When you can’t eat gluten, it’s quite a lucky thing to have friends that enjoy experimenting in the kitchen. My colleague, neighbor, and buddy–prop and food stylist Martha Bernabe–is one of those dear people. I think she enjoys the challenge of converting her arsenal of recipes into Celiac-friendly treats and takes pride in the ‘normal’ eater not noticing that she has. I am surely thankful for her efforts and so it was appropriate that I baked this new favorite for my gluten-eating family on Thanksgiving. The dense cake is not too sweet, the toffee sauce is perfectly so, and the sea salt provides just the right bit of contrast. Do your best to squirrel away a piece or two of leftovers so that you may experience it cold from the fridge, with your morning coffee.
This particular recipe is an easy cup-for-cup flour replacement (you can just make it with regular flour should you prefer), as the dates provide the necessary stickiness and help bind, in the absence of gluten.
Gluten Free Hot Date Cake with Toffee Sauce
1 1/2 cups pitted dried dates, chopped in small pieces
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups boiling water
5 Tbsp softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 tsp gluten feee vanilla extract
4 Tbsp butter
Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix the dates, baking soda, and boiling water together and let cool, stirring occasionally to release the heat. Grease a 9″ square or round cake pan with butter. In a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the softened butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl, alternating with the date water mixture until everything is combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and place in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. (Until cake is deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.)
Let the cake sit for 10 minutes to cool and in the meantime, make the toffee sauce. In a small pot over medium high heat combine the brown sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and butter. Once the sauce starts bubbling, turn the heat to medium and let thicken, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes.
Invert your cake onto a cake plate. With a skewer or toothpick poke holes all over the top of your cake. Lots and lots of tiny holes. Pour the hot toffee sauce all over. (You may have to wait in between pours to let the toffee sauce sink in.) Right when you’re about to serve, sprinkle with special sea salt, such as Maldon or Fleur de Sel.