Wheat & Gluten-Free: Serious Consideration

Coconut-Chocolate Gluten-Free Pound Cake

Okay, I’ve been reading and listening to discussions about wheat and its connection to neuron damage.  Neuron damage is not easily detected and involves a slow degenerative process that may have a connection to Alzheimer’s disease.

We know that excessive consumption of sugar and flour (includes pasta, rice, fruits and high glycemic vegetables) leads to many diseases that make themselves known via signals from the body, however diseases of the brain are often revealed more subtly.

I have been a bread lover from way back and recently have been noticing incidences of brain fog.

A book titled, Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter, discusses the connection between wheat and the onset of Alzheimer’s due to the damage that a diet containing an excess of gluten has on neuron cells.

Damage to neurons is very serious as they are not easily replaced.  And oftentimes we cannot “feel” this damage physically until too late.

The chemistry of the body is very complex which is why we are fed easy-to-understand concepts such as low-fat diets being beneficial for optimum health.

My investigation continues…

It’s time to take gluten free/wheat free baking in a more determined direction.

I baked this cake using an original recipe from Bon Appetit.com.  It calls for white flour.  I was unsatisfied with the result as it was way too light to be considered a “pound cake”.  I re-baked it and added cream cheese and a gluten-free flour mixture and the result was much closer to a pound cake consistency.

Here’s the recipe.

Coconut-Chocolate Gluten-Free Pound Cake

Ingredients

Creaming
4 T butter, softened
½ C coconut oil, softened
4 T cream cheese
1 ¼ C sugar

2 eggs
1 t vanilla

Dry
Gluten-free Flour Mix
½ C brown rice flour
½ C white rice flour
¼ C tapioca starch
¼ C almond flour
1 t guar gum

1 t salt
¾ t baking powder (gluten-free)
½ C unsweetened cocoa powder

Wet
1/3 C plain yogurt
1/3 C milk

Topping
¼ C sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes

Process:  combine your flours and all other dry ingredients and mix well then set aside; combine the yogurt and milk and mix well; cream the butter, oil, cream cheese and sugar until fluffy; add the eggs and vanilla and continue to mix for another 3 minutes; add the dry and wet mixtures to the creamed mixture and mix well (no gluten to overwork in this recipe, okay to mix); pour batter into prepared pan; add the coconut flakes evenly over the top of the batter and bake at 325F for about 40 minutes or when cake tester comes out clean.

Notes:  I have baked this again since writing this post and added 1 teaspoon of freeze-dried coffee to the dry ingredients and used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour ready mixed baking flour.  The result was improved further!

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Plethora of Ricotta

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake

What do you do when ricotta is on sale, even if you cook for one and the size that’s on sale is the “family size”, 32 ounce?

Buy it and bake cakes with it, that’s what!

Trying my hardest to steer away from flour/butter/sugar, that’s why I decided not to bake a cake for my recent birthday and went with fresh tarts (which by the way also include flour/butter/sugar).  I was craving cake because I skipped cake – go figure!

Found a few recipes for a coffee cake which contained less sugar but decided on this Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake, of all choices.

Straight from the oven, I immediately sliced it and doled it out to friends and neighbors.  I actually stored a big piece in the freezer; it’s in there now.  Out of sight, out of mind – well, maybe.

I used this recipe from a fellow food blogger, Alexandra Cooks making slight changes:  used 2 eggs, used ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt, and used 1 cup of ricotta.  Really easy recipe with buttery, moist results!  So good, really!

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese (I used 1 cup of part-skim)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup Greek yogurt, plain

Process

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9x5x3” loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans and line bottom with parchment.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend.

Using a mixer, cream the butter, ricotta and granulated sugar until blended, it’s ok if there are some visible pieces of butter/cheese. In other words, the batter will not look entirely smooth. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, zest and lemon juice until combined. Add the dry ingredients, careful to just combine and not over mix.

Add to pans and bake for about 40 minutes; test with a skewer or toothpick for doneness.

**Note:  a couple of changes I would make – cream the butter and sugar first for about 5 minutes then add the remaining wet ingredients; I would also use 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of sugar instead of 1 and 1/2.  I do plan to bake this again as it is so easy and results are great!