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Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
AKA Let Me Eat Cake

A few years ago, a fashion designer made a canvas handbag emblazoned with the words “Eat Cake for Breakfast.” Really? It seemed so targeted toward those ladies who only saw Sex and the City for the first time in syndication on basic cable and thought they were so cool drinking cosmos at girls’ night in some strip-mall chain restaurant, deciding who was the Carrie and who was the Samantha. I used to roll my eyes at women who carried that bag … until I ate the first piece of my new and improved gluten-free carrot cake. Now I get it, people. I won’t carry that bag, but I will unapologetically eat this cake for breakfast. You should too.

I’ve been making gluten-free carrot cake for years. And it was fine. Good, actually. It was sweet and rich and delicious, and everybody said it tasted “just like regular carrot cake.”

But as I was getting ready to bake this cake a few weeks ago, it hit me: Tasting “just like regular carrot cake” wasn’t really a compliment. Why? Well — confession time — I didn’t really love regular carrot cake, and my original gluten-free version was fine. But what if I made it even better than regular carrot cake? What could I add? How could I tweak it? And somewhere along the away my brain said, “Stop.” It wasn’t about adding a new flavor dimension or anything like that. It was stripping things away. I thought about what I dislike about carrot cake: It’s too sweet, there’s always too much cinnamon, I’m not really a fan of raisins, and walnuts are good in some things, but I don’t like them in carrot cake. Never have, never will.

So I cut way back on the sugar in this recipe. Eliminated raisins and nuts. Dialed back the spices. Made the frosting less sweet and gave it a tangier flavor to help balance the natural carrot-y sweetness of the cake. And you know what? It’s good. Really, really good. It’s cake you can have for dessert, or an afternoon snack with a cup of tea, or — and I kind of hate myself for saying this — for breakfast.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Recipe

Carrot Cake
People have very strong opinions about carrot cake; they either love it or they hate it. This gluten-free version is one you will love for a long, long time. There’s less sugar, more carrot and none of the distracting ingredients like raisins or nuts, just a smart blend of flours that help prop up the carrots’ natural sweet, vegetal taste. The lime zest in the frosting has a complementary tang to the sweet cake. This one’s a keeper. Note: It will keep, covered, at room temperature for three days.

Total Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: One 8-inch round, two-layer carrot cake
Level: Easy

Ingredients

For the Cake
1 cup oat flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sweet rice flour (mochiko)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups peeled, grated or shredded carrots (about 4-5 large carrots)
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

For the Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
The juice and zest of one lime

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together oat flour, brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.

In a separate mixing bowl — preferable a stand mixer — on medium speed, beat together the vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until the mixture is creamy and combined. Add the flour mixture a cup at a time (with the mixer off so you don’t blow it all over the place) and beat on medium-high speed until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula as needed. Add the carrots and coconut, and beat on low speed for about 15 seconds, until fully combined.

Pour batter evenly into both pans. You may need to use the back of a spoon to ensure it spreads evenly across the pan. Bake for 45 minutes on the center rack of the oven.

Place baked cake pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife or offset spatula around the edges to loosen the cake, then gently invert them onto the cooking rack for another 30 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and butter until fully blended. With the mixer stopped, add the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed until fully mixed in. Add the vanilla extract, orange blossom water, and lime juice and zest, and beat on high speed for 30 seconds.

To frost the cake, place one cake layer on a cake plate or serving platter. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of frosting on top, covering the surface completely. Place the second layer on top, and frost the top and sides of the cake until covered completely.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Recipe

NYC Finally Gets An All-Eclair Bakery

The humble, cream-filled eclair is one of the most delicious treats available at your garden-variety bakery. However, what if the eclair got too big for its britches and decided to expel all of the other baked goods? Then you’d get Les Jardins de la Duchesse, New York City’s all-eclair bakery.

NYC’s Lower East Side will play home to all manner of cream-filled delicacy once this bad boy opens, from your classic Valrhona chocolate-topped standard to more unusual eclairs. The bakery will even feature savory items, including curry chicken eclairs and salmon and cream cheese eclairs. 

In case you were wondering if the beverage selection contained only eclair smoothies, the bakery will offer a full range of coffee drinks and even hot white chocolate.

Bonus: Homemade Eclairs Recipe

Cookbook Giveaway: Camille Styles Entertaining


If you’re familiar with our Party in Five series, in which we share clever ideas for themed and everyday-occasion parties that can be pulled off with just five essential “ingredients,” then you know the woman behind the celebrations: Camille Styles. Together with her talented editorial team, Camille produces these fun, funky and functional affairs, and she shares her tips for entertaining with ease. Some of our faves? A football game-day fete, a fabulous fiesta, a DIY dim sum party, a pizza grilling gathering and the OG: a beer-tasting bash.

On her website, Camille further demonstrates her hostessing prowess with recipes, beautiful photos, and tips written by both herself and a network of contributors. And now, five years after launching her site, Camille has written a brand-new book (on sale this week), Camille Styles Entertaining, in which she shares ideas for dining, decorating, cooking and generally dominating life, season by season.

As we approach Thanksgiving or consider hunkering down with bowls of butternut squash soup at cozy fall dinners, I asked Camille to share with us her top tips for setting a fall table, so your environment will look as good as your food tastes.

