Gluten-Free Fromage

Gluten-Free Fromage
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Cakes that are supposed to look like some other food have always baffled me. If I want to have cake, I want it to look like a cake, not like a waffle or a burger.

But since this recipe is meant to look like a wheel of French farmhouse cheese, I guess I have to reevaluate my food prejudices.

For this cake, you’ll need:

-One gluten-free genoise round

-2 cups praline buttercream

-25 g hazelnuts, finely chopped

For the brushing syrup:

-1/3 cup heavy syrup

-2 T and 2 tsp kirsch

For the decoration:

-30 g blanched almonds, roasted and chopped up in a food processor

-finely chopped pistachios or almonds tinted green

Slice the genoise into two layers, brush with brushing syrup and fill with buttercream, then sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.

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Next replace the top layer and frost with the rest of the buttercream. Then sprinkle with the roasted almonds.

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Refrigerate this, then before serving, make a series of parallel lines on top by pressing the edge of an icing spatula gently into the buttercream. In the perpendicular direction, make three pairs of lines. Then sprinkle the chopped pistachios to simulate the mold.

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Praline Buttercream

Gluten-Free Praline Buttercream
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For the next cake, we need to use the homemade praline to flavor the buttercream.

You’ll need 2 cups of the French buttercream and 100 g of the praline to complete this recipe.

Place the praline in the mixer bowl and gradually beat in about 1/4 of the buttercream. Then beat in the remainder of the buttercream until lightened.

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Gluten-Free Marguerite Cassis (Black Currant-Almond Cake)

Gluten-Free Black Currant-Almond Cake
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This was described to me as a play on Black Forest Cake, but instead of cherry, it has black currant as its flavoring in the buttercream and the brushing syrup.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-1 gluten-free almond genoise

For the frosting and filling:

-2 cups French buttercream

-A little more than 1/4 cup (130 g) black currant preserves

-1 T and 1 tsp creme de cassis liqueur

For the brushing syrup:

-1/4 cup heavy syrup

-1/4 cup and 2 T creme de cassis liqueur

For the decoration:

-Enough chocolate material to make a strip around the cake and decorations on top

Beat the black currant preserves into the buttercream, then beat in the cassis liqueur.

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Cut the genoise and brush cut sides with brushing syrup.

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Spread some of the buttercream onto the bottom half, then replace the top and frost the cake. Be sure to put the cake into the refrigerator at least an hour before decorating with chocolate.

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Follow the instructions to make chocolate strips and decorations. I had to join two strips together in order to wrap it around the cake.

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Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Working with Chocolate: Strips and Sheets

Chocolate Cake Decorations
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For some cakes, you’ll need to make chocolate decorations. No need to worry, though! I had never worked with chocolate before making the chocolate-black currant cake, and the following method worked like a dream (even while working in a kitchen that was 83F, a big no-no for chocolatiers).

First, to not have extra complications, you really should work in a kitchen that is between 70F-75F.

Next, preheat an oven to 250F and heat a baking sheet (lined with a Silpat if you have one) for 10 minutes.

After taking the baking sheet out of the oven, put150g of chocolate on the sheet and quickly spread it into an evenly thick rectangle.

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Put the whole baking sheet into the refrigerator and chill for about 5-10 minutes or until the chocolate starts to set.This might take a few times placing the sheet in and out of the fridge to get the right consistency. The best way to check is to take a flexible drywall knife or spatula and scrape the chocolate. If it is still too warm, it will stick to the knife; if it is too cold, it will shatter. Too warm, put back in the fridge. Too cold, take a hair dryer and gently warm the back of the baking sheet.

When you get the right consistency, score the chocolate into the pieces you will need. I need large strips to wrap the sides of the cake, so I made big cuts.

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What happens next is like pure magic, the chocolate actually bends without falling apart. Like noted above, use a flexible drywall knife or metal spatula that is roughly the size of the strips you need. You’ll only have a few precious moments to get the shapes right, so WORK FAST!

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Gluten-Free Succulent (Vanilla-Almond Cake)

Gluten-Free Succulent (Vanilla-Almond Cake)
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Sweeten fruit soaked in kirsch, luscious buttercream and almond genoise come together in this cake.

You’ll need:

-1 almond genoise

For the filling and frosting:

-85 g glace fruit

-3 T and 1 tsp kirsch

-2 cups French buttercream

For the decoration:

-60 g sliced almonds

-1 tsp heavy syrup

For the brushing mix:

-1/3 cup heavy syrup

-2 T and 2 tsp kirsch

-1 T water

The night before, put the glace fruit in a jar with 2 T kirsch and let them soak. Drain before using.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Toss the sliced almonds with the syrup and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast them in the oven, stirring as necessary to prevent burning, for a total of 10 minutes. Take out and let them cool.

In the mixer bowl beat the French buttercream and flavor with 4 tsp of the kirsch.

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Next cut the cake and brush cut sides with syrup mix. Then put some of the buttercream in the middle; sprinkle with the drained glaced fruit and return the top.

