Gluten-Free Orange Almond Snacking Cake

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 20

I came across this recipe in the May 2014 issue of Canadian Living.  I haven’t really felt like doing too much cooking in recent days, but this one looked easy and post-able enough that I figured I’d give it a shot.  This is one of those cakes that is “naturally” gluten-free, meaning that you’re not looking for a flour substitute.  It’s more that the recipe doesn’t require anything flour like in the first place to keep its structure.  It’s also dairy-free too (just don’t use butter to grease the pan), if that’s something you’re interested in.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 16

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease (with butter) a 9″ springform pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  While you’re at it, separate 6 eggs and put the whites in a mixing bowl.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 1

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together 6 egg yolks, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract2 teaspoons grated orange zest, and a pinch of cinnamon.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 2

You are going to want to beat this stuff until it turns the colour of butter and when you lift the (stopped) beater away, you get a lovely long yellow ribbon coming out of the end, about 5 minutes.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 4

You need 2 cups ground almonds for this, and 2 tablespoons orange juice, so you might want to get these ready ahead of time.  I used the store-bought almond meal because I’m lazy, and just juiced the orange I took the zest from.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 3

Fold the almonds and orange juice into the yolk mixture.

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Now take those 6 egg whites you set aside and start beating them until stiff peaks form.

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Take a scoop of the whites and stir it into the almond/yolk mix.  This will sort of thin out the mixture in order that it doesn’t crush the rest of your whites in the next step.

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Once that first scoop is combined, gently fold in the remainder of your egg whites into the almond/yolk mixture until fully combined.  Make sure to scrape up from the very bottom to make sure you got it all.

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Plop the batter into your prepared pan and bake it until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the centre is golden and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes.

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If you need to, run a knife around the edge of the pan and leave the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack.  Mine came right out, but I’m not always this lucky.

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Don’t worry — it will sink in the middle.  They always do.

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Dust the cake with icing sugar right before you serve it (or the icing sugar will be absorbed into the moisture of the cake).

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This cake was pretty good.  I think I’d like to make it again, but this time I would do it with lemon zest, lemon juice, and then coconut flour instead of almond flour for a more tropical cake.  I think I would also bake it differently.  This one you can see was still a little runny in the centre, but the outside was starting to burn.  I think I would bake it for longer, but at a lower temperature, like 325°F. Thoughts?

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Rum Balls

Rum and Glue Balls

Cait and I made these last year for her contribution to our annual potluck extravaganza.  The recipe is a little fuzzy, because we decided to ignore what we were told.  And we also decided to take a shot of rum for every step we did in the recipe.  It’s all kind of a blur.

Rum and Glue Balls
Me and the Captain.

Start with your dry ingredients. First we used a food processor to grind up about 1 1/2 to 2 cups blanched almonds. Cait had to climb up on the counter again to get the processor down. Her kitchen requires acrobatics.

Rum and Glue Balls

You could use 1 1/2 to 2 cups almond meal for convenience’s sake.

Rum and Glue Balls

Rum and Glue Balls

Whisk together with about 2 cups icing sugar.

Rum and Glue Balls

Take a shot.

Rum and Glue Balls

In a haze, melt about 8oz chocolate in a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water.

Rum and Glue Balls

While you wait, take pictures of whatever dogs are handy. I swear that it was Ruby who kept moving, not me.

Rum and Glue Balls

Let the chocolate cool a bit, and then add to it about 2/3 cup dark rum — you could use spiced if you like — and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Give ‘er a stir.

Rum and Glue Balls

Pour the rummy chocolate into your icing sugar/almond mix and whisk thoroughly.

Rum and Glue Balls

Chuck that in the fridge for a few minutes to solidify a bit.

Rum and Glue Balls

Take a scoop of this goodness and roll it in your hands to form a ball.

Rum and Glue Balls

Set each completed ball on a sheet of waxed paper.

Rum and Glue Balls

Dip each finished ball into more rum, then roll in chocolate sprinkles.

Rum and Glue Balls

Set the finished balls on the waxed paper to dry, then seal in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Rum and Glue Balls

Now that is one tasty indulgence.

Bookmark Brownies

Bookmark Brownies 15

This recipe comes from a laminated bookmark I received as part of a promotional package from Chatelaine magazine.  While I was not so struck by this unsolicited mail that I wished to subscribe to the magazine, I kept the bookmark because the brownie recipe on it was gluten free with an interesting twist.  Actually this is a lie.  As soon as I’d typed in the ingredient list into this entry, I threw it out.  And was annoyed that it was unrecyclable.

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Below is the original recipe for one pan of brownies.  I tripled this because I was baking for work, so ignore my photos involving massive amounts of baking materials.

First, separate 4 eggs, and bring the whites to room temperature.

Bookmark Brownies 1

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the sides of the pan (you’re going to use these as handles later, see?).

Bookmark Brownies 2

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups icing sugar with 2 cups ground almonds (I used almond meal), 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt.

Bookmark Brownies 3

Add to that your egg whites and 2 teaspoons vanilla and mix well.

Bookmark Brownies 5

Pour that thick loveliness into the prepared pan.  And by thick I mean that this stuff will suck you into oblivion if you’re not careful.

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Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is shiny and crusty and a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean.

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Use the parchment handles to carefully lift the brownie out of the pan (you don’t want it to suddenly sag and break in half, for instance) and set the brownies on a rack to cool completely.

