Posts tagged with cake:

Honey Chiffon Cake



We welcomed the Jewish New Year in a few days ago. This was a special year for us since we could share it with our children for the first time in many years.


At the holiday table you will find many sweet dishes symbolizing our wish for a sweet year ahead.

Among the most traditional of desserts at this time is the honey cake.  This year I made a different version than my other favorite ones which are already posted on the blog.

This year I made a Honey Chiffon Cake. The October issue of Food & Wine magazine featured  this recipe from a new cookbook called The Feast Goes On.

This book is the work of The Monday Morning Cooking Club, a group of six women from Sydney, Australia who have a calling:  to save traditional Jewish cooking, one recipe at a time.

For founding member Lisa Goldberg, the catalyst was the death of her Auntie Myrna, a platinum blonde from Poland who made phenomenal cabbage rolls. 

Ms. Goldberg states, “Our mission is to find all the Auntie Myrna’s in the world and save their recipes before it’s too late.”

For The Feast Goes On, they asked Jewish home cooks from all over  Australia to send in their family heirloom recipes.  They tested and tasted hundreds of recipes, and only unanimous favorites went into the book.

Honey Chiffon Cake (makes one 10-inch cake)

This recipe is an especially light and moist take on the honey cake that Eastern European Jews traditionally eat for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

The cake must be cooled upside down to maintain its distinctive fluffy texture.

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup strong black tea, warm

1 and 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup granulated sugar

6 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup light olive oil

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, stir together the honey and tea; let cool.  In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking soda.  In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer at medium-high speed, beat half of the granulated sugar with the egg yolks until thick and pale, about 2 minutes.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, beating until thickened, then beat in the honey-tea mixture and the dry ingredients in alternating batches.

2.  In another medium bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  While beating, gradually add the remaining granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the batter until no streaks of white remain.  Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch angel food cake pan.  Smooth the top and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is dark golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Immediately invert the cake pan onto a wire rack and let the cake cool completely.

3.  Meanwhile, stir the confectioners’ sugar with the lemon juice, adding 1 teaspoon at a time, to form a thick glaze.  Once the cake has cooled, run a thin knife around the edge to release it from the pan.  Lift out the cake by the central tube.  run a knife between the bottom of the cake and the pan, then transfer the cake to a serving plate.  Drizzle with the lemon glaze.

Make Ahead The cake can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for 1 day before glazing and serving.

Note:  I used a local honey which I purchase at one of the many farmer’s markets here.  It is called Native Wild Sage Honey, (raw and unfiltered) and is amazing!


Sunday Brunch



We have been fortunate to have made so many new friends in the short time we have been calling San Luis Obispo “home”.  

A couple we had met shortly after arriving here last July ( it is really hard to believe we will soon be here one year) joined us for brunch this past Sunday.

We had met them  at a social gathering and she and I immediately realized we shared a passion for all things food related…cooking, baking (her specialty), finding great restaurants, blogging, etc.  She even hosted a food related radio show for many years here in SLO.

Sunday Brunch is one of my favorite ways to entertain because it is undeniably more relaxing for the guests as well as the host.

Many dishes and baked goods are easily prepared ahead, and lend themselves to being served buffet style, eliminating any last minute stoveside cooking frenzy.

The house was filled with sunlight,  a gentle breeze entered through the open windows and doors leading to the deck where my flowers were providing a colorful display.   (All that garden work does pay off)!


The best part is everyone is content to just linger at the table with more coffee and cake telling stories since the whole day lies ahead.  A beautiful start to the week!

Here are the cast of characters for my Sunday Brunch



Chilled Gazpacho  (a beautiful bouquet of roses from our guest’s garden)




and Lox


Roasted Honey Smoked Salmon…(Costco!)


Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Onions, and Olives


And something sweet…The Best Coffee Cake. Ever.


French Pear Tart


Nancy Silverton’s Bran Muffins


Angel Food Cake (Gluten-Free)


We are starting to feel “at home” in our new home. 

One of the things we love doing is entertaining friends at home,  and for me that means food is going to be involved via brunch, lunch or dinner.

This afternoon we had friends for lunch. 

We had met this great couple when we were still living in the hotel.  When we moved here last July we had thought we would be in the hotel for a month or 2 at the most.  When we realized it was going to be much longer I began looking for a rental with extended availability, (not to mention I REALLY needed a kitchen…I can only tolerate so many breakfast buffets…need I say more?)

