Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cake

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cake

There are days where all I want to do is bake new cake flavors and attempt perfecting macarons, but I still have an academic responsibility. Besides, it's probably a good thing that I don't get to do that all the time, because now that my elimination diet is over --AND I know I am sensitive to sugar --nothing will stop me from having a slice of cake or stuffing 600 macaron cookies into my mouth. Nothing.

If you look into Iranian (or Persian) culture, you'll find that baking does not play a big part in it as cooking does. Take a list of french pastries and desserts, and put them side-by-side with Iranian/Persian pastries and desserts and the French will win the Gold Medal just for showing up. Because of the lack of sweets in my family, I never really had a sweet tooth.

I mentioned in a previous post, how fascinated I was when an old family-friend let me and her son help her bake cupcakes. I spent most of my childhood life without ever baking really, until I was eighteen. I baked my very first apple pie from scratch and not only did I really enjoy the experience, but the pie was to die for. Within two months, I joined the Professional Culinary Institute (goes by a different name now I think), and learned everything there was to know about baking.

When I graduated, two things happened: the recession, and I got engaged. I wasn't able to leave my job because I had my own place to pay for, and no one in the baking field was really hiring. So I worked full-time in retail communications, while baking from home part-time. Cakes was my thing. Sometimes I was good at it, sometimes I sucked at it, and eventually I got tired of it.

So at one point, I stopped baking all together. I stopped taking orders and I just didn't really bother to have cake at any occasion. Exceptions would include my annual pumpkin loaf pass-out, and a rare chance of baklava when a potluck came up.

Feb 2, 2013, Super Bowl Sunday, I was visiting my mother's for lunch where I took a nap during half-time. When I rose from my slumber, the first thing I wanted was a caramel frappacino. I jumped into my car and drove to the nearest Starbucks. Asking the barista what goes into a caramel frappicino should tell you plenty of my lack for sweets. Since then, thanks to my forever fucked hormones, I've had a craving for sweets.

Now that I have a better understanding of what food does to my body as a whole, I feel comfortable enough to bake again. I want to learn more about sugar alternatives and what happens when one thing is substituted for another. "Trial and error," my husband says. Baking is science and the kitchen is a laboratory. Most of all, I want to dip into my Iranian roots and bring it back with baking. Hopefully I will get to do more of that in the coming future.

for the cake

  • 185g white rice flour
  • 62g potato starch
  • 34g tapioca starch
  • 54g cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites +1 whole egg at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

for the filling

  • 12 oz unsalted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese (or mascarpone cheese if you prefer less tart)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar to taste
  • (optional) pumpkin seeds


  1. preheat oven to 350°F
  2. grease 3 6-inch cake rounds and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper
  3. in a bowl, sift the dry ingredients (from white rice flour to pumpkin spice), set aside
  4. in another small bowl, combine the egg whites, egg, buttermilk and pumpkin puree, set aside
  5. using a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium high speed until the batter becomes fluffy, scraping the sides once -- about 5 minutes
  6. reduce the mixer's speed to low, and add the dry ingredients in four parts, alternating with the wet ingredients.
  7. once combined, scrape down the sides and mix on medium speed for one more minute
  8. remove bowl from mixer and fold ingredients by hand to get any missed areas at the bottom of the bowl
  9. divide the batter evenly between the pans and place onto center of oven (I use a large ice cream scooper to count the amount of scoops going into each pan)
  10. bake for 20 minutes. rotate pans and bake for another 10-15 minutes -using a toothpick check for doneness
  11. remove cake from oven and allow to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes
  12. transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
  13. while the cake cools, make the filling using the stand mixer.
  14. beat the butter, cream cheese or mascarpone and vanilla extract until combined.
  15. sift the powdered sugar and add to the mixture to taste.
  16. to assemble, cut the top of each cakes to level, fill one cake with the icing and sprinkle pumpkin seeds, and then place another cake on top. repeat until the last cake. ice the outside of the cake accordingly.

Fail Again, Fail Better (Life in the Academic Lane)

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