Cinnamon Spice Cake

This cook can learn new tricks! 

Back in the early depths of this blog—February, to be precise, and during my non-photo era—I posted a recipe for a spice cake which I described as “dense and delicious” and having the “heavenly aroma of cinnamon and other spices.”  At that time I was just thrilled to create a really good-tasting, gluten-free, baked dessert.

Yesterday, I revisited this recipe to improve it.  Having gained much more understanding of alternative flours/starches, I put together a blend of white rice, quinoa flour, tapioca startch, xanthan gum, and salt.  (Good-bye trying to rely on rice flour alone.)  And, having learned to cut back on fats by using unsweetened applesauce combined with much less oil, I managed to halve the caloric content.  The recreated cake is now light, moist, delicious, and low-cal, while definitely retaining that mouth-watering aroma.  Much better all around!

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 16 squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • ½ cup liquid egg replacement (2 eggs)
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 6 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and spices.
  2. In a larger bowl, whisk together all liquid ingredients: egg, milk, applesauce, and oil.
  3. Add dry ingredients in thirds to liquid ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Spray an 8″ x 8″ pan with cooking spray.
  5. Pour batter into pan.  If top needs to be smoothed out, spread with wet fingers.
  6. Bake at 350o F oven for 30-35 minutes or until sides are pulling away from the pan and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers: Each piece is worth 1.5 points on the Points plan and 2 points on the PointsPlus plan.

Light Cocoa Carob Squares

These squares came about because I found myself with 2/3 cup of soured milk that I had forgotten to put in a different bread I was baking.  How did I do that?  Well, I had to give the milk time to sour so I put it to one side as I got the rest of the ingredients put together and then completely forgot about it.  When I mixed the batter, I found the dough—not surprisingly, in retrospect—terribly dry.  Needless to say, this hodge-podge didn’t turn out too well.

Then, of course, I discovered the soured milk.   I couldn’t throw it out, could I?  Nor could I ignore a certain chocolate craving that had arisen because I’d bought some carob chips earlier in the day.  It’s interesting how a craving (which knows it can be fulfilled) just keeps nudging at you, isn’t it?  At any rate, the result is a delight.  Squares that are mildly sweet and light in texture, taste, and calories. 

Cooking note: The original recipe called for ½ tsp. of unflavoured gelatin.  As this wasn’t a “jell0” style cake, I didn’t know what function the gelatin served.  Some research later: In order to avoid having a cake cracking along the top as it cools, you should “Add gelatin to the cake batter as you mix it. The gelatin works to keep the cooling cake intact and it can also add fullness to the baked cake.”  (eHow Food)

Update: I recently bought my quinoa flour at a different store than usual and discovered, when making these squares, that I had to add more liquid.  In fact, I’ve altered the recipe for 1 cup of soured milk.  Feel free to add ¼ or so of water or alternative milk if you still find your batter too dry.

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 16 squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. unflavoured gelatin
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 soy or lactose-free milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup liquid egg substitute
  • 4½ tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1½ tbsp. oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened carob chips
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. If not using buttermilk, mix alternative milk with lemon juice, let sit for about 5 minutes, and then stir.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: rice flour, quinoa flour, artificial sugar, tapioca flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, gelatin, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl mix together all liquid ingredients, buttermilk or soured milk, liquid egg substitute, applesauce, oil, and carob chips.
  4. Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix until it forms a thick batter.
  5. Spray a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray.
  6. Pour batter into the pan and bake in a 350° F oven for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool and cut into 16 squares.

For Weight Watchers: Each square is worth 2 points on the Points plan and 2.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Altered from “Irish Soda Bread” by Jefferson Adams at www.celiac.com)

Coconut Mango Bread or Squares

Do you love coconut?  And sweet, moist, rich squares?  And goodies you can eat without destroying your diet?  Voilà!  These squares fit the bill perfectly.

I’ve made this recipe both as a bread and squares but, following my desire for small portions, I think I’ll keep to squares.  I know, I know…I could cut a bread slice in half and get the same caloric intake, but not the same mental satisfaction.  The other half of the bread slice would sit there, just begging to be consumed.  A square, on the other hand, is an entity unto itself, happily eaten as a stand-alone.  (Such are the mental gymnastics of the dieter.)

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 8 bread slices or 16 squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour/starch
  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • ½ cup sweetener (Note: Weight Watcher point values are based on the use of artificial sugar.)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut, sweetened
  • 1 cup puréed mango (approximately 1 large or 2 small)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2½ tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flours, sugar, spices, xanthan gum, and salt.
  2. Add coconut to dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together wet ingredients: mango, egg, vanilla, applesauce, and oil.
  4. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing after each addition. (Final batter will be thick but will pour well.  I found this batter to be more liquid than many others that I make with gluten-free flours.)
  5. Spray 9″ x 9″ baking pan or 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with cooking spray.
  6. Pour in batter and bake in 350º F oven, 25-30 minutes for squares or 55-60 minutes for bread, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers:

  • Squares: 1 square of 16 squares is 1.5 points on the Points plan and 1.75 points on the PointsPlus plan.
  • Bread: 1 slice of 8 slices is 3 points on the Points plan and 3.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Altered from “Mango Coconut Bread” at http://www.briarrosebb.com/r/mango-coconut-bread.html)

Quinoa-Flax Sweet Potato Squares

Okay, I admit it—I’m having a lot of fun trying out non-gluten flours and meals made from seeds and nuts, primarily because I’ve given up worrying about failure. 

