Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Gluten-Free Yay It's Wednesday Cake! Donut Cake

What? All of your favorite things rolled into one? I know! Festivity, gluten-free-ness, and donut cake, in honor of Wednesday. (For more on the "Yay, It's Wednesday Cake" Cake tradition, please visit this or this.)

How are you, my darlings? We all have teenagers and kids leaving and not leaving, and life is a whirlwind of missing things, if you know what I mean. Ben's absence has been hard for our family. It's gotten much, much better, for sure: he's happy, for one, which we're thrilled about, and Birdy is a delightful person to live with. But boy do we miss that Ben all the time. It's the end of the longest chapter of my life, during which I was a mother with two kids at home. As a friend's daughter once said, after she was weaned, "You used to make milk for me! Now your body just makes poop and pee for nobody." Sigh.

This is the kind of good child who will never go to college! Yay, Birdy! La la la la. Don't talk to me about it.
But I do still get to cook for Birdy, thank god. Like this cake! Which she was delighted to come home to last week, partly because of the festive sign, and partly because it is so, so good: moist and a little gritty and just the right amount sweet and nutmeggy. A perfect cake, and an especially perfect gluten-free cake.

Meanwhile, I've written for Family Circle here, and for Real Simple this month--a weird little essay in addition to my usual etiquette column over there. (I think it's only in the actual magazine, not on the online.) Plus, you can follow me on instagram here! Where it's ALL MENDING ALL THE TIME.

Gluten-Free Donut Cake
This is the best cake I make, and it's a debased riff on the justly famous Busy-Day Cake of cookbook author and local-food pioneer Edna Lewis, which I originally wrote about here. A note on the flour: I recommend half almond meal and half gluten-free all-purpose flour (the kind with, as I like to say, Xanax* in it.) Not only that, but in the one cup of almond meal I use half of the pale floury kind of almond meal and half of the kind that is skin-on and a bit rougher. And not only that BUT I secretly use half regular gf flour and half of this weird whole-grain blend from (the wonderful) Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day: equal parts, by weight, of oat flour, sorghum flour, teff flour, and brown rice flour. You're welcome. You know what else you can do? Use all of whatever your favorite gf flour is! Seriously. It will be totally good and fine. 

* Xanthan gum

1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups gluten-free flour (see headnote)
2 tablespoons cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ideally freshly grated
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter and flour (I use almond flour for this) a 9-inch springform pan, and set it aside.

Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition, and add the vanilla. You may want to periodically scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour(s), cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with flour. Make sure each addition is incorporated before adding next, but don't over-beat it at the end. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake until the top is puffed and golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes (Honestly, I just push the top gently with my fingertip and make sure it seems inclined to spring back). Serve warm or at room temperature, ideally with lightly sweetened fruit (I added about a tablespoon of sugar to a pint of sliced strawberries and two sliced nectarines) and whipped cream. And don't be dismayed if the cake sinks significantly upon cooling: it might, and that's fine.


  1. I chuckled at the comment about the bodies that used to make milk and now... yes, sigh. Birdie is such a delightful visual blend of Catherine and Michael, and such a delightful otherwise unique being. I will have to try out this cake for our next family gathering that calls for it. I am, sadly, now in the group of people avoiding sugar as an "It's Wednesday" sort of event.

  2. I love those mended jeans! Could you say how you did this? I saw you have hashtags on your instagrams but I'm a little afraid of going down a mending rabbit hole. So if you could find it in your heart to give some brief instructions (or a link!), that would be highly appreciated.

  3. As usual, you are a tiny step ahead of us. Two years. My son is 16 1/2, and now he's driving on roads with elk, drunk drivers, and God knows what else that could hit him, and I'm having to practice the letting go thing every time he drives the half hour to school with his little sister. In his own car. Phew. And soon, he will be gone, and I can't even think about that yet. I'm gonna go make that cake now.

  4. The Family Circle article made me cry.

  5. Anonymous10:13 PM

    I was so happy to see a new post here! That's not a scolding. I'm just saying it's such a treat to know that you're still out there.
    My senior in high school son has decided to go to a local community college next year and I am secretly glad. He clearly isn't ready to go away, and while this breaks my heart a little, I am also giddy at the thought that he is postponing his leaving for a bit. This growing up business is so happy/sad.

  6. Oh the joy of checking your page and having three posts I’d not read yet! And four new book recommendations! And links to things you’ve written! (And a snarky comment to roll eyes at - boo). And to laugh out loud at your ever perfect humor and grace.

  7. Anonymous1:17 PM

    Hi Katherine. Missing your updates. Is there another place to find your writing these days?

  8. Anonymous10:11 AM

    Hi Catherine. Miss seeing you on here! Is there another place to find your writing these days? I imagine things are hectic (in a good way!) with it being Summer and everyone piled home... :)