Every week, Shauna Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef -- and Gluten-Free Girl Everyday -- will be sharing smart tips and smarter recipes that will please even the most devout gluten-eaters among us. Come one, come all -- we're going flourless.
Today: Why a scale will set you free in the kitchen -- and the lightly sweet fall cake that proves it.
If you don't have a kitchen scale yet, it's time to buy one.
For years, I measured out my gluten-free flours in cups, just as I had dipped my one-cup measure into bleached white wheat flour. Sometimes the baked goods worked, with a good spring and a moist crumb. And sometimes they were leaden messes.
It took me a long time to realize that each of the different gluten-free flours -- and there are plenty to choose from -- has a different density. 1 cup of arrowroot flour weighs 128 grams, but 1 cup of sweet rice flour weighs 204 grams! If I ran out of arrowroot flour and used sweet rice flour instead? Well, that's why that cake weighed more than it should.
So I learned to bake by weight, as pastry chefs do. And everything grew easier.
But when I started playing with the flavors of gluten-free flours, I also realized I could play with the flavors of fats and liquids in recipes if I weighed those too. If I wanted to make a cake dairy-free, I could use 115 grams of coconut oil instead of 115 grams of butter. (1 U.S. stick of butter weighs 115 grams.)
And so, this coconut squash cake, which is moist and springy and tastes of autumn, is adaptable for your palate. Do you want to try brown butter? Use 115 grams of it instead of the coconut oil. Do you not have coconut sugar in your kitchen? Use 140 grams of brown sugar instead. Can't find kuri squash in your store? Butternut squash or kabocha will work beautifully -- just weigh out the purée. And then you have cake.
Serves 8 to 10
170 grams grain-free flour mix (see below)
1 teaspoon psyllium husk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon 5-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
115 grams coconut oil, melted
140 grams coconut sugar
2 large eggs
240 grams roasted squash puree (we like Kuri, but feel free to use kabocha or butternut)
120 grams milk
Photos by Shauna Ahern