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What this recipe doesn’t tell you (because I guess the bookmark was too small) is that these things are next to impossible to cut cleanly.  I thought mine weren’t cooked enough and ended up putting them back in the oven for another fifteen minutes and they were still ridiculous, sticking to the knife and crumbling everywhere.  Warm, cold, didn’t matter.  Crumbles all over the place.

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But they tasted like brownies.  So that’s that.

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Them’s Fightin’ Cookies

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

This is a recipe for gluten-free almond chocolate chip cookies.  I found it in Thursday’s issue of The Ottawa Citizen, where it was referenced to the California Almond Board.  Can we get more complicated?  Surely.  These cookies are also touted as a great energy snack after a workout (a cookie?  Really?).  Whatever they are, they’re gluten-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free, and, if you use carob instead of chocolate, then they are also dairy-free and vegan.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

So I figured I’d bake up a batch and try them out on my collection of captive guinea pigs — in this particular case, the Pie’s fighting game community, which meets every Sunday.  I’m sure that the last thing they need is more energy, but whatever.  They are good at ensuring the Pie and I are not left alone with too many cookies to eat by ourselves.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups almond flour (I did half coconut flour and half almond meal, because that’s what I had and I figured that the recipe actually meant almond flour, which is a finer grind, and not almond meal) with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

In a smaller bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup grapeseed oil (regular canola or sunflower oil will do as well), 1/2 cup agave nectar (available at any health food store and many grocery stores — it’s basically sweet cactus sap, and they also make tequila out of it), and 1 tablespoon vanilla.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

I’ve finally busted open the home-made vanilla that Ando and Teedz gave me a couple Christmases ago.  It’s excellent, and I can just keep refilling the bottle to get more and more vanilla.  Fantastic!

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

I’m not sure if I had to do this, but I whisked the ingredients thoroughly together until they formed a lovely smooth and thick emulsion.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and make sure they’re thoroughly combined before folding in 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup sliced almonds.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

I didn’t have any sliced almonds so I just used some raw almonds, which I then toasted and crushed myself.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Using a tablespoon, drop the dough onto the parchment sheets and press down on the dough to flatten it a bit.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Well, that’s what the recipe said.  I had a hard time keeping mine together so I found if I used my hands and mashed them hard into little patties then I had better luck.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Bake those puppies for 7-10 minutes, until golden, before removing from the oven.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes before you try to peel them off.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

This recipe had potential, but it fell far short for me.  The cookies turned out a little burnt on the bottom despite me only cooking them for 7 minutes, and they were so very, very dry.  If I were to make these again (and I might), I would nix the oil and substitute in about 1/4 cup butter, salted (which means leaving out the salt in the recipe) and then 1 large egg instead.  If you still want to pursue the vegan route you could also substitute in some apple sauce.  In fact, I might add in some anyway, in addition to the butter and egg.  There simply was no glue holding this baby together.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Gluten-Free Cake Batter

Everybody needs a basic cake batter recipe to work from, even those who have a low tolerance for gluten.  Fussellette was coming for Easter and I wanted to serve a cake for dessert.  So I needed to come up with a cake that she could enjoy along with the rest of our guests.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Easy Cake Batter.  I replaced the flour in the recipe with a gluten-free mix I came up with myself, with a little bit of help from Ellen’s Kitchen.  If you are curious as to the right proportions when combining gluten-free flours, check out her suggestions — they are very useful.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

First we want to bring all our liquid ingredients to room temperature: 1 cup butter, 4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, and 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or soured milk). If you want to warm up your ingredients a little faster, try placing them in a warm water bath.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

In a bowl, whisk together 2 cups white rice flour, 2/3 cup almond meal (I find that the coarseness of the almond meal gives the cake crumb a springy, solid texture, with no fear of it falling if handled too roughly), 1/3 cup tapioca starch/flour, and1 tablespoon baking powder.  So the final result of this particular combination tastes like a sweet, more tender version of cornbread — it has a finer texture but that’s the best analogy I can come up with.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together your butter with 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, until it’s light and fluffy and creamy.  Don’t rush this process.  Let your mixer go on high for about 6 minutes, and you will see the difference between butter and sugar that are just well-combined versus butter and sugar that are well and truly creamed together. This is the just-combined stuff.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

This is the truly creamed stuff.  It makes all the difference in a cake, especially one where you need all the help you can get to keep the structure light and fluffy.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Mix in your eggs, one at a time, until they are well-combined.  Again, you add the eggs a bit at a time so that the mixer paddle will have a chance to properly emulsify all of it.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Add in at this point 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

Flip the mixer to its lowest setting and mix in about a third of your flour mixture.  Pour in half the buttermilk and let that get mixed in as well.  Then another third of your flour, mix that in, and the rest of the buttermilk.  When that’s mixed in, add the last of the flour and mix until just combined.  You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl. This picture is blurry because I like to cook in motion.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Now you have a basic batter with which you can do pretty much anything.  You can turn it into a layer cake, or mix it with other flavours like chocolate or fruit.  Or you can make it into cupcakes, like I did here (the frosting is a package of cream cheese mixed with a cup of icing sugar and some coconut).

Gluten-Free Cake Batter

This cake here I wrapped up and froze for a future event.

Gluten-Free Cake Batter

For Easter I poured the batter into two pans and then layered the cake with whipped cream mixed with raspberries.  DIVINE.