Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Ever!

Of course, I'm referring to all of the cakes shown below! At the beginning of the month, I asked my readers to help me celebrate my birthday (I'm 29 today!) by coming up with a delicious gluten-free birthday cake.

Ask and ye shall receive.

I didn't expect to get so many exciting entries, but the best part about it was that all of the recipes I've seen have been more than just gluten-free. We've had:

A gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free chocolate raspberry truffle cake.

A gluten-free and dairy-free purple train cake.

A gluten-free, grain-free, casein-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free vanilla berry cake.

A dozen gluten-free and vegan blueberry cupcakes with raw cashew frosting.

A gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free vanilla cake with carob buttercream frosting.

A gluten-free and dairy-free coconut cake.

A gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free chocolate mocha zucchini cake.

A gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free blueberry buckle.

A gluten-free, dairy-free pineapple layer cake with maple coconut whipped cream frosting.

A gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and anti-candida diet friendly strawberries and cream triple layer cake with white chocolate covered cookie crumbs 

A gluten-free and dairy-free orange almond polenta cake

A dozen gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free cherry clafouti cupcakes.

A gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free lemon cake with raspberry syrup.

And finally, a gluten-free and dairy-free almond cake from a reader who was cool enough to share her recipe with us. Thank you, Jessica!

Almond Cake
An original recipe by Jessica Itchon

2 cups Brown Rice Flour
4 tablespoons Sweet Rice Flour
1/2 cup Turbinado Sugar
1/2 cup Ground Toasted Almonds
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 Organic Eggs or Flax Eggs
1 teaspoon GF Pure Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Organic Almond Oil
1/4 cup Canola Oil
1/2 cup Organic Coconut Milk
4 tablespoons Organic Almond Milk
1/4 cup Mango and Passion Fruit preserves
1 fresh mango for garnishing (optional)

  1. Preheat Oven to 365F.
  2. Start by mixing the eggs, oil, sugar, salt and extracts together until well creamed. Add in the baking powder and soda until well incorporated. Then add in the flours, ground toasted almonds and combine. Finally, mix in the coconut milk and almond milk until homogenous.
  3. To ensure that your cake releases from the pan, use either oil or Earth balance to coat your pan lightly. Pour into pan and tap it on the counter a few times to get rid of any stray air bubbles. Place into the oven.
  4. Bake 20 minutes and then turn around pan and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes. Once you start smelling your cake you know it’s close to being done. Take the cake out of the oven and let cool for 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Once cool you can either slice the cake into two layers and add in a filling of mango/passion fruit  preserves and ground almonds and add another light layer on the top of it or simply garnish the slices with the fruit preserve/ground almonds with a few slices of fresh mango on top. Either way it should be a satisfying treat and a great accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee.*
* I used a brownie pan to bake this cake, but any type of pan is fine as long as you adjust the cooking times. You could even make these into individual cakes using muffin tins.
Did you know there were so many awesome gluten-free cake recipes out there? Next time you're looking for a cake for someone special, look no further. I want to make all of these cakes, and I just might challenge myself to do so over the next year!  

Thank you all for joining in on the gluten-free birthday cake challenge, either with your cake recipe or by reading this post! 28 was a wonderful year, and I know 29 will only get better. There are too many amazing people in my life to name you all, but to all of my family, friends, readers, and loved ones (I think that covers everyone, right?), I love you and thank you for an awesome, cake-filled birthday.

Winner of Ricki Heller's Breakfast Cookbook!

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway and a big thanks to Ricki for donating a copy of her cookbook to me and donating another for the giveaway! The winner was #68, Audrey Jensen!

Check back in a few hours for the gluten-free birthday cake challenge roundup!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mini Red, White and Blueberry Pies (Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan)

Okay, first thing's first. There's no red in these pies. But that could easily be remedied with red food coloring (I hear beet juice works well if you want to go natural) or diced strawberries sprinkled over the top with the lemon zest. I actually tried to make the coconut cream red by using cherries, but the deep color just faded back to white as soon as I stirred it in. But red or no red, these are still a wonderful treat for the Fourth of July (or any day).

Tomorrow is my birthday, which means I'll be posting the roundup of my gluten-free cake challenge. You can still send me links today if you made a cake and would like to add it! And if you linked up to the challenge, don't forget to send me the link and photo you would like me to use. I'll also be posting the winner of Ricki Heller's breakfast e-cookbook, so you can still enter today!

