Decadent Chocolate Cake, Gluten-Free and a Tribute to Sheila Lukins

by Jeanne on November 10, 2009

As you probably already know, Sheila Lukins died of brain cancer in August at the young age of 66. I was so sad when I heard the news. She was in my pantheon of cooking goddesses. She was co-owner of The Silver Palate gourmet food shop in New York City, and co-author of The Silver Palate Cookbook, as well as three other cookbooks. She was also the food editor at Parade magazine for 23 years–taking over when Julia Child left that position.

I really liked her spirit–much as I liked Julia Child’s. I read a quote once that said something to the effect that “Julia Child brought French cooking to America, while Sheila Lukins brought American cooking to Americans.” Both women were interested in opening up cooking to a larger audience. Lukins was quoted as saying, “The whole idea is to make people feel very comfortable preparing a meal,”and, “The best compliment I ever get is that cooking from these recipes is just like having a friend helping you in the kitchen.” What lovely sentiments.

The recipe for Decadent Chocolate Cake is one of my favorites from The Silver Palate Cookbook. It’s everything you want a chocolate cake to be: moist but not gummy, easy to make, with a killer frosting. Yup, it’s perfect.

I was just down in my hometown of Monterey, CA for my sister, Laura’s birthday, and I made this cake for her celebration. Everyone loved it. Even her daughter, who has publicly stated that she hates cake and won’t eat any. She had the whole piece and asked for more. High praise indeed. I don’t need to tell you that it was gluten-free and no one noticed or cared.

One thing I like about this recipe is that it is made in a tube pan–which gives it a nice presentation. Also, the frosting is a cross between a ganache glaze and a frosting–scrumptious. I always have some frosting left when I make it, which serves as a “take-a-spoonful-every-so-often” snack in our household.

The original recipe calls for adding the egg yolks separately from the whites, beating the whites, and folding them in at the end. I’ve made it both ways and haven’t found much of a difference in the texture of the cake between the two methods. Therefore, I’ve eliminated that extra step from my adaptation.

Decadent Chocolate Cake, Gluten-Free
-adapted from the original in The Silver Palate Cookbook

For Cake
2 cups (280 g)  Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup boiling water
3 oz (85 g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup  (115 g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup (120 ml) sour cream
extra butter and tapioca flour for pan

For Chocolate Frosting
2 tablespoons (1 oz; 28 g)  unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (4.5 oz; 130 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups (140 g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted (I start with 1 cup and add more if I want it to be sweeter)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

To make the cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour your pan with the extra butter and tapioca flour.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

Place unsweetened chocolate and butter in medium bowl. Pour boiling water over. Let sit for 1 minute to melt the chocolate chips and butter, then whisk until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs on medium high until light and fluffy–about 1 minute. Add sugar and continue to beat another minute. Add vanilla, beat to combine.

Add butter-chocolate mixture, beat on high until fully incorporated and smooth.

Add the sour cream, beat until combined.

Add flour mixture, beat until just combined–do not overmix

Scrape into prepared pan, smooth top, and bake for about 50 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then carefully unmold onto wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting
Place all ingredients in heavy saucepan over very low heat and whisk until smooth. Watch carefully so that it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and whisk until smooth.

Let cool until frosting is thickened. You want it to be in a state where it’s not so warm that it will run off of the cake, but not so cool that it is too stiff to frost with. I let it sit on the counter for awhile whisk it every so often.

Frost the completely cool cake. Don’t forget the little inner ring. It will further cool into a shiny glaze. It will be beautiful!

I usually have some frosting left over–store in fridge for spoonfuls of decadent midnight snacks.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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