Garden Harvest Cake from the Twilight Zone

    Andrea is one of those girlfriends that you wish you had known your whole life. Aside from being a lovely, compassionate, outgoing woman and a prize-winning quilt artist she is also a very fine cook. She spotted this recipe for Garden Harvest Cake in the local newspaper and baked one with gluten-free flour for me! She and I both pursue delicious and highly nutritious food and while I might never have noticed this recipe her instincts were spot-on.

    The recipe was a Cooking Light contest winner and I determined to make it not only gluten-free but egg-free and dairy-free as well. This turned into a Cinderella loaf that went from good to bad to great as I bumbled through one misstep after another. At the end of the day there was one only piece remaining of what had been a potential disaster.

    Imagine zucchini bread, carrot cake, and apple cake all together in one cinnamon spiced treat. My carefully plotted changes were penciled in the recipe margins. All of the prep was done and the ingredients were combined. Into the pan and into the oven it all went and the timer was set. The loaf smelled wonderful, was browning nicely, and shrinking away from the pan edges just as the timer went off. A cake tester came out barely sticky and residual heat would continue to cook it so I sat it on a hot pad for about 30 minutes before turning out on the cooling rack. It shrank some during cooling but this is a quite common characteristic of gluten-free baked goods. I hovered, none too patiently, waiting for it to cool enough for slicing. I had planned to wrap several slices to take in to share with staff and volunteers at the food pantry.

    OMG! The middle was still gluey batter. A slice was luscious but very wet and difficult to handle. As expensive as gluten-free ingredients are there had to be a way to salvage this glop. Re-bake, yes, biscotti are cut and re-baked so that is what I attempted. Crosscut thick slices were placed single-layer in a baking pan and sent back into the oven. Time ran out so I wrapped the pan like a hot casserole and took off for my shift.

    Can you imagine how hesitant I was to offer this to anyone? Ann, my longtime and only pantry partner thought it looked and smelled good and this certified Southern cook knows good from not so good. When she took a bite and declared that it was the best of my experiments that she had ever tasted it was beginning to feel like I had entered the Twilight Zone. Our organization’s volunteer coordinator gave it a try and declared a timeout on her diet. Word got around the staff and by the end of our shift there was one lonely piece remaining in the pan. And – they all wanted the recipe!

    In the meantime I set out to bake Ricki’s date cake  recipe from her Diet, Dessert, and Dogs blog in a gluten-free version. Trying to head off potential problems at the pass it was allowed to cool in the oven and thus continue baking from residual heat. It was absolutly luscious but more like a really fudgy textured brownie than like a cake. This must be my phase of the zodiac for dense desserts. I’ll post these recipes when my stars shift and confidence returns!



1 Comment »

  1. Ricki said

    That loaf sounds sublime! And thanks for making a GF version of the date cake. It is a very moist cake, yes–perhaps not quite brownie-like, but moist! I’d love to try the GF version. 🙂

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