fluffy sponge cake, gluten-free and sulfite-free, and a very special dragonfly

These individual cakes are very fluffy and light, similar to a “biscuit de Savoie” or a sponge cake. If you are new at baking gluten-free and are not ready to invest in unusual flours, this recipe is for you: all you need is eggs, sugar, vanilla, rice flour and potato starch – and for those of my American neighbors who worry about sulfites, Shiloh Farms guarantees theirs to be “safe”. You can order it online directly from them, as I have. The last ingredient on the list is an apple! Grating it finely will not only add natural sweetness to the batter, but it will also make the cake very spongy, without any gluten-free aftertaste.

Ingredients (for 6 individual cakes):

– 60 g rice flour

– 60g sulfite-free potato starch (Shiloh Farms brand)

– 3 XL eggs, whites and yolks separated

– 1 pinch all natural sea salt

75g pure cane sugar without any caramel coloring added

– 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional, makes for a more flavorful cake)

– one small sweet, not tart, organic apple

Equipment:

an electric beater, a grate, a sieve, and a silicone mini cake mold. I usually do not bake using silicone so this is an exception. The French mold I have is high quality (so a bit more expensive to buy), with stiff sides for easier handling, never smelled while heating, never gave a funny taste to the cakes either, and from what I have read baking at a low temperature should avoid any toxic transfer to the food – hopefully. If you do not have a mold that is the same material or size as mine (look at the photos), just keep an eye on the cakes while they bake and adjust the baking time accordingly.

How to:

(Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F)

1. Weigh 60g each rice flour and potato starch in a small bowl. Mix and set aside.

2. Separately, beat 3 egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.

I trust my stand mixer to do the job of beating the egg whites while I do the rest.

3. In a large bowl, beat the 3 egg yolks with 75g pure cane sugar until the mixture turns very pale and forms a “ribbon” when you lift the whisks. Add the teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Beaten yolks and sugar, very pale and bubbly, with added vanilla extract

4. Peel the apple (don’t bother cutting it or removing its seeds, it will be easier to grate if it retains its round shape) and grate 45g into the yolk + sugar mixture. Stir immediately to prevent oxydation.

And 45g of grated apple!

5. Using a spatula, alternately fold in a third of the beaten egg whites and a third of the sieved dry mix (rice flour and potato starch) until everything has been used.

Some of the egg whites and flour mix have already been folded in.

6. Pour into lightly greased molds and bake at 175°C / 350°F for about 20 minutes; inserting the tip of a knife in the middle of the cakes will tell you if they are done: the blade should come out clean.

In French there is an expression to express lightness: “léger comme une libellule » (“as light as a dragonfly”) and a few days ago, as I was driving and thinking about this expression, I stumbled upon this:

 

This sculpture is the real size replica of a local dragonfly… So much for lightness! You don’t believe me? Dear neighbors, I am not in the habit of lying! This gigantic dragonfly did indeed exist… some 300 million years ago, and its fossil was found at the end of the 19th century when mining for coal was at its peak in the area. It even has a scientific name: Meganeura monyi ! (source : https://fossiles-mineraux.wixsite.com/f-m-a/commentry )

I hope this dragonfly won’t give you any nightmares, dear neighbors 😊! Happy baking!