Saturday, June 25, 2011
Perfect Vanilla Cake (grain-free/gluten-free)
This is the story of how I stumbled onto a recipe for THE PERFECT CAKE!
It happened one Saturday night when I was home alone and bored. Husband was out of town on a film shoot and friends were all busy. I was browsing recipes online and was seized with a sudden mania for something sweet. I happened to be on Elana's Pantry and her recipe for Chocolate Almond Joy Bars screamed out to me.
I was doomed since, for once, I had all the ingredients on hand (that almost NEVER happens!) I didn't have chocolate chips, but I had unsweetened dark chocolate, which I like better anyway, so I just chopped that up and used it instead. I also reduced the sweetener by about 1/3 and subbed some stevia. I cranked up some Bowie and started baking! The bars turned out fabulous, but much more cake-like that I expected, with a soft, moist, light crumb texture (it reminded me of a cross between fluffy yellow cake and tender, buttery bundt cake) and a thought occurred to me: I could totally tweak this batter into a number of amazing cakes!
So, of course I HAD to make a few cakes to test out my hypothesis (all in the name of culinary science, right?) I made a blueberry breakfast cake and a vanilla cake to use for strawberry shortcake. I had my mom taste both (she gave a big thumbs up) and I brought the vanilla cake over to some friends' for dessert. Again, big huge hit. My friend's husband, who is a little leery of gluten free (not to mention grain free) food even wanted seconds (actually, we all did!)
So, without further adieu, here is my super simple, grain-free cake recipe that can be tweaked into so many possibilities. It makes a light, moist cake (or cupcakes) that would be perfect for making a layer cake with (make 2 batches for that) you could double the recipe to make a taller cake, as this one is on the shorter side (just bake a little longer).
Here's a little music to make your cake baking even more rad:
Perfect Vanilla Cake:
Sorry I didn't post a picture. I didn't happen to take any and I don't dare make a cake right now or I will most certainly eat all of it!
Preheat oven to 350º
3/4 cup coconut milk (canned) or cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract ( you can use l tsp. if you want less vanilla flavor)
1/2 cup palm sugar (or other sugar)
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
Scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Stevia (I like NuNaturals NoCarbs Blend) to further sweeten- judge by tasting the batter. I always make sure the batter is slightly sweeter than I want the final product to be. Some of the sweetness bakes out.
Note on sweetener amount: you can further reduce the sugar and use more stevia, but I recommend using at least a little of some type of real sugar, since sugar contributes to a good crumb texture.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, vanilla extract and palm sugar.
2. In a smaller bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, salt and baking soda.
3. Mix dry ingredients into wet with a handheld mixer. Add stevia to taste.
4. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish and pour in batter.
Bake for 30 minutes
Cool for 1 hour
-Blueberry cake: use almond extract instead of vanilla and add thawed frozen blueberries (I probably used 2/3 cup.) You can use only 1/3 cup sugar.
-Cinnamon cake: add a generous amount of cinnamon to the basic batter.
-Lemon poppyseed cake: add lemon juice + zest and poppyseeds.
-Apple cake: layer thinly sliced peeled apples on top of cinnamon cake batter.
-Strawberry cake: add fresh or thawed frozen strawberries + a little strawberry juice for a pink cake and frost with strawberry cream cheese frosting.
I haven't made any frostings but it would be really good with chocolate or coconut frosting. I'll leave you with the frosting recipes from Elana's Pantry.
There are just so many things you can do with it! I'm sure it would be great for chocolate (or German chocolate) cake, but that will take more experimenting, since cocoa powder absorbs a lot of liquid. I'm also going to experiment with zucchini bread and banana bread/cake.
If you come up with a fabulous variation, let me know!