Tag Archives: cake

Gluten-Free Portuguese Easter Bread (Massa Sovada)

Spongy, chewey, eggy delicious gluten-free Portuguese Easter Bread (Massa Sovada)

I miss my grandmother, my Avo, very much right now.  Today is Good Friday, and though I am not personally religious I grew up in a very Catholic family, with Easter being sacred.  And because I love and respect my family and this faith that led me to mine, I still feel strongly connected to this holiday.

Massa Sovada – Portuguese sweet bread – is always made in my family for Easter.  For as long as I can remember my mother starts on Holy Saturday, mixing dough and shaping loaves, and by the time we go to bed the house is filled with sweetness.  We then dig into the bread for breakfast, cracking the hard-boiled eggs baked inside.  That is, I enjoyed the bread until I developed an allergy to milk and gluten.  After that Easter morning meant either indulging and feeling very sick or abstaining and being jealous – neither a fun feeling on such a spiritually cleansing day!

Masa Sovada

Mom learned from her mother-in-law, my Portuguese father’s mother.  And though Avo didn’t teach me this recipe, I inherited several family recipes, skills and techniques from her through my mother and my Tia Vidalia.  I bake so much, so often.  But it’s when I’m baking these rare, sweet, simple family recipes that I feel that much more connected to my food, and to home.

Last night I began my second go at making this traditional Portuguese Easter Masa bread both gluten-free and with almond milk instead of cow’s milk.  Similar to the first batch I worried at the proportions, at the specific mix of flours, and if the yeast would rise.  But this batch came out even better than the last!  I mixed, kneaded, set the bowl on my radiator wrapped in towels and, less than two hours later, pulled out a beautiful mound of squishy dough.  I turned this dough out on my pastry board and kneaded it into loaves, marveling at the silkiness and elasticity.  This morning I awoke to the scent of lemon, almond, flour and yeast, and felt my grandmother with me.  This bread she’s made dozens and dozens of times.  Recipes she knew by touch and feel, not by book or blog.

I miss her so much.

Avo passed away in August.  And though we never shared a common language, and while I’ll always regret not spending more time with her in the kitchen when her mind and body were with her, I will always think of her when I bake during Easter, sitting at my table with a cup of tea, as my gluten-free massa sovada bakes and fills my NYC apartment with home.

This recipe is for her.  I am so lucky to have it.

Both light and dense, sweet and mild

Gluten-Free Portuguese Easter Bread (Masa Sovada)

Click here for my second go -they’re both delicious. The second batch was slightly less dense.

Notes: Like the best kinds of recipes that get passed down from one generation to another, this massa recipe requires time, patience, and an understanding that you might have to make it more than once to “get it”. My mother, for all her love and trying, never made massa the same way my avo did, despite using her exact recipe. It’s about feelings, and preferences, and working with your hands. So here’s how I could best articulate how this recipe works for me. xx

Ingredients:

  • 16 Tablespoons / 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened milk – I used almond, but cow’s or soy will work too
  • 10 cups of gluten-free flour with xanthan gum (I used a combination that made me ten cups: 2 cups sweet white rice flour, 3 cups brown rice flour, 1 1/2 cup quinoa flour, 2 cups arrowroot starch, 1 cup millet flour, 1 cup tapioca flour, 4 tsp xanthan gum)
  • 3 packets active dry yeast
  • About 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 6 eggs at room temperature or slightly warmed
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 Tbsp whiskey (distilled liquor does not contain gluten, but omit if you’re cautious).
  • The zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Extra butter or egg, for brushing on the loaves before baking

Directions:

  • Make sure your flours are thoroughly blended, either with a whisk or sifter.
  • In a saucepan, start to melt your butter.  Heat the milk on the stove or in the microwave until at room temperature or warmer.
  • In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water thoroughly with a fork, until all clumps are gone.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the bread hook attachment, whip eggs until creamy.
  • Add sugar and whip at medium speed until very creamy, about 3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile make sure butter is melted and slowly whisk in milk.  Turn off heat and but keep warm.
  • When the sugar/butter is creamy, add lemon zest, lemon and almond extracts, salt and whiskey and mix to combine.
  • Add 1o cups of flour and the butter mixture.  Mix SLOWLY until just incorporated.
  • SLOWLY add in yeast mixture (mine splattered everywhere! Oh no!).  Mix on low until incorporated, then increase speed slowly, eventually up to medium, until completely combined.
  • Mix until the dough becomes smooth and pulls together.  My visual is when the dough has “crawled” its way up the bread hook as much as possible, pulling together in a weird, tornado-looking thing.
  • Remove to a pastry board lightly floured withe some remaining bread flour and knead a few times until smooth.  Unlike gluten-full bread, gluten-free bread doesn’t need much kneading because there’s no gluten to develop! So just knead until the dough is smooth and silky.
  • Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick spray / cover in a small amount of olive oil.  Move dough to bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and then wrap completely in a clean, large bath towel.
  • Let sit for about 1 1/2 hours or until almost double in size.  Because my radiator (for some reason!) was on, I wrapped the bowl in two towels and sat it right on top!  A nod to my grandmother and living in Queens with such radiators way back in the day.  Another option is to slightly heat an oven, then turn it off, wrap the bowl and set it in.  Or put it in the sun!  Any way, get it to a warm spot.
  • When almost doubled in size, punch down the dough to release air.  Return to pastry board and divide in half.  Knead dough a few times to pull together, and shape into loaves.  This time I shaped one half of the dough into two loaves, and the other half into four, for a total of two large and four small loaves.  But break this up however you like.  Just make sure you knead each loaf until smooth.
  • Place on thick cookie sheets and once again wrap in towels.  Let sit for about six hours or overnight.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Brush tops of loaves with melted butter or egg whites (I use both! First butter, then egg whites)
  • Bake large loaves for about 50 minutes, smaller loaves for about 38.  They’re ready when just springy to the touch.
  • Serve warm with butter or let cool and eat with coffee, brunch foods or… oh my goodness, this bread is so good, just EAT IT!

