While watching an episode of The Great British Baking Show recently, as the contestants each made a swiss roll sponge cake from their original recipes, I thought again how much Celiac disease affects a person’s life in some ways other than merely at dinner time. Of course, all Celiacs (and non-Celiac gluten-intolerant -NCGI – people) know the usual ways our lives, as well as the lives of our family members, are dictated by our bodies’ inability to handle gluten: limited restaurant selection when going out as a family, dedicated home kitchens (pots, pans, kitchen utensils, kitchen gadgets, kitchen equipment off limits to gluten-containing ingredients); no quick stops at fast-food restaurants while traveling; no sharing drinks or coffee with non-Celiac who are eating gluten-containing foods, and the list goes on. The negative impact of gluten on one’s body has more indirect, not entirely related to eating, impact, too. These indirect consequences of Celiac and NCGI may vary from person to person, but for me one indirect impact of Celiac disease is the envy that bubbles up from deep within my cooking soul every time I watch a cooking show or a foodie / chef movie. Every bread dough someone easily rolls out and shapes,
every amazing sandwich someone makes on regular size bread that holds together once it’s assembled,
(Ok, so no real sandwich close-up in this video above, but it’s shot in ATX and only a couple miles from our hood so, you know, I have to include it . . . . )
Every sheet of pasta someone rolls through a machines and with ease turns into reliable strings of fettuccini,
threatens to send me into a downward spiral of self-pity. How easy cooking and baking with gluten appears! All the success without the stress! I remember those days of baking simplicity, before my Celiac diagnosis, when only one flour was necessary most of the time, and most attempts at baking anything turned out successfully. Oh, how I took those days for granted!
Of course pie crusts, sandwiches, pasta, and the like can be made gluten-free, and deliciously so, with a character all their own. Some gluten-free baked goods, when prepared with care, are so much in nature like their gluten-containing cousins that no one would know the difference unless told. I comforted and reassured myself with this thought as I baked gluten-free bourbon mocha cupcakes to celebrate my oldest son’s birthday. The texture of these cupcakes is every bit as moist and the crumb every bit as tender as a cupcake made with all purpose flour; the flavor is amazingly rich. I do use enough bourbon in the cupcakes to make its presence unmistakeable, but the amount of alcohol can be reduced by replacing some of the bourbon with milk. Cream cheese frosting, flavored with a little almond, is a perfect accompaniment for these cupcakes; it adds a little sharpness and sweetness to the cake, which is not super sweet itself. I grate a little dark or unsweetened chocolate on the frosting to enhance the cupcakes’ mocha flavor. One bite into one of these bourbon mocha cupcakes with amaretto cream cheese frosting reminds me that life without gluten is actually pretty delicious: it’s all good!
- ¼ cup hot water
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 30 g unsweetened Dutched cocoa
- 50 g arrowroot starch
- 60 g blanched almond flour (NOT almond meal)
- 60 g superfine brown rice flour
- ½ cup gluten-free bourbon
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoons pure almond extract
- 1 - 2 tablespoons of milk, if needed
- Cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and airy. Beat in the eggs, one egg at a time, until the mixture is well blended. Add the dry ingredients, half at a time, alternating with the bourbon - espresso mixture, Blend well. Divide evenly among the muffin liners. Bake at 350 degrees, 15 - 20 minutes, or until a cake tested inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool on a wire rack.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add half the powdered sugar and teaspoon of pure almond extract; blend well. Add the second half of the sugar and blend well. If the frosting is not of spreading or piping consistency, add milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcake. Sprinkle the cupcakes with grated chocolate.