While I am most certainly NOT back in the bake sale game (I’ll leave that to the beautiful geniuses at Short Street Cakes), I have really enjoyed playing around with some new and old favorite recipes to celebrate recent rites of passage with beloved friends! As fate would have it, I’ve been coming to terms, as many bakers I know have been, with my increasing intolerance to gluten in recent years. While this was a challenge to my identity as a Cake Lady and to my technical prowess, I’m continuing to learn about and experiment with methods, ingredients, and recipes that celebrate beautifully and are fully flavorful without the need for wheat flour, and here are three from the Merry Month of May!
Mexican Chocolate Cake:
It was a joy to travel to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to celebrate the wedding of our friends Mumbi and Bucky. While the wedding cake (pictured below) was taken care of by the venue caterers, Anna (who worked at the Cake Shop many moons ago) and I got the band back together for a cake buffet for the low country boil the night before the wedding! Anna created the beautiful pound cakes pictured above; one was Pecan Rum Cake and the other was a beautiful fresh Lemon Pound Cake with lemon glaze. I considered my contribution to be a “groom’s cake,” and since Bucky is vegan, I made my Vegan Mexican Chocolate Cake, and made it gluten free by substituting the flour, cup for cup, with GF all-purpose flour from Bob’s Red Mill. Anna had the great idea to garnish with cinnamon and hot pepper, to indicate the flavor profile of the cake. The whole cake buffet was gobbled up with a quickness! I was so thankful to be a part of this beautiful celebration, and it’s always a plus when your friends’ wedding forces to you to take a quick family beach vacation. Thanks Mumbi and Bucky!
Green Man and Goddess Cake:
We were honored to be invited to another beautiful wedding celebration, this time in our own glorious mountains- at Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, NC, the family homeplace of my dear friend David. I was honored to make a small wedding cake for David and his bride Hayley. I made a Green Man and Goddess Cake to honor David and Hayley’s union, green and growing and rooted, with nettles and strawberries from my garden, locally grown and milled cornmeal, and local sorghum. I adapted the nettle cake recipe at the Wondersmith blog, reducing the sugar and substituting 1 cup of the flour with the cornmeal for added texture and dimension. For the icing, I whipped together 1 lb of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, and about a half a cup each of chopped strawberries and sorghum syrup, then garnished lavishly with flowers from David’s sister and brother-in-law’s farm, Flying Cloud Farm. It was a joy to bake this cake for beloved Hayley and David! Congratulations, Sweetiebabies!
Pineapple Coconut Cornmeal Cake:
This might be my wildest cake experiment ever, and luckily, it not only worked, it slayed. I was delighted to be invited by my friend Katie Vie of River Island Apothecary to a writing retreat in Lake Lure last week. I had vague plans to make a gluten-free pineapple upside down cake while I was there, but with less sugar and with added cornmeal to cut the sweetness and add texture. I also knew that one of the retreat participants was not only gluten-free but allergic to nightshades (which means no potato flour), so I decided to experiment with coconut flour for the first time. With so many substitutions already in place, the cake was becoming less and less a pineapple upside down cake and more of its own recipe by the minute! To make matters worse (or better), I had no skillet so I had to use a pan, and the can I thought was sliced pineapple was actually crushed, and I had only white sugar, not brown sugar, so no topping. And oh yeah, I didn’t have cornmeal, only yellow grits, which meant I had to almost double the liquid in the recipe to accommodate for the grits soaking up so much of the liquid. Knowing that there was no way in hell I was going down the mountain to a grocery store, I decided to make do with what I had. Here’s what resulted:
Melt: 1 stick melted butter, beat: 3 eggs, combine butter and eggs with: 1 1/2 c. milk.
Sift: 1 1/2 c. coconut flour with 1/2 c. dry grits, 1 c. sugar and 1/4 t. Baking soda
Mix wet ingredients into dry then fold in a 12 oz can crushed pineapple. Bake in 10″ greased cake pan at 375 for 20-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
This shit was DELICIOUS! And even better the next morning with coffee. I know it’s a super weird recipe, but some of the best things in life are super weird.
I’m so grateful for the love that surrounds us, and I hope that you, too, have lots to celebrate as we move into summer!
Much love and happy baking,