Gluten Free

Gluten Free Failings

When Jenni made the switch to a gluten free diet, I knew that a big part of it would be trial and error to find good substitutes for the wheat-based foods that she ate. And that’s held true: some things have been great hits, others, not so much.

The good stuff has mostly come in some baked goods: cookies, muffins and cakes.

The bad stuff has been in some basics. Like bread. And pasta. I have yet to find either a homemade or store-bought bread or pasta that even came close in texture and taste.

So I’ve been on a quest for good gluten free pasta for what feels like forever. I’ve tried several types and still stick to the Tinkyada stuff, even though the taste is a little off, and cooking it can be tricky (it goes from not done to overdone in about 1 minute, so you need to babysit it closely after about 12 minutes of cooking). But don’t even think of using it in a pasta salad, because it seems to get hard and set right back up if it gets cold.

Thanks to this frustration, I keep looking. So when I read a positive review of one (the Bonta Italia shown above), and then saw it in my local grocery store, I decided to try it in some mac and cheese to see how it stacked up.

I’ll be honest: it never made it into the mac and cheese. It was horrible. I cooked it per the instructions, which even wanted some olive oil in the water. But it never really got soft, let alone al dante. It was gritty and crunchy (even after 14 minutes of cooking which should have made it as floppy as a regular noodle. And it didn’t even taste very good once I could get past the texture.

It was a horrible disappointment, and there have been very few of those during this whole journey. It was a total waste of $8 for two boxes.

Gluten Free

Gluten-Free Vanilla Sponge Cake

Somewhere under that wonderful ganache sits a gluten-free vanilla sponge cake. Oh, and a chocolate whipped cream. And, let me tell you, it’s amazing, and I don’t think anyone would be able to tell it’s gluten-free.

Let me tell you a story before I launch into the details of this cake: when Downton Abbey was on locally on our PBS station, right before it every week, they ran The Great British Baking Show. And every night, we’d watch, mouths watering, as the bakers would create amazing things as part of the competition. Frequently, there were cakes or cupcakes, and most of these were sponge cakes of some sort.

Jenni would tell me I needed to make one or more cake from each week. And I said “Sure,” because, why not? But I’ve never, ever, made a sponge cake.

Now, for ages, I’ve watched for great recipes online, both gluten-free and non-gluten-free, and I’ve collected a relatively large number of recipes in my folder in Evernote. And I occasionally make them. At least, I’ve promised myself to make them and try them. Someday.

Last week, during a stop at a gluten-free blog I follow, they posted this cake: a vanilla sponge cake with whipped cream and chocolate ganache. I’m the chocolate lover in the house. But it also had a sponge cake…and a gluten-free sponge cake, at that. So what better time to make it then now?

IMAG1205So after looking over the recipe a couple of times late this afternoon, I decided to make it: it looked pretty easy, wonderfully chocolatey, and a nice test to see if I can make a good gluten-free sponge cake.

You can find a link to the recipe here. Of note, though, is that I did not use their gluten-free flour blend: I used the America’s Test Kitchen blend, mostly because I already had some mixed, but also because for the most part, I’ve found their blend to not turn out gritty or grainy in whatever I’m baking.

And how does it taste? Amazing. Rich. Chocolatey. With a soft, airy cake that takes all that chocolate so well. Now, I just need to learn to cut the cake into straight, even layers…