As for me? Life is changing quickly, and it's all good, but as I'm sure you know, change - even good change - can be scary. For someone like me, who wants to feel completely in control, letting go of the reins and letting life happen is no easy task. Not surprisingly, this is when my old habits tend to take over. Old habits like overeating and focusing too much on food. Somehow, I find there's comfort in obsessing over food and weight. It's not fun, but it's a trick I know only too well, and it does the job, which is to dull my senses enough to not feel the fear of doing something new. Of course, this topic deserves more than a passing paragraph, and I'm sure there will be a doozy of a post on it soon. But in the meantime, I'll leave you with some food for thought (pun intended) from Women Food and God, which I'm currently reading:

"Compulsive eating is basically a refusal to be fully alive. No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul. We refuse to take in what sustains us. We live lives of deprivation. And when we can't stand it any longer, we binge. The way we are able to accomplish all of this is by the simple act of bolting - of leaving ourselves - hundreds of times a day." - Geneen Roth

Not to leave you all on a troubled note, I'll also tell you my favorite quote, something my yoga teacher said during class once. This always gives me a sense of peace and the belief that everything has a purpose:

"Imagine that everything is exactly as it should be. That everything is perfect, right here, right now." - Keely Garfield

Mini Red, White and Blueberry Pies
Adapted from Shirley Braden of Gluten Free Easily 

These individual blueberry pies are a light and refreshing ending to any meal. Sweetened with stevia and offset with the lightest hint of tart lemon, you’ll leave the table feeling satisfied without being weighed down.

1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour (130 grams)
1 tablespoon Earth Balance (substitutions: butter, coconut oil, shortening, grapeseed oil or extra light olive oil - use 1/2 teaspoon less if using grapeseed or olive oil)
3 teaspoons tapioca starch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon coconut oil 
2 cups blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch salt (less than 1/8 teaspoon)
10 drops liquid stevia
1 13.5 ounce (398ml) can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
5 drops vanilla or plain liquid stevia
zest of half a lemon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 4 mini pie or tart pans (approx 4.5 inches). Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, cream together the almond flour and Earth Balance with a fork. Once it is mixed well, separate the mixture into 4 balls. With your fingertips, press each ball into the pie pans evenly, forming a crust. Bake for 7-10 minutes (will depend on the size of your mini pan), checking after 5 minutes. The crust should be just beginning to brown.
  3. While the crust is baking, whisk the tapioca starch and water together in a small bowl. Set aside for a moment.
  4. In a medium sized pan on the stove, stir together the 1 teaspoon coconut oil, blueberries, lemon juice and salt. Turn the heat to medium and stir occasionally, allowing the mixture to come to a light simmer. Whisk the tapioca and water again, and add to the mix. Add stevia. Continue stirring until the blueberries begin to break down, about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour blueberry mixture into baked pie crusts. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Place in refrigerator for an hour.
  6. When the pies are about ready to come out of the refrigerator, take your can of coconut milk out of the refrigerator. The water and cream will have separated, and the cream will be on top. Scoop the thick cream out with a spoon into a mixing bowl. Add the stevia and beat about 2 minutes until it resembles whipped cream.
  7. Take the pies out of the refrigerator. Scoop a spoonful of whipped coconut cream onto each pie and smooth with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle each pie with lemon zest.
  8. Serve immediately or return to refrigerator until ready to eat.
Makes 4 mini pies. 

this post is linked to:

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Quinoa with Walnuts, Mushrooms and Raisins

    Happy Father's Day to all the fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers and fathers-to-be out there!  I've been blessed with not one, but two wonderful dads, so I'm dedicating this recipe to Doug and Michael.  I love you!

    Quinoa with Walnuts, Mushrooms and Raisins (print-friendly option)
    I'm all about using what you have in your kitchen when it comes to recipes, so substituting is fine! Walnuts can easily be traded in for another nut or for toasted sunflower seeds if you can't do nuts. The mushroom broth can be replaced with any kind of broth you have on hand. If you don't have dried porcini mushrooms, use fresh mushrooms and skip the soaking step. No raisins on hand? Try dicing an apple and adding it in step two. Experiment with different types of herbs to see which is your favorite. I like parsley because it adds nice flavor here without overpowering the dish.

