I spent nearly a month trying and re-trying various poundcake recipes because I’m stubborn and anal-retentive. I’ve never done so much recipe testing in my life. I’ve been making poundcake in my meager but endearing toaster oven for months now, and can do it successfully most of the time. But recently I wanted to find some alt-diet recipes. Praise be to Pinterest and Google, but goddamn this country’s lack of alt-diet ingredients.
I interned in a bakery in the dark ages of college. The bakery had started as a cake/cupcake food truck, and turned into a cake shop. Cupcakes had always been one of my least favorite pastries. They were too obvious and too sweet, and I couldn’t make a good frosting to save my life at gunpoint. All that changed when I started working here. I even started liking chocolate cake…well, vegan chocolate cake. And I discovered, finally, a gluten-free pastry that didn’t linger uncomfortably on my tongue after I swallowed. How surprised was I when the owners gave me the recipes: the vegan chocolate cupcake used canola oil to substitute both butter and eggs, and the gluten-free substitute was just rice flour.
Fortunately, both of those exist in Japan. They wouldn’t survive without some high-quality rice flour, and multiple varieties of it. Unfortunately, xanthan gum is not a thing in this country. Fortunately, gelatin works just as well. With my first attempt at gluten-free poundcake, I was successful, and all I had to do was substitute rice flour (komeko, 米粉) for all-purpose flour (1:1 ratio), and throw in a bit of agar-agar (kanten, 寒天). There are other varieties of rice flour, for different purposes: dango flour (dango-ko, 団子粉) for the sweet, skewered rice dumplings; and mochi flour (mochi-ko, 餅粉) for glutinous rice buns, among others.
gluten-free toaster oven poundcake
based on the basic recipe in Many Poundcakes in One Poundcake Mould, by Yoko Wakayama (「パウンド型一つで作るたくさんのケーク」、若山曜子)
makes one 18 cm cake (18 cm x 7 cm x 6.5 cm), or two 12 cm cakes (12 cm x 5.5 cm x 5 cm)
This is the most basic recipe, to which you can add whatever suits your fancy. Make sure butter and eggs are at room temperature. Leave butter out for a few hours just until it becomes pliable. You can put the eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot) water to bring them to temperature for a few minutes while you’re preparing. Once the batter is prepared, work quickly, because the baking powder works instantly.
100 g unsalted butter, softened and at room temperature
100 g granulated sugar
2 eggs (~100 g), at room temperature
100 g rice flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (~3 g)
3 g agar-agar
Extra mix-ins or flavors (cocoa powder, green tea powder, etc.)
If using a conventional oven, instead of a toaster oven, preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F.)
Measure out all ingredients in small bowls. Combine the flour, baking powder, and agar-agar in one bowl. Crack the eggs in another.
Line your poundcake mould with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Gradually beat in granulated sugar and keep beating until consistent, another 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Beat for another 2-3 minutes. Like the sugar, gradually beat in the dry mixture, just until fully combined.
Using a wooden or rubber spatula, fold in extras and flavorings. If using extract, cocoa powder, etc., that need to be fully mixed in, use the electric mixer.
Scrape batter into poundcake mould(s), and cover loosely with tin foil.
Toast at 1000 W for 30 – 45 minutes, until firm in the center, then remove foil and toast for 5 more minutes to brown the tops. To test, insert a wooden toothpick into the center (all the way.) If it comes out clean, the cake is done. You should also be able to smell the cake. If using a conventional oven, bake at 180 C for 40 minutes.
When finished, remove from the oven and let cool before cutting.
Enjoy! Tanoshinde ne.