I’m about to share a recipe flop with you. Enticing, isn’t it? Let me explain.
Lately I’ve been playing with whole-grain/rice-free gluten-free recipes and I turned my attention to Irish soda bread. Years ago, I created a recipe that makes a large loaf of Americanized soda bread. It’s delicious. Among other things, it contains caraway seeds, eggs, and sugar. Three ingredients you wouldn’t find in traditional Irish soda bread.
Since I really enjoyed the recipe, I worked on creating a whole-grain version. And since I was going whole-grain, I thought, “Why not make it egg-free too?” So I replaced the white and sweet rice flours with a blend of gluten-free oat flour, sorghum flour, and cornflour.* Since egg-free baking does better in small sizes than it does in large loaves or cakes, I dropped the batter onto a baking sheet, as you would do for biscuits or scones. In fact, that’s what I wanted: Irish soda bread biscuits.
The batter looked lovely. But during baking, the recipe seemed to flop. The biscuit-like Irish soda bread I’d envisioned spread out into large blobs during baking. Drat! Before I’d even pulled the pans from the oven, I was grumpy and disappointed. This wasn’t what I wanted. At all.
Then a funny thing happened. My family and friends liked loved the Irish soda bread cakes (I started calling them “cakes” instead of “flops” because I didn’t want them (the cakes, not my friends) to develop a complex.)
Even I had to admit that they were good. The crumb was tender and light. In fact, they were incredibly cake-like for an egg-free recipe. Many egg-free cakes are dense and almost wet. Not these! And like the original recipe, they were sweet with bites of caraway flavor throughout.
Right before I sat down to rework the recipe, I forced myself to step back. While I could spend time tweaking the recipe and shape it into the biscuits I’d envisioned, there was, of course, a delicious life lesson in this experience– one that I need to learn again and again and again. Embracing unexpected moments leads to joy. Focusing on what didn’t happen leads to disappointment and pain. And sometimes, when you’re lucky, those joyful moments come in the shape of Irish soda bread cakes!
*In the United States, cornflour refers to finely ground cornmeal, not cornstarch.
RECIPE: Irish Soda Bread Cakes
Makes 12 large cakes
- 3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
- 1/2 cup corn flour
- 1/2 cup sorghum flour
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In bowl of food processor, combine oat flour, corn flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Pulse to combine.
3. Add butter. Pulse until no large pieces of butter remain. Mixture should resemble a coarse meal. Add buttermilk. Run food processor until a thick batter forms. Add caraway seeds. Pulse a few times to combine.
4. Drop 6 mounds of batter, about 1/4 cup, onto prepared baking sheet. Space batter about two inches apart. Repeat on second baking sheet.
5. Bake until light and golden brown, about 18 minutes. Switch and rotate sheets halfway through baking. Transfer cakes to wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Best served within three days of baking. A cup of strong tea is an especially nice accompaniment to the cakes.