Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cake, Please, But Hold the Gluten

We all love cake. Chocolate cake, Angel Food Cake, Bundt Cake, Black Forest Cake, little cupcakes, carrot cake, Lava Cake, pound cake, Red Velvet Cake, shortcake, sponge cake, and the mother Seven-Layer Cake. But those of us who are gluten intolerant have to decline almost every piece of cake that's ever offered to us. Cake is also the apex of most special occasions. "You're not leaving, yet, they're about to cut the cake!" How could I have even considered such a thing? There's birthday cake, wedding cake, anniversary cake, going away cake, graduation cake, King Cake, Christmas cake... So, those of us who have to say "no thank you" to cake offerings feel just a little left out at most celebratory events.

As gluten-intolerance awareness increases, more and more options are available to those of us who require a gluten-free diet. Only a few years ago, most of us were mixing alternative flours, experimenting to find that perfect gluten-free baking mix that would approximate baking with all-purpose white flour. Today, gluten-free cake mixes are packing the shelves of health food stores and regular grocery stores alike. We can open a mix, add a few eggs, oil, and milk, and a celebratory dessert is just 30-35 minutes away.

When I was at Bob's Red Mill in January, I picked up a package of Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix. So when packing for our spring break trip, I tossed it in with the other essential kitchen supplies. A cake mix was a necessity as we'd be celebrating the husband's birthday. I had never used this cake mix before, but it would have to do as he wasn't getting a cake made from scratch on vacation.

I also picked up a box of Chocolate Frosting Mix from Cherrybrook Kitchen, another product I had never tried before. I'm a serious label reader. You have to be when you're gluten-intolerant. You also have to be when there are ingredients like high fructose corn syrup that evilly cling to every package that lines our grocery store shelves. When a box of frosting has only four ingredients listed on the box, and I can pronounce every one, I'll give it a try.

The cake was a cinch to make. I baked the batter in two 8-inch round pans, and they came out beautifully. The frosting was just as easy, and it would have been easier if I'd had access to my KitchenAid mixer instead of the hand mixer that sent chocolate powder flying around the room. After Mom did a beautiful job of frosting the cake, we were ready for the taste test.

Of course, the gluten-free girls LOVED the cake, but we were a little biased. We had made the cake. We also haven't had "regular" cake made from wheat flour in years, so it's hard to remember what the "real thing" tastes like. The ultimate test is always when a nongluten-free person takes their first bite. I can see it in their eyes as they raise the fork to their mouths. Skepticism. How can a cake taste good without white flour?

One bite was all it took to wipe a few skeptical looks away. The combination of creamy chocolate and vanilla could not have been more balanced. The consistency of the cake was light, but it held together, unlike some gluten-free products. Once again, thanks Bob. You haven't failed me yet. And I will definitely be using Cherrybrook Kitchen products in the future.

As evidenced in the picture, the cake was a hit.

So, happy birthday to my sweet husband.

And I'll take my cake, but please hold the gluten.


  1. Amen, friend.

    Here's to cake that doesn't make us sick! :)

    I've learned to make a mean apple pie. If you guys are fans, I'll have to make one for you sometime (or send you the recipe if you want to make one!) after I settle in to Nashville. No high fructose corn syrup, lots of apples, lots of cinnamon, really tasty! Mmmm... And if it's full of apples it counts as a fruit serving, right? ;)

  2. Yay! Glad you're still benefiting from your visit to see Bob!