Friday, May 29, 2009

Gingerbread Cake - Cookbook Case Study - Vegetarian Cooking Without

Vegetarian Cooking without: Recipes Free from Added Gluten, Sugar, Yeast, Dairy Products, Meat, Fish, Saturated Fat

Thinking that making something sweet would give me a broader experience of this cookbook, I picked out a gingerbread cake recipe. I love gingerbread - yet I don't often eat it, and I've never made it. In fact, I'm not much of a baker at all - when Neil came home and I told him I'd made cake, he looked mildly shocked, reminding me that I hadn't made cake the entire time we'd been together (a bit over two years). He's right, I can only remember baking twice in that time (excluding pizza or savoury baked dishes) - a gluten free chocolate brownie (soooo good), and some gluten free chocolate chip cookies (not so good - just tasted like sugar).

Back to gingerbread. The recipe calls for rice flour, millet flour, and almond flour, and is sweetened with stevia. Alternatively, dates stewed in a bit of water could be substituted for the stevia and almond flour, which is what I did - I thought dates would complement the ginger and molasses.

Stewing dates
Stewing Dates
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It was super-easy. Basically all you have to do is process the hell outta all the ingredients, then bake. I had some reservations about the millet. What I have is called “ground millet”, and is fairly coarse, though it says on the box you can simply replace for wheat flour. I don't know if 'millet flour' is ground finer than that or not - it is hard to find many gluten free ingredients in NZ, so I don't know if what I have is the same as what's called for in American recipes. Next time, perhaps I will try grinding the millet a little finer for use.

Ingredients in the Food Processor
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I was quite pleased with the gingerbread, once we tasted it warm from the oven. It certainly had some of the texture of the millet, but not unpleasantly so. The case was much more dense than I expected - by which I mean it was very filling, despite being quite soft and fluffy. When I ate the first few crumbs to fall off the loaf as I cut it, I remembered that the dates were the only sweetener in it, and hoped that it wouldn't be awful - it was nice, definitely not sweet, but the molasses added a bit of extra richness and the spices were prominent, unlike some weak gingerbread I've had.

Fresh from the Oven
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Cut Cake
The First Slice
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Neil's evaluation was - “it was all right - a bit dry though”. I'd agree with that.

The real test will be - what is it like cold, after being stored a night or two? Will it still be edible?

*Cut a day* Still very similar! Needs olivani (or your choice of oil/butter spread) to counter the dryness. The gingerbread flavour is not as prominent, and takes a bit longer to reach your taste buds.

Slice of gingerbread cake
Slice of gingerbread with Olivani
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Would I make it again? Yes! Though I would also experiment to see if I can get it a bit more moist.

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