Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Peanut & Pretzeled Gluten-Free Texas Sheet Cake


The excitement is building! Already recipes are thoughtfully being created! The next Annapolis Food With Friends event is only a month away and there is MUCH to do. The theme? Barbecue. Barbeque? BBQ? Whatever you call it, just be sure to call ME when it's ready, okay?  

BBQ experts are heading down from the far north of Canada and up from the deep south of Georgia to smoke up some of the best 'Cue out there. The experts? Two of our very own members: Adrienne, a BBQ competition judge who also heads up a BBQ competition team that has won awards across the U. S. A. She's the Canadian member, eh. 

Greg is our Southern barbecuer who is a caterer, barbecue judge and is part of a amazing group of barbecue humanitarians working under the auspices of Operation BBQ Relief. What's that? What do they do? 

Operation BBQ Relief ( sends teams of BBQ competitors, along with their BBQ rigs, from at least nine states into disaster areas. They first organized to feed victims of the F5 tornado that devastated Joplin, Missouri in 2011.  Since that time, they've set up operations in Alabama, New Jersey, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Kansas...just to name a few.

The rigs are self-sufficient fuel-wise, which allows the mobile cooking teams to serve up good food with or without power. Along with food, they serve up much needed hugs and friendship to victims and workers alike. (Check out the link above to find out more about the work this group does...make a donation if you wish!)

Back to Food With Friends, folks. The theme (BBQ) being established and the proteins being decided by Adrienne and Greg, the rest of us teamed up to create the rest of the menu. Marti, Brian and Carol are on appetizers. Donna and Maria are working on side dishes and Sherron and I are doing dessert(s). Other members head up other items and still others will lend a hand...not everything has been decided yet! 

Sherron, food blogger AND food photographer  ( AND one amazing individual and I quickly got our heads together behind the scenes to decide on a few BBQ-friendly desserts. I can't tell you what the big dessert items will be right now (I don't want to spoil the surprise), but I can tell you gluten-free Texas Sheet Cake is part of it. 

In researching gluten-free recipes out there, I found most used a different method of preparation and much different proportions of traditional cocoa, butter, water, flour, sugar, etc. Hmmm...does gluten-free flour react differently to heat? Is that why they use a mixer instead of whisking up the ingredients in a pot on the stove?

I trusted the "experts" on the internet and changed my regular recipe. The result? Not so wonderful. Instead of being fudgy, the cake was dense and heavy. The normally thick batter was runny. Instead of baking up into a beautiful cake, it ran over the sides and onto the bottom of the oven. And instead of taking the very precise 22 minutes to bake, it took over an hour before it set. Back to the drawing board. 

So I reverted to my old recipe and simply substituted a commercial gluten-free flour blend (Jules' All Purpose Gluten-free flour blend to be specific) instead of all the changes that clearly didn't (no pun intended) pan out. And it worked. Beautifully. So well that my taste testers at work couldn't tell it was even gluten-free. Success! The old and trusted recipe was a winner!

In addition to making the old recipe gluten-free, I turned it into a salty/sweet treat by crowning the fudgy frosting with crushed pretzels and salted peanuts. Nice. And I won't make you wait until next month for the recipe.  Here it is.

Peanut & Pretzeled Gluten-free Texas Sheet Cake  

(Not gluten-free? Just use regular all purpose flour!)

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa, heaping (REALLY heaping!)
  • 2 cups Jules' gluten-free flour blend (or regular all purpose flour if gluten isn't an issue!)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (dissolve this in sour cream above)
  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa, level
  • 6 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound box powdered sugar

  • 2 cups gluten-free pretzels (or regular if gluten isn't an issue), measured before gently crushing
  • 1 cup salted peanuts

Put butter, water and cocoa into pot; bring to full boil.  Remove from heat and add flour, sugar and salt; beat until smooth and add sour cream (with soda in it) and eggs.  Mix well and pour into greased 17" X 9" X 1" high cookie sheet with rim.  Bake for 22 minutes at 375.

In same pot the cake was made in (and you don't even wash the pot!) add 1/2 cup butter, 4 level T. cocoa and milk and bring to a full boil.  Remove and add rest of ingredients.  Beat well.

Spread the frosting over cake as SOON as it comes out of the oven.  Evenly sprinkle the peanuts and crushed pretzels over the top of the frosting, pressing gently into the frosting to set them in place.

Refrigerate cake, cut into squares and serve.  Best when cold.   

Before cutting into squares - I just liked this pic!

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