Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Honey Cake was a success!

My dad's birthday celebration went well and the gluten-filled honey cake was pronounced perfect by the family. Glad I still have the touch...even though I couldn't touch it. :-)

Moving forward into finishing up testing a whole bunch of recipes. That's my equivalent of summer reading.

Coconut Biscuits

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grandma's Honey Cake - Photos

Here is the finished Honey Cake for Dad's 85th birthday. I think it came out right although of course, I will not taste it on account of the ingredients I cannot have (gluten, eggs, sugar, honey, coffee). I used a dust mask on my face so I wouldn't breathe in the wheat flour and washed my hands about a million times. I baked it in my basement kitchen (a make shift kitchen consisting of saved old appliances and cheap cabinets) so my regular kitchen would stay gluten-free. I washed everything in the dishwasher as soon as possible. The cake smells right, looks right and we're ready for the celebration.

I love the rich dark color of this cake.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grandma's Honey Cake - NOT Gluten-Free

My beloved father will be turning 85 and asked me if I would make my Grandma Marion's Honey Cake for him. This is my Grandma's secret recipe from the 1940's. When she would share it with the women and girls in the family, she would make us swear we would never give the recipe to anyone outside the family. I have faithfully upheld my promise.

When my father asked me to make it for him I felt sure I did not want to handle gluten flour, eggs, piles of sugar and honey, baking soda and baking powder, crisco...At first I told him no, then thought about it for a week and realized that the man who is so generous and never asks for anything for himself was asking me for something he really wanted. And that I needed to get over whatever I was feeling and make it already.

I got out the recipe, remembering the fabulous taste and texture of this cake. I remember separating the egg whites and yolks, creaming, mixing, folding, gosh the smell of the batter was amazing. I remember seeing large slabs of it in the freezer in shimmering aluminum foil.

So I will make it next week and take it to our family celebration the following weekend. I'm really looking forward to once again taking part in this family ritual of baking Grandma Marion's Honey Cake. I may wear a dust mask when I work with the flour. I know I'll be wondering if I can convert it to gluten, egg and sugar free but I'd prefer to focus on enjoying making it again after a couple of decades of not. And seeing Dad's face when he eats it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Cloche or Not to Cloche - That is the question!

A while ago a reader asked me a question about why the tops of her gluten-free sourdough breads had lots of cracking during baking. I really didn't have an answer as my breads also became cracked during baking. I thought it was just part of the package of making my rather unusual bread.

Another reader wrote to me saying she got nice smooth bread tops by using a "Pullman Pan" which is a metal pan with a slide-on lid. I ordered one of these interesting pans and had trouble just sliding the lid on and off. I returned it knowing I would avoid any pan I needed to struggle with to make work.

Then I started experimenting with rice-coconut breads in the hopes of achieving an angel food cake. When they ended up cracked on top I tried another batch and covered it while baking. I used an inverted cake pan. It worked extremely well!

Then I went back to some of my older loaf bread recipes that regularly cracked and baked them with an inverted loaf pan on top. That also worked really well to smooth those tops!

This is not a new idea. Historically, some bakers have used covered clay pots for baking breads. I've read of people making cloches out of tin foil, clay pots, roasting pans and anything else that will safely cover a pan to keep the steam in and the drying air out.

There are loaf breads in the loaf pans and rice-coconut biscuits in the round pan.


Here is a photo of a bread with a very cracked top.
Below that is a photo of my Sourdough Bread #1, that was cloched with an inverted pyrex pan during baking.