Monday, February 22, 2010

Ideas for Choosing and Adapting Cake Recipes

* Basic cakes are not particularly adaptable.To make something fancy that works out flawlessly, I recommend choosing something that takes as its base a basic cake recipe: layer cake, sponge cake, pound cake, or angel food cake, for example. (Good recipes for these are all pro- vided in this section.) Then, fancy it up with your favourite spices and flavourings, or with special frosting, filling, or decoration.

Otherwise, if you are determined to adapt a recipe . . .
  • Choose a recipe with lots of egg whites (sponge cake or angel food cake) and replace wheat flour with a blend of white rice flour, sweet rice flour, and light starches and a bit of xanthan gum. Make sure the frosting or filling called for is moist and light, like lemon curd or whipped cream.
  • Look for recipes for Passover, which usually don’t have wheat flour.
  • Sour cream coffee cake, si - yeast-based coffee cake, non.
  • Look for European “tortes” which are often made with nuts or bread crumbs instead of flour. (In North America, “torte” is sometimes used to mean “more than two layers,” but the technical definition of “torte” is that it is flourless and made with nuts or crumbs.)
  • Remember that “cake and pastry flour” contains less gluten than all-purpose flour and might be easier to replace in a recipe.
  • Make a self-saucing pudding cake.These adapt almost flawlessly, though I do recommend using at least 1/4 cup of soy flour in the replacement flour mix, to add structure and a bit of fat.
  • As with muffins and loaves, choose a recipe that gets some of its moisture from fruits or vegetables and remember to increase the amount of eggs, or egg whites in the recipe. Separating the eggs and whipping the whites to fold in at the end of mixing will lighten gluten-free fruit- or vegetable-based cakes.
  • Just make cheesecake. Buy gluten-free shortbread or other cookies to crush instead of graham wafers for the base, and the rest is, as it were, a piece of cake.
* Most icing sugar in Canada is made with cornstarch and is gluten free, but do always check the ingredients list, because the odd brand contains wheat starch instead of cornstarch, and wheat starch in Canada usually contains some gluten.