Fork Spoon Knife is the personal blog of Asha where she chronicles her journeys in food through stories, recipes and photographs. She can also be found doodling and sharing her experiences as below.



Daring Kitchen Disaster with a piping hot mug of Humili-tea :)

Gluten free yeast cake1

Let me tell you a tale...

Once upon a time, not-so-long ago, there lived a young girl, willful and feminist. She spent her days carefree while taking care to stay away from the Kitchen. When her mother suggested that she pick up basic cooking (note: not culinary!) skills, she stuck her nose up, nonchalantly tossed her head and walked away....

Then came a time in her life, when she lived alone growing alarmingly atheist about food and struggling to turn to tangible the agonizingly nostalgic slivers of memory of mom's delicious cooking. And, then, she had to do the unthinkable... Pick up the ladle and spoon and get with it..

Over time, the past prejudices became mere amusing anecdotes and she prided herself on being a rather good, nay, awesome home chef. She came to think of the kitchen as her domain, holding to price any small change her rather accomodative husband unwittingly made. She insisted that no feat was beyond her and Ha! everything can be made perfect in the first attempt.

On any day, she could spin a mouthwatering meal out of the humblest of ingredients. Whenever she saw something new in the food magazines, she tossed her head nonchalantly, walked tall and steady into the kitchen, did a bit of this and that and came out bearing a lovely tray of hot food, beautifully styled, perfectly photographed and then served it cold!

Lunch - Antipasti

Then.... one day, it came crashing down. The bubble, the lofty self-perception and along with it an era of hegemonic self indulgence.... Ah! Karma exists, indeed!

Yes, dear readers... that arrogant, young (!!!) girl is/was/am me :) And my judgement day came today while attempting my Daring Bakers Challenge. And, what a hard fall it was.. Fortunately, I was rooted sufficiently to the ground, to take the failure in stride and laugh about it and learn something along the way.

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

What happened you ask? Well... It started with me running out of regular all purpose flour. Cocky, as I was, I decided I would just go gluten free and use rice and buckwheat flour. I mean, how difficult can it be, right? Wrong!

Top view - yeast cake

First, that little thing called gluten plays a rather significant role in dough becoming elastic. So my gluten free mixture just never came together into a tacky dough. It looked like a tart crust, smooth but crumbly. Nevertheless, I left it to rise, hoping, things would fix themselves along the way. Wrong again!

The dough never rose! So, after about 2 hours of patience and prayer, I decided to get on with it and just enjoy the experiment, however it turns out. :). So, I pressed the dough into a square pan, spread my meringue over, sprinkle a generous amount of dry fruits preserved in brandy, topped with another layer or the questionable dough and baked it. To finish, I spread some more meringue and baked until golden brown.

And, well, needless to say, it was disaster... LOL

The cake itself was abysmally dry and had a weird texture and taste. I have a sneaking suspicion that rice flour was the culprit on the taste. The yeast never worked with these flours. There was not even a minuscule rise. I honestly do not know how the gluten free bakers do it! I always thought they were resourceful and cool. Now, I have a new found respect for her, her and her!!

Gluten free Yeast cake with Meringue filling & brandied fruits

Nevertheless, I am happy I tried it out, even though my inner good self was snickering away at my right sized ego. LOL.. Now I'll just go get myself Shauna's book and let the learning begin.. :)

Meanwhile, you guys should head over to Daring Kitchen, to see how many people got it right, with or without gluten! :)

But, before you leave, I beseech you to help the Japanese Red Cross by participating in the International Food Bloggers Auction for Japan...

IFBAfJ Logo2 copy


  1. Now here we have a true Daring Baker, holding your head high and making your 'failure' look so gorgeous! :) You dared to try and that too with what you had on hand, I would have probably thrown in the towel or waited till the nth moment to get my hands on AP flour.. you did just great!

  2. O Asha!! You are human afterall then. Lol. Loved your funny story and while I am sure it was frustrating (I've had my good share of failures!!) at least the photos still look good..:) too bad really as the cake was lovely. Give it another try with all purpose flour and I'm sure you'll love it!

  3. Disasters happen to everybody! At least you tried, were adventurous and know what you did wrong, so that's not so bad....



  4. Very daring to go for the gluten-free, shame it didn't work out. Great styling to make it look lovely :) Do try again though, it's a great recipe.

  5. You can't always win... the photos are lovely anyway!

  6. Ha, ha. But I know you're much nicer than you make yourself out to be here. These things happen to all of us. I remember my early experiments in "egg-free" baking; actually I don't want to go there! :D

    You attempted, persevered and didn't give up so you're a winner. And whtever the result, it looks pretty on that plate! ;-)

  7. It's nice to know that you are not perfect--just having a great time trying things out! Thanks for sharing. :)

  8. Food disasters happen at least once a week in my house. I love that you went public with it, and with such humor! Regardless of the taste, it LOOKS beautiful. :-)

  9. most days in the kitchen are disasters for me, lol, so its good to know I'm not the only one who had a few problems

  10. My last month's challenge was a disaster too because I was experimenting. I'm glad you posted though-we can all learn from experimentation. The pictures look great though!!