My parents grew up during the 1930s Depression and taught me that food should never, ever, be thrown out under any circumstances. “Think of all the starving children in the world,” my mother used to say.  I wasn’t sure that even a starving child would want to eat horrible canned spinach, but I managed to pick up a lot of food guilt from such admonitions.  And the trouble with recipe experimentation is that failure means stuff ends up in the garbage.  Guilty!

Well, I’ve stepped away from the guilt.  Yes, I have.  It’s still there, but it’s a shadow of its former self.   In fact, one of these days, I’m going to tell you about my first attempt at a gluten-free yeast bread.  Promise.

Today, however, I’m reporting on a success: tasty, moist, rich, dense, and very filling squares.  I made 12 squares because I was serving them as part of a lunch for a meeting.  Otherwise I would have made 16 to keep the portions small.  

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 12 (or 16) squares

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup flaxseed meal (not flax seeds)
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 2 tbsp. tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree
  • 3 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp. canola or olive oil
  • 1 – 1½ cup unsweetened soy milk or other alternative milk, as needed
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: rice flour, flaxseed meal, quinoa flour, potato starch, artificial sugar, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  2. In a large bowl, mix eggs, sweet potato puree, applesauce, oil, and 1 cup of the milk until smooth.
  3. Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  4. If batter begins to form a ball, add in additional milk, as needed. (I needed the full 1½ cups.) Batter will be thick.  
  5. Spray 9″ x 9″ pan with cooking spray.
  6. Scrape in batter, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  7. Bake in 400° F oven for 30 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers:

  • 12 squares: Each square is 4 points on the Points plan and 6 points on the PointsPlus plan.
  • 16 squares: Each square is 3 points on the Points plan and 4 points on the PointsPlus plan. (Why not 5? Beats me.)

Nutritional Information for 12 and 16 squares:

12 squares

  • Calories 221 (70 from fat)
  • Fat 8 g
  • Carbohydrate 29 g
  • Fiber 4 g
  • Protein 9 g
  • Cholesterol 171 mg
  • Sodium 351 mg

16 squares

  • Calories 161 (47 from fat)
  • Fat 5 g
  • Carbohydrate 22 g
  • Fiber 3 g
  • Protein 7 g
  • Cholesterol 128 mg
  • Sodium 263 mg

(Adapted from “Sweet Potato Flax Muffins” by The Dusty Baker.)

Zucchini Cinnamon Bread

(Update April 2012: I have refashioned this recipe to lower the calorie-count and changed it from a bread to Zucchini Cinnamon Squares.)

This bread is dense, rich, moist, and fragrant with cinnamon and other spices.

It’s healthy for you too, covering all the food groups: grain (rice flour), vegetables/fruit (zucchini and applesauce), protein (quinoa flour), and oils (olive oil).

The quinoa flour has another benefit for dieters: it’s “cheaper” than rice flour in terms of calories and Weight Watcher points than the white rice flour that was called for in the original recipe.

My husband, who has a stomach of iron, can eat anything, and doesn’t need to lose weight, used to stay away from my gluten-free, diet experiments.  Not any more.  Now the sounds and smells of bread coming out of the oven has him wandering down to the kitchen just in time for a sample before I take the photographs. 🙂

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 8 slices

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ – ¾ cup artificial sugar
  • ½ tsp. xanthum gum
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup soy milk or other alternative milk, if needed
  • 2 cups green zucchini, shredded (about 2 small zucchini)
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: brown rice flour, quinoa flour, tapioca flour, just ½ cup of artificial sugar, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs.
  3. Add applesauce, oil, and vanilla to the eggs.
  4. Gradually add dry ingredients to the liquid ones.  If batter gets too thick, add milk.
  5. Taste batter.  If it needs more sweetening, add the remaining ¼ of artificial sugar. (The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, but I was conservative here.  I like this bread at ½ cup of artificial sugar, but you could add more sweetener if you think the bread needs it.)
  6. Spray 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with cooking spray.
  7. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  8. Bake in 350º F oven for 75 – 85 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers: Each one of 8 slices is worth 4 points on the Points plan and 4.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.  Points include soy milk.

