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  • Writer's pictureJoan Medlen

The (gluten-free) red velvet cake appetite…

Andy has a set of tapes that he loves to watch. They’re no longer available, which means I’ve become expert at finding them on E-bay. One of them is titled, “The Banana Cream Appetite.” The story includes a monkey who is craving banana cream pie, thus the banana cream appetite.

For Valentine’s Day I wanted to make some special something. I found a recipe for a gluten-free red velvet cake in The Gluten Free Kitchen that looked like something I could swing. I made a list of the items I’d need (buttermilk and red food coloring) and picked them up on my way to get Andy at school. I was eager to see if this would be a decent gluten-free substitute for the recipe my Mother gave me when I got married. I had a (gluten-free) red velvet cake appetite.

This gluten-free cooking is different. We have mastered some things rather well. But the only cake I make from scratch is my Grandmother’s Pound Cake (yes, I found a way to make a darn good gluten-free version). So this is an adventure on many levels.

I am a pretty good cook. Not as good as my dear friend, Donna, who cooks like a gourmet chef, but I am better than your average bear (that Easy Bake Oven had to be good for something). So I figured I could handle this. The recipe looked pretty straight forward.

One thing Rex and I have discovered is that adding gelatin to most recipes keeps them moist. But what I didn’t plan on was the effect of the full TABLESPOON of xantham gum they callled for. The book said it would be very thick. But mine was a bit like…well…silly putty.

I poured it into two round pans. They said it would cook in those. But it was so gelatinous that it did not go to the sides. It sat there in a shiney blob in the middle of the circular pan. Hmm. So I got out the spring-form pan for cheesecakes. It has taller sides, I thought, and should be able to handle this. I combined the two balls of red dough in the pan. Yes, that looked right for the size of the pan. I put it in the oven, set the timer, and went off to read a book or two with Andy.

30 minutes later, I came downstairs with the timer chiming away.

I open the oven.

My, how tall it grew!

I slid a knife into the middle. It came out covered in batter. So I set the timer for 15 minutes and went off to check my email and pay my bills.

::sniff:: ::sniff::

Hmmm. How could it be burning?

I walk to the kitchen and open the oven.

My….how much taller it grew!!

It was stuck to the element on the roof of the oven.

There was no way to get it off without taking off half the top. Oh well. Now I can taste it! So I extricate the cake, see the doughy middle (because that part of the top had come off), lower the oven rack, and place it back in the oven for 12 more minutes.

And I taste a piece of the top on my way up stairs. Not bad.


This time the knife came out clean. Interesting…the top didn’t become a smooth round thing like most cakes. It is bumpy with crevasses, and looks a bit like Mt. St Helens since part of the top was ripped off by the oven.

I called my parents to invite them over for Valentine’s Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake. Rex is working over time, so I wanted to share with someone. I peeked at the cake while I was explaining the experiment to my Mom on the phone.

My, how much smaller it is!

They were still game to come and try it out. My Dad was my best customer when I had the Easy Bake Oven Store.

I hung up the phone.

My, how much more smaller it is! (“more smaller”?)

Ah well. On to the frosting.

I bought real butter for my frosting in honor of Rex’s Brother, Bill. He is right, but don’t tell him. It does make the best frosting. Thankfully it made a lot of frosting because by the time my cake was done shrinking, I needed it to fill the little, but deep, crevasses.

We decided, my parents and I, that it doesn’t taste too bad. It is a bit like eating chocolate licorice – it’s….. chewy. I think it’s either gelatin or xantham gum, but not both. Or at least not in those quantities. Of course, on their way out the door my mother wondered if perhaps, like the baking cake, we would all e x p a n d in the night. Who knows? We may meet in the E.R.

The boy who requires the gluten-free food has not yet tried this delicacy. Perhaps he is the smartest of us all.

So, my (gluten-free) Red Velvet Cake Appetite saga continues….

Happy Valentine’s Day!

9:00pm update: Andy ate two pieces. He doesn’t seem too worried….

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