Today: Why a scale will set you free in the kitchen -- and the lightly sweet fall cake that proves it.
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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.
Shauna writes about food. Danny cooks it.
We grow excited every Saturday morning to go to the farmers' market. This time of year, a Billy Allstot tomato is enough to make us look like goons at the stand, jumping up and down with excitement. We will eat one slice with sea salt, standing over the sink. Another goes to our baby daughter. The rest might go into the smoker to make smoked tomato salsa, or thrown together with watermelon and good olive oil for a watermelon gazpacho, or stacked with smoked salmon and drizzled with horseradish sour cream.
Every day is new. I have no idea what we're having for dinner tonight. But I'm sure interested to find out.