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Musical pairing – “Imagine” by John Lennon
NOTE: I meant to post this last week but in the midst of attending Big Traveling Potluck in Los Angeles, I completely forgot; the cake is still fabulous – I really hope you’ll bake one!
Sometimes one just needs cake or rather one needs to be in the kitchen baking anything – cookies, pie, tarts or in this case, a cake. I know that I’m with the rest of the world when I say last week was an incredibly stressful one.
I remember flipping open my laptop and seeing the words, ‘bombing at the Boston Marathon’ and I felt the hairs stand on the back of my neck and my arms – I read the words to The Professor who was home from campus that day and we both watched in stunned silence as we tried to absorb the news and make sense of what we were seeing.
And then we realize how big our world has become via social media – Facebook, twitter, the internet – all streaming news in real time as it was happening – images, interviews, speculation. Reports of catastrophic injuries, confirmation of the death of an 8-year-old boy – and the worry of friends I knew were running the race – were they safe, were they injured? Please, oh please, check into twitter, Facebook – anything to let us you’re ok, that your families were safe and ok.
The following days were a blur; ‘life’ marches on as we try to continue the ‘normalcy’ of our day-to-day lives when really, we’re all screaming – ‘Just stop; for a moment, a day, two days, just stop; I need to get my bearings, to catch my breath, to process all that has happened.’
Our kitchen becomes the only safe-haven – or at least my kitchen is my safe haven in times of confusion and sorrow. The familiar rhythm of reaching for a canister of flour and sugar and measuring them into a bowl, scooping a couple of teaspoons of baking soda from a yellow box and pouring vanilla-scented paste into an oblong-shaped spoon are a few of the movements my body does that seems to make any sense. Mashing bananas, toasting pecans and releasing the sweet smell of crushed pineapple from its metal tin somehow seem appropriate. These events shake me at my core – and there have been far too many of these events in the last couple of years; I don’t feel safe. I want to run. I want to move out of the country. And I know running, moving won’t change anything.
So I bake – at the moment it’s the only thing that makes sense.
NOTE: Baking gluten-free cakes in a bundt pan is easy and makes for a beautiful cake; the less ‘fancy’ the design the better as gluten-free cakes have a very tender crumb which can stick. I butter my pan well, then coat with a layer of potato starch, making sure all nooks/crannies are coated before pouring the batter into the pan. Additionally, the cake is mixed by hand in one bowl, and while I make the frosting in a stand mixer, you can certainly use a hand mixer and achieve the same results.
GLUTEN-FREE HUMMINGBIRD CAKE W/LEMON MASCARPONE CHEESE FROSTING
Makes 1 10-inch Bundt Cake
- 84 grams brown rice flour
- 84 grams sorghum flour
- 126 grams sweet rice flour
- 126 grams potato starch
- 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 3 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1-3/4 cups mashed bananas (approximately 4 small)
- 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, including juice
- ¾ cups grape seed oil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste (can sub pure vanilla extract)
- 1-1/2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
FOR THE GLAZE:
- ½ cup Mascarpone cheese, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (can sub pure vanilla extract)
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Bake pecans in a single layer on a sheet pan for 5-7 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through; set aside to cool
- Place flours, sugar, baking soda, salt and cardamom in a large bowl; whisk until ingredients are blended
- Add eggs, banana, crushed pineapple, grape seed oil and vanilla paste, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened; add 1 cup of the toasted pecans and stir until just combined
- Pour batter into a buttered and floured 10-cup Bundt pan
- Bake at 350° for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean – start checking at the 45-minute mark as some pans bake faster than others
- Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan on to a wire rack and cool completely
- If possible, lightly cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let sit overnight on the counter before frosting
FOR THE GLAZE:
- Place powdered sugar, mascarpone cheese, vanilla paste, lemon zest and 2 Tablespoons milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle and blend until smooth and creamy, adding more milk if necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time; the frosting should be thick yet thin enough to slightly drizzle down the side of the cake
- Immediately pour glaze over cooled cake; top with remaining chopped pecans if desired