Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Challenge 1: Baking a Gluten-Free Cake

Gluten, a composite of gliadin and glutenin, is the protein in wheat grain, the elastic that binds together ingredients in dough. To bake without gluten is like trying to get two pieces of paper to stick to each other without glue. You can use tape; you can use paperclips or staples, but the end result is going to be different. Yesterday, I set out to use paperclips but make them act like glue.

V requested we bake a carrot cake and that seemed like an easier apprenticeship into gluten-free baking than, say, chocolate croissants.

I chose a carrot cake recipe from Rebecca Reilly's GLUTEN-FREE BAKING. Reilly is a graduate of LeNotre and Cordon Bleu cooking schools in Paris, so she knows how to bake, but here's the real sell for me: her book contains recipes for six different kinds of gluten-free biscotti. I have a *thing* for biscotti, so I'm looking forward to sampling homemade GF biscotti with my coffee.

Here are the ingredients I used to bake the carrot cake:

As you can see, it takes many ingredients to approximate the power of wheat gluten. Reilly's carrot cake is also dairy-free, egg-free, and sugar-free so it is great for people who have multiple sensitivities.

The cream cheese icing, on the other hand, is mostly dairy and sugar. So skip the icing if you are lactose intolerant or diabetic.

This is what it my dry and wet ingredients looked like before combining:

The house smelled divine while the cake was baking--a great sign!

Just out of the oven, you can see that the cake hardly rose. This is a dense dessert.

Here, I whipped up the cream cheese icing:

I'm not the world's best cake icer, but I thought the finished product looked pretty good, except for being really short:

Okay, so how about taste?

V loves it; I had to stop her from having too much. I like it, but would prefer using egg instead of tofu, if I can figure out how to make the substitution. Embracing my inner Betty Draper just a bit, I do believe the carrot cake passed the ultimate test. My husband, who is not on a gluten-free (or any other) diet took a piece with him to work. While I was writing this entry, he sent me the following text:

The carrot cake is totally yummy. It got me through the morning. No small feat.

If only "mission accomplished" weren't relegated to the linguistic trash-bin....
I'll have to settle for "challenge met".

1 comment:

Zach said...

Wow, looks great!