Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Successful Gluten Free Vegan Cake!

The other day was Megan's birthday. All her 5 year old little heart wanted for her birthday was a doll, a dress, and a chocolate birthday cake. I was sweating bullets thinking about making her an egg-free cake. I tried last weekend to modify a cake recipe (Ina's, which looks delicious, flopped for me when I tried to replace the eggs and it went in the trash, ugh). This weekend I decided to hang up my hat and look at an actual gluten free and vegan cookbook. No Swedish Chef for me this time. I needed some serious help. This egg free baking is really hard.

With much skepticism, I decided to trust the Flying Apron. I was skeptical because she uses chickpea flour in her cakes and so far, I've had bad luck using chickpea flour successfully in cake or quick bread recipes. She also uses no starch flours, which was surprising because everything I've read about baking gluten free dictates the use of several flours, including starch flours, to mimic wheat flour. But she has a bakery and I don't, so I decided to take on her Dark Chocolate Cake.

In addition to there being chickpea flour, and no starch flour, there was a heckava lot of liquid in this cake recipe - lots of oil, water and maple syrup. I crossed my fingers and made two changes - I added xanthan gum and used half maple syrup and half agave nectar. And I could not believe my eyes - the cake behaved. It was light and springy! It was not soggy or gummy! I could handle it gently without it cracking! The three layers stacked nicely and frosted well. And then I served it.

I cannot even describe to you the silence that befell everyone as they dug into their slice of cake. The kids made absolutely no sound at all. We had to ask a couple of times how they liked the cake before we got a short "we like it" with an undertone of "leave me alone I'm inhaling cake" to their response. My friend, who is honest above reproach, told me that this was hands-down the best cake I've ever made (and I've made many).

In short, this cake is impossibly delicious, sinfully rich, mind-bogglingly fabulous. If you need to be baking gluten free and vegan as I do, then you really need this cookbook if only for this cake recipe. I can't wait to try other recipes, including breads. And now I can't wait to experiment on my own - I'll bet it's the starch flours that are the evil bedevilling my egg-free cakes conversions!

I leave you with a series of pictures of Megan's birthday cake. It was fabulous, a humongous success. I look forward all day to a slice of this cake after dinner. It really needs to leave the house before I pack on any weight! Anna has a birthday coming up soon and I don't need to be working off Megan's birthday cake when another birthday rolls around!

Oh and lastly, I was very pleased with the frosting. My friend made corn-free powdered sugar for me - it's been a year since I've had frosting! This was really good - fluffy, and the color was pretty. I ran out of cocoa so I used Ghiradelli Hazelnut Hot Cocoa and hazelnut milk to make the frosting, with a generous splash of vanilla extract, and it turned out great. Megan was very happy with her cake. Hooray!

Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup dairy free, soy free margarine, such as Earth Balance
1/2 cup Ghiradelli Hazelnut Hot Cocoa
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
hazelnut milk

In a large bowl, add the margarine, cocoa, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and a splash of hazelnut milk. Beat the living daylights out of it with an electric handheld beater. For some reason, I'm finding the handheld makes fluffier frosting than my Kitchen Aid. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar at a time to this mix, beating constantly, with enough hazelnut milk to make a firm spreadable frosting, scraping down the sides as needed. If you have kids, let them lick the beaters!


collin said...

Yummy.....thanks for sharing.

Take the Cake Personality Test and find out which cake are you like. I have taken the test and enjoyed a lot. Hope you too will enjoy it. Have fun!!

Ina said...

Hi Erin, that cake looks mouth is glad you had success for your little girl's birthday. Yeahhh for cake! Ina

LauraBro said...

You just made my month! seriously because my DD 2nd bday is in a week and my hubby's is 2 weeks later and my son turning 4 is a week after that. I hadn't found anything decent enough to serve at a party with other "normal eating" kids (so I have wondered about doing parties at ALL) This is my answer! I just ordered the cookbook on Amazon. (hopefully it gets here on time for my DD's bday in a week--here's to crossing my fingers)-- what page is the cake on and what is the name? did you make any changes? and did you cook it in a larger pan and then cut the 3 layers yourself? I'm scared since I've never had any cake turn out egg free and yours looks DIVINE!!! any addition tips would be GREATLY appreciated! thanks again! (we love your skillet wraps filled with quinoa pilaf and black beans!)LBMarie9 at hotmail dot com

LauraBro said...

is hazelnut very allergenic? maybe for young DD I would use a different frosting and then use the hazelnut for my you have another favorite frosting that you would recommend on this cake? I am so excited!

Erin said...

Hi LB,
the recipe for Dark Chocolate Cake is on page 88. My changes: 1 tsp. regular salt, 1 tsp. xanthan gum, 1 cup maple syrup, 1 cup agave nectar. The cookbook gives no instructions on cooling or removing the cake from the pans so here is what I did. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Place a wire rack on top of the pan and flip over to release the cake from the pan to the wire rack. Cool completely. You can pick up the cake very carefully with both hands to transfer to your cake plate for decorating. I used three 9 inch cake pans like the cookbook suggested.

As for the frosting, just use regular cocoa powder and whatever milk you want - rice would be fine!

Good luck! I hope the cakes turns out as fabulous for you as it did for me!

And wow, skillet wraps filled with quinoa pilaf and black beans sounds yummy, I'll have to try that. :)