Finding the Perfect Chocolate Cake
Years ago, I was a baking fiend. I could and would bake almost anything. I was often found in my kitchen on my days off baking all sorts of cookies, cakes, breads, or pastries. You name it, I have probably made it! I have a refurbished KitchenAid stand mixer that I purchased over 20 years ago and a bread maker (that also makes jam) that I bought at a going-out-of-business sale. I had all sorts of spring-form, Bundt, and donut pans. My pantry was stocked with anything and everything you could need to bake up tasty treats like chocolate cake on a whim, inkling or thought.
But new information has played a vital role in changing our family’s food behaviors and the look of my pantry. You will not find any wheat flour anywhere. The only cane sugar in my pantry is for making syrup for the hummingbirds. We still have eggs, because we still have chickens, but we try to give those away to our neighbors. I still have my KitchenAid Mixer, but it is seldom used, since I opt for my hand mixer these days. I tried selling the bread maker at a yard sale, but no takers, however they did buy a bunch of my spring-form, Bundt, and donut pans. So why am I even searching for a chocolate cake recipe?
Simple. For my son’s birthday this year, he asked for a chocolate cake and Mom wants to make it happen. Baking has become much more challenging since I discovered our food sensitivities. We are both highly sensitive to egg proteins and gluten (among other things). I have had to experiment with gluten-free vegan recipes, and some have, well, flopped. As a family, we do enjoy alternative sweeteners like monk fruit, gluten-free breads, and dairy alternatives like oat milk, but how do you bake a good chocolate cake with gluten-free flour and no eggs?
For the most part, I try to stick with a whole food approach to our meals and eat fruit or a piece of dark chocolate for dessert. I try to live by the rules: If something has a list of ingredients, it is processed, proceed with caution. If something has a list of things found in a chemistry lab…highly processed and best avoided altogether. A strawberry is just a strawberry. It doesn't need a list of ingredients. A bowl of strawberries isn’t going to cut it for a birthday celebration in my little boy’s mind. So, I have been searching for the perfect chocolate cake that has no gluten and no eggs, but still tastes like a fluffy, delicious, decadent chocolate cake.
After all my searching, here is a recipe I found:
1. Gluten-free flour: Best to use a blend specific for baking purposes. Single flours like rice, coconut, or almond flour will not produce the desired results.
2. Flax egg: can be replaced with 3 more TBSP of applesauce
3. Cake sizes: This recipe can be adapted to different size cake pans:
a. Three 6-inch round cake pans – bake for 20-25 minutes
b. Two 7-inch round cake pans – bake for 25 – 30 minutes
c. Two 8-inch round cake pans – bake for 20 minutes; layers will be thin
d. One 9-inch round cake pan – bake for 30 minutes
e. 9x9 square cake pan – bake for 20-25 minutes
f. Cupcakes – Makes 12. Bake for 22-25 minutes
4. Storing: Airtight container at room temperature for 2 – 3 days or refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let it come to room temperature on the counter before serving. Freezer friendly for up to 1 month.
This seems like the perfect opportunity to discuss some of the health benefits of chocolate (the darker the better).
Cocoa contains multiple flavonoids and phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants that can reduce inflammation. Dark chocolate also contains insoluble fiber which may improve digestion and elimination processes. Total dietary fiber intake is important for weight management and insoluble fiber intake has been associated with a decreased risk for developing Type II diabetes.
Dark chocolate also contains 36 mg of magnesium per 100 kcal serving. Magnesium is important for protein synthesis, muscle contraction and relaxation and energy production. Magnesium regulates neurotransmitters that send messages throughout the brain and body. It also helps to form our genetic material (DNA and RNA) and regulates calcium to support bone structure.
Cocoa also contains copper, an important cofactor for iron transport, glucose metabolism, infant growth, and brain development. A copper deficiency can lead to anemia and high blood pressure, inflammation, and an enlarged heart. Too much copper is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death and cancer. While chocolate is a significant source of copper consumption in the American diet, one would need to eat an extreme amount of chocolate to exceed the recommended daily allowances. Chocolate also contains iron, which important for the transport of oxygen throughout the body to our vital organs.
Potassium is also found in chocolate, but to a lower degree (roughly 1-2% of the recommended daily allowance of potassium). Potassium creates a balance with sodium levels in the body to help control blood pressure, fluid balance, and proper acid/base balance in the body.
Besides these other health benefits, chocolate just tastes good. It signals our dopamine receptors and makes us feel good, improving our mood. Of course, everything should be done in moderation, including eating chocolate. However, I will enjoy this chocolate cake with my family as we celebrate another trip around the sun for my little one.
Katz DL, Doughty K, Ali A. Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011;15(10):2779-2811. doi:10.1089/ars.2010.3697