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Let them eat cake! And cupcakes!

Being gluten and casein free gets a little complicated around holidays/special occasions… particularly birthdays. And if you’re hosting a party and have a million things to do, and you’re starting to feel old and tired (I know that saying that while still in my 20s should be forbidden — sue me!), the last thing you want is to take a full day to make some elaborate dessert that you can actually enjoy on your own birthday… right before you yell at those damn kids to get off your lawn. ;-) That is why I am, once more, grateful for Silvana Nardone’s Cooking for Isaiah. I found a couple of recipes I fell in love with: chocolate cake (to please George) and strawberry cupcakes (in true “fresita” form!). The results were absolutely delicious, so I thought I’d share the recipes. (For full size pictures, click on the images!)

First, make sure you still have some of the same all-purpose flour blend from this entry. It works for every single recipe you can think of that uses normal flour, achieving a taste that is just as good (and sometimes better!) than regular wheat flour. Next…

Chocolate Birthday Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting
If you overwhip the chocolate frosting, just add water, a drizzle at a time, to make it glossy and smooth again.
SERVES 12 • PREP TIME 30 minutes (plus cooling) • BAKE TIME 30 minutes

Cake
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups Silvana’s All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
    Frosting
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups water

    1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease two 9-inch (22.5cm) round cake pans with cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment paper and grease the paper. To make the cake, in a small bowl, whisk together the espresso powder and boiling water; let cool slightly. Whisk in the cold water, vanilla, oil and eggs.

    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined; divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack.

    3. To make the frosting, in a large microwavable bowl, melt together the chocolate chops and water on high power, about 2 minutes; stir until smooth, and let cool to room temperature. With a handheld electric mixer, beat the chocolate mixture on medium-high speed until light and whipped, about 12 minutes. (Note: this has not worked for me either of the two times I’ve made this cake… but then, I live in Florida, so room temperature is pretty warm. I end up having to pop it in the fridge a few minutes before whipping.)

    4. Run a knife around the edges of the pans to release the layers. Invert one cake layer onto a cake plate, flat side facing up. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread about 2 cups of the whipped chocolate frosting evenly on top. Invert the remaining cake layer, rounded side up, onto the frosting. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before slicing. (Another note: you can add sliced strawberries in that middle layer, and it will be amazing. I also had extra frosting left over, so I just piled it on the bottom of the cake plate, like a little cake skirt, and took advantage of it being strawberry season and decorated it with strawberries all around the cake. Delish!)

    5. Roll your eyes (or blush, maybe you’re a prude) as people make inappropriate noises while they enjoy this cake and exclaim how they can’t believe it’s GFCF.

    Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
    MAKES 12 cupcakes • PREP TIME 18 minutes • BAKE TIME 20 minutes

    Cupcakes
  • 1½ cups Silvana’s All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup strawberry puree (about 5 ounces/150g strawberries)
  • ½ cup rice milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 drops red food coloring
  • ½ cup all-vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
    Frosting
  • 1 cup all-vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 2¾ confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup strawberry puree (about 5 ounces/150g strawberries)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Sprinkles, for topping

    1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. To make the cupcakes, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

    2. In another small bowl, combine the strawberry puree, milk, vanilla and food coloring. (Note: I used fresh strawberries and lightly pureed them in the blender. This gave the cupcakes an incredibly fresh and real strawberry flavor.)

    3. In a large bowl and using a handheld electric mixer, beat the shortening on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Alternately add the flour mixture and the strawberry mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan until each cup is two thirds full. Bake until the cupcakes are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.

    4. To make the frosting, in a large bowl and using a handheld electric mixer, beat together the shortening, confectioners’ sugar, strawberry puree and salt on medium-high speed until fluffy. Pipe or spread over the cooled cupcakes; top with sprinkles.

    I’d recommend you make two batches of the strawberry cupcakes — if you want a chance to enjoy ANY of them before they’re devoured by everyone else!

  • June 11, 2011   4 Comments

    Pizza! Pizza!

    One of the cuisines I miss most being GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) is Italian. Pretty much everything has wheat or cheese (which, sidenote!, is rather ironic, seeing as how one in every 106 Italians suffer from celiac disease) and food substitutes are never as good as the real thing — actually, more often than not, they’re disgusting. Watching others eat pizza is particularly painful since gluten-free pizza dough is usually cake-y, thick, tough, and tasteless.

    Until now! A few months ago, I bought Silvana Nardone’s Cooking for Isaiah. Ms. Nardone is the Editor in Chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray, and while I don’t really like RR, the idea of a cookbook created by a mother raising a GFCF child and having to find food he can actually enjoy appealed to me more than, say, someone like Gwenyth Paltrow publishing a cookbook to tell the world what an amazing cook she is (let me tell you how I reallllly feel).

    I had been avoiding using recipes from her cookbook despite having read through most of them out of fear that they would be disgusting and I would be disappointed. Tonight for dinner, I decided to make her Pepperoni Pizza. IT WAS AMAZING. The crust had the perfect consistency: fluffy, soft on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside and full of taste. I attribute it to how Ms. Nardone found the perfect combination of gluten-free flours — instead of using just gluten-free bread mix, or gluten-free rice flower, she mixed multiple flours. But I’ll spare you the endless gushing and I’ll just share the recipes. For full size pictures, click on the images!

    Silvana’s all-purpose flour blend
    MAKES about 4 pounds • PREP TIME 15 minutes

  • 6 cups white rice flour, preferably Bob’s Red Mill
  • 3 cups tapioca flour, preferably Shiloh Farms (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1½ cups potato starch, preferably Bob’s Red Mill
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons xanthum gum, preferably Bob’s Red Mill

    In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, salt and xanthum gum. Transfer to an airtight storage container and store in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator.

    Perfect Pizza Crusts
    MAKES Two 8½ inch (21cm) pizza crusts (1 pound/500g pizza dough) • PREP TIME 10 minutes (plus resting) • BAKE TIME 16 minutes

  • 2 cups Silvana’s All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 (¼ ounce/7.5g) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • ¾ cup warm water

    1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the egg whites, olive oil and water. Using a wooden spoon, beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

    2. Divide the dough into two equal pieces; place each on a lightly floured, 12-inch (30cm)-long piece of parchment paper.

    Lightly flour the top and, using your fingertips or a rolling pin, press the dough out to make a round about ¼ inch (9.5cm) thick. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

    3. Position a rack in the bottom of the oven with a baking stone on the rack and preheat to 450ºF. Working with one piece of dough at a time, slide the dough with parchment paper onto the preheated baking stone and bake until puffy and crisp on the bottom, about 8 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.

    Pepperoni Pizza
    MAKES 2 (8½ inch/21cm) pizzas • PREP TIME 5 minutes • COOK TIME 16 minutes

  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 (8½ inch/21cm) baked Perfect Pizza Crusts
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • slices of pepperoni (I used turkey pepperoni)

    1. In a small bowl, stir together the tomato puree, olive oil, salt and water (my experience was that you don’t really need the water).

    2. Position a rack in the bottom of the oven with a baking stone on the rack and preheat to 450ºF. Working with one pizza crust at a time, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and spoon on about ¼ cup tomato mixture, leaving a ½ inch (1cm) border of plain crust. Top with half of the pepperoni and bake until the crust is golden and the pepperoni is crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pizza crust and toppings. (I added vegetarian cheese over the sauce and green peppers under the pepperoni — delicious!)

    Although these pies are kind of small, I think you could definitely feed four people with them… unless you have HUGE appetites! This fed three of us, and the boys had extra slices!

  • April 26, 2011   9 Comments