Coconut Flour Gingerbread Cake, 2.0 (SCD & GFCF)

Once again, I am posting late. I’ve had this written since Sunday but forgot to schedule it for yesterday, and ho hum, here we are. I had to do it myself. Last year I posted a coconut flour gingerbread cake. It’s a very good cake, although it is almost sponge-like: a trait that, while appealing, isn’t always wanted. This came to my attention after Ariana left a comment on said cake, asking how it could be made less spongy.

In response, I quickly typed up an updated version of the recipe – in fact, there upon the spot – which is what I’m sharing here today. (I acknowledged Ariana’s own suggestions in my response comment as well. Haven’t tried it, though.) What is done differently in this recipe is that the egg whites are beaten: I’m not sure if I have discussed it here before, but I’ve noticed that beating egg whites and including the egg yolks, which are beaten to a ribbon stage (more on that later), in baked goods and desserts that use coconut flour creates a fluffier texture similar to gluten-based ones. Beating the egg yolks provides additional leavening as well as structure to the cake that otherwise would be spongy if made with only egg whites. I first came to discover this when I made the lemon (cup)cake for my first entry into Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free. (Speaking of which, I’ve decided to enter this cake into this month’s GAHIGF. Click here for details.) Needless to say, it is a very desirable result in gluten-free baking.

At times, I feel like a scientist in the kitchen when I am observing, placing importance on preciseness and other times an artist when I’m in a groove, following my intuition and just eyeballing it. Although both are creative flows, there is a distinct mental shift between the two.

Some people have problems with coconut flour in regards to it absorbing moisture like crazy, but like any gluten-free flour, one just has to learn its quirks – what works and what doesn’t work. What I love about coconut flour is that you need so little because of that! That’s its charm. In my experience, coconut flour doesn’t contribute a coconut-y flavour to baked goods, even when I’ve used it just on its own. The flour doesn’t even really smell like coconut either. It’s also a great choice for those following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet but might not tolerate almond flour that well, or don’t like having to rely upon it so heavily in baking.

Due to its slightly (unintentionally) marbled, rustic appearance, I imagine that this cake would be excellent with some dark or semisweet chocolate chunks thrown in. (That’s the artist talking, not the scientist.)

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Grain-Free Almond Olive Oil Cake (SCD & GFCF)

Today I blanched almonds and made almond flour. Removing the skins was a bit tedious: one by one, sliding the nuts out of their skins. (It was two cups worth.) Sometimes it was more like popping: held between the thumb and index, the skin peeled away so quickly that the almond shot out from my fingers’ grasp in whatever direction. And yet I still appreciated the almond skins’ beauty; reminding me softly of autumn leaves upon the ground.

Once they were all skinned, the almonds were ground in the food chopper. This almond flour was a bit moister than what we usually buy from the store, but I don’t think that makes much of a difference in baking – or at least that’s what I think. I could be wrong. So, two cups of whole almonds makes about two cups worth of almond flour – or about five ounces or about one hundred and fifty-seven grams, according to the scale. I say about because the numbers on the screen kept fluctuating.

Ever since that almond olive oil cake, I’ve been thinking how to make it SCD, too – I was thinking how to make it SCD even before I set about making it, actually but now even more so once I clicked that publish button back then and there it was for all of you to see. My only hesitation was that I thought using almond flour alone would make the cake too dense but I needn’t have worried since the recipe is mostly composed of liquids, which results in a moist and flavourful, citrus-tinged cake.

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Grain-Free Chocolate Popover Cakes (GFCF)

It was only yesterday that I finally (!) got a hold of The Gluten-Free  Almond Flour Cookbook from my library. I put it on hold ages ago and it only just came in. If the title sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve been to the author Elana Amsterdam’s blog, Elana’s Pantry. Would I recommend her cookbook? Definitely. The book is nothing short of beautiful colour photography and has ninety-nine recipes included, all made with almond flour and sweetened with agave nectar. The cookbook is also just the right size, too, for carrying around and resting on your kitchen counter for it to be by your side as you cook or bake out of it.

Because all her recipes are made with almond flour [edit: some recipes also use arrowroot powder], the recipes are very easy and simple – at a glance, that goes for even the more complicated ones. In my own experience with baking with almond flour, it is much simpler to use because you’re not having to deal with a mix of gluten-free grain flours as is often the case with gluten-free baking by and large. Baking with gluten-free flour mixes, which here I mean working with a variety of flours, i.e. one cup of this flour, one cup of that flour, not pre-mixed baking mixes, isn’t hard either but it can feel complicated to those new to gluten-free baking and are still learning to get their way around. Baking with almond flour alone will not give the same results as baking with wheat or other gluten flours, or even gluten-free flours, but many things often taste just as good, if not better, depending on what it is you’re making.

As Elana’s recipes are based on using almond flour, her recipes can be easily tweaked for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet – really, the only thing you could tweak is just substituting the agave nectar [edit: and yacon syrup, which she also uses] with honey instead. Chocolate is not one of things allowed on the SCD for what is a largely unknown reason, or at least never has been fully explained, but if you want to treat yourself, this is it. Or at least one of several. Sugar-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and, of course, gluten-free.

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