    1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
    1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
    2 cups mushroom broth
    1/4 cup raisins
    1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
    1/2 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

    1. Soak dried mushrooms in warm water for a minute, until they're soft enough to chop. Drain off the water and dice the mushrooms. 
    2. Add mushrooms, quinoa, and broth to a pot and bring to a gentle boil. Boil for 10 minutes and then add the raisins, stirring them in. Boil another 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Taste the quinoa to make sure it is cooked through (if not, add a few tablespoons more broth and continue cooking until it is ready). 
    3. Turn heat off. Cover with lid and let sit for 5 minutes. 
    4. Stir in walnuts and parsley. Can be served warm or cold.
    Serves 4 as a side dish

    This post is linked to Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten-Free (Father's Day Recipes) at Living Free and Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Cranberry Glazed Salmon

    In school, we talk a lot about inflammation. The more I learn about various disease states, the more the word inflammation pops up as a precursor to just about everything. The answer to this of course is to lead an anti-inflammatory life.

    I can see you looking at me with raised eyebrows.

    I know. We live in the world of computers, smart phones, and fast fast fast everything. Lead an anti-inflammatory life? What does that even mean?

    It's simple. Just practice yoga daily, get eight hours of sleep a night, don't ever stress the small stuff, drink a fresh vegetable juice every morning, make sure to drink sixty four ounces of water daily, and eat like a rich movie star who can afford to have fresh, organic meals delivered to her door multiple times a day. Right? Right.

    Are you telling me that's not realistic? Pshaw. Of course it is.

    Okay maybe not. But here's something simple you can start with.

    Cranberry Glazed Salmon. Wild-caught salmon is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are an integral part of eating an anti-inflammatory diet. It is also one of the few foods that has significant amounts of vitamin D. And if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know just how important vitamin D is. If not, just trust me. You need your D. The glaze also contains cranberries and lemon juice, both of which contain a number of antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants do what? They quench free radicals, which makes your cells much happier. And happy cells means less inflammation.

    So there you go. You get a delicious dinner, and you're already on your way to leading an anti-inflammatory life. Now you've just got to work on the next thing on your list. Right now, I'm trying to take on that whole eight hours of sleep thing. I can tell you that I've already lost the battle for tonight. On the other hand, I did do two hours of yoga today, and I'm pretty sure that makes up for lack of sleep. Kind of.

    Cranberry Glazed Salmon (print friendly option)
    This beautiful red glaze goes well with poultry as well, 
    and would make for a uniquely flavorful turkey.

    2 6-ounce wild-caught salmon fillets
    1/3 cup frozen, unsweetened cranberries, thawed (or fresh)
    1/3 cup raisins
    juice of half a lemon
    1/8 teaspoon garam masala
    2 tablespoons olive oil plus 2 teaspoons

    1. Preheat the oven to 450 degree F.
    2. Tear two pieces of foil large enough to wrap the salmon in. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil in the middle of each piece, and lay the salmon over it. 
    3. In a food processor, puree the cranberries, raisin, lemon juice, garam masala and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Spoon evenly over the salmon. Wrap the salmon in foil, making sure to fold seams at the ends. 
    4. Place in oven on top of a baking sheet for approximately 15 minutes (if you have thick fillets, you may need to leave them in a few more minutes). Take out of oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes before opening and serving. 
    Serves 2.  

    Now, before you leave, don't forget to enter my giveaway!

    And if you haven't baked a cake yet for my June Birthday Cake Challenge, what are you waiting for?

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Pancake, Waffles, Strawberry Tarts, and a Giveaway! Oh My!

    Have you "met" Ricki Heller yet? If not, there are two things you should know about her. One, she makes the anti-candida diet look fun. And two, she does a pretty good impersonation of Ellen Degeneres dancing.

    If that's not enough to make you love her already, then know this. She has the best pancake recipe I've tried since going gluten-free. Yes, it's better than mine. I admit it. After trying Ricki's pancakes, I want to go back and redo my pancake recipe!

    Ignore the so-so photos. I was too busy eating them to take good pictures. Why are they so good? They're fluffy. They have lemon zest, which gives them a little something different. And they have a tiny hint of sweetness so that you don't even need to use maple syrup. Of course, pancakes are always better with syrup... But if you're avoiding sugar, like me, you can eat these plain and be perfectly happy. 

