Sunday, 10 July 2011
CAN YOU SAY “QUINOA”? GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE CAKE MADE WITH QUINOA
Sorry cake-hungry folks, I’ve been MIA due to recent surgery.
The good news according to my surgeon, was the pathology results indicated it wasn’t the big “C”; however he told me that the results indicated that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
All in the span of 30 seconds, I felt elated and then dejected. I already knew a bit about Hashimoto’s because of my googling thyroiditis causes. My jaw dropped as he told me that it was an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks the thyroid gland and that eventually what usually happens is that my (remaining half of the) thyroid will kick the bucket and I'll probably have to take thyroid medication for the rest of my life.
Oh wait. Let me back up a bit and fill you in about how this came to be. About a year ago I discovered a lump in my throat and thought it was a lymph node or something of the sort. In casual passing, I mentioned it to my GP when I took my kids in for something in the beginning of the year. He said, “No, that’s your thyroid”. After a battery of blood tests, an ultrasound and a fine needle biopsy, the results were inconclusive and I went to see an Otolaryngologist who told me I had to have surgery… a hemi thyroidectomy on my right side (the thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located above your adam’s apple).
Gee, no wonder all my beautiful choker necklaces don’t fit anymore! No wonder I was lethargic. No wonder I can’t lose those last 10 pounds easily even with tons or running and going low-carb most of the last 10 years.
I was on a wait list for surgery for a few months and about 2 weeks ago, I went in for surgery. I don’t want to scare you with the pics I took with my iPhone right after surgery that day. It looks like I was held hostage and someone slit my throat. It’s healing well now and looks as it should be; the scar should fade away within a year or so according to doc. The right part of the thyroid that was removed apparently was impressive in size. It was hard and the size of a walnut. Jeepers!
So this accounts for my reluctance to post any of my baking recently. I still eat out a lot (as you can see from my twitterfeed and urbanspoon link). However, I have been trying to be good by choosing low-carb and mostly veg and seafood. I eat a ton of berries since it’s berry season. I still bake the occasional dessert for the kiddies because I figure they shouldn’t be deprived. All this time that I haven’t been posting about cake…is due to my looking into some possible ways to alleviate any Chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis (a.k.a. Hashimoto’s Disease) symptoms. From my casual googling, I noticed that I have to pretty much eliminate everything I love: soy products, cruciferous veggies (which is pretty much all I eat 75% of the time during main meals) and GLUTEN!
I couldn’t believe it. The irony.
I haven’t actually talked to my GP about this, but I’ll be seeing him in a few weeks and ask him what he thinks about going GF. In general I guess it’s a good thing if I avoid these things anyway to protect the remaining part of my thyroid. Poor thing’s still swollen from all the trauma it’s endured recently. Most likely he'll take a wait and see approach (he's very conservative) and not prescribe drugs (because he hates doing that too) and send me for periodic testing and if my thyroid kicks the bucket he'll prescribe me the drugs.
Well, apparently there are many people with thyroid issues. The more I talk about it with people, the more I learn that they know someone with thyroid problems or they themselves have it. Also, I found that there are a ton of Gluten Free sites. In the past, I always avoided clicking on a GF recipe because I figured I didn’t really need to investigate a recipe if it’s gluten free because I don’t have an allergy. Besides, Gluten Free usually means really nasty cakes with dense textures made with crazy combinations of GF flours and weird ingredients that I don’t have on hand.
I recently purchased two Gluten Free cookbooks on my Kindle/iPad2 and I am still researching GF flour blends that’ll help me achieve a more real-cake texture.
I decided to bite the bullet to buy these books because of the results from my first attempt at baking a Gluten Free Chocolate Cake as you can see here.