(Adapted from “Zucchini-Spice Bread” in Gluten-Free Every Day Cookbook by Robert M. Landolphi)

Mmmm-Good Chocolate Pudding Cake

A warm, crusty chocolate cake on the top, dotted with chocolate chips, and a thick chocolate-coffee pudding underneath.  It’s rich and satisfying but not overly sweet.  Mmmm-good, chocolate-good!  (Sorry, but my inner chocaholic just got out and needs to be shoved back.)

Also, this is the first time I’ve used a gluten-free flour mix suggested by a cookbook author as a basic blend for baking.  It was so simple I made 9 cups; now I’ll have more on hand for the next recipe. 

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 8 servings (approximately 1/2 cup each)

The Basic Gluten-Free Mix (for 9 cups), courtesy of author Bette Hagman, is as follows:

  • 6 cups white rice flour
  • 2 cups potato starch
  • 1 cup tapioca flour

Cooking tip: The original recipe called for ½ cup of milk.  I found that adapting the recipe to gluten-free required ¾ cup.

Taste tip: When served warm, the pudding cake has no artificial sugar taste.  When the cake is cool, the artificial sugar is little less obliging.  Therefore, I suggest serving this warm.  Or you could use an artificial baking mix or use ½ real sugar, ½ artificial sugar.  If you do, remember to add the additional points to the dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Basic Gluten-Free Mix (or approximately 2/3 cup of rice flour, 3.33 tbsp. of potato starch, and 1.66 tbsp. of tapioca flour)
  • 1/3 cup artificial sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ – ¾ cup soy or other alternative milk
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 and 1/3 cups brewed coffee
  • 2/3 cup artificial sugar

Directions

  1. In large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, artificial sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together liquid ingredients: egg, smaller amount of milk, oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.  Batter should be thick but not “balled up” in the whisk.  Add small portions of milk as needed.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spray a 1.5 qt. baking dish.
  6. Scrape batter into the baking dish.
  7. Mix coffee and artificial sugar in a measuring cup and pour over batter.  (This liquid should now be sitting on top of the batter.  During baking, the cake will rise to the surface and the pudding sauce will be beneath it.)
  8. Bake in 350º oven until top is solid, not wet, and pulling away from the sides of the baking dish, approximately 40 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.  Pudding will thicken during this time.
  10. Cut cake into eighths and dig all the way to the bottom to make sure each piece has its share of pudding. 
  11. Serve warm.

For Weight Watchers: Each ½-cup serving is 4 points on the Points plan and 4.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Adapted from “Chocolate-Fudge Pudding Cake” in The EatingWell™ Diabetes Cookbook by Joyce Hendley and the editors of EatingWell.)

Point Values of Mixes of Gluten-Free Flours

The authors of gluten-free cookbooks and online chefs often create their own flour mixes to take advantage of the properties of different flours.  Sometimes I’ve followed the recipes, and sometimes I’ve substituted a different flour.

Needless to say, calculating the final Weight Watcher point value of a recipe with a mix of flours is beginning to feel like rocket science.  So…what to do? 

I used the values that I calculated for the Point Values of Gluten-Free Flours and determined those for flour mixes that I have found in gluten-free cookbooks.  There may be many more such mixes, but these are meeting my needs for now. 

I haven’t tried all these mixes in the table below and can’t make any recommendations yet.  However, I assume that the mixes found in cookbooks have been tried and tested.  But gluten-free baking is a little like the Wild West.  Everyone is doing his or her “thing,” and there’s no definitive authority or even a wealth of experience to fall back on.

 A word about xanthan gum: Some authors include the amount of gum in the mix while others don’t.  I have been adding ½ tsp. of xanthan gum per cup of flour to most of my recipes when adapting a recipe.  It seems to be working.

 Sources for this table are:

  •  The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods by Bette Hagman
  • 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster
  • Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Peter Bronski

Printer-friendly table

GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR MIXES INGREDIENTS POINTS per 1 cup POINTSPLUSper 1 cup
Basic Gluten-Free Mix (Bette Hagman) 6 cups rice flour, white or brown2 cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

11.5 15.5
“Featherlight” Rice Flour Mix

(Bette Hagman)  

3 cups rice flour, white or brown3 cups tapioca flour

3 cups cornstarch

3 tbsp. potato flour

10 14
Light Bean Flour (for breads)

(Bette Hagman)  

 

3 cups garfava bean flour3 cups tapioca flour

3 cups cornstarch

8.5 11.5
Four Flour Bean Mix (Bette Hagman)   2 cups garfava bean flour1 cup sorghum flour

3 cups tapioca flour

3 cups cornstarch

8.5 12
Sorghum Blend*

(Carol Fenster) 

 

1½ cups sorghum flour1 ½ cup potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

9.5 13.5
Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Mix(Kelly and Peter Bronski)   1¼ cups brown rice flour¾ cup sorghum flour

⅔ cup cornstarch

¼ cup potato starch

1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. potato flour

1 tsp. xanthan gum

10 14

*The author indicates that cornstarch can replace potato starch.  However, the potato starch is lower in points than the cornstarch,