Why Magpie? Why?
Ah, I love ya guys. Like a bunch of cute seagulls circling ol’ Magpie here, cackling “Why? What? How come?”
“Why are you venturing into gluten/dairy free territory? What happened? Who can’t have gluten? Who was diagnosed with what? Are the kids ok?” said the endless Facebooking, Tweets and emails.
No worries, my groupies. ( <—-I still think that’s hilarious)
My daughter was having her 6th birthday party this last weekend and her best bud happens to be allergic to gluten, dairy, nuts, etc. I talked to her mom at school about her allergies and told her that I bake a lot- understatement of the year methinks -and would love to tackle a gluten-free, dairy free chocolate cake as my next project. I belong to a gluten-free/dairy/corn/everything private board on Facebook but mostly just watch the recipes and comment, seeing what creations people are coming up with.
I do think that everyone these days needs one good allergy safe chocolate cake recipe in their back pocket. What I loved about this cake recipe is that not only is it gluten-free, but by using Rice milk I was able to make it dairy free as well. You can also make it egg free – I’ve heard- by using egg replacers such as chia eggs, I won’t commit to my version of this recipe being the same with those replacements as I didn’t experiment with it firsthand. My friend Melissa who suggested this recipe has used egg replacements with quite the success, so don’t be afraid to try!
I gave the original recipe a few reads and mulled over some techniques that were missed and thought of how to make it dairy free yet keep the qualities that one wants when you use buttermilk in a recipe.
It turned out tastier than heck. I was surprised that it really comes close to my favorite Old Fashioned Chocolate cake recipe, which pardon the pun, takes the cake when it comes to taste.
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tsp guar gum
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup Earth Balance butter flavor vegan hard stick butter at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rice milk
2 tsp vinegar
Kick the tires and light the fires to 350 degrees.
The first part I instantly knew that needed to be kept was the acidity of the buttermilk. You need to use vinegar, the acidity reacts with the baking soda/powder to give you lift that shouldn’t fall. This is why buttermilk was used, but buttermilk is dairy, thus making it utterly unuseable in my version. I threw caution to the wind and used vinegar in the rice milk. Worked like a charm!
The other thing I noticed was the lack of salt. People are a little too scared of sodium, methinks. It has such a beautiful place in baking. Salt is used to enhance the chocolate flavor, which will help overpower any other tastes that come up from the unique flours used.To balance out the flavor of this cake, salt is definitely needed, when baking something sweet, salt will balance out the flavor, lending a complexity you wouldn’t get otherwise. It’s best described as “one noted” “simple” or just plain “flat” when salt is left out of a sweets recipe. Salt is not a leavening agent, however it does help to add volume to cakes, even if it’s just slightly. When working with different flours, one needs all the help they can get!
So now that the ingredients were changed and set, it was time to bake.
Grease and flour your cake pans, this can do a 9×13 so calculate your cake pan area accordingly. To flour the pan, use rice flour. It worked beautifully. I don’t know if there is any truth to it, but years ago my Home Ec teacher told me that by flouring your pans, the flour molecules help the cake rise up the sides of the pans. I have no idea if it is true, but something in that sentence has always made sense to me. Not only does it not stick to the pan, but perhaps there is some science to it as well.
In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients, excepting sugars of course.
In your mixer bowl, cream together the “butter” and sugar. I liked the Earth Balance hard stick butter, remember when baking with different dairy replacements that the water content can vary greatly. Margarines and spreads can have so much water in them it can change your baking results. Stick with the sticks.
After that’s done, add in the eggs and vanilla.
So for mixing this batter, you do not want to add too much air by mixing it fast, this is how cakes will fall in the center after baking,a comment complaint.
So slowly, on the lowest possible setting, mix the wet and dry in three parts, starting with dry, ending with wet. Only three parts to avoid overmixing. This is also a really important part of why this cake turns out so fluffy. This is all about chemical reactions, so let me get nerdy here for a moment. When you are using different flours that need a little extra “oomph”, alternating ingredients ensures that all your “poof power” (I just snorted with laughter) doesn’t get used up right away when you dump your ingredients in all at the same time and combine. The chemical reactions take place as you mix wet with dry, so saving some wet ingredients until the end means that you are going to have some good reactions going on as you pour this batter into the pan and you are going to have a creamier batter. Because you are adding in wet liquid which has vinegar in it for that wonderful “poof power” , you shouldn’t end with dry, the liquid mixes in much faster and thoroughly than the dry will, and we avoid overmixing. Now this is completely personal opinion, as many people do the complete opposite. However this cake turned out perfectly with this method, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
In baking with gluten, (doesn’t apply here of course) alternating ingredients to prevent over mixing also serves to prevent huge amounts of gluten from forming, meaning a tough baked good in the end. We just don’t want the air in the batter causing our cakes to fall in this recipe.
That was geeky. I’m sorry for that.
Once you reach the last liquid addition, stop the mixer and mix it in by hand gently. I found that this made the batter more pourable than the reviews said, I didn’t have any problem with the batter going into the cake pans at all.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on racks.
And then make it into an amazing castle cake. I am so glad I only do this twice a year for my kids birthdays. It takes up days of my life at a time.
But this is why I do it. All she could talk about at school was the castle cake Mommy was building. And then she saw it. And according to her, I make the BEST CAKES EVER. Which I most certainly don’t, but let’s allow her to think that a little while longer, I think.
The icing on the cake is vegan icing as well. That it such another story in itself that it will have to wait until another day this week for the recipe. It involved taste testing every non-dairy spread/butter product available that I could find. I was scraping my tongue off, I kid you not. Some of those are NOT good plain!
I hope everyone in Edmonton is surviving our first real deep freeze. I have been in a haze of stew and soups and snow and wanting to hibernate in my bed all day.
The Gluten Free Baking Newbie No Longer Magpie!