Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Food Ethnography on a Budget: Allergen-Free III: Crumb Cake

My success at allergen-free baking is continuing, as I made what has to be my favorite dish so far from Cybele Pascal's Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook. This dessert, in the book's muffin and coffee cake section, is an amazing crumb cake that achieves the feat of tasting extremely buttery, without a drop of butter.

The dish: Allergen-Free Crumb Cake

As with all of these recipes, there is a wide variety of ingredients I had to incorporate. The good news is that I already had most of them on hand, thanks to the previous recipes for this project. I only had to make a few extra purchases for this project:

  • The one unique ingredient I needed was apple cider vinegar (99 cents). This was used to moisten the cake. My guess is that this mixed with the coconut milk yogurt that is in this recipe to create the buttery taste.
  • I needed a cup of coconut milk yogurt. I just assumed I had enough, until I scooped out the last 1/2 cup from my tub of So Delicious plain coconut milk yogurt. Yes, I needed to race out to get some more, another $3. By the way, I found out later that it's cheaper at Towson's Health Concern by half a dollar.
  • I also needed to load up again on vanilla, $4 for the McCormick brand.
Before committing yourself to this recipe, you must chill a quarter cup of shortening in the fridge. This takes the place of the butter in the crumb topping. You need to cut it with flour and brown sugar. This part is easy enough, though a pastry blender would've been quite useful.

Good and crumbly

The cake part of this crumb cake wasn't terribly different from baking a normal cake except for the allergen-free ingredients, so I won't go into too much detail about how to bake this cake. It was complicated only due to the many things I had to do: mix the egg replacer and rice milk. Mix the coconut milk yogurt and apple cider vinegar. Mix the shortening, flour and liquid ingredients. The only technical problem I had was to bake it for about 15 minutes beyond the 55 listed in the recipe. This was only due to the use of an 8" square pan instead of a 9" one, leading to a thicker cake.

The end result was just what Pascal suggested it would be: an astoundingly moist and buttery crumb cake whose strange brown rice flour flavor was once again overpowered by the butteriness of the yogurt and cider, and the sweetness and crumbliness of the brown sugar. This is a recipe, even more than those delicious brownies that are still moist and delicious after a week (birthday cake and buttermilk π kept me from finishing them yet and I can only eat so much in sweets in one day). This crumb cake is a definite addition to my baking repertoire.

The end result, half-finished because I couldn't wait the extra minute to take the photo

There are still recipes I want to try from Pascal's book. This is a cookbook I may have to add to my collection, since the Baltimore County Public Library is only letting me borrow it. Again, I have no real allergies beyond a mild one to walnuts. But with several persons with autism in my own family, and many family members with Crohn's and colitis-related maladies, recipes that are light on the gluten and other allergens could be helpful. The bread doughs and pizza crust alone are worth the extra time spent with this book, which has given me a very useful insight into what an allergen-free lifestyle can be like.


theminx said...

I feel bad for people with allergies and glad I can eat cake with gluten. :)

Caroline said...

I'm so excited, because I just got a copy of Pascal's book for my birthday and I haven't tried the crumb cake recipe yet. It looks amazing! Hooray for another great way to use my favorite So Delicious coconut milk yogurt. I can't wait to try this! Thank you for sharing.