We were fortunate to find a lovely one bedroom rental walking distance to downtown, with a cute little kitchen that had all the basics one might need. And there was a six week availability! 

The owners were our guests for lunch this afternoon, and we were thrilled to be able to show them the house, but more importantly, share lunch and conversation with them at the table.

They had been so welcoming and accommodating during our time there that it made the stress of moving and construction delays somewhat tolerable.  They filled us in on where to go and what to do in our new “hometown”, and for the first time we began to feel what it would be like to live downtown.

Because one of them has recently gone on a gluten and dairy free diet I prepared a gluten and dairy free lunch.  With a little forethought and planning it really isn’t hard to do.

We started out with tortilla chips and salsa and home made guacamole.

For lunch we had grilled chicken teriyaki, my favorite potato salad, and a beautiful green salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

But when it came to dessert I had to give it a bit more thought, and this is what I came up with. 

Angel Food Cake (Gluten-Free) with assorted berries and raspberry sorbet


(For a gluten-free and dairy-free dessert substitute sorbet for the whipped cream!)

Here is the recipe for the cake from the King Arthur’s Flour website.

Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake

  • 3/4 cup King Arthur’s all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup Baker’s Special Sugar** or superfine sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites (10 to 11 large eggs, separated, yolks discarded or reserved for another use)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract or Fiori di Sicilia, optional
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Baker’s Special Sugar** or superfine sugar

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the oven rack in its lowest position.

2) Whisk together and then sift the flour, cornstarch, and 3/4 cup sugar. Set aside.

3) In a large, clean (grease-free) mixing bowl, beat together the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until foamy.

4) Add the flavorings. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer and continue beating until the egg whites have increased in volume, and thickened.

5) Gradually beat in the 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, a bit at a time, until the meringue holds soft peaks.

6) Gently fold in the sifted flour/sugar blend ¼ cup at a time, just until incorporated.

7) Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10” round angel food pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter and remove any large air bubbles.

8) Bake the cake until it’s a deep golden brown, and the top springs back when pressed lightly, about 45 minutes.

9) Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan onto the neck of a heatproof bottle or funnel, to suspend the cake upside down as it sets and cools, about 2 hours.

10) Remove the cake from the pan by running a thin spatula or knife around the edges of the pan, and turning the cake out onto a plate.

11) Cut the cake with a serrated knife or angel food cake comb. If it’s difficult to cut, wet the knife and wipe it clean between slices.

12) Serve with whipped cream and fruit. Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature.

Yield: one 10” cake, about 12 to 16 servings.

My First Dinner Party In Our New Home



Moving to a new home especially when it is far from your old home brings with it many firsts.  And we recently had some new friends over for our first dinner party here. 

For me, setting the table for a special dinner is fun.  I love to mix and match and see how I can reinvent items by using them in a different way, sometimes with something new added to the mix.

My Provencal tablecloth designed with olive branches which I have had for years was perfect for my Greek themed dinner.

I had picked up the napkins on sale at Anthropology  recently, knowing one day they would come in handy.  I can’t resist a really good buy!

The salad plates were part of a very old set of dishes which belonged to my husband’s grandmother, and I love the contrast between those and my contemporary white everyday dishes.

I kept it simple with three small glass bud vases each filled with a couple of olive branches plucked from my newly planted olive shrub on the deck. 


I lined them down the center of the table, and five clear glass votives holding white candles illuminated the table.

There is nothing that makes a table look prettier than candlelight, and I regret not taking a photo once they were lit.

The menu included some of my favorite Greek dishes.

We enjoyed appetizers on the deck.


Homemade tabbouleh , a red pepper, eggplant and garlic spread from Trader Joe’s, assorted olives, and Marcona almonds kept us happy til dinner was ready.  Tabbouleh recipe to follow on an upcoming blog.

A delicious Greek salad was brought by one of our guests. 

After which we dined on my Greek Chicken and Potatoes, grilled lamb chops, Greek Style Green Beans with Tomatoes.  Homemade Tzatziki with grilled pita rounded out our meal. 