Happy Easter!

My Avo, Armanda Oliveira Raposo

Gluten-free Easter Portuguese Masa

Gluten-Free Portuguese Masa Sovada

This morning I did a happy dance.  Of course I was in the kitchen.I successfully made 4 delicious loaves of gluten and milk free masa, “the bread of my people”!

With a joyful smile my boyfriend joked that I have now become a woman, which in any other circumstance would have sent me into a feminist tirade.  But it is a strange right of passage I am happy to embrace.  My mother, tias, and grandmother all have their recipes for masa, and now I have mine.

Masa is a Portuguese sweet bread made in my family every year around Easter.  For the holiday we wrap the risen dough around painted, hard-boiled eggs and eat them Easter morning.  Scented with lemon, anisette and (in my grandmother’s recipe!) whiskey, it’s eggy and sweet. Recipes all vary in their density; the kind you purchase in stores is usually very light and fluffy.  But my mother’s was always a bit denser, so that’s the kind I grew up appreciating and wanting to replicate.  And because gluten-free breads are generally denser anyway, this was also a matter of necessity.

I’m in possession of three recipes:  my Avo’s (grandmother), my Tia Albertina’s (great-aunt) and my Tia Vidalia’s (aunt).  I’ve made the recipe with my mother, but never attempted to make this bread both gluten and milk free.  And it came out deliciously!

Next week I’ll be trying a slightly different process and doubling the yeast to see if I can achieve a slightly lighter version of the bread, but I am extremely happy with this recipe and recommend it as a gluten-free replacement to this traditional holiday favorite.

Moist, sweet and eggy gluten-free Portuguese masa

Lots of Notes: I researched a decent blend of flours to estimate a bread flour – because of the proportions I was using, I made 8 cups of flour but only needed five.   I used almond milk but also regular butter, which doesn’t seem to affect my stomach in smaller doses due to the lack of milk protein that’s found in other forms.  If you need it completely dairy free substitute with butter flavored Earth Balance, not shortening.

This recipe is not completely gluten-free because of the whiskey.  Omit if you’re going completely GF.

Also, most recipes call for a lot of kneading because kneading helps to develop the gluten.  So with this just knead until smooth so that your loaves come out a bit prettier than my test loaves did!

Oh, one last thing!  I like to follow my grandmother’s lead and leave these overnight in a warm place.  So I turned my oven on just to 150° and as soon as it was warm turned it off.  I then wrapped my breads in tea towels, then the entire cutting board in a bath towel and put it in the oven overnight.  They rose perfectly and we ready for baking by breakfast!

One last thing, actually!  I didn’t put the eggs in this, but will next week when I make it for Easter.  Literally just prepare your hard-boiled eggs, make sure they’re dry and hide one in each loaf of bread right before baking!

Gluten-Free Masa Sovada

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup sorghum flour
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 2 cups arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 8 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp whiskey (omit if extremely gluten-free, this has gluten in it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • zest of 1 lemon

Directions

  • Blend flours, starch and xanthan gum in a large bowl, whisking or sifting thoroughly to incorporate.
  • In a small saucepan melt butter and slowly whisk in milk.  Turn off the heat but make sure this is slightly warm before adding to batter.
  • Dissolve yeast with about 1/4 cup warm water and set aside
  • In a standing mixer with the bread hook attachment, beat eggs and sugar until creamy.
  • Add salt, lemon zest, whiskey, extracts, 5 cups of flour blend and the milk/butter mixture.
  • Mix on low / medium to incorporate, then add yeast. Mix on low until all is incorporated, then bring speed up to medium and mix about 10 minutes or until air bubbles form around the sides.
  • Remove to an oiled bowl.  Cover in clean dishcloths and then a large bath towel or blanket, and remove to a warm place.  Let sit for two hours or so.  Note: Gluten-free breads don’t ‘double in size’ like most breads.  But it should be fluffier after this time.
  • Flour a wooden cutting board or line and flour a non-wooden board.  Shape the dough into four small loaves (or two larger ones if you prefer).  Wrap in towels and let sit overnight.
  • In the morning, remove to thick baking sheets and preheat oven to 300°.
  • Bake for 38 minutes or until only slightly springy on top.
  • Eat AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BECAUSE THEY’RE SO YUMMY!
  • Store remains in plastic wrap and eat within three days.

