When you are living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), there can be a whole smorgasbord of foods off the menu to help avoid bad days. Thankfully, a good quality dark chocolate, is NOT one of them. Neither are raspberries, or for me, lactose free milk and cream. So, with all that loveliness on offer, what else is a baking fiend like me to do, but bake a cake! Not just any cake though, a rich, decadent, bittersweet, fudge centred powerhouse of a cake.
It can be difficult to talk openly about how debilitating life with IBS can be. You learn to cope because you have to, but there are days when the pain is so intense it leaves you exhausted from effort and strain and you just want to sob helplessly until it goes away. Finding ways to stop the pain and still feel whole and sated had become my personal mission.
I had so many fears and misconceptions about what it would mean to eliminate foods from my diet, especially wheat. I love to bake and the idea of not being able make and enjoy so many of my favourite recipes was too much for me to consider for a long time. Once I eventually decided to put my big girl panties on and make the best of what I could have, I realised I did not have to sacrifice anything, just make it work a different way.
I have spent time experimenting with different brands and combinations of gluten free flours. The great thing is that there is choice and valuable information out there on what works and what doesn’t. The trick is knowing it is not as simple as working with wheat flour and allowing for that. My pantry is now stocked with a variety of ‘new’ baking staples, including rice flours, nut meals, starches, gums and my new favourite flour, sorghum. Sorghum has a texture and density as close to wheat as I have been able to find to date.
After spending some time scouting lots of gluten free cook books, food blogs and websites, I tried a number of recommended combinations and keep coming back to this particular one from Gluten Free Goddess, just slightly tweaked to suit me;
Fresh Home Cook’s Favourite Gluten Free Flour Mix *
1 cup sorghum flour (red or white)
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup nut meal (hazelnut, almond, macadamia)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum – (only use a maximum of 1 teaspoon if making a triple batch. Too much and your batter will be very rubbery)
I use this mix for most of my baking by making up a triple batch and having it ready in the pantry. Store bought pre-mixes are great too, I just find that they are predominantly made up of rice flour, which I personally find a little to sticky when baked. Others use soy flour in their mix, which for me is a no-no as this upsets my thyroid. It is a better option for me to buy my ingredients separately and make it up myself, such as with this mix above. I buy in bulk from an online wholefoods store and this keeps the cost down and the pantry well stocked.
This cake comes from a standard fudge style recipe, with gluten free flour and xanthan gum substituted in to make it tummy friendly for those who struggle with gluten. It has a lovely little crunch on the outside, filtering down to a rich, moist centre and intense chocolate flavour. The ganache is a simple combination of lactose free cream and dark chocolate and compliments the cake brilliantly. There was a little sinking in the middle of the cake once out of the oven, but it is best to not overcook this one, as it will end up too dry.
You could also quite easily use this batter to make muffins, just reduce the cooking time to about 15 minutes.
Here’s how it goes;
- 2 cups plain gluten free flour*
- ⅔ cup unrefined sugar
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
- 1 generous cup fresh or frozen raspberries
- 110 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- 60 grams dark (dairy free) chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1¼ cup lactose free buttermilk**, room temperature
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 60 grams dairy free dark chocolate, finely chopped
- ¼ cup lactose free cream - (I used Pauls Zymil)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius (non fan forced).
- Lightly grease and line a 20 cm square or round cake time with baking paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Whisk in the xanthan gum.
- In a small bowl, toss the raspberries with one tablespoon of the dry mixture and set aside.
- In a glass or microwave-safe bowl, or using a heat proof bowl over simmering water on the stove top, combine the butter chopped chocolate and heat through until melted. (For microwave use, 20 second intervals , stirring with a rubber spatula between each until chocolate and butter has melted completely). Whisk together.
- In separate mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and gently fold until just combined.
- Fold in the raspberries
- Pour batter into cake tin and bake 30 - 35 minutes. Cake is cooked when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean (as this cake is fudge, it will be quite moist in the middle).
- Allow to cool in baking tin for at least 5 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack.
- Allow to cool almost completely before adding the ganache.
- Heat the cream in a microwave safe bowl or jug in 20 second bursts, until very hot (it takes about 1 minute in my microwave).
- Add the chocolate to the cream and allow to stand for about 30 seconds.
- Whisk the cream and chocolate together until smooth and shiny.
- Pour onto cake and spread evenly with icing knife or spatula.
- Sprinkle over any left over chocolate scraps, or add raspberries to garnish (optional)
** - To make your own lactose free butter milk, you just need to add 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to each cup of lactose free milk. Mix and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes. The lemon will curdle the milk and give you gorgeous fresh buttermilk.
So, there you have it, my latest old favourite made new, Chocolate and Raspberry Fudge Cake. It has been and will continue to be a big hit with the whole Fresh Home Cook family.
Tell me, have you ever put off doing something good for yourself because you were afraid the alternative would be a disappointment?