Almond Flour : Part 1 of Gluten Free Series
The eating style of being gluten free became trendy a few years ago. Many people chose this lifestyle because it made them feel lighter, decreased allergy symptoms and inflammation and simply made them feel better about eating healthier.
Although they are the lucky ones who get to choose if they want to eat that way, people with celiac disease have no other choice but to eat that way. Celiac disease is an intolerance to gluten. When those with celiac ingest gluten it can leave them with symptoms like upset stomach, diarrhea, headache, develop a rash, or show similar reactions to allergies.
So what is gluten, you ask?
It’s a protein found in flours like wheat, rye or barley (there are a few others, but they aren’t as common as these three). Most people are familiar with wheat flour because it seems to be in everything like bread, pasta, muffins…even gravy! Gluten is in many of the comfort foods we love, which is why I believe it took up so many headlines in recent years.
Giving up a comfort food can make a person’s diet seem lackluster, but it doesn’t have to be that way at all. Learning how to bake and cook gluten free is not as difficult as you think. There are so many substitute “flour” options readily available. Now, we just need to learn how to use them.
Welcome to Part 1 of my Gluten Free Series
We will learn about different substitutions, recipes and options. I think you will be surprised at how easy and delicious gluten free can really be.
Almond flour has always been popular in gluten free recipes due to its hearty structure and earthy flavor. It gained a surge in popularity with the keto diet due to these reasons and for it’s natural fat content. Keep in mind that almond flour typically cannot be a 1:1 ratio substitute for wheat flour unless you are “breading” chicken or fish with it. (Which is quite delicious if you haven’t tried this already!)
In baking, you cannot replace flour with almond flour and expect it will turn out the same. Usually there are other ingredients to help develop the structure of the recipes, like a meringue or an added binder like xanthan gum. Almond flour is a key ingredient to recipes like dacquoise (a nutty cake layer), or energy bites (which are my personal favorite), or even French Macarons!
Try this simple layer cake recipe along with my Best Ever Buttercream recipe (found at the end of my first article) to layer between the thin sheets of cake.
Almond Dacquoise Layer Cake
Yield: 1 – quarter sheet cake
Whites 360 grams (11-12 fresh egg whites)
Granulated Sugar 135 grams (⅔ cups)
Almond flour 410 grams (4¼ cups)
Powdered sugar 160 grams (1⅓ cups), sifted
Preheat your oven to 325F.
Put the whites in your mixer (I use a KitchenAid) with whisk attachment; turn on high speed. Whip for 3 minutes.
Slowly add one third of the granulated sugar. Continue whipping on high speed for 2 minutes.
Repeat the process of adding the sugar and allowing it to whip until all of the granulated sugar is added.
Continue whipping for 2 more minutes. It should be medium to stiff peak.
Stop the mixer; remove the bowl.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond flour and sifted powdered sugar. Use gentle motions to fold over the batter and incorporate the ingredients without deflating the meringue too much.
Once it comes together, divide the batter onto two cookie sheets (preferably half sheet pans that have four sides to the pan) that are sprayed with non-stick pan spray and lined with parchment paper.
Gently spread the batter on to the parchment lined pans by using an offset spatula.
Bake for 8 minutes or until pale golden color. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Slide your paring knife around the edges of the pan to release the cake from it.
Gently dust the top with (additional) powdered sugar, just enough to dry up any stickiness on top of the cake.
Place parchment paper on top of the cake and grab the top two corners; in one quick motion flip out onto a cutting board or counter top. Remove parchment paper by pulling each corner into the center. If it is sticking, place the cake into the freezer for 10 minutes, then try removing the parchment.
Cut the cake directly in half. Place this (without the parchment) on a cake plate or an upside down cookie sheet.
Pipe buttercream in a thin layer on the cake layer. Piping is easiest since the cake is so thin and tends to be fragile. Top this with the second cake layer.
Repeat this process until you use up all of the cake. You can either make the top layer cake or buttercream. Finish with dusted powdered sugar or you can pipe pretty rosettes or lines to create appealing decor.
Chill (for ease of cutting). Enjoy at room temperature and serve with fresh fruit, a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Pastry Chef Keli Marks is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. She received a full year education at the French Pastry School in Chicago, IL in exchange for being the very first assistant to Jacquy Pfeiffer & Sebastien Canonne, MOF when they opened the school in 1996.
Keli has been on the Food Network on three separate occasions: Sugar Rush, Romance Novel Cake Challenge and The Holiday Baking Championships. In addition, she was on the Chicago chapter’s board for Les Dames d’Escoffier from 2009 – 2011 and was a guest pastry chef at the famed James Beard House in NYC in 2013.
As the pastry chef owner of Bakery 28, she incorporates local ingredients from farmers within the Carolinas and promises to only use natural ingredients.
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