Curious George’s Banana Nut Bread (gluten-free)

Gluten-free Curious George Banana Bread

So, what if you started giving cool names to baked goods, like Hansel and Gretel Grown-Up Gingerbread or Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcakes?  Maybe you could get a kid into the kitchen?  Enjoy a book with dessert?  I don’t know, I’m just throwing things out there.

This recipe is based on my mother’s Banana Bread recipe, which was one of my favorite things growing up and is still made by my mother and older sister regularly.  I’ve made it dozens of times, but never gluten-free!  So upon a trip home I grabbed (stole) some browning bananas and figured I’d whip up a loaf for my first rehearsal tomorrow.

It ended up being the perfect break in my day as the rain fell outside my windows, making the NYC gray that much more like silver.  The bread came out less dense than my mother’s version, almost spongy and less crumbly.  But boy is it delicious!  Moist and slightly crunchy on top, with nuts sprinkled throughout and a chewy mouth feel.  Next time I’m going to try a different flour blend to see if I can get it a bit denser – maybe some quinoa flour –  but this is one tasty sweet bread!

Yum

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar of choice (I used Sucanat – dried raw can juice)
  • 1 1/2 cup very browned bananas, mushed up
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour (I used my cake blend)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup ground walnuts (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a loaf pan and set aside.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  • Cream the shortening, butter and sugar together.
  • Add the banana, lemon and eggs and beat to incorporate.
  • Slowly add flour mixture and beat to incorporate.
  • If using nuts, toss them loosely on a cookie sheet and toast for about 4 minutes, checking every minute, until slightly brown.  Toss them into batter and stir in.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and press down with a spatula to flatten.
  • Bake for 75 – 90 minutes or until the top is brown and the bread gives a little to the touch.

The Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcakes – Gluten and Dairy free!

Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcakes

These cupcakes are amazing. I just wanted to start with that.  You can’t tell that they’re gluten AND dairy free.  My roommate’s eyes lit up when she took her first bite, and after her third she proclaimed it her favorite of my creations.  Even I am wowed by how good this cupcake is.  I can  confidently say this is the best gluten-free red velvet cupcake recipe.  AND the best dairy-free red velvet cupcake recipe.  There.  I said it.  But I should know.  I’ve eaten about 12 of these little guys.  Including two this morning, before breakfast.

Three things contributed as inspiration for the best gluten-free red velvet cupcake I have ever eaten.

Brainstorming first came when I online-met Kelli of Ingested Read.  I love her new blog, and her recipes are created for a specific book she’s pouring over.  I’m a big fan of this idea, and this blog.  So she opened up her site for guest-posts with Intercaketuality.  Brilliant.  I’m sending her a big high five across the pond.

I knew I wanted to make some sort of red-velvet cake.  In my gluten-free food crawl with a few friends I learned that the three bakeries in the city that boast gluten-free offerings disappointed our taste buds in the red-velvet department.  Either too dry or too moist, none contained that classic cocoa flavor.

A few months ago my cousin Daniella played Little Red Riding Hood in her high school production of Into the Woods and, as I predicted, was stellar, stealing the show.  In this musical version Little Red has a slight obsession with baked goods, eating all the bread and sweets she is supposed to take through the woods to granny.  Daniella herself is very allergic to dairy, so over the years we’ve commiserated at the dessert table as treats were passed around.

So when thinking about a new cake I wanted to work on, these three elements blended perfectly into The Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcake!

But a few challenges arose when making this both gluten and dairy free.

First, how to replicate cake flour?  According to my interweb research, cake flour is distinctive because (a) it is very finely milled, (b) it contains a low amount of protein which develops gluten and (c) it has a higher amount of starch as a result.  So, how to make a gluten-free version of cake flour, which obviously lacks gluten to begin with?

Several sites including Gluten-Free Bay, WikiHow and Gluten Free Naturally Blog use the same ingredients in the same proportions.

  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

I don’t really use potato starch, as it’s a nightshade and not good for people with arthritis and digestive issues, so instead I used arrowroot and crossed my fingers.  I also used 2 cups of brown rice flour and 1 of white rice flour, and sifted twice.  This worked wonderfully in the cake.  I’ll have it on hand from now on.

I then had to replace buttermilk with a non-dairy ingredient.  Normally I’d just use almond or soy milk, but as the consistency of buttermilk is a bit thicker and tangy, I had to improvise.  So I used tofutti sour cream and diluted it with unsweetened almond milk, then threw in a tablespoon of white vinegar.  It worked!

