Chocolate Gingerbread, Gluten-Free Goddess Style.
In the deep midwinter, I cheer my fragile spirit by baking. I put on Yo Yo Ma and stir cocoa laced batter with a wooden spoon, imagining my fellow gluten-free bakers- all of you- out there- standing in your humble kitchens, beating strange flours and non-traditional ingredients with an odd blend of dread and hope. Crossing fingers and scooping tea bread, cake and muffin batter, rolling cookie dough between nervous palms, praying to the kitchen gods.
By Winter Solstice- I will celebrate another gluten-free anniversary. December 19, 2001 was the day I decided to shun gluten forever. What timing. Right before Christmas. I could have waited until December 26th. Or even the New Year. But I didn't. I couldn't.
As soon as I connected the dots- from my plague of symptoms to their instigator gluten- I couldn't wait to begin my new life. If I had eaten my very last buttery croissant, so be it. If I had unknowingly crunched my last iced sugar cookie, so what. I was done.
Few of us have to make such choices.
Millions of Americans can eat pizza and bagels and Fruit Loops till the cows come home. Donuts and Ding Dongs and frozen pie crusts? No problem. Gluten isn't on their radar, never mind in their daily nomenclature. It's a punch line in a TV sit com. Something chefs and foodies either kvetch about or flirt with, eyeing the growing gluten-free awareness trend as a dietary bandwagon. Or maybe an opportunity to garner a little extra revenue. They're mildly interested, but non-committal. Privately? They're amused. The fad aspect will fade. Eventually.
And those of us with certain genes and blunted villi and itchy wheat-induced rashes will still be here. Living gluten-free. Baking gluten-free. Wheat-free. Day after day. Wrestling with creative ingredients and conjuring kitchen magic for our families, or ourselves, or our newly diagnosed best friend.
Keeping the faith, one recipe at a time.
On my 15th gluten-free anniversary I salute YOU- dear reader. The home cook. The intrepid baker. The mother of a celiac child. The loving parent of an ASD angel. The undiagnosed but obviously sensitive to gluten cake maker. The wheat intolerant cupcake lover. The brother, the sister, the Dad, the grandmother looking for a way to include your celiac loved one in on the festivities, welcoming everyone to your table.
This anniversary recipe is for you.
A rich dark gingerbread infused with cocoa.
Karina's Gluten-Free Chocolate Gingerbread RecipeRecipe originally published December 2011 by Karina Allrich.
The taste of this dense and lovely gingerbread smacks delightfully of cocoa and ginger spice. The texture is akin to pound cake. This is a perfect not-too-sweet cake for afternoon tea with your best friend, or an edible sigh-inducing respite from wrapping gifts. Nibble it playing Scrabble by a crackling fire.
1 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup cornstarch, sweet rice flour, or potato starch- not potato flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cardamon
2 large organic free-range eggs, beaten
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup organic coconut oil
4 tablespoons non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9-inch ceramic loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper that rises up the long sides of the pan.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients- flours/starches through nutmeg.
Add in the eggs, molasses, coconut oil, non-dairy milk and vanilla extract and beat well, until the batter is smooth. A standing mixer will handle this task best.
Scoop the gingerbread batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the center of the oven for roughly an hour. The top will crack a bit. A cake tester inserted into the center should emerge clean.
Allow the loaf to cool in the pan until it is cooled enough to handle. Gently remove it from the pan (this is where the parchment paper lining comes in handy) and continue to cool on a wire rack.
Slice with a sharp bread knife.
Wrap the loaf well for storing overnight. For longer storage, slice and wrap pieces in foil, bag, and freeze.
Cook time: About 1 hour
Makes one dark and divine gingerbread loaf.
Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com
Karina's Recipe Notes:
The first notation I would like to mention is your choice of loaf pan. When it comes to gluten-free baking, not all loaf pans are created equal. A thin metallic pan just won't do. The outside batter, you see, bakes too rapidly, leaving the center to wallow in gooey, gluten-free stubbornness. If your tea loaves and cakes consistently turn out dampish in the middle- it may be your pan choice. A sturdy ceramic loaf pan heats slowly, evenly, allowing the center of the batter the time it needs to play catch up. Here's the ceramic loaf pan I use.
Another alternative is to try baking tea loaf recipes in mini-loaves. Follow the manufacturer's instruction for baking times.
Now for subbing. If you prefer dairy- use butter and milk. For vegan, use Ener-G Egg Replacer in place of eggs (this particular egg replacer has never let me down; use as instructed on the package).
I am finding coconut oil to be the best butter substitute for baking cakes and muffins and brownies- it gives these gluten-free dairy-free baked goods a rich, lovely texture. If you use another oil, the result may be less rich. We ran out of coconut oil last week and I subbed organic Canola oil in a brownie recipe and it just wasn't the same. It was drier and less fudgy.
And as for flours- I understand some of you cannot use almond meal. I would choose a sweet, medium weight alternative. Perhaps certified gluten-free oat flour or millet flour. Or sorghum flour. Please no white rice flour. It really brings nada to gluten-free recipes.
And as always- use fresh, pungent spices. Not last year's dregs.
For substitutions, please see my guide to baking with substitutions here.
PS: We enjoy sugary treats in moderation, don't we darling? Gluten-Free Goddess advises consuming no more than 2 tablespoons of sugar a day.