Monday, December 3, 2012

Coconut~Cranberry~Carrot Cake and a GF Cake Cusade

I'm wishing it wasn't so sunny outside on this brisk Novembery-feeling day so I wouldn't feel so guilty about being in bed, snuggled under the covers with my laptop at 12:15 in the afternoon.  I haven't been in bed all day- I walked a few blocks this morning, bundled up in sweaters, to scavenge for my new favorite food- sweet potato corn chips from Late July.  But, I am back in bed now with a gingerbread latte on one side and a dozy Labrador on the other.  I think I deserve this Friday afternoon in bed.  It's been a very busy couple of weeks (months!), I'm fighting a cold, and my doctor just diagnosed me with gluten intolerance.  There.  I just said it.  Gluten intolerance?  I have it.

Ralph says when he hears the words gluten intolerance, he pictures a person sitting on a stool being pelted in the face with bread rolls, holding up their hands in protest, and yelling, "I can not tolerate this!"  I imagine this person to be in a Monty Python skit.  In my mind it is very funny.  In my life, it's not so funny.

cat bread face
While browsing for a picture of someone being pelted in the face with bread, I came across this.  It's way better. Alarmingly, if you google "cat bread face" there are tons more where this came from.  You're welcome.

Like when I tried to multiply a recipe times 12 this past week; but, somewhere in there decided to switch from cups to ounces and (of course) did the math all wrong.  That was fun.  I was lucky enough to have two very accomplished and supportive bakers at my side who took the time out of their busy day to help me re-do the math and find the mistake that made my batter go from being a well-mixed batter to about 10 very expensive pounds of separated goop.  Yeah, that happened.  I am soooo lucky we (and by "we", I mean "they") found the mistake!  I was able to add the parts that were missing, and it appeared to make the batter right again.  BUT.  I couldn't taste the final product because it was probably 75% gluten (again, seriously, don't trust my math).  There was no way for me to be sure that something was not lost along the journey of recipe manipulation.  And that's when the implications of gluten intolerance really began to sink in.  

My first reaction was:  This must be what they were talking about with that whole world ending in 2012 thing.  But, after giving it some thought, I've decided this isn't the end of the world.  This doesn't even have to be the end of cake.  I mean, I've already been experimenting with gluten-free baking.  It's just time to step it up a notch.  My new challenge is to make gluten-free baking taste good.  If the GF chocolate cake I make is any sign of what's to come, we should all (gluten intolerant, or not) be in for a treat.

 Since starting this business, I've had so many people tell me about their various food intolerances.  I've always sympathized with their struggles to find food that is safe for them to eat and doesn't taste like sand.  Gluten freebies- I'm joining you!  I intend to make more options available to you, one recipe at a time.  I'm going to lead a cake crusade!  And to those who don't suffer from gluten intolerance, never fear.  The recipes I've already developed are solid.  I will continue to make those for you with all of their gluten-y glory.  This, my friends, would be a GREAT time to pipe up.  Do you have favorite gluten free recipes?  GF baking advice?  Favorite cookbooks?  I learn by immersion, so please send it all my way!

I will begin my gluten free cake crusade by sharing a recipe with you.  I made this cake last night.  It's modified from a recipe in The Guilt Free Gourmet by Jordan and Jessica Bourke.  It was already gluten-free, but I modified it to suit my pantry and palate.  The recipe makes an 8" double layer cake; but, I made cupcakes so I can freeze them (right, like they'll actually survive long enough to go in there) for snacks later.  I topped mine with my own bourbon vanilla "cream cheese" frosting.  Sorry, I'm not sharing that recipe just yet; but, you can find all kinds of recipes with a quick search on the Internet.

gluten free carrot cake, vegan, cranberry, coconut, pineapple

 Coconut~Cranberry~Carrot Cake
A gluten free, dairy free, egg free recipe


2 cups + 2 tablespoons white rice flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer + 3/4 cup hot water
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons grated carrot
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
8 oz can of crushed pineapple in juice
3/4 cup dried cranberries
Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts- I recommend doing this if you like walnuts.  This cake could use a crunch.  I personally hate walnuts, so you will never catch me adding them to my batter.


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 16 muffin cups with paper liners (or line 2 8" cake pans with parchment paper)

2.  In a medium sized bowl, mix together the rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk the hot water into the egg replacer, then add the almond milk, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Mix well.

4.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Mix well.  You can't over mix, because there is no gluten.  You want everything to be well distributed, so feel free to get carried away.  Crank the music and sing into your mixing spoon, if it helps.

5.  In a separate bowl, combine the carrots, dried cranberries, pineapple, coconut, and walnuts (if using).   Stir these into the cake batter.

6.  Don't taste the batter.  Gluten free batters generally have grainy textures and/or funny flavors which soften in the oven.
7.  Pour batter into prepared baking cups or pans.  It doesn't rise much, so fill them 3/4 or a little more.

8.  Bake about 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan until you can touch them, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.  The flavors of this cake really sink in as they cool.  If you can, wait to taste them until they've cooled completely.  Top with vanilla "cream cheese" frosting, or frosting of your choice.

gluten free carrot cake, cranberry, vegan, coconut, pineapple