This is my second time around making this delicious chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. I’ve fooled all my friends and I swear- you cannot tell that this cake is gluten-free. This cake is rich, moist, chocolatey, peanut buttery and delicious. People tell me all the time that they have not had “a good gluten-free dessert.” For those of you who are in that same boat- trust me on this one, and go bake this cake. And for others who are unsure what the deal with gluten-free baking is all about, here’s a lesson for you.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Upon mixing, it makes a web-like structure which holds all the ingredients together. That’s why, when making wheat flour baked goods, you don’t want to over-mix or you will cause the gluten web to break and your product may be flatter and more dense. Many people these days have a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease (inflammation of the small intestine) and therefore avoiding gluten helps these people be symptom free. Don’t be too scared if you love cake and you suddenly have an intolerance. There are tons of options for gluten-free flours including rice, millet, potato, almond, coconut and tapioca (there is a HUGE list). The key to creating a good gluten-free recipe is finding the correct combinations of flours. Wheat flour is approximately 60% starch and 40% whole grain so if you are looking for a similar texture, aiming for that combination will be best. One important ingredient that helps “substitute” the gluten web is a product called xantham gum. This is sort of like glue, which helps bond the recipe together. If you are looking for great gluten-free recipes for yourself, a friend or want to try something new I have several posted on this website.
This post is dedicated to my great friend Alice who I met in Boston 2 years ago. She has inspired me to find the perfect gluten-free recipes for her (and all of us really) to enjoy. She has been by my side through all the ups and downs from moving to a new city and working through a hard doctoral program. She is one of the kindest, smartest and most beautiful women I know. Happy Birthday Alice! …Click here for the recipe »