We are just starting to bake a cake. To be specific, we’re baking Dorie Greenspan’s devil’s food white-out cake, gluten-free.
And our little friend H, who lives in San Diego, is making the cake too. It’s her first baking project.
We’re doing it together. Want to join us? We’ll be updating this post as we go.
First, we threw together a big batch ofour gluten-free all-purpose flour mix. We haven’t been home in awhile (and we’ll be telling you about our travels in the next couple of days), so we were out of our AP mix.
For new recipes, I play with individual flours, to see what textures and personalities I can bring together in a baked good. But when I’m working with a steadfast recipe I know works well — and Dorie Greenspan’s recipes always work — I just use our AP mix.
The recipe calls for 1 1/3 cup flour. In this case, we’re using 182 grams of AP flour.
We sifted the flours together in the original mix, then sifted 182 grams of it into a large mixing bowl. And then we added 2 grams each of xanthan and guar gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. That’s the dry ingredients.
After we mixed all the dry ingredients together, we sifted in the cocoa powder.
You know, that verb isn’t even accurate! I was aerating and incorporating. I don’t have a sifter. I hold a fine-mesh sieve over the bowl and slowly tumble the flours or cocoa powder over the sieve and shift it from side to side, over the bowl, slowly. You could also do this with a whisk.
Aerating and incorporating the flours for baking is particularly important for gluten-free baking. After all, we’re using more than one flour. Blending them together well, aerating them and incorporating them together, makes a huge difference in the final baked good.
Some people seem afraid of sifting. No need! Read this post by the incredible Gail Dosik (also known as One Tough Cookie) about the semantics of sifting and you’ll soon be over your silly fears of sifting too.
It’s always good to know where you are going.
If you don’t already own Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours, you must buy a copy now. If you are serious about baking, that is.
(Also, you should buy her new book, Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. It looks fantastic. We’ll be cooking out of it soon.)
What I love so much about Dorie Greenspan’s recipes is that the writing makes you feel as though she is standing beside you, encouraging you and nudging a little bit when something might go wrong. There’s a sense of a real person, a wise person who will make you laugh and help you eat the cake when it’s done. Those are my favorite kind of recipes.
It’s how we tried to write the recipes in our book, as well.
So, when we were making the batter, and looked down in the bowl to see that it looked a bit as if it as separating, it was a comfort to look at the recipe and see that Dorie had written: “Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled.”
You want a good guide when you are baking.
Butter. It’s hard to make a good cake without butter.
Or at least, that’s what I used to think. Those of you who cannot eat dairy, can you pitch in here? What is your favorite butter substitute? We’re fans of the Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks when we’re baking dairy free. Honestly, I have never been able to tell a difference in cakes made with these instead of butter. I’d use them all the time.
I do know they contain soy, however, so those of you with soy allergies have said you need to find something else.
That might look like a lot of butter. (In fact, it’s more than the recipe requires. We softened two sticks and the recipe calls for 10 tablespoons.) But remember that no one should be eating an entire cake by herself anyway.
Danny pulled two sticks of butter out of the refrigerator this morning when we awoke, then cut them up into little chunks immediately. This seems to help the butter to soften more quickly.
I’ve told you, many times, how much I love my Kitchen Aid. This one has been whirling for me since 1995. Please keep going.
Creaming the butter and sugars together is one of my favorite parts of baking. I love watching something appearing, becoming something else, under the steady beat of the stand mixer paddle.
Or, in this case, the whisk attachment. It has been a crazy morning. The kitchen is a nightmare and we woke up to bake instead of cleaning first. Lu had a mottled night of sleep because of her molars. My parents came over to play with her and she wanted only to bake at my side. We couldn’t find the chocolate — Lu had hidden it somewhere. Danny had taken all the cake pans to his restaurant, because he is baking gluten-free desserts there, and he had forgotten to bring them home. And we couldn’t find the paddle attachment.
C’est la vie. I’d never let a little chaos stop me from baking.
Because of the chaos, I didn’t take photos of the rest of this process. You’ll have to follow along with the recipe. Dorie makes it easy.
The batter at first is as thick as frosting. You pour a little boiling hot water into it to thin it out. Then, you add more chocolate.
More chocolate is never a bad idea.
This batter, just before pouring it into the pans, is pillowy and rich, with a deep chocolate flavor. It begs for fingers to be swiped across the top, then licked.
Of course, we obliged.
There they are, ready to go into the oven.
Let’s hope the pie pans work.
I prefer my cake pans, but these 9-inch pie pans worked just fine as well.
The cakes themselves came out somewhat flat, but Carrie sent me photographs of the ones that H. made and they were the same, with gluten. That must be the way this cake is made. I’m fine with that.
Next, we have to wait for them to cool.
Time to make some marshmallow frosting.
And here it is — the final cake.
We’re leaving in a few moments, after spending all morning baking and cleaning, playing with Lu and eating good food. I’ll come back this evening and fill in the steps between cooling cakes and frosted finale.
Oh, and the recipe. But let me tell you, this cake is a winner. Gluten or not, it doesn’t seem to matter.
I just can’t wait for dessert tonight.