After five cold, damp days without electricity, heat, phones, and Internet, I will never again daydream about life on the frontier. No more pioneer woman fantasies for me. Last week’s freakish, devastating October snowstorm left me perfectly happy to live in the present – electric coffee pot at my side. All those long days of scrounging around in my pantry for food I could heat up in the dark (by holding a match to light the gas burners on my stove top) left me hungry for food that I could cook and bake in my electric oven. Even though I was grateful for a couple of defrosted containers of homemade pea soup (which had to be eaten very quickly before they spoiled), I wanted long-cooked food and delicious aromas. I wanted people coming into the kitchen (a warm kitchen) with their noses sniffing the air.
On Sunday, after catching up with a week’s worth of chores in 48 hours, I made tender, succulent short ribs and chocolate fudge cake. But unlike those pioneer women of yesterday, I made mine with electricity. The short ribs took several hours to cook and made us grateful the oven was working. The chocolate cake made us excited. I don’t usually make chocolate cake just for the heck of it, but we needed something special. We needed something to look forward to. Chocolate cake is all about home and comfort and smiles. And after a week of seriously pared down living, my family needed all three. Sous chef boy was a happy camper.
My gluten-free chocolate cake is a classic and it’s been in my repertoire for a long time. (It’s appeared in the first edition of Gluten-Free Baking Classics in 2006 and on Foodphilosopher.com in 2004.) Even so, I’m always surprised at how easy it is to get it into the oven and by how good it tastes. Sometimes I like to frost it with a buttercream or a rich ganache. But on Sunday and I wanted (and needed) to keep it all very simple. I made a light frosting of chocolate whipped cream, and sprinkled on homemade some chocolate shavings. Sous chef boy circled around me and offered up advice about exactly where to put the shavings (he called it “shaving placement”). Then he graciously offered to carry the finished cake down to the extra refrigerator in the basement (ha! he was really doing it so he could swipe a taste without being noticed).
When we were cleaning up after dinner, I thought about the electricity, the heat and the food that we took for granted in our day-to-day life. And then I thought about how lucky I am that I can make a gluten-free chocolate fudge cake. It tasted good. It tasted so good that I probably won’t wait until the next time we lose power to make it again.
Gluten-free CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE
If your mouth has been watering for an old-fashioned chocolate layer cake, then here is just the thing: moist and dense but not heavy; rich and fudgy, but not too sweet. If you follow these easy directions, you can whip up this cake in no time. Even better, no one will be able to tell it is gluten-free. You can make it for a special celebration, use the batter to make cupcakes for birthday parties (bake about 20 minutes), or make it just because you’ve been craving a fabulous piece of cake. Pour yourself a cold glass of milk or a hot, steamy cup of coffee and dig in!
Makes two 9-inch rounds or 24 cupcakes.
Recipe can be cut in half.
4 ozs. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cups Brown Rice Flour Mix*
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk (or rice milk)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting (recipe below)
1 oz dark chocolate shavings (use a cheese grater)
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Position rack in center of oven. Line two 9-inch round layer cake pans with parchment or wax paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. (If you use dark cake pans, you may have to reduce temperature of oven).
2. Melt chocolate in small, heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm.
3. Put flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda xanthan gum and salt in medium bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
4. Place canola oil and milk in a liquid measuring cup and whisk until thoroughly combined. Remove two tablespoons of liquid and discard. Set aside.
5. Beat sugar and eggs in large bowl of electric mixer at medium speed pale yellow and thick. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add dry and wet ingredients in two additions at low speed, then mix at medium speed for 1 more minute. (Do not overbeat or cake will sink in the middle).
6. Pour batter into prepared pans. Place in center of oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a layer comes out clean. (18-20 minutes for cupcakes).
7. Cool cake layers in the pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Use a small knife to cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Invert cake layers onto a rack, peel off paper, and cool completely.
8. Place one cake layer on a platter. Spread about 1 cup of frosting over top and sides. Place second layer on top. Spread remaining frosting over entire cake. Sprinkle top with chocolate shavings.
Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature. Can be made a day ahead. Store frosted cake in refrigerator. Unfrosted cake layers can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored in refrigerator for one day. Unfrosted cake layers can also be covered with plastic wrap and then with foil and stored in freezer for up to two weeks. Best when eaten within three days of baking.
To make a four-layer cake, chill unfrosted layers until very cold or freeze briefly. Slice horizontally across each layer.
*Find the Brown Rice Flour Mix under Guide to Flour Mixes on this blog.
Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar (or more to taste)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1. Combine heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla in large bowl of electric mixer; beat until stiff peaks form. Use pastry bag to pipe sweetened heavy cream around edges of pie. Refrigerate pie until well chilled. Serve cold.