    I had the good fortune of having Ricki send me a copy of her e-cookbook, Good Morning! Breakfasts. This is a wonderful collection of breakfast recipes that are all vegan, gluten-free and anti-candida friendly. And since I wanted to try out Ricki's book, I decided this would be the perfect month to adopt Ricki for Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger. Zoe at Z's Cup of Tea is hosting this month, and for once, I managed to make more than one of my adoptee's recipes. And now that I've had a taste, I want to make more.

    So what did I make?

    First, there were Whole Grain Waffles with Walnut Cacao Nib Butter and Apple-Cranberry Compote. All of these recipes were from her e-cookbook, and they were delicious. I'm definitely making the Apple-Cranberry Compote at Thanksgiving this year instead of buying cranberry sauce. It was sweetened with stevia, and it was amazing! I used pecans instead of walnuts in the Walnut Cacao Nib Butter, and I was practically swooning. As for the waffles, they had that wonderfully chewy texture that I love. Quinoa flour has a very strong flavor, so you'll want to be sure it's a flavor you like before making these. If you're not a fan of quinoa, I'm betting you could easily swap it out for another flour like sorghum.

    Up next were the pancakes, and I already told you how much I loved those.

    This morning, I made Ricki's Tart Crust, but instead of a savory filling like she has in her recipe, I made a strawberry tart. It was the perfect way to start my day. (I didn't eat that all myself; my housemates had some too!) I overbaked the crust a bit, but that was because I was kind enough (or something enough) to invite the friendly Jehovah's Witnesses in while I baked. My housemate saw who was coming, took her strawberry tart, and ran to her room. But I was in a good mood, so I invited them in. They come to our door at least once a month, usually in the pouring rain, and I figured as long as I was baking, I might as well invite them in for a cookie or two.

    Conan wanted a cookie too. Here he is, doing what he does best. Staring me down, and waiting for a crumb to drop so he can pounce on it. I'm pretty sure the look in his eyes is his, "I can't believe you're eating in front of me again, and won't give me a piece," look. He looks pretty annoyed, doesn't he?

    Now, are you wondering about the giveaway? I'm not the only one who gets to benefit from Ricki's generosity. She's giving away a copy of her e-cookbook to one of you as well! And seriously, this is a cookbook you want. How can you win this?

    This giveaway is now closed.

    1. Leave a comment on this post.

    2. Check out the list of recipes in Ricki's e-cookbook and come back and tell me which recipe you would want to make first.

    3. Link to this post on Facebook (and leave a separate comment letting me know you did it).

    4. Link to this post on twitter (and leave a separate comment letting me know you did it). 

    5. Link to this post on your blog (and leave a separate comment letting me know you did it).

    This giveaway will be open until my birthday, June 28th. That way, I can give one of you a present too! And speaking of birthdays, have you made a cake for my birthday challenge yet?

    Zoe will have the roundup of Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger posts up in the next week, so stop by and see who else got adopted this month!

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Gina's Herb Salad with Tahini Dressing

    Last month my classmate, Gina Pagano, and I teamed up to provide information on how to heal through foods. One of the recipes Gina sent me was for a fresh herb salad. This week, I finally found time to make it, which was a good thing because we're in the midst of finals and a nice cleansing salad is exactly what my body needs right now. (Chocolate peanut butter pie, which I may have made this weekend, was so not what my body needed!)

    Fresh Herb Salad
    Recipe Adapted by Gina Pagano from The Jewish Heritage Cookbook (Lorenz Books, 2002).
    Not only does this Middle Eastern-inspired salad taste fantastic and exotic, but the individual components also work together to provide numerable health benefits. Parsley has cleansing, diuretic properties, while mint and turmeric cool inflammation.  Cilantro, garlic, and lemon aid in detoxification. 