I can honestly say that this recipe is better than the two bakery ones we tried.  The cakes are that perfect combination of being both moist and crumbly – they’re not dry at all, so they won’t fall under the pressure of a fork.  The cocoa is definitely present, but in no way do they taste like chocolate.   And I cut back the sugar aspect by a half a cup and substituted with 1/8 a cup of light agave syrup.  I’m not at all a fan of using either of these things, but for experimentation purposes I had to go with it.

Vegan "cream cheese" frosting

For a frosting I whipped up a tofutti / Earth Balance spread from Mama Sophia’s Soul Kitchen.  It’s a very tasty recipe, tangy and sweet without being overpowering nor tasting like soy.  But as you can see in this picture, it’s more like a pretty, thick glaze.  It has a gorgeous sheen, but even when refrigerated overnight it was far too loose for piping.  So I glazed the minis with these and then found an incredibly light and fluffy vegan frosting that I whopped on the big guys.

Fluffy Vegan Frosting

The Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcake

Notes: Make sure you have all your ingredients are room temperature or slightly warm.  Make sure your oven is properly heated.  Don’t over-mix the dough when you’re stirring in the last batch of dry ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free cake flour
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 cup light agave syrup
  • 1 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp. red gel/paste food coloring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 rounded tablespoons Tofutti “sour cream” – at room temp
  • almond or soy milk (directions below)
  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp distilled white vinegar, separated
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Line 24 cupcake molds (I did an even 12 cupcakes and 24 minis)
  • Add Tofutti cream cheese to a liquid measuring cup and fill to just shy of one cup with almond or soy milk.  Whisk thoroughly with a fork until smooth.  Heat in microwave until warm but not hot.
  • Add 1 Tbsp white vinegar and stir in.
  • In a small bowl, whisk flour, cocoa and salt thoroughly.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix sugar, agave and oil thoroughly on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions.
  • Add vanilla and coloring and mix in.
  • Turn speed down to low.  Add the flour in three additions, alternating with 1/2 of the “buttermilk”.  Make sure to mix thoroughly between additions.
  • Mix baking soda and remaining 2 tsps vinegar until foamy.  Add and beat for 10 seconds or until incorporated.
  • Bake for 14 minutes (small) or 22 minutes (large), rotating pan halfway through.
  • Cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing to cool on a rack, or cool completely in pans.
  • Definitely cool completely before frosting.

These can be kept in a refrigerator for 3 days in an airtight container.  Bring them down to room temperature before serving.

Pink Swan Cupcakes

Coconut Cupcakes with Pink Swan Icing

My roommate is a big movie buff, so she throws a (small) Oscar bash every year, and stylishly serves up food to go along with each nominated Best Picture.  To throw my contributions in, I made Irish Cream Filled Carob Cupcakes (for the Fighter, set in Massachusetts, which is all I could come up with) and these light and fluffy coconut cupcakes that I frosted pink and sprinkled with dried coconut, to elegantly mock the hot pink mess of a birthday cake that almost dies an early death in Black Swan.

Yes, the Oscars were two weekends ago already.  But I’ve been busy.  And I just finished watching the Fashion Police Oscar episode, which put me back in the mood to post these.  And I shamefully admit that, thanks to my roommate, I now watch that show when it’s left it on the DVR for me.  It’s probably the worst of the shows that I’ve picked up (infrequently) from living with her.  But they DID pick Natalie Portman as the “Best Dressed” of the night, so I can justify the “love” part of “love-hating” the show.

Oh, for the antithesis of my love for Natalie Portman in this film / in her Oscar dress and this pink, girly cupcakes, check out Black Swan Pie at Bittersweet Blog.

Now, these are completely gluten-free.  And I also made them completely dairy-free because I had some Earth Balance sticks in the fridge and was making a coconut cream frosting, so figured why add dairy in the mix if I didn’t need to?

I love gluten-free baking because it is relatively easy to play with ingredients and get a tasty result – the absence of gluten makes doughs tougher.  Which, yes, is what you DON’T want as an end result in certain recipes but which does give you more structure when experimenting.  The only reason I didn’t go completely vegan is because of how important eggs are when baking gluten-free: you’re already using a large amount of starch in the flour blend, so replacing eggs with potato starch and water (essentially that is what egg-replacer is) results in a grainy pastry that crumbles easily.  Rather simply to remedy when making a treat with, let’s say, almond butter or some sort of fat to help, but not so easy with cupcakes.

You could, of course, substitute regular flour in this recipe for the gluten-free mix, sugar for the xylitol and milk and butter for the non-dairy components.

Oh, and I based this recipe off one from Garret of Vanilla Garlic.  I must say, the specific technique produced a fluffy and delightfully almost chewy cupcake.  Paired with a rich coconut frosting that I played with until it was right, these were a hit.