You can find most of these recipes on my Greek Dinner post, with the exception of the Tzatziki recipe so here it is…

Tzatziki- Cucumber Yogurt Dip (adapted from Lynn Livanos Athan, Guide)


Cool and creamy, this tangy cucumber dip flavored with garlic is the perfect complement to grilled meats and vegetables.  It can be served on the side with warm pita bread triangles for dipping, and is also used as a condiment for souvlaki.


3 -4 garlic cloves, minced finely

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup Greek yogurt, strained

1 cup sour cream

2-3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced (I prefer Persian cucumbers)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar


Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Mix well until combined.  Using a whisk, blend the yogurt with the sour cream.  Add the olive oil mixture to the yogurt mixture and mix well.  Finally, add the cucumber and chopped fresh dill. 



Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh dill just before serving.

Recipe can be doubled or tripled if you wish.

For dessert, knowing that carrot cake was a favorite of some of our guests, I parted from the Greek theme, and baked a good old-fashioned Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting which was a real hit!

You can find the recipe here.



When the evening was over everyone went home with a full belly,  a goody bag of Tzatziki , and an extra slice of cake.

I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Yom Kippur Eve Dinner for Two


A couple nights ago was Yom Kippur Eve on the Jewish calendar.

Yom Kippur literally means “Day of Atonement.”  It is traditionally a day devoted to repenting and reflecting on one’s sins committed in the past year.

Yom Kippur marks the end of the 10 day period that begins with the Jewish New Year on Rosh Hashanah. It is a time of introspection and a day of fasting.

As a result the dinner the evening before has special significance and the meal usually consists of traditional holiday foods.

We were on the east coast this year during Rosh Hashanah so we were fortunate to have a holiday dinner with our aunt whose home we stayed at that evening before leaving for the wedding a few days later.

It was a lovely dinner and while we were happy and grateful to be among family, the holiday seems very different to us this year.

Having moved to the west coast, but still not settled in our home, and having been back on the east coast again, but not in the home we celebrated the holidays in for the past 25 years, was especially bittersweet.

For me, shopping and cooking for the Jewish holidays has always been an important part of the New Year.

The smells, sights and sounds that occur within those hallowed walls of the kitchen are part of me…from growing up watching my dear mother in her kitchen (my mom is always so close to my heart, but even more so at this time of the year), and then from a lifetime of preparing meals for the holidays in my own kitchen in our various homes.

So now that we were back in SLO for Yom Kippur, and challenging as my current kitchen is for preparing  a holiday meal, I couldn’t wait to begin.

It was just a Yom Kippur Eve Dinner for Two, but as I was cooking that afternoon, all the holiday smells, sights and sounds that I remember were in full force, and as I prepared recipes from my mother, and my husband’s grandmother I felt the warmth and love that is tradition.

With the limited kitchen equipment in mind I chose the following menu:

Bottle of Chardonnay (complements of the owner of our rental, which we found in our fridge upon our return from our trip)


Freshly baked challah (not by me, and thanks to my husband for finding one) drizzled with honey symbolic of our wish for a sweet year ahead

Store-bought gefilte fish with crudités
(Memories of my grandmother’s homemade gefilte fish… watching her chop the fish in her wooden bowl)


Roast turkey breast for me (leftovers for sandwiches for the week) and 2 turkey drumsticks for my husband

Turkey Gravy

Mom’s Apple Noodle Kugel (instead of the regular egg noodles I substituted a package of TJ’s pappardelle egg noodles that I already had, and they worked perfectly)

Baby Carrots  in a Buttery Brown Sugar Glaze

Mom Min’s Farfel with Mushrooms and Onions (recipe below)

Jelled Cranberry Sauce


And for dessert…

A variation of my Mom’s Passover Lemon Sponge Cake served with nectarine slices


Mom Min’s Farfel with Mushrooms and Onions (my version of what we remember)

One 12 ounce package of Manischewitz Barley Shaped Egg Noodles

8 ounces fresh white button mushrooms, chopped

Half of a large sweet onion, diced

2- 3 tablespoons salted butter

About 2 cups chicken broth

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Cook Farfel according to package directions, not more than 8 minutes.

In a medium skillet sauté diced onions in the butter till translucent.

Add the chopped  mushrooms, and cook til browned a bit.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add chicken broth and stir well.

Add the mushroom and onion mixture to the drained Farfel.

Cover and keep warm on top of the stove or put in a buttered covered casserole in a 325 degree oven to keep warm.

When ready to serve add some gravy and stir to combine.

