Delight's Gluten-Free Blogger of the Week: Elle Kirschenbaum

Here at Delight, we love nothing more than scrolling through a beautifully presented blog full of great gluten-free recipes and cooking tips. So we've started featuring one of our favorite gluten-free bloggers each week! Have a blog you'd like to see featured? Email alexandra@delightglutenfree.com.

Although Elle doesn’t have Celiac disease herself, she did watch her best friend struggle with the disease and decided to help her gluten-free journey. Only Taste Matters is dedicated to all things related to gluten-free baking. Her website features delicious dessert recipes as well as tutorials on how to handle egg whites, create the perfect flour mixture, and tons of tips on basic cake making. Elle is here to show us the proper way to go about the art of baking, and we thank you.

I’ve noticed you have a lot of helpful tips and techniques on your website (which I’m sure everyone appreciates!), what made you create and post those?

All the tips are questions that I have encountered while baking. As I come across a problem, I post the solution. I encourage readers to ask me their concerns as well. I will be more than happy to discover an answer for their baking issues.

How did you come up with these techniques, such as “Egg Whites 101”?

The solutions are all a combination of knowledge I get from classes at a local culinary school and inquiries to professor Google. Whenever I encounter an issue, I enroll in a class that will teach me the techniques I am seeking. Also, there is a lot of knowledge to be gained by reading about others’ solutions. I also highly recommend Shirley Corriher’s book BakeWise. It has been invaluable.

You offer numerous recipes, all for desserts. Why did you decide to focus on this type of food?

I feel dessert is the biggest area affected by going gluten-free. Having experienced a lifetime of digestive issues myself, I know how important it is to feel “normal.” I focus on desserts that people who need to be gluten-free fear they will miss out on. I want to make it clear that is NOT the case.

What is the inspiration for your blog?

My best friend and my father went on gluten-free diets around the same time. Watching them time and again being disappointed in the gluten-free products available, I began to realize there is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to gluten-free baking. I want to dispel the notion that gluten-free is a compromise.

What is one thing that is always in your refrigerator/pantry?

Chocolate Chips. I think that everything is better with chocolate chips. I have been practicing restraint on my blog though, since not everyone shares my belief.

One tip that all gluten-free bakers should know.

Cake is NOT made better by gluten. In fact, it can make it dry. Most traditional cake recipes tell you to mix in the flour only until it is combined. This is because, the more you mix, the more gluten you activate. If you activate too much gluten, the cake will be tough or dry.

So stop trying to replace the gluten in cakes and cookies! You don’t need it and are better off without it.

What do you hope to achieve through your website?

Hopefully, it will change the way people approach gluten-free baking. People need to realize that gluten-free baking cannot be approached as an umbrella. GF cake baking is a different animal than GF bread baking. But once you accept this principle, you realize you can make even better treats with gluten-free flours than you can with wheat flour.

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever

For the cake:

3 cups flour mix A or B
2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon iodized salt
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut or broken into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
3 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Sour Cream Frosting:

2 1/2 sticks SALTED butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
6 to 8 cups confectioner's sugar

To make the cake:

1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of three round 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides with brown or white rice flour.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients and set aside.
Place the chocolate, water and butter in a large heatproof mixing bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. Stir slowly and constantly with a spatula until melted.

3. Remove the bowl from heat and stir a bit to cool the mixture. Then whisk in the vanilla and sour cream until the mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth.
Add the eggs and whisk just enough to combine them.

4. Whisk in the flour mixture in three parts. Whisk each of the three additions until thoroughly combined. Note: You have to be careful not to "over" mix when using wheat flour. If you activate too much gluten, your cake will be tough. However, over mixing is not an issue when you use gluten-free flours. There is no gluten to over activate!

5. Divide the batter equally between the three pans. Bang down each pan a few times to level the batter and burst any air bubbles. Cover each pan tightly with foil. (What!? This is not a roast! I know it seems odd but once you get used to the foreign idea, the result is shocking. The cake is fluffier because it has more time to rise. The foil holds in all of the moisture so the cake stays yummy longer. Usually it is an either/or situation but this method creates both--a light and moist cake. Who thought it was possible?)

6. Bake for 50-65 minutes moving the pans from the lower rack to the upper one and vice versa at the halfway point. Bake until they are well risen and the cake has come away from the sides of the pan. If you press the cake lightly with your finger, it should spring back. Tip: If you are not sure if the cake is done, leave it a little longer. It is better to "over" bake a bit than "under" bake.

7. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on cooling racks. Remove the foil. Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes. Then invert them to remove the pans. Invert them again so they finish cooling right side up. Remove the parchment paper before frosting. Tip: Chocolate cake is always better the second day. The flavors need to meld. I always wait until the next day to frost it.

To make the Sour Cream Frosting:

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a whisk attachment at medium speed for at least two minutes.

2. Add the sour cream and continue to beat until thoroughly combined.

3. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add in the sugar gradually, about a 1 cup at a time.

To assemble:

1. Place your first layer down on a cake round or plate. Spread the top with 1/4 if the frosting.

2. Place the second layer on top of that one and repeat.

3. Turn the third layer upside down and place it on the top. Turning that last layer bottom side up gives the cake a flatter top.

4. Next, you are going to crumb coat the entire cake. Crumb coating is done by all pastry chefs and will give your finished cake a professional look. Basically, it means coating the cake with a thin coat of icing. Then you put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

5. Finally, frost the crumb-coated cake again with the rest of the frosting.

4 comments (Add your own)

1. Diane Cohen wrote:
Congrats. I love your Blog. I always find great recipes and Love your helpful hints.

Thu, February 27, 2014 @ 1:07 PM

2. Pat Lux wrote:
Ellen's website is a delight. Our daughter has found that you can find good options for gluten free, but not in the bread and dessert categories. These recipes and tips are very helpful.

Thu, February 27, 2014 @ 1:28 PM

3. Marc Kirschenbaum wrote:
Awesome blog - lots of innovative (and yummy) approaches to baking!

Sun, March 2, 2014 @ 5:37 PM

4. Betty McAdams wrote:
Ellen's website is refreshing, with fun and easy recipes that non-bakers like me can handle. Even better is that she opted to help people needing gluten free options. Keep up the good work Ellen!

Wed, March 5, 2014 @ 10:54 AM

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