Ingredients: Cakes

  • 12 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread at room temperature
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used the high-protein mix)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup xantham gum, sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  • Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the coconut milk and vanilla in another
  • In a third, large bowl, cream the Earth Balance until fluffy, then add the sugar and xylitol and beat until smooth and fluffy
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between additions
  • Start with dry and end with dry.  That is, add 1/3 cup of the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated.  Then add 1/2 of the coconut milk and repeat until all ingredients are blended
  • Fill into 18 cupcake tins
  • Bake for 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
  • Cool completely before glazing

Ingredients: Coconut Glaze

  • 1 can of creme of coconut (different than coconut cream)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch

Directions

Now, I learned through this recipe that there is, indeed, a difference between coconut cream and cream of coconut.  I was thinking that I had bought coconut cream, which is essentially a thicker coconut milk, with a higher fat content.  When in fact I had bought cream of coconut, which is a gel-like liquid that’s been sweetened with sugar.  Not having time to go out and correct my mistake before guests came over, and recognizing that this was simply another dusty opportunity, I blended the ingredients together to produce a delightfully thick glaze.  Now, this is not a frosting I, as a person who has hypoglycemia, will eat because it is all sugar (as frostings tend to be).  But since the cakes were not particularly sweet, this was a perfect companion.  And the coconut flavor came out that much more so in the glaze and therefore brought it out in the cakes.  Success!

Nutty Irishman St. Pat’s Pancakes

Nutty Irishman Gluten-Free Pancakes

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I have a pancake addiction.  And possibly an addiction to St. Patrick’s Day too.  I’ve blogged about my uncontainable love for Blueberry Lemon Pancakes and have already made allergy-friendly Soda Bread and Irish Cream Carob Cupcakes, though it’s only a few days into March.

Yesterday morning, though, I just didn’t have time to make pancakes and blog the recipe.  I had an audition and five articles to write, for Pete’s sake!  No time for delicious food and playing when there’s work to be done, right?

Yeah, you guessed it.  I went into the kitchen.  I just had to try out the first go of my new creation, Nutty Irishman St. Pat’s Pancakes.  I mean, a girl’s gotta eat breakfast, right?  And I had laundry down in the basement so my eye had to keep on a clock.  What’s an extra half hour in the kitchen when there’s creation to be had, right?

Addiction.  But I know many of you out there are addicted too.  As evident by your confessions on the last pancake addiction post.  Yes, I think this support group should happen somewhere.  In fact, I just bought AddictedToPancakes.Com.  Message me if you want to be made an author and contribute a recipe, or just divulge a food addiction.  This could be fun.

Anyhoo, in the spirit both of St. Patrick’s Day and Pancake Addiction (which would make a good band name, no?), I’ve made these.  Dessert for breakfast.  A coffee drink in a pancake.  Somehow I captured a bit of the delicious after-dinner drink, though I used no whiskey (sniff).  I ate a bunch.

Now, notes:  These are not that sweet.  I used 4 Tbsp of sucanat to make the cocoa a bit fuller, but these do not taste like a brownie, cake or even chocolate muffin.  They are definitely pancakes.  If you want a sweeter treat, throw more sugar in there.  And if you don’t mind a little alcohol in the morning, throw a shot or two in.  Or soak your hazelnuts in whiskey for a while and then leave them out to dry / toast them.  Yum.  I’m gonna try that next time.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (or hazelnut if you can find it… I couldn’t… sniff…)
  • 1/2 cup fine unsweetened cocoa (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 4Tbsp sugar (I used sucanat)
  • 2 cups gluten-free pancake mix (Bob’s Red Mill or I used equal parts tapioca, oat, white rice and sorhgum this morning)
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum (if NOT using a premixed pancake mix)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • salt
  • 2 eggs

Directions

Now I did this in a blender, because I was anticipating making it at my boyfriend’s apartment or my dad’s house, and they both have those and not other methods of equipment.  You could also do this in a bowl on a standing mixer or with a hand mixer.  The blender method was affective and did make pouring the pancakes easier, but I did get mix all over my white kitchen cabinets.  It was funny.

  • In a saucepan combine melt butter.  Then add coffee and milk and heat on low until warmed.
  • Whisk in the cocoa until combined completely.
  • Pour in liquid measuring cup and set aside to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt).
  • In a large bowl or blender, beat eggs until a tiny bit frothy.  Then slowly add the liquid ingredients (retain about 1/4 cup) and beat to combine.  Add the dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated.
  • If the batter is a bit too thick, add remaining wet mixture.
  • Let stand while you heat your cooking instrument (I used a griddle that covered two burners).
  • Now, these will brown more easily than other pancakes, so I recommend heating the surface well and then turning down the heat and letting it cool a tad.
  • Bake on both sides until fluffy.  This made me 14 small pancakes.