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Then coat the cake with the remaining buttercream.

Gluten-Free Vanilla-Almond Cake

Before the buttercream hardens, sprinkle the roasted, sugared almonds over the entire surface.

Gluten-Free Succulent (Vanilla-Almond Cake)

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Gluten-Free Vanilla-Almond Cake

Gluten-Free Almond Genoise

Gluten-Free Almond Genoise
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This is the second cake recipe in this section. The almond genoise is an especially good choice for a gluten-free cake since the almond-sugar powder helps to absorb the liquid, helping to fight against one of the gluten-free baking pitfalls—gumminess. Plus, the fine almond powder helps provide more structure to the baked goods in the absence of gluten.

So here’s the recipe:

8 eggs, room temperature and separated

¼ tsp cream of tartar

135 g superfine sugar

35 g rice flour, 35 g tapioca starch, 20 g corn starch, 25 g sorghum, 20 g potato, ½ tsp salt and ¾ tsp xanthan gum

200 g almond-sugar powder

30 g unsalted butter, barely melted

Preheat the oven to 375F. Prep two 9-inch cake pans (I used rings this time) by brushing with melted butter and lining with butter parchment, then dusting with flour.

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Reserve 25 g superfine sugar then combine the rest of the superfine sugar with the egg yolks in a mixer bowl. With the wire whip, beat together until the mix is light and thick, about 5 minutes.

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In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothing. Take about ¼ cup of the egg whites and stir into the egg yolk mix.

Continue to whip the egg whites and add the cream of tartar while increasing speed until the whites form stiff peaks. Add the reserved sugar and continue to whip until incorporated.

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Whisk the flours together and sift over the egg yolk mix.

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Add about 1/3 of the egg whites and then stir quickly to combine. Next, stir in the almond-sugar powder.

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Carefully fold in the rest of the meringue and when that is incorporated, add the barely melted butter and carefully mix in.

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Scoop the batter into the prepared molds and bake until the cake is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

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Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Then unmold it to a wire rack, and let it cool to room temperature.

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Gluten-Free French Buttercream

Gluten-Free Buttercream
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You know it’s special when you have a Proustian moment while tasting something. That happened to me when trying this French buttercream recipe.

If you haven’t had real buttercream, as in made with butter (not shortening), sugar and eggs, then it is a moral imperative that you try this. I’m not kidding.

I can only remember having real buttercream once. It was on a cake for my elementary school graduation when I was 13. We had ordered it from a local European bakery named Biel’s. Sadly, it was a Mom and Pop bakery that couldn’t find enough skilled bakers to keep up with the demand and closed its doors. And this is the nostalgia I felt when I tasted this recipe.

On a level dissociated with emotion, the name “buttercream” is a rather accurate description of the taste. It’s buttery and sweet and creamy. While it is at room temperature, it’s smooth and light, but chill it for an hour and it hardens (only to melt in your mouth later!).

First note: this can be made with 2 or 3 egg whites. The recommendation for regular French buttercream is 2 egg whites, but if you are going to flavor it with chocolate or praline, then 3 is better.

Second note: you need to take special care in ensuring the mixer bowl and the egg whites are warm enough, so that when the hot syrup is added, it will raise the temperature enough to pasteurize them. To do this, make sure all of your eggs are room temperature and create a hot water bath with a temperature that stays at 120F in a bowl large enough to fit your mixer bowl into (be sure that the water is not too high in order to prevent it from flowing into your mixer bowl; it is very important that the mixer bowl stays dry).

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Let’s get to the ingredients, which will make 6 cups total:

350 g granulated sugar

½ cup water

2 or 3 eggs whites (see first note above), room temperature

A pinch of cream of tartar

5 egg yolks, room temperature

500 g unsalted butter, softened

Put your eggs whites in the mixer bowl (which is sitting in its hot water bath already) and stir occasionally with a wire whip while going on to the next step.

Combine the sugar and the water together in a small saucepan and stir to moisten, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Watch for the temperature of 248F, which is the firm ball stage. When it gets close, start the next step.

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Take the mixer bowl out of its bath. Whip the egg whites until they froth, then add the cream of tartar and continue to whip until the whites form very stiff peaks. This part is pretty tricky because you need to have the egg whites ready when the syrup comes to temp, so adjust the whipping speed accordingly to how close you are to 248F.

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Pour three-fourths of the syrup into the egg whites while whipping on high speed, then pour your egg yolks in, and quickly finish pouring all of the syrup.

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Slow the speed to medium and continue to whip until the mixture is cool and very light.

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Change to the flat beater and gradually beat in the softened butter. Once all of it has been beaten in, increase the speed to high to make the buttercream very light.

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This can be used either right away, or can be refrigerated for one week, or kept frozen and thawed out when ready to use. Before using, cold buttercream must be brought to room temperature, then (and only then) can be re-beat to make it light and spreadable once again.