May 10th, 2013
|01:57 am - Cherry Spice Nut Torte (Gluten Free) + GF baking notes|
Yesterday, teaotter wrote a charming short piece of fluffy fan-fiction which involved a character making a cherry spice cake. I'd never had or even heard of such a cake, and so my first impulse was to make one (particularly since it sounded delicious). However, there were some considerations that I needed to keep in mind.
I can eat gluten, but my partner amberite is, and since teaotter doesn't eat sweets all that often, most of the time I make a cake or pie, I try to make it gluten free, so I don't end up eating it all myself. In the past several years of doing this (and also regularly making wheat flour desserts), I realized several facts about gluten free baking.
The first is that if you are making a cake, IMHO most gluten free flours (typically made from rice, oat, tapioca, or gods help you chickpea (shudder) flour) deeply suck - their texture is odd and a bit rubbery, and to me they don't taste nearly as good as wheat flour. However, from my PoV as someone who can eat wheat w/o harm, baked goods made with almond flour can be delicious.
The second is that traditional recipes are always best. You can find almond flour recipes on "paleo-diet" sites, but avoid most of them - either the people making them don't care that the results are completely soggy and structureless, or they make odd sacrifices to eldritch paleo-diet gods and so manage to actually create something worth eating using these dubious recipes.
As a general rule, if a cake or muffin recipe using almond flour doesn't use at least 5 separated eggs, where the beaten egg whites are used as the main form of levening, don't make it. However, I did find this lovely gluten-free pie crust recipe. IME, home-made gluten-free pie crusts made with alternative grains have textures ranging from rock to shoe leather. However, this almond flour pie crust is awesome. I add spices and vanilla as appropriate, and the result is better than any wheat flour pie crust I've ever had. Add 1/3 coconut flour for citrus pies, or 1/2 cup of ground pecans (grind with a Mouli grater) for pumpkin or pecan pie for even more deliciousness. This vegan almond flour pie crust sounds like it would also work, but I haven't tried it. However, that's about it for non-traditional recipes. I love this lemon almond cake (to be completely honest, I mix and matched it with this very similar recipe, and use a food processor on the lemons)
However, for making a more standard cake, like the one below, I use as a base this this excellent walnut torte recipe, I typically reduce the eggs from 8 to 6, and use 6 oz of nuts - either all almond flour or at least half almond flour and half finely ground (with a mouli grater) pecans or walnuts, elminate the breadcrumbs, and bake it all in an 8" or 9" removeable rim pan, and the three times I've done this have all been excellent.
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBS honey
1/8 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean
½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
6 oz ground almond flour
1 14.5 oz can tart cherries packed in juice (drained)
2 TBS corn starch
2 oz (1/4 cup) dried cherries (cut in halves or quarters)
3 Tbs red wine (or cherry juice)
Preheat oven to 350
Microwave chopped dried cherries & red wine for 30-60 seconds, and let sit for at least 2 minutes to rehydrate
Beat 6 egg yolks and sugar until light in color
Add in honey, salt, & all spices, mix to combine
Add almond flour
Mix drained canned cherries with corn starch
Drain off excess wine from rehydrated dried cherries
Add both canned and dried cherries to the batter
Beat egg whites (adding 1/8 tsp cream of tartar helps) to soft peaks
Vigorously mix in 1/3 of beaten egg whites into cake batter until smooth
Gently stir the remaining beaten egg whites into the batter
Pour batter into greased 9" cake pan (removable rim pan preferred, since this cake is fragile)
Bake at 350 for 25-45 minutes (check starting at 25 minutes, remove when the knife comes out clean
Note: Eat this cake within 2 days – almond flour cakes are fragile and do not last long
"...or they make odd sacrifices to eldritch paleo-diet gods and so manage to actually create something worth eating using these dubious recipes."
Thx for the recipe.
Almond flour is a lot of fun to work with when baking, and you are right on for your commentary about it. The best base recipe for almond flour pastry is the macaron, which is almost exactly as described: Almond flour and tons of egg whites.
Another good approach to pie GF pie crusts is taking graham cracker crust recipes and replace the cracker with finely chopped nuts. Works like a charm for cheesecake, key lime pie and other firm custard pies.
Almond flour sounds good. Chickpeas belong in hummus, not dessert. Ewwww.
I entirely agree. The time I saw it on a package of GF pancake mix was when I knew I had to read the labels of GF products with particular care.
so did you end up using this recipe and if so, thoughts? :)
It was most delicious and was a hit with everyone who had it.