  11. I love this post. Because we all have our fails and disasters, and you have such a warmth and humor to yours. I certainly hope that you don't count the challenge as a fail, as it was absolutely a learning experience. To that I say bravo! :)

  12. I laughed when I saw the part about " bearing a lovely tray of hot food, beautifully styled, perfectly photographed and then served it cold!" Sounds just like a food blogger!

    Sorry to hear that your dough didn't rise, but not too sorry with these enviably beautiful photos you were able to produce anyways :D Hopefully when you get a chance to make this again it will turn out tasty, moist and better than the first attempt...

    But I'm secretly hoping that the photos don't come out as I'm truly jealous of the ones you got here already on your "failed" attempt :D

  13. such a beautiful photo....u'd never tink it was a disaster! my mum was much like yours and i was much like you growing up :)

  14. Your disaster looks great! I went thru something similar when I went eggless but over time its okay...

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  15. Aside from being what you call a "disaster" - I think it looks beautiful. And, at least you gave it a valiant effort - most people, myself included, would have given up after the dough didn't rise. So, be proud about that!

  16. Great post! I was intrigued by the photo I saw on the forum: it looked gorgeous and I had to see what spin had put on the challenge. I laughed out loud, as I saw a lot of myself in your description.

  17. I'm so sorry that your challenge didn't work out! Gluten free baking isn't hard, but yeasted dough is a difficult one. You really need to use a gluten substitute for the yeast to work, whether it's a gum like xantham gum or guar gum or something more natural gummy like flax meal/chia seed.

    That said don't be scared of gluten free baking! The more you experiment with gluten free baking, the better you'll be as a baker in general. It's improved my baking immensely.

    I'm glad you posted. I actually love hear about kitchen failures. I need to do more posts about mine.

  18. Well it still looks great, sorry it didn't work out!
    Did you use only rice and buckwheat flour or did you also include a starch and/or binder?

  19. I applaud your seat-of-your-pants effort to go gluten free. But your photos are lovely. I would've never known that it didn't turn out as you hoped.

  20. Uhmm yes gluten free baking is hard I feel and I'm so impressed with the many GF bakers we have at the DK. Even if is was a total success it does look perfect to me fabulous photography and YES your attitude is exactly right great attempt at GF baking.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  21. What a sad, but heartwarming tale... I am sorry this was a frustrating experience for you, but I love that you made lemonade out of your lemons... I do hope you try this recipe again - once your stash of AP flour is replenished!!

  22. ur 'disaster'looks good u know. I love what uve done with it.

  23. I could never tell it was a failure from your photos! You made it look like a wonderful dessert!

  24. LOL While your coffee cake may have been a "disaster" your headline for this post is a fantastic success! Love the Humili-tea!

    I know someday one of my challenges will flop and I only hope that when it does I can write as well as you have turning my disaster into an entertaining story (and lesson) to share with my readers. Bake on!

  25. I feel your pain on this one ... I have been trying to find a good GF flour mixture that can produce a good yeast dough for over a year and it is still elusive. I have decided that xanthan gum is a necessary additive that helps with holding the air in the dough, but getting the right flour blend for a good flavor is SOOOO hard!

    I admire you trying this on this DB challenge! It takes some failures and the commiserating over them to get ideas for the next attempt!

  26. I really like your writing style.

    And despite the fact you say your cake was a fail, the photos are absolutely wonderful and the cake looks scrumptious!


    Ms.Z. @

  27. Sorry your coffee cake wasn't fabulous, but it is still beautifully styled, and perfectly photographed!

  28. Greatness can only come to those who dare to fail. You did a great job- and your post had me giggling. I've been GF for over 12 years now and have had MORE than my share of kitchen disasters. I tell my kids it's how we learn. If you're serious about learning to bake GF, pop me an email; I'll be happy to share with you what I know. Cooking GF is not that hard once you get the hang of it. At any rate- your photos are absolutely GORGEOUS, and you can make kitchen lint look lovely and appetizing! Keep trying- you'll hit one out of the park sooner than you think!

  29. Oh dear Asha, am I allowed to let just a little giggle escape? Poor you and your daring, but the end result is actually very pretty! But at least you got a wonderful blog post and story out of it, right? xo

  30. oh i know how you feel. I used to be like that and I was so confident in what I made. Yours still looks great.

  31. In spite of your troubles, you managed to make it look good. After reading this, I definitely recommend watching Kings of Pastry on itunes. You'll love it.

  32. live and learn right?!

    I also recently discovered that gluten was needed to keep things elastic in the baking department.

    I had a friend coming over that couldn't do gluten and i said i'd just bake the cake gluten-free.

    so i used an angel food cake recipe which uses so little flour anyway, and replaced it with rice flour... and watching it in the oven it rose and rose and then all of a sudden it started collapsing. And so i went out and bought more eggs and tried again. And this time i paid closer attention and it happened again.

    i couldn't understand why until she told me you need guargum or that other gum stuff to pretend like it's gluten.



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