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Creepy Cocktails to Pair with Your Favorite Halloween Candy

Black Devil Martini

The best Halloween parties have three things in common: killer costumes, candy galore and plenty of cocktails to keep things interesting.

Before you go mixing up a truly spooky jungle juice, try these bewitching candy and cocktail pairings.

Pair Almond Joy with a Black Devil Martini

A simple mix of spiced rum and vermouth with a garnish of black olives, the Black Devil Martini (pictured above)  is a savory sipper. Since spicy rum and sweet coconut are a time-honored classic, try pairing this drink with an Almond Joy bar. The salty nuts and briny olives make a great match, too.

Continue Reading Creepy Cocktails to Pair with Your Favorite Halloween Candy

London Restaurant Serves Only Canned Fish

Canned fish. Sometimes it’s a necessity. That tuna fish isn’t to become a tuna fish sandwich by itself, in other words. There are, however, some downright gourmet canned fish products that are miles away from the bespectacled Charlie the Tuna. One London restaurant is betting that foodies will pay premium prices for premium canned fish product.

The appropriately named Tincan doesn’t even have a chef and very little by way of staff. Most of the dishes consist of canned fish with a variety of bread, greens and other simple sides. The restaurant only stocks the best of the best in its namesake, importing products from all over the world. Reviews have been positive, proving once again that fresh food is totally overrated (kidding.)

Unfortunately for can lovers, the restaurant is only a pop-up. It’ll be gone in six months. However, if it remains popular the owners say they might consider something long term.

Hump Day Snack: Dinner in a Pumpkin

Dinner in a Pumpkin

Pumpkin gets a lot of love in the sweet category. And happy as we are to dive into pumpkin pie, sticky buns or cheesecake, it’s time to give a little love to the savory side. Witness: dinner in a pumpkin. This clever, ultra-homey idea bakes a classic casserole (think: cream of mushroom soup, wild rice, water chestnuts, ground beef or turkey) into an actual (medium-size) pumpkin. Pop it in the oven on Halloween night, draw a face on the finished gourd (preferably better than we did here…) and dish it out with the now-softened pumpkin for maximal heartiness before trick-or-treating time. Or make it the throw-back main course for your adults-only party, since it pairs well with pumpkin ale and a sensible kale salad. (Full disclosure: This is stock art, not the actual dish. We completely failed to take a picture when we made this dish ourselves.)

More Savory Halloween Meals:
Jack-O’-Lantern Cheese Ball
Bocconcini Eyeballs with “Blood” Salsa
Double-Decker Coffin Sandwiches

Healthy Slow-Cooker Meals

Slow-Cooker Turkey Sandwich

Nothing beats a warm, home-cooked meal on a chilly day… except, perhaps, eliminating the hot-stove phase to get there. That’s where the slow cooker comes in. What’s great about slow-cooker meals is: They’re often one-pot dishes (Less cleanup! Complete meal!). So check out these recipes to get some inspiration for your slow cooker this week:

Breakfast
Whole-Grain Breakfast Porridge: Think beyond oats with this multigrain hot cereal.

Dinner
Chicken Jambalaya: Chicken, rice, peppers, peas, ham… need we say more?

Continue Reading Healthy Slow-Cooker Meals

Toronto Gets a Library For Kitchen Appliances

There are a lot of amazing kitchen gadgets out there. If you tried to write them all down, you’d get a hand cramp somewhere around sous vide cooker or silly-shaped pancake mold. This is great for cooking enthusiasts. Variety is the spice of life, after all. This is not so great for people with smaller than average kitchens. Where do you put all of that stuff? That’s where this new library of kitchen appliances comes in.

Opened in Toronto, the Kitchen Library works just like a regular library. You take stuff out and return it by a certain date. Instead of books, however, this library stocks only kitchen gadgets. All told, it features over 100 different appliances, from expensive juicers to more niche items like chocolate fountains. Fifty bucks gets you unlimited access to all of these goodies for a full year, so long as you return them, clean as a whistle, by the specified time.

The idea has proven to be extremely successful, with the creator soon moving the library to a bigger location and beginning to offer monthly memberships.

 

Sifted: Dusty Bone-Shaped Cookies, Pumpkin-Quinoa Pie + More

Dusty Bones Sugar Cookies

Hot Links We’re Loving:

  • If you’ve ever encountered puppy chow (the cereal-based snack), you know it’s hard not to scarf it all at once  especially now that I Am Baker gives it a fall spin with Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow.
  • Culinary Bro-Down knows what we really need, presenting us with a cheesy, spicy idea during a week that’s all about the sweet stuff. Come Friday, don’t beat yourself up over all the Halloween candy you’re bound to inhale. Instead, fry up a Chorizo Mac ‘N’ Cheese Quesadilla that answers every one of your guiltiest savory pleasures.

 Craving More?

Dinner Rush! Kielbasa with Barley-Pecan Pilaf

Halloween is here at last! When we were growing up, the evening of Oct. 31 was 100 percent dedicated to getting out the door in search of candy. With the impending candy onslaught, dinner was a bit of an afterthought (“Whaddya mean I can’t just have candy bars and peanut butter cups?!”).

Whether you’ve got little ones of your own or you are fending off the horde at your doorstep, set yourself up for success with a no-brainer meal to power you the whole night through.

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Kielbasa with Barley-Pecan Pilaf

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