Heavy. Heavy is the word I hear the most to describe gluten-free baked goods. Well, heavy and chewy but I’ve already addressed chewy so we are left with the problem of heavy. Now one of the ways you make a cake lighter in traditional baking is to use cake flour. It has less gluten and it’s therefore lighter. Well something with less gluten seems like it would be easy to make gluten-free right? However, there is no gluten-free cake flour on the market. So I looked online for a recipe to make my own. Nothing. Huh?
Now a little back story. As I mentioned, my father was trying a gluten-free diet and he is, to say the least, a sugaroholic. So, of course, he tried just about every gluten-free cake he could find. And he was thorough. But his complaint was always the same, “It’s too heavy. They’re all too heavy. Bah.”
Well every child wants to make their parents happy. There is some built-in need for our parents’ approval that never goes away. No matter how old we get or how many hours of therapy we undergo, we still strive to make Mommy and Daddy proud. So I have spent countless hours and baked 36, yes 36, cakes trying to develop a gluten-free cake flour. And I am incredibly happy and proud to announce that I have done it. Cue the fanfare.
So thank you Daddy. Your disdain for existing gluten-free baked goods combined with my irrational and compulsive need to please you produced what I can only hope will change the future of gluten-free baking.
Revised June 1, 2014
120 grams (approx. 1 cup + 2 tablespoons) powdered milk
150 grams (approx. 1 1/2 cups) oat flour
100 grams (approx. 3/4 cup) millet flour
80 grams (approx. 1/2 cup) potato starch
62 grams (approx. 1/2 cup) arrowroot
So to showcase my new flour is a recipe for yellow cake. Yellow cake is something people on a gluten-free diet miss terribly. Well no need for tears because it’s now within reach. Hell, it’s so good that bakers not concerned with gluten-free may want to make it anyway. It’s moister than a traditional version and lasts longer. I made a blood orange curd because blood oranges are in season but feel free to use a lemon curd either homemade or bought. No judgments.
Revised June 1, 2014
Yields One 9-inch cake, 12 to 16 servings
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Best Birthday Cake
3 cups flour mix D
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups sour cream
4 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd
Inspired by Martha Stewart’s Lemon Curd
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 blood oranges or 4 lemons, zested and juiced
1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled
Adapted from Gale Gand’s Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks), at room temperature
6 cups confectioner's sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons half & half
1 tablespoon vanilla
- Position the rack in the center of oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and line with parchment paper two round 9-inch cake pans and butter and flour the sides with the millet flour. The pans should be at least 2 inches high.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese at medium speed for two minutes. Add the sugar and continue to beat for five minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add sour cream and beat for one minute. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add the vanilla and beat for one minute. Scrape down the bowl.
- At low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, beating for one minute. and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
- Add the flour in three parts to the batter. Mix each addition for one minute. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.
- Once all the ingredients are combined, scrape down the bowl a final time. Then turn the mixer back up to medium speed for 30 seconds.
- Divide the batter equally between the two pans. Bang down each pan a few times to level the batter and burst any air bubbles. Cover each pan tightly with foil.*
- Place the pans on the center rack and bake for 40-55 minutes or until they are well risen and the cake has come away from the sides or the pan. If you press the cake lightly with your finger, it should spring back.
- Remove the pans from the oven and place them on cooling racks. Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes. Then unmold the layers and remove the parchment paper.
- *_What!? This is not a roast! I know it seems odd but once you get used to the foreign idea, the result is shocking. The cake is fluffier because it has more time to rise. The foil holds in all of the moisture so the cake stays yummy longer. Usually it is an either/or situation but this method creates both--a light and moist cake. Who thought it was possible?_
- Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium heatproof mixing bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Add 1/3 cup of juice and all the zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. Tip: If you don't have enough juice, add some cold water until you have 1/3 cup.
- Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk slowly and constantly until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter one piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next.
- Pour the curd through a fine mesh sieve into a clean medium bowl. Let stand until cool. Tip: Use the back of a spoon to push it through the strainer if you need.
- Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a whisk attachment at medium speed for two minutes.
- Turn the mixer down to low speed and add in the sugar gradually. Mix on low speed until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
- Turn the mixer back up to medium speed and beat the butter/sugar mixture for 3 more minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add the vanilla and continue to beat until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add the half and half one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Scrape down the bowl and continue to beat until thoroughly combined.
1. Unwrap the layers and place the first layer upside down on a cake or serving plate.
2. Using a pastry bag with a large round tip or a storage bag, pipe a ring of frosting around the edge of the layer. This creates a dam so the curd doesn’t ooze out.
4. Place the second layer upside down on top.
5. Cover the entire cake with a thin coat of frosting. This process is called “crumb coating” and will lock in all the crumbs. It’s OK if you get crumbs in the frosting on this layer.
6. Place the cake unwrapped in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes.
7. Remove the crumb-coated cake from the freezer and frost with the remaining buttercream.