    1/2 cup tahini
    3 garlic cloves, diced
    juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
    water (1/4 - 1/2 cup)
    pinch of ground cumin
    pinch of ground turmeric
    pinch of ground cardamom seeds
    salt, to taste
    1/2 bunch fresh mint 
    1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
    1/2 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
    extra virgin olive oil, warmed gluten-free bread, olives and raw vegetables, to serve

    1. Combine tahini, garlic, lemon juice, spices and salt in a large bowl. Mix well, adding in enough water to thin to a dressing consistency.  
    2. Wash and dry herbs. Tear leaves from stems and add to a serving bowl. Drizzle dressing over herbs and gently toss in dressing; readjust for seasoning. Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, with accompaniments or as a side dish.
    Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

    Variation: herbs may be chopped and tossed with dressing, but I prefer the look and taste of whole leaves.

    Iris' note: I loved the idea of using all fresh herbs in the salad, and will definitely be making this often. Tahini is a tad bitter for me, so I added a few drops of liquid stevia to my dressing. I recommend making the dressing as Gina writes it, and then adding a drizzle of honey or liquid stevia if you also want it to be sweeter.

    p.s. Don't forget it's birthday cake month! Check out this post for the challenge details!

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Lemon Cake with Raspberry Syrup (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Sugar-Free) and a Honeyville Almond Flour Review

    Anyone in the mood for cake? I'm sorry, what was that? I didn't hear anything. I guess I'll just have to take this cake back and save it for myself. Oh, you said you do want cake? Well, I suppose I can share it then...

    Ideally, I would have one big gluten-free birthday party, invite you all, and we'd each bring a cake to share. How much fun would that be? At least until we ended up in a giant food coma from testing every cake! I don't know about you, but I can't turn down homemade gluten-free cake.

    This particular cake is my first entry into the Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge. I say first because I'm hoping to come up with a variety of cakes this month. One of my lovely friends can't do nuts, so I'd like to have a cake I can share with her. Another dear friend has her own birthday coming up, so I think it's only fitting that she get a cake too. And well...do I really need more reasons to make cake?

    I didn't think so.

    This particular cake was made with Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm co-authoring a cookbook and guide to gluten-free flours with Brittany Angell. (I say this so casually as if it's not a big deal, when in fact I do a little dance in my head every time I think about it. Unless I'm alone, in which case I do the dance for real. It goes a little something like this.)

    So here's the thing about writing a guide to gluten-free flours: You have to actually know how to use all the flours. You can't write a chapter on almond flour when you've never used it.

    I suppose that goes without saying. But when Brittany and I picked the flours we wanted to focus on, we knew that some of them would have a steep learning curve since neither of us had ever used them. Of course that was our plan: to learn how to use all the flours so that you wouldn't have to go through that same learning curve. And that was the case with almond flour. You may recall that I was avoiding nuts, which is why I'd been ignoring all the other bloggers who were telling me how wonderful almond flour is. Luckily, I've been able to add nuts back into my diet, and just in time for our almond flour month! Honeyville was kind enough to supply us with some of their blanched almond flour to test out our recipes. Now see, almond flour is one of those flours where the brand does matter. And Brittany and I had both heard that Honeyville was pretty much the gold standard for blanched almond flour. I'll be testing as many brands as I can manage (and afford) over the next month so that I can let you all know with assurance which brands will produce the best tasting baked goods. But first, I wanted to start with Honeyville. To be honest, if I weren't testing for the cookbook, I would be happy to stop with Honeyville too. Here's the truth. Even my failures tasted good. It seems almost impossible to make something taste bad when I use Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour. So far, I've made cake, chocolate chip cookie cake (three versions), chocolate drizzled coconut pecan cookie bars, molasses cookies, and flatbread. Plus I'm working on English muffins. And I've got an idea for lemon squares.

    Is your mind whirling yet? Mine is.

    But that's what happens when you find yourself suddenly making success after success. Gluten-free baking can be hit or miss. I think we all know that. But with Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour, it's a hit every time.

    Do I sound like an infomercial? As a blogger, of course I had to be honest that Honeyville sent me the flour for free. But I wouldn't be heralding its arrival in my kitchen like this if I didn't really love it. Brittany felt the same way. Believe me, I'll definitely be ordering more once this bag is gone!

    This cake goes well with blueberry syrup too.

    Lemon Cake with Raspberry Syrup (Print-Friendly Option)

    My friend, Alta, said it best when she described this as a "tea cake." Dense and moist, with a hint of lemon, this cake goes best with a glaze or syrup rather than traditional frosting. I used raspberries in my syrup, but you can choose any berry you like.

