Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.
Today: Alice is using oat flour to make a cake so delicious that frosting would only be a distraction. And, added bonus -- it's gluten free.
Who knew that oat flour had marvelous caramel and toffee notes? It makes a most delicious sponge cake -- this one is a genoise, actually. Editors often give me a hard time about plain cake (of which I’m a great fan). I have to be reminded that people love frosting, and photo editors always want some kind of finished look to things. So, my intention was to make a two-layer oat flour sponge cake and frost it with something between penuche and brown sugar buttercream. But every time I tasted the cake, I questioned the frosting.
This cake is a brand new experience for most people. It’s entirely made of oat flour, and it’s entirely yummy and amazing -- I want you to taste that! Of course I didn’t want the delicious thing to look naked and boring. So while I have ditched the frosting, I’ve added a thin, crunchy, sweet crust that's easily created by baking the batter in pan coated with butter, brown sugar, and pecans. What could be bad? (And who says I am intractable?)
The cake comes together quickly and easily, but it does require your best folding technique. And, for smooth sailing from start to finish, do please set up the saucepan with butter, the bowls, and the strainers as instructed. You will have just enough time to brown the butter while the eggs are beating!
Adapted from a recipe from my book Flavor Flours (Artisan 2014)
Makes one 9-inch cake
2 tablespoons (30 grams) softened butter
3 tablespoons (38 grams) brown sugar*
1 cup (100 grams) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium fine
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup (100 grams) oat flour
2/3 cup (130 grams) sugar
4 large eggs, cold
Generous 1/8 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
9 x 2-inch round pan
Stand mixer with whisk attachment
Medium mesh strainer or sifter
Fine mesh strainer (or tea strainer)
*It’s fine to use ordinary brown sugar -- dark is more flavorful than light. If you want to go all out, use a real raw sugar such as light muscovado sugar. Big wow.
Get excited about Alice's new book Flavor Flours: nearly 125 recipes -- from Double Oatmeal Cookies to Buckwheat Gingerbread -- made with wheat flour alternatives like rice flour, oat flour, corn flour, sorghum flour, and teff (not only because they're gluten-free, but for an extra dimension of flavor, too).
Photos by Mark Weinberg