E ver since I went gluten free, baking - a once beloved passion - became something I feared. I hate working hard for nothing and that’s exactly what seemed to be happening. All my muffins were bricks, all my pancakes until recent were rubbery disks, and my biscuits were ghost puffs. I hated baking. I hated the taste of beans from bean flour or the texture of starchy flours.
But I wasn’t about to surrender. I was determined to create a gluten free product that looked and tasted like a real flour-made cake. Today was that day. Today was the beginning of many more to come.
Last week I ordered two cookbooks, one full of Indian recipes and the other of classic Scandanavian recipes. The latter one came in the mail today. So as I sipped my cup of tea after lunch, I scanned a few of the cake recipes noting that a few of them comprised of mostly cornstarch. Well, cornstarch is gluten free - duh. The urge to bake began to kindle. I settled for a recipe that seemed pretty simple, effortless, and tasty. My grandmother and I often snack at night on fruit and my baking experiments. So far, I produced a pretty decent muffin but I had yet to make a cake-cake. In fact, my birthday is coming up so I would like a decent cake for my birthday.
Adaptable, was this recipe, and coincidentally of Scandinavian origins; Danish to be technical. The cake is supposed to be dry, like a coffee cake, and grainy which is why the name is Danish Sand Cake. Mine, however, didn’t come out sandy since the starches blended oh so perfectly to produce a beautiful sponge texture. I felt like a child at Christmas while it baked. It rose - a feat uncommon as of late - in the oven much to my delight and I kept running back and forth to assure I wasn’t dreaming. It came out golden but a little crusty. Then I remembered it’s supposed to be dry. Okay, I was satisfied for the while. When the time came to cut it - I again squealed with delight. The texture within was supple and cranial, nearly reciprocating the feel of a sponge cake.
I couldn’t believe it. I made a cake. I actually made a cake that had the appearance, godsend aroma, and taste just like a real cake - rich and buttery! By God, I can bake again and I can thank my heritage for that. Scandanavia is known for its many, many, many varieties of cookies, cakes, and pastries. Since I had much success with this little wonder, oh I’m going to be experimenting like crazy - especially come Christmas time. Can you imagine a basket full of GF cookies?!
The book states that this cake keeps well so I sliced it into twelve pieces, wrapped it in plastic wrap, placed it in a freezer bag and stored it in the freezer. I’m pretty sure the texture shouldn’t change; GF baked goods that are of sturdy character should be stored in the freezer as they tend to get stale quicker than non-GF goods. I also did some adapting to make it dairy free, soy free, sugar free, low fat, and low cholesterol. The fruit puree takes the place of part of the margarine, lowering the fat. You can replace this with equal amounts of pumpkin, yogurt, or sour cream to compensate in equal amounts. Being made of pure starch, it does need something to give it color so try to leave some margarine in the recipe. The fruit I used, actually, was jackfruit because its all what I had around that I wasn’t using. Also, since I didn’t have brandy, I thought that the flavor would be reciprocated because, to me, the acidity in the jackfruit tasted near fermentation quality. This is why jackfruit is also known to have a very pungent odor but that didn’t effect the cake nor aroma while baking. In fact, it actually enhanced the rum extract flavor and probably mimicked that of a real Danish Sand Cake.
Feel free to experiment and stay tuned for more Scandinavian baked goods!
Sandkage -Danish Sand Cake
½ cup cornstarch
½ cup arrowroot starch
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ cup potato starch
1/3 cup garbanzo flour
2 tbsp quinoa flakes
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp xanthan gum
¾ cup sugar substitute or sugar
¾ cup margarine, soften at room temperature
¼ cup fruit puree
6 eggs or egg equivalent
2 tsp lemon juice or 1 tsp extract
1 tsp rum extract or 1 tbsp brandy
1 tsp of vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs one at a time on a medium speed. Add the fruit puree, extracts, and salt. Turn down the speed so that you don’t get a snow shower while you then add the cornstarch and arrowroot followed by the tapioca flour, potato starch, garbanzo flour, quinoa flakes, baking powder and xanthan gum. Mix well.
Spray all angles of a 9-inch tube pan and pour the batter into the pan. Let this sit for five to ten minutes.
Bake for 40 minutes or so. Keep watch since every oven varies in temperature and the starches easily burn. Test after 30 with a toothpick but I had to bake it for an extra ten.
After done, set on a cooling rack to cool then cut. Traditionally it is simply served with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar but I also think a nice fruit compote of lingonberries or apricot would suit it just fine with a lovely cup of hot coffee.