I have been eating Quinoa for a while (even before my diagnosis) and still had a big bag from Costco. I usually eat it as a salad or a “fried rice”. However, I noticed a recipe online (from a book Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood) that incorporated cooked quinoa to make a chocolate cake. It promised a moist texture. Well, it’s moist alright. It kind of jiggled when I took it out of the oven though it tested done with a cake-tester. This is more of a gelatinous jiggle I’m talking about rather than the kind you get from underbaked batter.
I was mighty concerned. I was even more disappointed.
Gluten free. sigh.
Is this what I have to look forward to? No more delicate crumb texture and no more light fluffy layered cakes?
Upon removing the cake layers from the pans, I noticed the layers immediately shrank a bit and then started to sag in the centre.
A sad little slice taken the night I baked the Chocolate Cake made with quinoa. Tasty and moist but kind of ugly. Not exactly fudgy in flavour but it leaves a “clean” feeling in your mouth afterwards. Huh?
It was late at night and I took a few crappy pics; covered the cake with a tea towel and left it for the morning to see.
The morning after, the Chocolate Cake looked a tad more tasty; but not as a traditional cake I’m used to. It tasted the same. It was just as moist. The two thin layers that are baked in 8 inch pans are practical. It would be impossible to slice this cake for layers, so you bake two thin layers. Also, I suspect it wouldn’t bake through very well without burning if you dumped all the batter into one pan and tried to make one regular height cake. So DO use two 8-inch pans or you’ll be doomed with problems. This cake stayed in for the full allocated 40-45 minutes indicated in the recipe. A skewer tested with no crumbs attached. However, as you can see with the cross-section it doesn’t have crumbs per se. It looks gluey, but doesn’t taste gluey (because it’s GF); it is somewhat like Asian rice flour/glutinous rice flour desserts in texture. If you’ve had those Chinese sweet rice cakes, you’ll know what I mean.
Bib loved the cake and ate two big slices. She snacked on it all day. It’s still moist on the third day too.
Bebe was offended by the cake and said that she wanted me to make the “regular kind of chocolate cake”. Gee whiz. Mommy want to make the regular kind of cake too. Or at least make a GF version that tastes and looks like the real thing. This to me was like my many experiences with that lovely mock meat that you eat at vegetarian restaurants (it’s made of gluten, by the way). Guess I won’t be doing mock meats anymore. You have to eat mock-ups with the attitude that it is a different animal (pun intended!) and has qualities that are just as tasty albeit different than the real thing. I love those mock meats because they absorb all the sauces so well and take on flavours and textures of real meat. But it definitely doesn’t taste like meat though it may look like it sometimes. You eat it for what it is. And love it for what it is I guess.
So my verdict?
I love cake. This GF Chocolate Cake is good for a Gluten Free cake, but it sure isn’t anything like the real thing in texture. Mouth feel is very different. However, as a GF dessert, if I gussied it up with real SMB and decorated with appropriate flowers and such, I’m sure it would look like the real thing. People might even like it. I liked it. I don’t love how ugly it looks. I don’t love the texture either. It sure isn’t light in appearance or texture.
Here’s a LINK to the GF Chocolate Cake recipe made with cooked Quinoa. I don’t know how they got the cake to bake up so high and light looking in the picture posted on that site. It sure doesn’t look like that here! I followed the instructions exactly (as usual!)
Back to the ol’ drawing board. I’ll keep you posted on more GF Cake recipes. I may make this cake again, but I’ll know now not to expect a light cake-like structure.
BTW! We’re making plans to renovate our kitchen. yay! Finally. I was starting to think I’d have to live with the ugly dark granite underfoot and on my counters forever! Though I’ve been replacing appliances as they’ve broken down, I think most of the remaining big appliances are on their last legs. My Sub-Zero fridge has broken down several times. My faucet (2nd one) is leaking and rickety and my cooktop is rusty and chipped. I hate it. What do I want? A newer Sub-Zero (same one), a Wolfe Range (6 burner), a Kohler faucet and a WHITE Kitchen! My plan is for a Carrara marble central island for baking, white quartz counters around the perimeter and white cabinets.