Nutty Irishman Pancake Addiction

Irish-Cream Filled Carob Cupcakes

Gluten-free Irish Cream Carob Cupcakes

Have I mentioned that I love St. Patrick’s Day?  Well, I LOVE St. Patrick’s Day! Hence the little green background that I’m sporting this month even though it really doesn’t work with the color scheme I’m playing with.  Which, if you stop on this site somewhat regularly (thank you, by the way!) you’ll notice keeps changing because I’m indecisive and not the best at settling on colors.  I painted my last bedroom four times and was still never satisfied.  Come to think of it, I change my mind all the time about online everything.  I used to edit my online dating profile every time I went on the darned thing.  Thank dog that I now have this site to obsess over instead and actually met the best man ever so I’m out of that world.  But maybe I’m getting a little too personal.  Back to St. Pat’s.

Every year I spend it feasting with friends, listening to good Irish punk music and drinking Guinness, which I rarely let myself do (I think the last one I had was during the World Cup in July).

This year I’m starting early, preparing some allergy-alternative options for the little shindig I’m hosting.  A few days ago I made Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread, which made me do a little happy dance.  And the other night my roommate had some friends over to watch the Oscars, which was the perfect time for me to play with an allergy-friendly alternative to the Irish Car Bomb Cupcake recipe I’ve made for the past few years.  I’m still going to make it for the pals who are coming over for St. Pat’s (in case any of you are reading this, I’m not only going to stuff you with healthier options), but frankly, I want a treat I can eat!

So this recipes uses carob instead of chocolate (primarily), gluten-free flour and can be made completely dairy-free by using butter flavored Earth Balance instead of the unsalted butter I used.  I’m still playing with sugar alternatives (I’m not a fan of using agave syrup and xylitol can be a bit rough on my stomach… the experimentation for this hypoglycemic continues!) so powdered sugar made its way into the frosting and organic sucanat into the cake.  The result was a dense carobey-chocolatey cupcake with a nice bang of whiskey to it.  The buttercream frosting is just delicious and overall the amount of sweetness between cake and frosting was in perfect balance for me.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, soy milk or Guinness (if you’re not worried about the gluten)
  • 9 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter-flavored Earth Balance
  • 2 Tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 cup carob or cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (another second cup from the first)
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour (I used the High Protein Blend from Rebecca Reilly)
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sucanat or brown sugar

For the filling:

  • 2/3 cup chocolate soy butter
  • 2 tsp instant coffee
  • 4 Tbsp Irish whiskey (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened milk (almond, soy, rice)

For the Frosting:

  • 14 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature (or butter flavored Earth Balance)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground instant coffee or espresso
  • 3 Tbsp Irish whiskey

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 20 cupcake tins with liners or use these nifty mini-pannetone liners I found at a baking supply store.  Using these will make your cupcakes a bit squat but they’re pretty when frosted and SO easy to use.  For the actual St. Pat’s party coming up, I’ll be using metallic green liners in regular tins.  Oh, what a fun world we play in!

Set a large saucepan over medium heat and add the 1 cup of milk-alternative or Guinness and butter, let butter melt and whisk together.  Whisking constantly, add coffee and whisk until dissolved.  Remove from heat and then slowly add carob or cocoa powder, and whisk together until completely incorporated.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, xantham gum and sugar.  In a second bowl, whip the eggs until light and foamy, and then add vanilla and 1 cup of almond milk or milk of choice.  Whip until creamy.

Slowly pour the egg/milk mixture into the chocolate mixture, whisking continually until well blended and no dark traces remain.

Fold in the flour mixture until just fully incorporated.  Fill cupcake liners equally, and bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove to cooling racks and cool for about 10 minutes before filling.

To make the filling, place all ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Taste test – if the flavor of the whiskey is too strong for you, add a bit more soybutter and almond milk.  Put mixture in a pastry bag or one-gallon plastic bag and cut a small hole in one corner.  Make a small slice in each cupcake and fill with as much chocolate-whiskey frosting as you can!

For the frosting: Place the whiskey, vanilla and instant coffee in a medium bowl and whisk to dissolve the coffee.  Add the butter and, using a hand mixer, beat until smooth.  Progressively add the powdered sugar until fluffy and light.  Ice half of the cupcakes with this white icing, then add a few drops of green food coloring and beat to incorporate. Have fun decorating!  I used edible glitters – one opaque and one light green, and some coloring gels.  A small container of the glitter lasts FOREVER and creates a shimmery touch.  Fun fun.



Gluten and Dairy-Free Irish Soda Bread

Back-story to this recipe: In a few weeks I’ll be hosting my annual St. Patrick’s Day party.  It started several years ago, when my boyfriend-at-the-time-now-best-friend moved in with me in Queens.  He’s from an Irish family (Ruark Michael Downey – you don’t get more Irish than that!) and I’d been to Ireland several times at that point.  What naturally followed was a succession of parties where we’d bring in a keg of Guinness, bottles of whiskey and Irish cream, and I’d make a full boiled dinner.  The second year I made lamb stew and corned beef and cabbage.  Subsequent years brought us to the point where we were making 9 corned beefs and I was whipping up car-bomb cupcakes by the several dozen.  We needed nothing more than good food, good booze and the company of our lovely friends.

