Last week, very dear and caring friends of mine brought me a basket designed to cheer me up during a difficult time. They had attached notes to every day items which began with “for when….” For example, “For when life just plain stinks,” was taped to a roll of deodorant. As my children and I unpacked item after item, reading each accompanying note, not only did we laugh but we felt the love that had gone into putting together the basket for us. Our difficult situation felt a bit more bearable, knowing we were not alone and that we had support.
So many times in life, we are in need of a “pick me up”. What that looks like can vary. Sometimes watching a comedy movie alone does the trick. Other times, we need to be with friends and have a good cry. Some people go for a run and let the endorphins do the trick. Others listen to their favorite music or go for a walk and enjoy nature. For other folks, indulging in a piece of chocolate works.
For me, I like to cook or bake something special. As anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows, I tend to be a lazy cook who likes to make things quickly and efficiently. When I am in need of a “pick me up”, however, then I prefer to make something which requires time and will be “beautiful” when it is done.
So, a few weeks ago for my birthday, I decided to make a white chocolate cake, which requires time and patience, if you want to make one which is gluten and dairy free and which has a reduced amount of sugar. In order to not have a cake which is pasty tasting, hard as a brick, and flat, it requires careful steps and whisking and folding in egg whites. It is well worth the effort, though, so “for when you need something special”, here is the recipe.
Gluten, Dairy Free White Chocolate Cake
Four 1.4 oz No Whey white chocolate bars (if you are not allergic to dairy, regular white chocolate bars are easier to find)
1/2 cup vegan butter
2 cups gluten free flour, sifted* (I use King Arthur’s gluten free whole grain blend)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Four egg yolks (separated from the whites, which you will also use)
1 1/2 tbsp gluten free vanilla extract
1/4 cup Truvia/cane sugar blend (reduces the sugar by 75% but still has a little to support the cake structure, and is great because you can use so much less of it – original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar!)
2/3 cup vegan sour cream
Four egg whites (separated from the yolks you already used)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup Truvia/cane sugar blend
*Note: When “sifted” comes after the ingredient, it means to measure the flour and then sift. If you do not have a sifter, you can shake the flour through a wire meshed colander or you can whisk the flour for a couple of minutes with a wire whisk. You basically want to de-clump and add air to the flour to lighten it.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line three 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
- Break up the white chocolate bars into pieces and place them into a microwave safe bowl with the vegan butter. Microwave for a minute and stir until completely melted. If not melted, microwave in 20 second intervals until you can stir the white chocolate to a smooth, melted form. Set aside and let it cool.
- Mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a mixer whisk together the egg yolks with the vanilla for a minute until the yolks are smooth.
- Add the the 1st 1/4 cup of the Truvia blend and whisk for a minute until well blended.
- Add the sour cream and blend for another minute.
- Stir the white chocolate mixture and add to the wet ingredients. Whisk for a couple of minutes until well mixed.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend well.
- Remove the batter to a large bowl which can accommodate the batter doubling in size, and clean and dry the mixing bowl.
- In the mixer, add the egg whites with the cream of tartar and begin to whisk. As the egg whites start to become frothy, slowly add in the 2nd 1/4 cup of Truvia blend. Continue to whisk the egg whites until they are white in color, doubled in size, and when you pull the whisk up, the egg whites form a peaked wave.
- Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter. If you haven’t folded egg whites into batter before, a large, flexible rubber spatula is the best tool, and as already mentioned, you should have put your batter into a large bowl with plenty of space for folding the egg whites. You gently scoop your egg whites onto the top of the batter in your bowl. Then, using the flexible spatula, you slowly slice down the center of the egg whites until your spatula hits the bottom of the bowl. Then, scoop around the inner circle of the bowl, gathering some of the batter in with the egg whites, and then fold both over onto the top. Repeat this motion until all the egg whites are incorporated fully into the batter. It is important not to rush the process and to resist the desire to simply stir the batter. You will deflate the egg whites and defeat the purpose. Folding in the egg whites adds air and breadth to your batter so it will be light and airy when it bakes.
- Divide the batter evenly among the three prepared pans and bake at the preheated 325 degrees until the cake layers are puffed, golden, pulling away from the sides, and when you touch them they spring back. Usually this takes about 15 minutes, but I always start with 10 and check.
- Cool the cake layers in their pans for at least 10 minutes on a wire cooling rack and then remove the layers from their pans and allow them to cool completely on the wire cooling racks.
- Frost as desired. (For our cake, I made a lemon frosting and put raspberry All-Fruit in between the layers. Then I topped it with mint leaves which I “sugared” by cooking them on the stovetop with a mixture of water and a little bit of agave.)