My novel The Keys to Heaven opens in 1918, when the protagonist, Eliza Augusta, gets the 'married women's' vote. The novel follows her and her apolitical sisters through the inter-war years. In contrast my blog concentrates on the absurdities of modern life.
In food blog one I showed how a gluten-free lemon drizzle cake made with sweetener and coconut flour could be moist and tasty. It passed the taste and texture tests and was even enjoyed by my gluten-intolerant friend. It was a hit!
In fact the only issue I had was that the coconut flour I used was over-sweet. Yesterday, in order to rectify this, I tried the same recipe with buckwheat flour rather than the aforementioned ground coconut. And, yes, the texture was good, the lemony taste just as evident, if not more-so, and overall the lack of coconut was a great improvement.
Today I converted another recipe. This one was for sugar-free chocolate cake. Sugar-free, check, but it wasn’t gluten-free. In place of the suggested self-raising flour and wholewheat flour I substituted buckwheat and rendered the whole gluten-free.
My understanding is that Truvia or stevia are better sweeteners than some other brands, but I am still learning. In order to use Truvia I had to look up conversion tables, none of which told me how much sweetener to use in place of the amount in the printed recipe. However I remembered the sweetener in this recipe is manufactured, ounce for ounce, to be the equivalent of sugar. And 1/3 tsp Truvia is the equivalent of 1 tsp sugar.
So that was my conversion! Not exactly a Damascene moment but in my own small way a step forward along the road to healthier baking.
Sadly the buttermilk I had in my fridge was past its use-by date so I had to improvise with watered-down Greek yogurt. (I use 5% fat Fage yogurt.)
I can’t remember ever baking a chocolate cake, with or without sugar, with or without gluten. It isn’t an especial favourite of mine but as I’m catering for a party - ie for others - I felt it was worth a try.
3 1/3 cups flour ( I use buckwheat - see above)and you only need 7/8 of the buckwheat. What is 7/8 of 3 1/3 cups? [clue: 31/3 is 10/3 - convert to decimals and 7/8 is 0.875 in decimals] yep - it can be done! 2.8 cups buckwheat flour is the equivalent!
1 1/3 cups cocoa powder ( either Green & Blacks or Co-op Fairtrade or Chocolat Patissier by Menier)
1 cup Truvia - sweetener
1 tabs gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup softened - but not melted - butter
3 cups buttermilk or 1 2/3 cups Fage Greek yogurt watered down with 1 1/3 cups of water
1 tsp Madagascan vanilla essence
5 large eggs
The printed recipe said to simply combine all ingredients however I split the mix as my food processor is only big enough to deal with half the batter at any one time.
My slightly amended method is as follows:
1 Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F, 160C or 140C fan. Grease and line 2 x 9 inch cake tins or 2 x 8 inch tins plus a tin for 6 muffin cases. ( I like to make small cakes at the same time as a large cake. This is for a taste-test before I freeze the cake or cover it with frosting. )
2 Place half the dry ingredients in the food processor and mix them for 20 seconds.
3 Add roughly half of the wet ingredients and again process the whole for 20 seconds.
If you find the cake mix is too stiff to drop from a loaded wooden spoon - when tapped - add a little more water to further dilute the Greek yogurt. If you are using buttermilk this problem is unlikely to arise.
4 Place the batter in one of the tins and repeat stages 2 & 3 with the rest of the ingredients and fill the second tin.
5 If you are using 8 inch tins you should have enough cake mix left over for six muffins. If not put the filled tins in the oven for 55 minutes.
6 If you have made six muffins they can go in the oven 20-25 minutes before the main cake is due to come out.
After 50 minutes my cakes were ready. As my mixture was rather dry the top of one of the cakes cracked but once both had cooled on wire racks I simply sliced the cracked top off. This was an excuse to taste the cake crumbs before consigning it to the freezer. Amazingly, despite my fears that the mixture was too stiff, the texture was good, the chocolate taste strong, without being bitter, and both cakes had risen well. In hindsight I should have added a little more water to the wet ingredients in the food processor. It would have made a less firm cake mix but, despite its stiffness, the cake was a resounding success.
The six muffins were good to eat on their own but I will pipe a chocolate frosting over them for the party.
A cream cheese frosting is a good replacement for a butter icing. It is sugar-free and blends well. To cover and sandwich the two cakes together use the following ingredients:
1/2 cup butter at room temperature ( softened not melted)
8 oz cream cheese - softened
A little over 1 cup Truvia sweetener
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tabs Madagascan vanilla essence
1 Beat the cream cheese and butter in the food processor. Add sweetener, cocoa powder and vanilla essence.
2 Mix the whole for 20 seconds. If it’s too tart or bitter add more sweetener - to taste.
The above will fill and coat a cake. There should be enough frosting left over to use in an icing bag for the muffins too. If you need to make more: cream cheese sweetened with Truvia - to taste - and a drop of vanilla essence makes a quick alternative. It’s ample for piping on half a dozen muffins.
I was pleasantly surprised by both the moisture of the gluten-free/sugar-free lemon drizzle cake and the chocolatey taste of the amended recipe I used today. Buckwheat flour is much less sickly sweet than coconut flour - in my opinion - and it doesn’t hide the lemon or chocolate flavours. Another hit for healthy eating!
Now to put my feet up with a cup of ordinary t-bag tea with semi-skimmed milk. I will forego the cranberry and raspberry tea today. I’ve been quite health-conscious enough.