Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Off The Shelf: The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam is the latest book I've been raving about to my friends. Why am I so excited? Elana begins the book by showing the nutritional benefits of using almond flour (versus white wheat flour or rice flour): there is more than twice the protein in almond flour than the other flours and far more vitamins and minerals. Not to mention: it's also gluten-free!

Combined with her exclusive use of agave nectar as a sweetening agent, Elana's recipes produce food that is much lower on the glycemic index than normal cooking which is a boon for people who need to monitor their blood sugar or want to avoid going the route of diabetes.

So what does this 126-page book hold? Chapters on breakfast, breads and crackers, entrees, pies, pastries and crusts, cakes and cupcakes, cookies and bars, and toppings, syrups, and sauces. Some of the recipes featured include: Banana Blueberry Muffins, Orange Apricot Scones, Pancakes, Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Scrumptious Sandwich Bread, Olive-Rosemary Bread, Herb Crackers, Chicken Pot Pie, Herbed Turkey Loaf, Eggplant Parmesan, Savory Vegetable Quiche, Pecan Pie, Peach Blueberry Crisp, Strawberry Creme Tart, Pizza Crust, Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Raspberry Torte, Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Lemon Bars, and Ginger Macadamia Brownies.

Now, before you get all excited and run out to the store to buy some almond flour, let me tell you the bad news: almond flour is expensive. Not having time to shop around for the Carrot Cake I chose to make, I spent $11.79 for one pound of Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour. I later found out I could have gotten it for $8 a pound at a different local healthfood store, and, if I'd ordered it online in bulk I could pay only $5/pound. However, it is worth taking the health benefits into consideration as well as spacing out your sweet consumption. (The best deal we've found on agave nectar is at Costco.)

Another word of advice from a friend: ideally you want fine almond flour, not grainy almond meal (such as my Bob's Red Mill turned out to be). However, despite my grainy textured almond flour the carrot cake still came out quite well. So, if grainy is all you have, try it anyway.

Oh, and if you want more inspiration from Elana, check out her food blog here.

And now, for the amazing, incredible, hard-to-believe-it's-gluten-free, carrot cake:



CLASSIC CARROT CAKE
(The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook)
Print these recipes


3 cups blanched almond flour
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 c. grapeseed oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup agave nectar
5 large eggs
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup raisins (I like golden raisins)
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (I used pecans)

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with oil, line with parchment paper, and dust with almond flour.

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, agave nectar, and eggs. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Fold in the carrots, raisins, and walnuts. Scoop the batter into the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 1 hour, then serve.

Note: I topped this cake with a low-sugar, cream-cheese/whipped cream icing (recipe follows). You could use your favorite cream-cheese icing recipe. Elana suggests using her Creamy Coconut Frosting which is also dairy free.

WHIPPED CREAM/CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
(Heather)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup confectioners' sugar
zest of 1 lime or 1 orange (your preference)

Beat the softened cream cheese until smooth. Add the cream, sugar and zest. Continue beating until icing is thickened. Add more sugar if desired.