I just celebrated another birthday where I cooked for a (relatively) small group of friends in my home, and where I served this cake. (I say relatively because last year I cooked for 28 people, and afterwards felt as if I’d run a marathon.) This was probably the 9th or 10th time I’ve made this cake or a version of, and it’s always well received.
You simply can’t go wrong with this cake. It is super-moist, flavorful and nearly guilt-free. It’s also easy to prepare. But there are a couple of caveats: 1) the cake is indeed gluten-free and low-sugar, but the particular frosting I use is low-sugar because it uses flour (although just 1/8 cup instead of the tons of sugar standard buttercream frostings use); 2) the frosting requires several hours. You won’t be making it for several hours, but you need to let it sit for a couple of hours as the second of three simple steps.
Since I’m attempting to reduce the amount of gluten in my diet–not eliminate it entirely, and since my biggest concern is sugar, this cake is perfect. If you are gluten intolerant or following a strict gluten-free diet, you can easily substitute a standard buttercream or whipped frosting for the recipe posted below.
Please note: You can use butter or olive oil in the cake. Using olive oil imparts a slightly different flavor (slightly herbal), and makes the cake even moister. Now that I’ve tried it both ways, I think I prefer the olive oil version, but will probably use the butter version for the kids’ birthdays.
The following quantities are for 1 full 9-inch round. Double the recipe for two full 9-inch rounds, or three medium-height 9-inch rounds if you love fillings.
Juice of 1 orange plus plain yogurt to equal 1 cup (or you can use 1 cup of white wine, which my sister prefers to do)
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup good quality mild-tasting olive oil or 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
Preheat over to 350-degrees Farenheit.
Prepare 9-inch cake pans by greasing, flouring and lining the bottom of each cake pan with a piece of parchment paper. (Use the bottom of the cake pan to trace a circle on the parchment paper. Cut just inside the line for a perfect fit.)
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
If making the butter version, beat the butter in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer until creamy. Beat in the sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the orange juice/yogurt mixture and vanilla until well-blended. Stir in the dry ingredients until well-blended.
If making the olive oil version, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar then the orange juice/yogurt mixture and vanilla. Stir in the olive oil and dry ingredients alternating one-third to one-half of each until well-blended.
Pour evenly into cake pan(s).
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, and the cake is springy to the touch at its center. (Mine are always golden-brown by this stage.) Cool in pans. Use a slim knife around the outer edge to loosen the cake(s) from pan. Turn out carefully and let further cool on rack(s).
My favorite during summer months is to simply macerate fresh strawberries and raspberries to which I’ve added a little lemon zest and vanilla extract. This mixture is fairly liquid and soaks beautifully into the cake layer(s).
During the cooler months I prefer to use chocolate ganache. It takes seconds to make. Here’s my recipe:
Finely chop 3 1/2 oz dark chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa), and place in a medium-sized bowl. Bring 1/2 cup cream to near boil. Pour over chocolate. Stir until completely melted/blended. Stir in 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. agave syrup. Let cool. (it will thicken considerably). Stir well before spreading on cake(s).
Fluffy, low-sugar frosting
(from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)
This recipe makes enough to frost a 2-3 layer cake. Increase proportions if you plan to bake more layers or want lots of extra frosting for additional decorating.
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups milk (I’ve used both 2% and 4% with great results)
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces and softened to room temperature
In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt until there are no lumps. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently increasing to constantly, until the mixture bubbles/boils and becomes very thick. This takes roughly 10 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature. This step is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting come together properly. On a fall day in California, this took a little over 2 hours. You can speed up the process by putting the bowl in the refrigerator. However, if you do this, be sure to take it out in time to for it to warm back up to room temperature before proceeding to the next step.
Once the mixture has completely cooled to room temperature (you will feel no trace of warmth when you place your hands around the bottom of the bowl), beat in the vanilla using a hand-held mixer on low speed. Next, beat in the butter, one piece at a time, until fully incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the frosting for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy (approximately 5 minutes). Spread with a soft-tipped rubber spatula.
Let us eat cake!