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Gluten-Free Berry Delicious Bundt Cake

Gluten-Free Berry Delicious Bundt Cake

I’m not gluten-free; I'm not even, as my friend Jackie Gordon would say, "gluten-choosy." In fact, you could call me a glutarian or a gluten-glutton. But after talking to my friend Marguerite about her challenges living gluten-free, I was anxious to try baking a gluten-free cake.

To get me started, Marguerite gave me her recipe for her Berry Delicious Bundt Cake, an adaptation of Flo Braker recipe that uses wheat flour. The first time I made this cake, I learned two important gluten-free baking lessons:

  1. Not all gluten-free flours are the same; and
  2. Gluten-free baking mix is not the same as gluten-free flour.

On my first try, I mistakenly used a gluten free baking mix instead of gluten-free flour. Despite that mistake, the cake looked good and it got a good reception from many who ate it – one person has even been hounding me for the recipe. The second time, I made a few changes (adapting an adaptation as it were); basically I swapped raw and white sugar for the coconut sugar, substituted a thicker glaze for the one she makes that soaks into the cake, and left off the whipping cream.

With the same gluten-free flour she specifies (King Arthur multi-purpose) and my changes, I adored the cake. In fact, if I hadn’t known it was gluten-free, I doubt that I would have guessed it was. Other gluten-eaters loved it too, including my husband who ate a piece for breakfast the day after it was served for dessert at dinner. A gluten-free member of Tut’Zanni proclaimed it the best cake she had ever eaten. Even allowing that she may have been carried away by hunger and enthusiasm, she was a definite fan of this version.

Gluten-Free Berry Delicious Bundt Cake 2.0

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Which Brand of Almond Extract is Best?

Which Brand of Almond Extract is Best?

Move over America’s Test Kitchen. When it comes to taste tests, you’re not the only game in town. My discerning and delightful taste testers checked out the Safeway brand of pure almond extract and the Organic Whole Foods (365) version to figure out which one they prefer. Actually, in this case it’s a smell test rather than a taste test, but you get the drift.

Why do this test?

  • By nature, I’m curious. I’ve done taste tests before to see if homemade vanilla makes a difference and to understand whether filtering improves vodka by making it smoother. I am especially interested in whether higher-priced or special ingredients taste better than a less expensive version of the same ingredient. That’s why I tested different varieties of shrimp – farm-raised and wild, fresh and frozen.
  • I had almost used up my Safeway almond extract between the homemade marzipan and the upcoming gluten-free cake from Marguerite that uses almond extract. Instead of buying more of the same brand, I saw this as an opportunity to test a different brand.
  • America’s Test Kitchen did a test of almond extracts, but you can’t see the results without a year-long subscription to their site.  (I’ve subscribed in the past, but found that I didn't use the site enough to justify the expense of a subscription.) While I applaud that company’s painstaking research and wanted to see the results, I decided not to buy a subscription just to satisfy my curiosity about brands of almond extract.
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Southwestern-Style Corn Salad

Southwestern-Style Corn Salad

This corn salad is a testament to how susceptible I am to suggestions about food. If a description or photo of a dish catches my eye, chances are that it will stay on my mind until I exorcise the image by cooking it out of my brain.

In my rather trashy summer read for the moment, Seating Arrangements, the father in the family made a corn and tomato salad for a summer dinner. Bingo – within a few hours I was craving that combination. Before I made his rather plain version of that salad, grilled corn on the cob came across my Pinterest feed. As I began to dream of corn kernels with that slightly singed, deliciously cooked-but-crunchy taste, the two desires had merged into a Southwestern-style grilled corn and tomato salad.

True grilling wasn’t an option on the day I made this salad, but cooking the kernels over high heat on the stovetop worked well. The resulting salad does not have quite the wonderful charcoal grilled taste my grillmaster would have achieved, but it is certainly as good as corn cooked on a gas grill. The salad has a hint of a deep, smoky flavor too - thanks to a bit of  ancho chili powder, making it a great side dish or component for any Tex-Mex meal.

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