A few notes about the Lemon Sponge Cake…

Since  I didn’t have a tube pan here, but did have a layer cake pan that is what I used.

I also used flour instead of the potato starch I prefer.

Both of those changes produced a more dense cake than the lighter version baked in a 10 inch tube pan, but truly delicious nonetheless.

Without an electric mixer here I had to whip the egg whites, which are the only leavening agent in this batter,with a wire whisk.


When I first came home from shopping I had to look around to see if there even was a whisk here.  There was, but far from a professional one so I knew I would have to be careful not to break it.

With all the desserts I have made over the years I had never whisked egg whites by hand… with the Kitchen Aid within easy reach, why would I?

All I can say is I have a new respect for chefs who seemingly can easily whip that gelatinous mixture into stiff peaks before your very eyes.

Those who know me know I will persevere when the going gets tough, and though my arms were telling me to stop I refused to quit until those snow white peaks surfaced.

And finally they did!  And I was never so proud!  And I did it with the handicap of a flimsy whisk and a plastic bowl!

So I pulled together a wonderful holiday meal for us, and at the same time was able to master a new culinary skill!

Happy and Healthy New Year to all!

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting


I was especially excited this past Father’s Day to have my brother and his family from New York with us.  For dessert I made one of his favorites…

our Mom’s Banana Sour Cream  Cake with this Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting which I discovered online searching for a better peanut butter frosting than what I usually make.

 And this was it…here’s the link to the  video on how to make it…

It’s a keeper!

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting (

Original recipe makes 2 cups

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons milk, or as needed

2 cups confectioners’ sugar


Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer.  Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable.  Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy.

If you double the recipe any leftover frosting freezes well.

Strawberries and Cream Spectacular




Strawberries and Cream Spectacular!  This recipe comes from the Time Life Series of Books called The Good Cook/Techniques and Recipes published in 1981.  I had the entire collection in those days,  and through the years I have donated many and  sold some at yard sales, but this particular one simply called Cakes remains on my shelf.  

It is a great resource for anyone who loves baking cakes as I do.  This particular cake is one that I love and continue to make today. I have made it for many special occasions, including a bridal shower for my best friend’s daughter a few years after we had moved here.

It is a great springtime cake and I served it at the brunch we had a week ago. 

Now I’ll confess I use a pastry bag and tip to decorate occasionally, but my skills are from from that of a professional. 

Somehow with this cake even if you stray as I do from using 3 different tips as the recipe suggests, this cake always ends up looking yummy and tasting yummier.

And, if you don’t run out of whipped cream as I did this time, you can also pipe rosettes around the bottom edge of the cake for a more finished look.

But you know what,  nobody said, “Hey, where are the rosettes?”

The cake itself is light as a feather with just enough lemon flavoring that complements the ripe strawberries and vanilla flavored whipped cream.

May is around the corner and with it strawberry season, so find an occasion and do make this delicious spectacular cake.

Strawberries and Cream Spectacular

(The Good Cook, Cakes from the Time Life series, Elise W. Manning, Farm Journal’s complete home Baking Book)

 To make one 9-inch cake

2 and 1/2 cups cake flour

1 and 2/3 cups sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 and 1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 egg yolks

4 cups strawberries

2 cups heavy cream, whipped with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup red currant jelly

Sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.  Add the shortening and half of the milk.  Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for two minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.

Add the remaining milk, the lemon extract, the vanilla extract and the egg yolks.  Beat with the electric mixer for another two minutes.


Pour the batter into two buttered layer-cake pans that have been lined with parchment paper.


Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centers of the layers comes out clean.

Cool the layers in their pan for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto wire racks.



While the cake is cooling, wash and hull the strawberries.  Chop enough strawberries to make one cup; reserve the remaining berries.  Fold the chopped strawberries into one cup of the whipped cream. 

Place one cake layer, top side down, on a serving plate.  Spread it with the strawberry-cream filling.


Top with the second cake layer, top side up.


Slice the reserved strawberries lengthwise.  Arrange the sliced strawberries on top of the cake, starting at the outer edge and placing the slices with their pointed ends toward the edge of the cake.

After the first circle of berries is completed, continue placing the strawberries in this manner until the top is covered.


Refrigerate the cake for 10 minutes.

Melt the red currant jelly in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.  Carefully spoon or brush the hot jelly over the strawberries


Spread some of the remaining whipped cream around the sides of the cake.