This year I’m doing a bit of experimenting with gluten-and-dairy-free recipes to include with the traditional ones I’ll be presenting.  For this  I found the most traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe I could find, having discarded anything fancy and landing on one with thorough directions and a bit of history.

So, the Irish are famous for soda bread for two reasons: the abundance of soft wheat with a lower gluten content and the availability of fuel for home fires and therefore the ability to bake bread at whim.  Simple ingredients (flour, milk, salt and baking soda) create a quick bread that’s delicious with a bowl of thick stew or layered around cold meat.  Since you don’t want the gluten to develop (as you would with a harder wheat and yeast combo), this makes this bread perfect for a gluten-free version.  I tried to approximate the taste of flour I remember from my glutenous soda-bread days, so threw in some oat and quinoa flour with the bulky rice flour and starches.  And I soured unsweetened almond milk, hoping that the vinegar would produce the proper chemical reaction with the baking soda.

The result?  This bread is delicious!  Deceptively sweet, especially as it contains NO SUGAR.  And popping warm, it’s perfect with a touch of Irish butter.  I gave some to my friend Lynn and her boyfriend Griff, who’s from Ireland.  His response: “this is a very close approximation of the bread of my people”.  They gobbled them up.

For this go around I made 8 mini loafs from the recipe to cut down the baking time dramatically.  For St. Pat’s I’ll be making two full loaves along with a wheat-flour version.  I have a feeling the recipe is equally successful either way.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free whole-grain oat flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour / starch
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (optional – I did not use)
  • 8-10 oz buttermilk or soured milk of choice at room temperature (directions below)
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 45o degrees.  It should be fully preheated and nice and hot before you put the bread in.
  • Lightly flour a heavy baking sheet with gluten-free flour.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, sugar and baking soda.  Gather and sift again, so that the baking soda is fully dispersed.  Make a well in the center.
  • If using regular milk or milk alternative: measure one Tbsp white or red wine vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup.  Add enough milk to make 10 oz.  Use a fork to mix thoroughly.
  • Slowly pour about 8 oz of the milk into the well of flour, and quickly start blending with fork until it starts to pull together.  The mixture should be rather lumpy and on the drier side, but pulled together.  Add currants and fold in gently.  If too dry, add remaining milk until mixture pulls together.
  • Turn onto a slightly floured board and knead just until the dough is one, about 15 seconds / 6 kneads.  Don’t over knead.
  • Break dough into 8 balls, and press into slightly flat disks.  Using a sharp knife, cut a cross in each loaf about 1/3 into the dough.
  • Place in hot oven and bake 13 minutes, or until the tops are slightly brown.  If you tap on the bottom of  a loaf, it should sound hollow.  The dough in the center should be slightly soft though.
  • Cool before eating or enjoy warm with melted butter.

One-loaf Option: Shape into one loaf, slice the cross in, and bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then decrease heat to 400 degrees and bake for 25 minutes longer or until crisp on top and sounding hollow with a tap on the bottom.

Note: This recipe is dedicated to my lovely roommate, Erika.  She’s been working so much lately that she hasn’t been able to (in her opinion) contribute to the upkeep of our generally clean apartment.  So she paid someone to come in and wash and scrub everything, and we lounged in our immaculate living room, catching up.  And less than an hour later, I was in the kitchen… and it got a bit dusty.

Sweetheart Chocolate Fudge Cake with Raspberry Sauce

I know it’s practically sacrilegious to admit to using boxed cake mixes when one claims to call oneself a baker.  But I’ve been doing the gluten-dairy-sugar free thing pretty much since I was twelve – about 18 years ago already!  And for the majority of those years, that meant going without.  Without bread, frosty desserts, birthday cake, or holiday celebrations in school.  As an adult, still, I’m usually surprised with a cake on my birthday by well-meaning relatives that not only can I not eat, but I must slice and serve to guests, with custard-y filling dripping down my fingers while they exclaim that “this is the best cake!”

So when I get to make my Nana’s birthday cake on the Sunday morning before Valentine’s Day amongst much work to do, a boxed cake mix seems like an exciting prospect.  Especially as my pantry full of flours and specialty equipment is back in my apartment in NYC.

At the store yesterday I grabbed two mixes – one from Gluten-Free Dreams and one I have never tried from King Arthur Flours.   Upon pouring them out of their plastic prisons I immediately noticed that the King Arthur had a smoother texture to it that was less grainy than the GF Dreams.  This would prove itself again when they were mixed and in the final baked products – the King Arthur was fudgey and soft with no trace of gluten-free graininess to it.  The six of us agreed it was the taste-test winner (I’ve tried a few other brands, and this is my favorite out of them all).

