Classic Brownie

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Classic Brownie with a secret ingredient and no wheat

At a flee market last week end I got hold of a tiny book with recipes for 30 different brownies (Ingrid Wikholm: Brownies). The only recipe that did not call for egg, butter and flour was the last brownie-recipe in the book, named Brownies Without Wheat Flour. Here flour was exchanged with ground almonds and hazelnuts.

Since I virtually never bake cakes WITH wheat flour (my husband has gluten allergy) this could of course have been a source for disappointment. Rather I see it as a challenge. How will the Classic Brownie from this book work out if I replace wheat flour with some of my favorite easily accessible alternatives? (Of course I could replace the wheat flour with “all purpose gluten free flour mix”, but my challenge is to see how far I can get with other alternatives that are more likely to be present (or useful) in my friends’ homes. I do not expect our friends who invite us from time to time, to buy a package of “all purpose gluten free flour mix” only for baking a cake that my husband can eat).

Well, I have made my first go at it, and the answer is that the Classic Brownie came out great. I replaced the wheat flour (50 g) with 50 g of finely mashed boiled chick peas and 20 g maize starch. The chickpeas contain proteins and complex carbohydrates, which both function as replacement for gluten, while the maize starch function as the replacement for wheat starch in the wheat flour. Together with the eggs, the starch will form a gel upon heating, and ensure that the brownie solidifies during baking.

In addition I exchanged the butter with milk-free margarin (just to be sure it worked fine also in milk free version). The milk free margarin contains fats with a slightly lower melting point than butter, but for most practical baking purposes this difference does not really matter. An alternative here could have been to use a milk free shortening, i.e. white, saturated fatty acids which has a melting point closer to butter.

Since I prefer baking small cakes (the most important is to get a taste of cake, not to eat a lot of calories), I reduced the recipe by 50% (thus 2 instead of 4 eggs). This amount is sufficient for a small circular cake (18 cm in diameter), or a small rectangular cake 17×20 cm, which should be enough for 6-8 persons.

Ingredients:

65 g milk free margarine
100 g dark chocolate without milk (preferentially 70% cocoa or more)
2 eggs (110 g)
140 g sugar
1/2 tea spoon baking powder
1/2 tea spoon vanilla extract
50 g finely mashed boiled chick peas (“cake hummus”, see comment below)
20 g maize starch

Method:

Heat the oven to 175 gC. Cover the bottom of a spring form (18 cm diameter) with a sheet of baking paper. Grease the sides of the spring form with margarine.

Fill a small casserole half way with water and put to boil. Put the margarine and chocolate in a small bowl and put over the hot water for the margarine and chocolate to melt without burning. Whip the eggs with the sugar until the foam is rather stiff. Add chick peas, starch, baking powder and vanilla to the eggs, and mix carefully. Fold in the melted margarine/chocolate mixture, and transfer the mixture to the spring form.

Place the spring form in the oven, and bake the brownie at 175n gC for around 20 minutes. The brownie is sufficiently cooked when it is still sticky inside. Check stickiness by inserting a knife into the brownie while still in the oven. (If the knife comes out clean, the brownie has been already too long in the oven. The brownie will still taste great, but it will be less sticky.)

When the brownie is still hot right from the oven, use a knife to loosen the brownie from the sides of the spring form. Let the air get out of the brownie by tapping the spring form gently onto a solid surface. Let the brownie cool completely, eventually place it in the fridge for a few hours, before removing the brownie from the spring form.

Montage:

Place the spring form upside down on a cake stand. Remove the form. Remove the baking paper. Dust the moist  surface of the brownie with some cocoa, sprinkle with gold dust or whatever cake decoration you have at hand. Fresh edible flowers may look great.

Serve the brownie as it is, or with a dollup of whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some vanilla sauce, a touch of raspberry coulis, fresh strawberries or whatever you fancy.

This cake is gluten free and milk free. If you tolerate milk, you can replace milk free margarin with butter.

Finely mashed boiled chick peas (which I call “cake hummus”) is similar to hummus but only with the chick peas, there is no added oil, tahini, lemon and garlic. You can use canned chick peas, or you can boil them your self from dry peas. It is most easy to mash the chick peas if they are boiled in the presence of baking soda. Chick peas are easily mashed in a blender. Make a large portion and freeze in smaller quantities for later gluten free (and/or egg free) baking.

Blogpost by Anne Spurkland, published 2nd June 2018

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