When I first started my personal chef business in 2007, I got the occasional request for a gluten free dessert but it was pretty rare. Oh how things have changed in the last 8 years. Here it is - 2015 - and gluten free desserts are everywhere . Now it seems strange if I don't get requests for gluten free desserts.
My gluten free clients aren't just looking for gluten free food - they're looking for really DELICIOUS gluten free desserts.
To be quite honest, my repertoire of gluten free desserts was pretty slim back in 2007. I just wasn't making a whole lot of them and to be honest, gluten free recipes of any kind, threw me for a loop. I searched through recipes with all kinds of ingredients that I wasn't familiar with. Faced with an ingredient list that I couldn't pronounce or even begin to find in the most specialty of supermarkets, I was more than a little intimidated to try new gluten free desserts.
Fortunately, I've learned a few things and picked up a few tricks about gluten free baking over the years. One of the easiest things that I've learned to do is to use almond flour or almond meal in place of white flour.
Almond flour (sometimes called almond meal) is simply ground almonds. It widely available at most grocery stores (I buy mine at Wal Mart or Trader Joes) AND it's delicious.
It's a great way to incorporate protein and fiber into an otherwise nutrient deficient dessert too. I've used almond flour in place of white flour in cakes, cupcakes, coffee cakes, tarts and even cookies. (It doesn't have a strange aftertaste like some of the other gluten free flours that I've used either.)
There are a lot of health benefits to using almonds in baking. I love that it can be substituted for flour to make a gluten free version of my favorite treats AND I love the fact that it boosts the nutritional content of anything that I add them to. Need more proof that you should be baking with almonds? Check out these facts about almonds:
My latest almond flour/gluten free creation is a Lemon Ricotta Almond Coffee Cake.
This super moist breakfast cake is super simple to put together and really delicious. The bright lemony flavor and the nutty almond texture makes this cake the perfect feature of any Spring brunch menu.
Lemon Ricotta Almond Coffee Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
4 eggs, separated and at room temperature
2 1/2 cups almond meal
10 ounces ricotta
Sliced almonds, to decorated
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line the base and sides of a 9 inch round cake tin with parchment paper and set aside.
Place the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and creamy.
Scrap down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until fully combined.
Add the almond meal and beat to combine.
Fold ricotta through the almond meal mixture.
Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until soft peaks form.
Gradually add the remaining sugar to the egg whites mixture and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the cake mixture. Repeat with the rest of the egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, decorate the cake with almond flakes.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked and firm to touch.
Dust with powdered sugar to serve.
If you don't want to tell anyone that this yummy coffee cake is gluten free- that's up to you. You're secret's safe with me. I'm willing to bet that no one will guess that it's made without flour. :)
Like my page on facebook.
Follow me on Instagram