Friday, July 11, 2014

Gluten free chocolate cake and intellectual fraud

Have your gluten-free chocolate cake, eat it, and stay true to yourself and others

gluten free chocolate cake | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak
gluten free chocolate cake | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak

Those who have gone gluten-free sometimes long for certain “creature comforts” like breads, muffins, and cake. Store-bought gluten-free alternatives are sometimes pricey. Some cake mixes labeled as gluten-free or wheat-free are not completely so. Chocolate cake mixes or packaged icings may contain “natural caramel color” or other additives that are derived from barley or malt. Those contain trace amounts of “hidden gluten”. That leaves some who love to bake cakes for special occasions or “just because” wondering if there are any real, cost effective alternatives.

Gluten-free alternative flours do tend to cost more than Triticum aestivum flours. However, a smart shopper can find these at a reasonable price, if they look around. Many grocers are ow carrying these flours and even shelve ones on their own label. Those are usually the same as the more pricey big-name brands, but in a different box. They are milled and packaged on the same equipment, but at a lower price to consumers. Of course, you need to read the label and look out for those claiming to be gluten, wheat, barley, soy, and rye free but are not.

For those wanting to bake a cake from scratch, here is a simple recipe that quells those cravings. (Recipe generated by pure trial and error, experimenting on a poor, unsuspecting family).

Gluten-free chocolate cake in dark chocolate glaze

Ingredients (makes 1 single layer 9″ round — 6-8 servings)

Butter – 1/4 cup (1 stick)
Eggs – 3
Brown Sugar – 1/4 cup (you can use white or blend 50-50)
Vanilla – 1 tsp
Cider vinegar – 1 tbsp
Tapioca flour – 1 cup
Rice flour – 1/2 cup
Potato starch – 1/2 cup
(Alternative — use 1 1/2 cups of gluten-free general purpose baking flour and 1/2 cup tapioca flour or almond meal)
Xanthan gum (or guar gum) – 1/2 teaspoon
Cocoa powder (100 percent) – 2 tbsp
Baking powder – 2 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Almond milk – 2/3 cup
Cocoa powder – 2 tbsp
Confectioners sugar – 1/4 cup
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Almond milk – 1/2 cup


Using butter or coconut oil, grease your baking pan. Then flour the pan with a tablespoon or two (or three) of tapioca flour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Let butter and eggs stand at room temperature for about an hour. Place in mixing bowl with sugar, vinegar, and vanilla. Cream the ingredients together until well blended. Add cocoa powder. Mix until well blended.
Mix together the remaining dry ingredients. Add about half to the butter mixture and mix until well blended. The mixture will be thick. Add the almond milk and the remaining dry ingredients. Mix until well blended. The batter should be about the right consistency. If still too thick, add a little more almond milk. The mixture should pour easily without being runny.

Pour into floured and greased baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine coco powder and coconut oil. Heat at low to low-medium heat until the coconut oil melts, stirring continuously. Add the confectioners sugar and almond milk. Continue to stir continuously until the ingredients are well blended. Remove from heat and refrigerate.

Allow the cake to cool to room temperature. It’s best to let it cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then to cool the cake on the serving tray or cake stand for at least 30 more minutes before applying the glaze. The glaze should be refrigerating while the cake cools. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and serve. to make this more of a treat, place a scoop of vanilla ice cream (home-made is always best) on top of the slice, then drizzle a little more of the glaze over both the cake and ice cream.

Intellectual fraud

Though many celebrate individual thought and ideas, there often arise others with similar beliefs, morals, values, and thoughts. This is in many realms from cooking to music to academia to journalism to fiction writing. Sometimes we inadvertently “borrow” good ideas we come in contact with, adapting them with our own to create new ideas or thoughts. that is a natural human condition.

When we do so intentionally, the right and moral thing to do is give credit where credit is due. We either quote and cite these other thinkers or we give them credit in some other, recognizable way.

However, there are some out there who seek the limelight. They, for whatever reason, do not generate or relate their own thoughts. Instead, they feel it necessary to take the works of others and pass them off as their own. This is intellectual fraud. It is a form of theft, something most would agree is immoral. This intellectual fraud includes several other acts most perceive as unethical, immoral, or even criminal.
First, there is the act of plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking the intellectual works, usually published, of another and claiming them as one’s own. It is reprehensible and a symbol of laziness. Worse, it is akin to identity theft. However, in the U.S., plagiarism is not easily defined as a crime in itself, though most academic institutions and publishing firms have strict policies against it.

Next is copyright infringement. This is similar to plagiarism. However, it differs in that copyright infringement is a more direct form of theft. It involves stealing money the copyright owner (which may or may not be the author) could have made. This, in the U.S., is illegal and may be subject to civil suits, if the accuser can prove ownership of the copyrighted material. The owner must also prove that the material was intended for publication and that publication was intended for revenue purposes. If the copyright owner intended to hand out the works on a free newsletter on street corners in downtown Chicago, then it was not intended for revenue, and the case is hard to prove. But that is a subject for the courts and for lawyers.

Third is the outright deception to the public. Others see the stolen works for the first time, believing them the original works of the thief. The thief gains credibility and is usually expected to continuously repeat performance at the same level. When that thief cannot, he or she is usually tempted to steal again and again, sometimes from other sources. The thief then gains the notoriety (and often monetary compensation) that rightfully belong to the authors and/or the copyright owners of the original works.

The real crime is that the perpetrator passes himself off as something he is not, taking credit for work he cannot do. He does so at the labors of others. The fraud eventually comes to light. It victimizes those who believed the thief to be genuine. Most of all, though, many times the thief deludes himself into believing himself something he is not, victimizing himself as well.

Disclaimer: The author is not a medical doctor nor a registered dietitian. The information provided in this article is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to be interpreted as medical, nutritional or health advice. Please seek the advice of an expert before starting any new diet or exercise program.