Out the window burns a luminous horizon, burgeoning with new opportunities on the brink of fruition. Which will evaporate and which will blossom in my grasp, I cannot say, but it’s exciting all the same. Among the not-so-likely is my upcoming trip to India with the husband, contingent upon a travel visa the country does not seem to want to grant me. I will not dwell on it, despite the fact that I’m supposed to be going in less than a month. POSITIVITY! Thy name is ALYA!
Among the more promising excursions into the promised land of the future is my newest endeavor with a local writing group sponsored by our library system. If you know me, you know I would do anything to avoid spotlight on most things, most notably direct attention upon me and my most personal ambition of becoming a novelist. But the husband dragged me kicking and screaming and heart palpitating and hyperventilating I went all the same, and it turned out to be fruitful, full of supportive people of all ages, not any of whom were likely to eat me alive with their carnivorous wit and bloodthirsty critiques.
Another promising activity was my first endeavor into the realm of gluten free experimentation! I honestly have no idea what to do with the flour; I read briefly the additional ingredients one usually needs to really lift up the dough so it isn’t dense or grainy, but… I’m not one for buying too many things unnecessarily that I won’t likely use much at all. I prefer to try out with what I have and then see from there. I had actually bought the gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill variety) because I’ve come to know a few people who either prefer it for personal reasons, or actually have wheat allergies, so this has been on my mind as a possibility for baking.
Something else that crossed my mind was yogurt. Namely, French vanilla organic yogurt that my husband eats every day. I’m not sure why but I wanted to see if there were some way I could use that in a cake recipe to add sweetness and moistness while diminishing some oil/butter and sugar. Again, that lingered and lingered… until I eventually came across a ricotta cake recipe that I somehow morphed into my own chocolate yogurt cake.
To say that it was the best thing ever would be a lie—it had a curious texture, somewhat between a muffin and a brownie. I also recommend not using beautifully shaped cakelet pans when trying something new—I had to guess at the baking time, and the tiered pan shape lent too much surface area for me to unintentionally overbake. Thanksfully not burning occurred, but there was a inor hint of a crust… so stick to a normal cake pan my friends. However, it wasn’t overly chocolate, overly sweet, and when served warm with a dollop of whipped cream, it turned out to be utterly divine! You can of course add more chocolate or sugar, but I enjoyed this exactly as it was, and am not afraid of gluten free flour anymore. Huzzah! More trials and experiments on the horizon! The other aspect I truly enjoyed in this was that while I used another recipe as a foundation/guideline, I changed so many things that this turned out to be my own entirely. Somehow I feel pride in that. And so I share with you my own concoction.
- ¾ cup canola or rice bran oil
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup french vanilla yogurt (or use one cup of vanilla yogurt if you remove the ricotta)
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- 1 2/3 cup gluten free flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your baking dish lightly. The hardest part of this whole recipe might be choosing the right pan, and knowing how long to bake with it.
Anyway, in a bowl sift the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the oil, eggs, ricotta cheese, yogurt and sugar, blending with an electric mixer until velvety smooth. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, folding gently and stirring until perfectly incorporated.
Pour batter into your baking pan. Depending on the size and shape, it will take between 40-50 minutes. I used tiered pans, so I was a little off (not knowing exactly how to account for the narrower portions versus the wider) and my baking for 43 minutes was probably a minute too long. Alas, it is what it is. Still, it wasn’t really overdone, and came actually had a glorious consistency within.
I discovered this was best served warm, with a dollop of whipped cream (read: Sublime!!!). You might sprinkle some powdered sugar, or make a chocolaty glaze.
Another variation includes skipping the cocoa and adding 2 tbsp of lemon or orange juice to make a citrus cake instead. Just vanilla extract to support the French vanilla yogurt, and mixing in some chocolate chips, or chopped nuts… honestly, try something new. See something wild and spectacular on the horizon? Go for it! You might discover gluten free flour isn’t half as frightening as it sounds.