July 29, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson's Mexican Chocolate Cake - Gluten Free

Loving chocolate is in my genes. I think it's a prerequisite for being a member of my family, you must love chocolate...even if it's just a little bit.

When I was a child, my father loved to go to Sears & Roebuck not just for the hardware department, but for the candy counter. Once we'd finished our shopping, off we would go to make our selection for the drive home. My dad would slowly walk around the glass cases and contemplate the chocolate. Which kind should he buy today? It always came down to the large dark chocolate blocks. He'd order a pound and nibble on a few of them all the way home.

At seven years old I never quite understood my dad's love for solid chocolate. I liked chocolate coatings on candy centers. That's why I always liked to share my mom's bridge mix. Every piece seemed to be a surprise in a chocolate package. When I asked her why he kept getting those chocolate blocks, she would smile and say, "They are his favorite."

So when birthday's roll around at our house, there's never a question about whether or not the cake will be chocolate. The question is what kind of chocolate. Since the choices are numerous, great care is taken on deciding each element of the cake.

This year the winner was Lady Bird Johnson's Mexican Chocolate Cake recipe, from the Dallas Times Herald. Baked in a jelly roll pan rather than the traditional 9 x 13 pan, the cake is dark and moist. The boiled frosting recipe can be halved and used like a glaze or use a whole recipe to cover the entire cake. My modifications were to make the cake gluten free.



¼ cup cocoa
1 cup butter
1 cup water or strong coffee
2 tsp kudzu powder
2 cups cane sugar
¾ cups brown rice flour
½ cup sweet rice flour
¼ cup arrowroot starch
¼ cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
2 beaten eggs
½ cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan place the kudzu powder, cocoa, butter and water. Bring to a boil and stirring constantly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, dump in the sugar, flours, cinnamon and soda. Stir them together. Pour in the slightly cooled cocoa mixture into the large bowl and stir together. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla to the large bowl and stir. Make sure the eggs aren’t added while the cocoa mixture is still very hot or the eggs will cook. The cake batter will be a bit runnier than regular cake batters. Pour the cake batter into the jelly roll pan. Then spread it around with a spatula so it is even. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


½ cup butter
¼ cup cocoa
6 Tb milk
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Optional: 1 cup chopped pecans

In a medium saucepan, dump in the butter, cocoa and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour in the powdered sugar and stir together. Cook the frosting until the powdered sugar is combined and thoroughly blended, about three minutes. Take off the heat and add the vanilla and cinnamon. Pour the icing over the cake. Move quickly to get it spread out before the icing cools.

What did we all think? The cake was a winner with the entire family, although my son said he really just wanted to eat the cake. It was a great party cake and best of all, there were leftovers.


bakingbarb said...

I noticed your recipe, chocolate cake and gluten free, it's a wonder I didn't find it sooner! BUT I found the kudzu pwd called for and after looking around I see it in a few more recipes. Could you please explain why? As a gardener I am familiar with it but not as a cook.

Sheltie Girl said...

Hi Bakingbarb - Kudzu/Kuzu powder is made from the giant root of the Kudzu/Kuzu plant. It is ground, dried, pounded until it is a very fine powder that they allow to dry in small clumps. It is used in Japanese cooking as a thickener like gelatin or agar agar. You can also find it in the batter of tempura, where is used as a thickening agent and for shine.

Since I can't tolerate xanthan gum, I found that kudzu/kuzu powder dissolved in a little water will bind the gluten free baked good together just like xanthan or guar gum or gelatin. Unheated the kudzu/kuzu mix gels slightly, but warmed it becomes a firmer gel that will solidify.

I purchase my kudzu/kuzu powder made by Eden Foods (www.edenfoods.com) at Whole Foods where I found it in the Asian section. You can also find it online at Eden Foods. You can also find it at your local Asian market, where it will most likely be located with the flours and agar agar.

Does this help?

Sheltie Girl