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Baking gluten-free

Gluten-free strawberry-almond cake

(Food styling/sheryl julian and ingrid lysgaard; suzanne kreiter/globe staff)
April 23, 2008
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Baking without wheat flour or many other common grains can be overwhelming and frustrating. It's quite hard to figure out how to get started. I've been baking professionally for 30 years - for the last few as a celiac. Gradually, I developed some simple recipes using acceptable ingredients and my friends tell me that they can't taste which of my confections are for gluten-free diets and which are for ordinary folks (hint: they're all gluten-free). These recipes offer brand names. There are other similar gluten-free ingredients on the market; these happened to be available when I went to the grocery store. Your aim is to bake something that everyone will savor. You never want to hear anyone say, "This isn't bad for a gluten-free product." You want to see them dig in, gleefully. - INGRID LYSGAARD

Makes one 2-layer 8-inch cake

CAKE

Butter (for the pan)
1 cup Manischewitz potato starch
1 teaspoon Rumford baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup Solo pure almond paste
4 eggs
1teaspoon Durkee pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and butter the paper.

2. In a small bowl whisk together the potato starch, baking powder, and salt.

3. In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar for 2 to 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add the almond paste 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition to break up any lumps. Keep whisking and scraping down the sides of the bowl until the mixture is smooth.

4. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla and lemon rind. Continue beating until the mixture is light. The whole procedure will take 12 to 15 minutes.

5. Add the potato starch mixture to the batter and beat just until no pockets of white are visible. Transfer the batter to the pan.

6. Bake the cake for 55 to 60 minutes or until the top springs back when pressed lightly with a fingertip. Cool completely in the pan. Turn out the cake, remove the paper, and set it right side up on a cake platter.

BERRIES

1 quart fresh strawberries
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons Domino confectioners' sugar
Extra Domino confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)
1. Remove the stems from all but 3 berries. Halve or quarter the remaining berries.

2. With a serrated knife held parallel to the table, cut the cake in half to make 2 layers. Insert a thin piece of cardboard between the layers and lift off the top; set aside.

3. In a cold bowl with cold beaters, beat the cream and confectioners' sugar until it holds a soft shape. With a spoon, starting at the edges of the bottom round, place a large dollop of cream on the outside rim of the cake. Continue adding cream until the rim is covered. Fill the middle with more cream.

4. Set a layer of berries on the cream, berry tips pointing out, setting them close to the edge of the cake. Cover the berries with more cream. Set the top layer of cake in place, pressing it gently into the cream.

5. Generously dust the cake with confectioners' sugar and decorate the middle with a few strawberry halves. Use a slender serrated knife to cut into wedges. Serve with remaining whipped cream and berries. Ingrid Lysgaard

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