Friday, 14 November 2014

Recently, I had a request for some chocolate cupcakes that were gluten free and nut free. If any of you have ventured into the world of gluten free baking, you might have discovered that ground almonds are frequently used as a partial substitute for flour. As it was not going to be possible for me to use ground almonds on this occasion, I set about searching for an alternative recipe. What I ended up doing was using one of David Lebovitz's chocolate cake recipes, but substituting the regular flour for rice flour. I kept everything else the same, and the end result was a beautifully light, well risen gluten free chocolate cake.

I wasn't going to share the recipe on here, simply because it didn't feel like it would be a good use of time to rewrite an existing recipe. However, I have changed my mind, after I spent a good twenty minutes of pre-baking time trying to locate the exact recipe that I had used before. (It turns out, Mr. Lebovitz has a number of chocolate cake recips.) Once I had found it, I had to convert the American cup quantities to grams so that my brain could make a bit more sense of the quantities, so I thought after all of that time spent searching and cup-converting, it would be sensible to write it all down here, where I will be able to find it again in about twenty seconds, rather than twenty minutes.

ingredients (makes 14 cupcakes, or a 9" round sponge)
55g dark chocolate
55g unsalted butter
3 tbsp water
125g rice flour
125g caster sugar
125ml buttermilk (I just use normal milk with half a tablespoon of white vinegar added, five minutes or so before I need to add the butermilk to the batter.)
2 eggs, separated
half a tsp gluten free baking powder
half a tsp bicarbonate of soda
half a tsp vanilla extract

ingredients for the ganache
200g dark chocolate
200ml double cream

1) Preheat the oven to 170C. Place the dark chocolate and 3 tbsp of water in a heatproof bowl, and melt over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted, leave to cool to room temperature.
2) Make the buttermilk by combining the milk & vinegar in a measuring jug and stirring briefly. Leave to stand at room temperature.
3) Meanwhile, beat together the butter and 100g of the sugar until well combined, and light in colour.
4) Beat in the melted chocolate, followed by the egg yolks.
5) Sift together the flour, baking powder and bi-carb.
6) Add half of the flour mixture to the chocolate & butter, and mix until combined,
7) Add the vanilla extract and slowly pour in the buttermilk, beating until all of the milk is mixed in.
8) Add in the rest of the flour and mix.
9) In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
10) Gradually beat in the last 25g of sugar, and carry on whisking until stiff peaks form.
11) Add the egg whites to the rest of the chocolate batter, a little at a time, and gently fold in using a metal spoon (so you don't knock the air out).
12) Fill the cupcake cases until they are two thirds full - about 1.5 dessertspoons worth of batter.
13) Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a cupcake.
14) Once you remove the cupcakes from the oven, transfer them to a wire cooling rack as soon as possible.

for the ganache
1) Finely chop the dark chocolate and place in a glass bowl.
2) Gently heat the cream in a saucepan until tiny bubbles appear around the edge then remove immediately from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Stir with a heatproof spatula until the chocolate has all melted. If there are any remaining lumps of chocolate, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the lumps have melted.
3) Transfer the ganache to a jug with a spout. If you would like to achieve a glossy, smooth finish on your cupcakes / cake, pour the ganache onto the cake as soon as all of the chocolate has melted into the cream. Before pouring, tap the jug on your working surface to gently but firmly encourage any little air bubbles to burst. This helps give a smooth finish.
If you leave the ganache for 30 minutes or so, it will thicken to a spreading consistency, but lose its shine.
If you leave the ganache to cool completely, you can whip it to add tiny air molecules, making it possible to pipe onto your cakes, giving a different finish entirely.
I knew that I wanted to use the ganache when it was still pourable to create a chocolate puddle-like finish, but felt that the ratio of cake to ganache was a little uneven. So, I cut out a middle section of each cupcake, then poured ganache into the hole. Usually when I fill cupcakes, I don't put the cut out piece of cake back on top of the filling, but on this occasion I did, to limit the appearance of the ganache sinking.
As you can see from my slightly long winded notes, ganache is wonderfully versatile, but also slightly fickle! 

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