As promised, I’m going to intersperse the Cheesecake Bake-off recipes with some gluten-free ones. James is often called upon to make gluten- and allergen-free goodies, and has taken up the challenge masterfully. (He has a gluten-free, vegan chocolate cake that is to die for.) But today’s recipe is a simple introduction to the world of gluten-free baking.
I’ve just started experimenting with gluten-free baking myself and have been surprised to discover how complicated it is. You just can’t swap out wheat flour cup for cup with, say, rice flour. Most gluten-free bakers have a unique flour blend they’ve developed that includes several different flours carefully balanced, measured and whisked. (BTW, there are an amazing number of flours to use other than wheat. Who knew?) When you first start out, though, there’s a much higher risk of ending up with a hockey puck of a cake or a loaf. I’ve found that this is mostly due to the fact that there’s a whole new world of textures to get used to during the mixing process — bread dough is more like a batter, and cake batter is more like a dough. Cookie dough seems the same, but it often spreads more than you expect. Gluten provides needed structure to baked goods, and baking without it, while eminently possible, is challenging.
That said, the recipe below couldn’t be easier and more foolproof. James has made it for the last several shows he’s been on, mostly recently for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” It’s light and Springlike, too, perfect for Easter!
Gluten-free Orange Cake
*1 organic orange
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups rice flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon flavoring (vanilla or fior di sicilia)
1. Roughly chop the orange (rind and all) in food processor until fine. *This is why you want an organic orange, because conventional oranges are often sprayed with artificial colors and food grade waxes. Blech!
2. Add the eggs, oil, and sugar. Process until smooth.
3. Transfer to a bowl and add the flour and baking powder. Do not over mix.
4. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 60 mins at 350*
(Note: I’ve substituted 1 lemon for the orange and added 2 tablespoons of poppy seed for a divine gluten-free take on lemon poppyseed cake!)
(Second note: You can also bake these in mini-muffin pans for a Springtime tea party offering.)