If Harry Potter taught us anything, it is that when faced with his greatest fear, a wizard will summon his happiest thought and shout, “EXPECTO PATRONUM!”
And, let’s face it – if you’re anything like me, it is very likely that your happiest thought involves cake. But what if you happen to be gluten-intolerant? Then your happiest thought and your greatest fear might well be one and the same! How tragic!
But, fear not! This buckwheat-based, gluten-free recipe will protect you as effectively as Harry’s Patronus! Which is, incidentally, a male deer… or, in other words, a buck. Coincidence? I think not!
Expelliarmus Glutinous Buckwheat Cake
by Silvia Sellerio
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 + 1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs, divided
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup roughly-chopped almonds, toasted
1 + 3/4 cup almond meal
1 + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
Filling of your choice (sour jams are the best choice with this cake – think cranberry, rhubarb, raspberry, prune, green figs, etc. Alternatively, chestnut honey is a wonderful match as well!)
Pre-heat oven to 375°. Grease a round 8” pan, line it, and set it aside.
Whip the egg whites and salt to stiff peak stage, and carefully transfer to a large bowl (preferably metal.)
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the egg yolks, one at a time. Be sure to scrape the bowl’s sides with a rubber spatula from time to time, so that everything gets mixed in.
While the mixer’s still running, spoon in the buckwheat flour, then the almond meal, and finally the chopped almonds. Add in the vanilla extract as well. Since this dough is gluten-free, it won’t turn gummy for overmixing – so take your time!
Carefully fold the cake dough into the egg whites, a little at a time. The batter is quite dense, so the egg whites will deflate on you; it can’t be helped. Just be as gentle as possible and don’t dump the whole ol’ bowl into them! It’ll be fine, I promise!
Pour the mixed batter in the pan, and bake for 50-60 minutes.
Once done, let it rest in its pan for about ten minutes before moving it to a cooling rack.
Being gluten-free, the cake won’t have risen much – but it will probably have a dome, because of the egg whites. If you wish to decorate the cake, the easiest thing would be cutting off the dome with a serrated knife, then turning it upside down.
Cut the cake horizontally into two layers, and fill whatever you may fancy – jam, honey, or even fresh fruit. Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on top. You’re done!
NOTE – This is a dense, very rustic cake, just slightly less gritty than cornmeal.
If you’re curious to give buckwheat a try, but have no actual gluten intolerance, you could use reduce the almond meal to 3/4 cup, and whisk 1 cup flour (all-purpose or whole grain, your choice) into the buckwheat flour; this will give you a lighter, fluffier cake, or possibly cupcakes.
Another thing you could do is swap the chopped almonds for an equal amount of your favorite nuts. Personally I love pine nuts – no need to chop them either, just toast them slightly. So rich and fragrant!