I used canned pumpkin and unsweetened vanilla almond milk as the moisture for the cakes rather than oil and eggs, making them lower in fat and vegan, while tasting just as rich and chocolatey.  Because they’re seemed to not be a matching set of cake pans in the house, I used an 8″ and a 9″, as well as a miniature heart mold that I knew was crammed in a cabinet here somewhere (I’m stealing it).

Now these cakes are so delicious that they don’t need frosting.  I simply pureed three containers of raspberries to make a sauce and it was the perfect accompaniment to the dark and fudgey cake.  But to glue them together and add some color I made a basic buttercream frosting with butter (bye-bye vegan and dairy-free) and a bit of almond milk.  This is only needed if you make two layers.

Speaking of layers – my Portuguese/Italian heritage of always making too much food reared its dark-haired head again, in my making a double layer cake for 7 people!  We had two-thirds of the cake left over.  So if you’re feeding 8-10 people of a healthy appetite, one layer is sufficient for a dense and classy cake.

To simplify, I’m going to give you the recipe just for the King Arthur mix.  If you were to choose the Gluten-Free Dreams, you’d simply reduce the milk by 1/4 of a cup.

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes of King Arthur Flour Gluten-free Chocolate Cake mix
  • 2 cups of pumpkin puree
  • 3 1/2 cups unsweetened milk – I used vanilla almond, but soy or cow would work just as well
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter, softened
  • red food coloring, if desired

Directions: Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease cake pans of choice – I used one 9″ and one 8″ cake pan, plus the little heart molds
  • In a very large bowl: two packages of cake mix, 1 tsp baking powder, 4 tsp vanilla extract, 2 cups of pumpkin puree.
  • With a hand mixer, start to mix on low.  These mixes will easily fly into the air, so consider yourself warned!
  • When the pumpkin is incorporated, make a well in the center of the batter and pour in 2 and 1/2 cups milk (the rest is for the frosting).  Start mixing on low until incorporated, then mix in medium until nice and smooth.
  • Pour into cake pans and bake for approximately 25 minutes, testing after 20, and bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • Leave in pans for 15 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks.  Cool completely before frosting.

Directions: Frosting and puree

  • In a food processor, process raspberries until smooth.  Set aside.
  • Clean and remount processor.
  • Whip butter into confectioner’s sugar until incorporated.
  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Slowly pour in almond milk, stopping when frosting is smooth and spreadable.
  • If desired, add about 5 drops of red food coloring until a delightful pink.
  • Put a dab of frosting between the layers, and a bit more on top to decorate as desired.  Serve with raspberry puree.

The Final Product

Happy Birthday Nana!

My sister and I dubbed this the Whoville Birthday Valentine Whobilation Cake.  Yes, it looks like something a Who would serve to their guests in a Dr. Seuss world. I do not deny this.  Nor am I too proud to share this with you.  But I did come home and sign up for a cupcake class next month so I can learn how to frost better.  And I think cake classes may be in my future in general.

Vegan Coffee Vanilla Sauce

I’m bringing a vegan chocolate cake to a dinner party tonight,  And to go along with a cake, one needs a frosting or a sauce, right?

Last weekend I made a gluten-free chocolate/vanilla layercake with a traditional buttercream frosting for a friend’s birthday.  It was way sweet, and full of, obviously, butter.  And since the cake was vegan, logic follows that I shouldn’t just dump some animal by-product frosting on top, right?

In a pastry class I took a few years ago I learned how to make chocolate mousse out of silken tofu.  Figuring the texture was the first thing to worry about with a vegan sauce, I grabbed a container of the stuff from Whole Foods and figured I’d improv the rest.

Okay, here’s the list of what eventually made it into my new food processor.  It took a bit of trial-and-error-and-trial-more.

  • 1 package silken tofu, drained
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, the insides only
  • 1 tablespoon of wild clover honey
  • 2 tablespoons of palm sugar
  • 1 rounded tablespoon instant coffee granules

A mess of ingredients, right?  I mean, palm sugar and maple syrup and honey?

Originally I had meant to make a maple vanilla sauce.  But I only had about 2 teaspoons of syrup left.  Not wanting to use the dreaded agave, I thought maybe palm sugar would suffice.  Nope.  Adding more vanilla to the original teaspoon?  Well, it was something.   Adding honey for sweetness?  A bit better.  But the darned thing still tasted like tofu!

(By the way, I totally just swore and then edited myself.  It was a frustrating scenario but even when things are dusty, one must retain her propriety, right?)

So the sauce wouldn’t be a maple vanilla sauce.  I was determined not to melt chocolate and throw it in.  Then, brilliance struck (while Sigur Ros was playing, as often happens in my kitchen, for some reason.  Icelandic magic, maybe).

Coffee brings out the richness in chocolate and the depth of vanilla.  Would it save the sauce?

It did!! I now have a mildly sweet and richly complex sauce to drizzle over the chocolate cake.  For friends who, by the way, have no food allergies or special dietary requests.  I will probably reel from the amount of sugar in what I’ll be sampling – I just hope it’s enough for their taste buds to do a happy-dance.

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