Spoon the rest of the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a No. 190 drop flower tube.  Pipe rosettes between the strawberry points around the rim of the cake.  then change to a No.24 star tube and fill in the spaces.  Finally, change to a No. 71 leaf tube, and piupe a border around the bottom edge of the cake.

If you do not wish to decorate the cake with  decorating tips, spoon the remaining cream in small puffs on the top of the cake between the strawberries. 


Refrigerate the cake until time to serve it.

Passover Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll with Raspberries and Cream



In addition to the Passover Lemon Cheesecake which I made this year I also took this Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll with Raspberries and Cream to the seder at our aunt’s home.

I am not a chocoholic by any means ( I usually prefer desserts without chocolate with a few exceptions), but i know that for many people it is not dessert if it’s not chocolate. So I always like to include something with chocolate when there are several desserts at a holiday meal.

This recipe is an adaptation of a lemon sponge cake roll I have made numerous times at Passover. (See the post from April 2011) .  

Instead of the lemon juice and zest I added cocoa powder and vanilla extract, filled it with some fresh raspberries and whipped cream, and covered it in with a chocolate frosting.

Passover Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll with Raspberries and Cream

(serves 8 to 10)

For the cake roll

1/2 cup sifted Passover cake meal

1/2 cup potato starch

6 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a 10”x 15” rimmed baking sheet with buttered parchment paper.

Sift together cake meal, potato starch, and cocoa powder and set aside.


 Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and lemon colored. 

Gradually add the dry ingredients, stirring to make a thick batter.

Add the vanilla extract and mix well.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff but not dry.  Fold very gently into the batter.

Turn into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Test with cake tester, or press gently with finger to see if cake bounces back.

Remove from then oven and turn onto a lightly sugared towel.  Gently remove parchment paper. image

Roll up with the towel while warm and let cool completely on a rack.

When cool, carefully unroll and spread the whipped cream, dot with the raspberries.  Reroll and place onto serving plate.

Cover with the chocolate frosting.  Garnish with extra raspberries.

Whipped cream filling

1/2 cup heavy cream for whipping

1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Whip cream and sugar with whisk attachment in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. 

3/4 cup fresh raspberries, (sweetened with 1 tablespoon sugar, optional)

Chocolate frosting

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

1 and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 to 4 Tablespoons hot water

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Blend sugar with melted butter, vanilla, and chocolate.  Stir in hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until proper consistency.


The Best Coffee Cake. Ever.




I wake up early every day, whether I need to or not.  That’s just my body clock. 

But I can’t really start the day until I’ve had my second cup of coffee.  I love my coffee, and have since I began drinking it in college.

(I’m so thrilled that the recent health pundits have been touting the benefits of caffeine!  Whew!!!)

Although I do love croissants, muffins, scones, danish pastries (especially cheese), and all kinds of coffee cakes along with a cup of coffee I really try to avoid them and have something healthier for breakfast.  

Although I may cave later in the day I can get through breakfast most days without succumbing to those high carb sugary cravings.

Not so this past Sunday morning.  For some time now I have had visions of sugarplums in the form of coffeecakes dancing in my head. 

And this Sunday I adamantly announced to my husband that I was making a coffee cake for breakfast! That’s it…just coffee cake, my coffee, and the Sunday paper, and I would savor it guilt free.

I found the perfect coffee cake to accomplish this.  It is from Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman’s blog.

It is called The Best Coffee Cake.  Ever.
And it is.        

See for yourself.

Just don’t make a habit of it.

The Best Coffee Cake.  Ever.  (from The Pioneer Woman’s Blog)

(16 servings)


For the Cake:

1 and 1/2 stick butter, softened (I used unsalted)

2 cups scant sugar

3 cups, flour, sifted

4 teaspoons powder

1 teaspoon salt  (I used kosher salt)

1 and 1 and 1/4 cup whole milk  (didn’t have whole milk so I used 1 cup non-fat milk and 1/4 cup half and half.  It worked)

3 whole egg whites, beaten until stiff

For the Topping:

1 and 1/2 stick butter, softened (unsalted, again)

3/4 cups flour

1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar ( I used light brown, dark brown would be okay, too)

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 and 1/2 cups pecans, chopped



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg whites and set aside.


Cream butter and sugar.  Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined.  Don’t overbeat.


Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula.


Spread in a well-greased 9x13 baking pan.  A cake pan with higher sides would be best.


In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry cutter until  crumbly. 



Sprinkle all over the top.


Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until no longer jiggly.  Serve warm.  Delicious!


A Gluten Free Chocolate Birthday Cake


Our good friends from our “Chicago Days” who now live in Rhode Island spent the night with us on their way down to Florida yesterday.  It was so wonderful to spend some time with them. 

They were a  part of a close knit group of friends we had who, like us, were all transplanted to the Windy City from the east coast in the 70’s. We were all beginning our own families at this time, and before long we became family to each other filling the void that living far from one’s roots can create.

So we celebrated holidays and birthdays together, formed a gourmet club, had play dates for our kids, went apple picking, pumpkin picking, and strawberry picking, and the dads even took the kids on camping trips (without the moms).

As is life, eventually we all found ourselves relocating, many of us back to the east coast, but all to different cities.

But those were days we cherish, and no doubt the memories of those good times for our children (now adults, and some with their own children), have impacted their lives.

As luck would have it,  it was also my husband’s birthday yesterday, and what better way to spend it than with good friends!

I made a birthday dinner of Greek Chicken and Potatoes, Greek Style Green Beans and Tomatoes, and a Greek Salad, all of which was gluten free as our friend must adhere to this diet. 




While dinner was not challenging at all, I was not so confident about making my husband’s favorite chocolate birthday cake with a gluten free twist. 

I confess I have never made a gluten free cake other than the sponge cakes I make at Passover which are gluten free by nature since I only use potato starch in them, and an occasional flourless chocolate cake.

But I wanted this to be a real birthday cake, 2 layers with a special filling between the layers, and a decadently rich chocolate glaze. 

When I found a bag of gluten free flour at Trader Joe’s I thought I just might be able to pull off a gluten free birthday cake worth celebrating.


  I decided to follow the recipe for my chocolate cake, substituting the gluten free flour for the cake flour called for. 

A Chocolate Cake That’s Got It All

Butter, for coating cake pans

2 cups sugar

1 and 3/4 cups cake flour      1 and 3/4 cups gluten free flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch process

1 teaspoon instant coffee ( I used instant espresso powder)

3/4 cup boiling water

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

14 tablespoons (13/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, but not hot

2 (8-inch) cake pans


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously grease the cake pans with butter and dust with flour.  (I prefer to line the bottom of the pans with buttered parchment as well to prevent any sticking).

Whisk sugar, flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

Place cocoa and coffee in a medium bowl.  Whisk in 3/4 cup boiling water to form a smooth paste.  Stir in sour cream and vanilla and set aside.

With a hand  or electric mixer in  medium bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks.  Without cleaning the beaters, mix melted butter into dry ingredients until mixture is smooth.  Immediately add cocoa mixture, and beat until batter is smooth, 2-3 minutes.  Carefully fold egg whites into batter until just incorporated.

Divide batter evenly between pans and bake until a skewer inserted into center comes out with wet crumbs, 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven, and let cakes sit in pans to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.  Invert each cake onto a plate, then onto a cooling rack. 

For the filling I whipped up some heavy cream into which  I folded some frozen (partially thawed) raspberries, making it a pretty shade of pink, and then covered the whole cake with a rich chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Fudge Glaze

1/4 cup (60ml) water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 ounces (170g) sweet cooking chocolate, broken into pieces

1/2 cup confectioners, sugar (2 ounces, 55g)

1 and 1/2 tablespoons dark rum (or Chambord Liqueur)

Pinch of salt

Bring water and butter to boil in a small saucepan.  Keep at simmer until needed.

Metal Blade:  Pulse the chocolate with confectioners’ sugar 5 times, then process continuously until chocolate is as fine as sugar.  With machine running, pour water and butter through the feed tube and process until chocolate is melted, stopping once to scrape the work bowl.  Add the rum or Chambord and salt and process for 5 seconds.

With the remaining glaze (I made 1 and 1/2 x the recipe) I decorated the top of the cake with a pastry tip.  Allow the glaze to chill a bit to thicken it enough to do this.

Some raspberries for the finishing touch, and I would say it was a delicious success!

And by what was left I think you might agree.

I’m now a believer that gluten free doesn’t have to be taste free!