    1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
    3 tablespoons hot water
    2 1/2 cups Honeyville blanched almond flour
    1 cup sorghum flour (sub: brown rice flour)
    1/3 cup potato starch
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1/2 cup extra light olive oil (sub: grapeseed oil)
    2 teaspoons liquid stevia
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    zest of 1 large lemon
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 inch cake pan.
    2. In a medium bowl, stir flaxseed meal and water together. Set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, starch, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
    3. Add the applesauce, oil, stevia, vanilla, lemon zest and juice to the flaxseed and water. Whisk together.
    4. With a fork, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until well combined.
    5. Pour into the cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool. Drizzle with raspberry glaze just before eating (I recommend just drizzling individual slices so any leftover pieces don’t get too moist).

    Raspberry Syrup

    1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed (sub: any berry you like)
    1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
    20 drops liquid stevia (I recommend NuNaturals or Sweetleaf)

    1. Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. You can strain the sauce if you don’t like seeds, but I left them in.

    Now, have I convinced you to buy blanched almond flour yet? If not (or you can't do nuts), don't worry. Next month, Brittany and I will be focusing on a different flour, so I'm sure I'll have a ton of non-cookbook recipes to share then too! But for now, I've got to go work on those flatbread and English muffin recipes! Did I mention that the English muffins don't have yeast in them? You have no idea how excited that makes me...

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge

    This past year has rushed by, and I'm not even sure where it went. I've been in Washington the majority of the year, so I've gone through a blur of new housemates and friends, school, exploring Seattle, and soul-searching. All good stuff, right?

    And baking. So much baking.

    There was a time when I preferred cooking to baking, but since going gluten-free, I've come to love playing around with my ingredients. I find it almost impossible to follow a recipe, even my own, without changing something around. Why make something the exact same way twice when you could do something different each time?

    Today, I've become a slave to my love of baked goods, mixing gluten-free flours with abandon and experimenting like a crazy woman in the kitchen. If a few days go by without being able to bake, I start getting antsy. Baking has become my meditation, something I can do when my mind starts whirling. In the kitchen, my focus narrows, and I can concentrate on using the perfect amount of almond flour, the correct type of starch, debating whether to go with xanthan gum or flaxseed meal. The kitchen is perhaps the only place where I can truly be in the moment.

    All this is simply a prelude to telling you two exciting tidbits of news in my life. They both involve baking:
    1. I'm writing a cookbook. If you follow me on Facebook, you probably already know this, but if not, here's the short story. First, I fell in love with the blog, Real Sustenance, written by Brittany Angell. Then, Brittany and I connected on Facebook. We started talking and realized how confusing all the gluten-free flours still are, even to those of us who bake with them daily. So we got this little idea that got bigger and bigger, and the next thing we knew we had turned into mad scientists... Gluten-free mad scientists of course. Of course there's more to it than that, but the bottom line is: we want to learn everything there is to know about all the gluten-free flours, and package all the information up in a beautiful cookbook to share with you. No more googling every time you want to figure out how to substitute one flour for another. Just look it up in your handy dandy Guide to Gluten-Free Flours.
    2. On June 28th, I'll be turning 29. The last year of my twenties! (Eek?) 28 has been a blast, and I'm determined 29 will only be better, but I'm asking you for help to start it off on the right foot. You see, I'm on a quest to come up with the perfect birthday cake. A gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free birthday cake. So here's the challenge: 
    Create a fabulous cake by June 25th. I'll be attempting to make a gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free cake, but your cake doesn't have to fall within those guidelines. It simply has to be gluten-free. The rest is up to you. On June 28th, I'll post a roundup of all the entries, with links to your posts (if you have a blog).

    Bloggers: E-mail the link to your Gluten-Free Birthday Cake post to me at  iris(at)thedailydietribe(dot)com. Include a photo that you would like to accompany the link. Please link back to this post to help spread the word.

    Don't have a blog? You can still join in! Email your recipe to iris(at)thedailydietribe(dot)com along with a photo if you have one. Tell your friends on Facebook to check out your recipe on June 28th!

    Deadline: Please e-mail me no later than June 25th. On my birthday (Tuesday, June 28th), I will post a roundup of all the cakes we've come up with.

    Sound good? Any questions? Ready, set, go!  


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