Banana Rum Cake

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Two weeks ago I celebrated my 23rd birthday (and 2nd gluten-free birthday) with friends and family. My dad planned to cook us an incredible feast of chicken tikka masala and other Indian dishes (all gluten free of course!) while I agonized over what type of dessert I wanted to make. Nothing says “It’s My Birthday!” like an elaborate layer cake, but I’m not a huge fan of classic white, yellow or chocolate cakes, and vanilla and chocolate frostings are just too dull for words.

So what to make? My favorite cake to date was the banana cake with peanut butter buttercream layers, milk chocolate buttercream on top, and a dark chocolate ganache I made for my 21st birthday (the recipe is from “Baked Elements” if you’re interested. It’s a great recipe and an incredible book). That cake knocked everyone’s socks off and I thought that just maybe I could recreate a gluten-version of said world-rocking cake. But since I had already done the peanut-butter-banana combo I decided to jazz things up with some salted caramel buttercream and then add some rum to my cake batter to make a fancy adult version of the cake.

The recipe itself was relatively easy (I substituted my own gluten-free flour blend for AP flour) and the salted caramel buttercream was made with Stonewall Kitchen’s dark chocolate salted caramel sauce… so really the hardest part of this process was resisting the temptation to eat the entire cake myself. Mushed bananas and rum are fantastic ingredients when baking with gluten-free flours because the liquids help keep the cake from drying out both in the oven and during the following days of storage. It only lasted a few days in my house, but I am guessing it will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. I only had one slice left to photograph when we were through devouring it if that gives you any idea of how good it was. Without any further ado – the recipe!

Ingredients: (original recipe here)

  • 3 cups gluten free flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (stick and a half) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp buttermilk, room temperature
  • 3 – 4 large bananas, very ripe, mashed
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper (to do this, trace bottom of pan on parchment paper with pencil and cut out the circle). Use potato masher or something similar to mush the bananas in a large bowl. Set pans and bananas aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. (Note* I always sift these ingredients together for a lighter batter but also to make sure any funny gluten-free flour clumps don’t get int there)
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the brown sugar and once combined add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next.
  4. Next, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and alternate buttermilk and flour into the mixer. Mix until almost combine. Repeat and end with the dry mixture.
  5. Add the mashed bananas and rum either by hand or on low speed until they look well blended.
  6. Divide cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean and cake springs back to touch. Let cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes before you run a knife around the edges and turn cakes out onto a cooling rack. Allow cake to cool to temperature.

Buttercream:

  • Beat together 2 sticks softened butter (salted or unsalted) and one 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add 3 Tbsp. of rum, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a splash of milk. Now begin slowly blending in 3 cups of powdered sugar and your salted caramel sauce to taste. (The cream cheese helps prevent this buttercream from becoming sickeningly sweet.)

Assembly:

  • When cakes have cooled completely, level the top of each 8 in. cake before cutting it in half. A long serrated knife is best for this. When you have four thin layers, start by placing the first on your cake plate and smoothing 1/2 cup of buttercream over the top. Repeat until all layers are done. Next, create a “crumb coat” of buttercream but smoothing the frosting all over the outer edges and top of the cake. Place in fridge for thirty minutes. When cool, evenly spread the remainder of the buttercream over the crumb coat until it looks good. Decorate with sprinkles, more icing, caramel sauce, chocolate, candles, etc. And enjoy!
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Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake

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This has been a weird year for weather and in central North Carolina we saw a lot more (6 inches, woo!) more snow than usual. One day it was 70 degrees and the next it would be 30 with sleet. See what I mean? All these unpredictable snowstorms and icy roads meant a lot of canceled classes and work for me. Which meant a lot of time indoors with my brother and his terrible taste in TV programs (aside from the most sports games ever, he also enjoys Cops, Gold Rush and Bar Rescue… if you’re familiar with any of those you understand my pain).

As the cabin fever set in I decided the only thing for it was to go on a baking spree. In anticipation of being snowed in, my mom stocked the fridge with butter and eggs before leaving town (very smart considering what happens when her son gets control of the TV). I made macarons, muffins, cookies, lemon curd and a delightful cake lemon ricotta cake from this blog. There is nothing quite like a bright, lemony cake to raise your spirits and mimic the freshness of spring when you’re stuck inside.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest, from about 2ish lemons
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, also at room temp
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray loaf pan. Cut and place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, letting it hang up and over the sides.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk (and/or sift!) together the gf flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside. In your mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated. Add the ricotta, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on medium speed until well incorporated.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
  5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan – make glaze while cooling!
    1. To make glaze, combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. lemon zest, 1/2 tsp. almond extract and 3 Tbsp. of lemon juice. Wait until completely cooled before pouring glaze over cake.

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Enjoy with a cup of tea and a book, or serve up with a little fresh whipped cream after a light meal. You can’t go wrong with this recipe. The only thing I changed from the original was my use of a gluten-free flour blend (xanthan gum included).

Best Ever Almond Cake

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I adore almonds and anything and everything almond flavored. So naturally for my birthday this year I settled on (a fairly simple) almond cake dominated by almond paste rather than flour. I figured I would save some money on gluten-free flour with this one but as it turns out, Almond paste is pretty durn expensive, all baking ingredients considered. This cake however is so beyond compare that it is definitely worth the investment. The result is a dense, rich, aromatic cake that does not overwhelm even the most casual of almond-admirers. Warm blackberry/raspberry sauce and whipped cream offer the best accompaniment to this already glorious cake. With just five – that’s right 5! – ingredients you can make an unforgettable dessert that’ll have the whole family “oohing” and “aahing” and leave the birthday girl swooning.

So bake your heart out and enjoy this spectacular and deceptively simple cake for celebrations or any other day! I can imagine it being wonderful with tea or fresh berries in the summer. The possibilities are endless, really.

This recipe is from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking and even though they provide their own gluten-free flour blend, I used my own in the same amount.

Ingredients:

  • 10 1/2 ounces of almond paste (use Solo brand if you can find it – it’s gluten free)
  • 1 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs beaten
  • 2 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. gluten-free flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a ten inch (or nine if you don’t have every size pan in the universe, like me) springform pan and sprinkle flour on the bottom and sake it around on the sides until the whole pan is cover. Tap out excess.
  2. In a stand mixer, blend almond paste and sugar until uniformly mixed. Mix in 1/2 eggs to make a paste. Mix in softened butter a little at a time until incorporated, then add remaining eggs.
  3. Add flour but do not overbeat – mix until just combined and transfer to pan.
  4. Bake for 40 min. until golden brown on top but still slightly soft in the middle.
  5. Let cake cool in pan before removing. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 8 hours before serving. (Or not – I panicked because I didn’t see this part when I made this cake three hours before my birthday dinner… turns out yes, it’s delicious after being refrigerated but was just as good three hours out of the oven! Do not fear.)

Raspberry Sauce: (or any berry, really!)

Combine 2/3 c. sugar, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Stir in 1 1/2 c. cold water and add 1 pint of fresh berries or 12 oz. frozen berries and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens – about 4 minutes.

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