cake and remove from oven when you see no uncooked batter left on the tester but ideally when the cake is still moist enough to leave crumbs on the probe of your choice.)

Ah... the smell alone will drive lesser mind wild! Cool on a wire rack for about ten minutes, then upend out of their pans to cool the rest of the way. They should slide right out, but if not take a skinny spatula and gently run it along the edge where cake meets pan.

If your cake has baked up too high and has formed a "lip", wait until it is completely cooled and remove the extra with a sharp, serrated knife. Eat this bit as your reward for a job well done :)

Now, you can frost this cake any way you want to with any kind of frosting - even one from a can if you must, but for the love of all things yummy why would you frost it with anything other than chocolate?? And frosting can be really easy to make! Here's a very simple butter frosting recipe:

Take two sticks of softened butter and beat until fluffy. Add one box of confectioners sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Add as much dutch processed cocoa as you want until you reach your desired level of chocolatey-ness. If you really want to add some serious chocolate taste, go ahead and melt yourself a square of bakers chocolate and add that to the frosting (be careful not to add it when it's still too hot!) You might want to double this recipe if you like a lot of frosting on your cake.

Decorate your cake or leave it plain. A simple Hershey's kiss on the top is a charming touch. Serve any way you like, or just eat it with your bare hands! Either way, I hope you and your loved ones will enjoy this recipe as the first of many that will give us "Celiacies" and gluten free eaters back our Yumm!


  1. I know first hand that gluten free can be GOOOOOOOOD, and this cake looks like it fits the bill perfectly!

  2. What a moist and rich chocolate cake! It's a very nice choice to make gluten free so everyone can enjoy it. :-)

  3. I liked the article, but some disagree


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