Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thank you, Pastry Pirate

Not too long ago we thought Thanksgiving at Chez Bullock and Virago would include not only Bullock's family but also my sister Virgo Sis, which posed quite the culinary conundrum for us, since Bullock's sister is a vegan, her daughter is vegetarian, and Virgo Sis has celiac disease, which means she can't eat any gluten (the protein in wheat and barley). Add to that the complication that Bullock really, really likes to bake pies and cakes and, given his druthers, not only uses animal by-products in all his baking (eggs, butter), but also uses lard in his pie crusts. So as far as he was concerned, a gluten-free/vegan desert wasn't possible.

So the Pastry Pirate took pity on us and adopted our needs as her project in her advanced-special-dietary-needs-complicated-high-maintenance-baking class and developed a gluten-free, vegan devil's food cake good enough for a dessert purist like Bullock and sent us the recipe, modified for a home baker and the non-commercial kitchen. Wasn't that cool of her?

The result was really quite yummy -- no surprise there since she got a grade that was mere decimal points away from perfect. (I'm still wondering what lost her the less than 7/10 of a point. And my students think *I'm* an anal-retentive grader!) In the end Virgo Sis decided to visit Cowtown for the holiday instead of Rust Belt, so we didn't need a dessert that was both gluten-free and vegan, and since the Pirate gave us specific instructions of how to do a merely vegan one, that's what we did. It saved us some time scouring the local health food stores for the multiple flour-substitutes we would've had to use, and saved time in the kitchen, too. So we don't know what the full gluten-free/vegan effect was. But I have to say, in the midst of the process we were kind of skeptical of even the merely vegan cake -- in part because we thought maybe our home equipment, despite Bullock's tool addiction, wasn't producing the desired effects, but also in part because a lot of the ingredients and techniques went against Bullock's ingrained habits and experiences. The soy-based products used in it smelled kind of nasty, the flax-seed paste looked like snot (as the Pirate had warned), and the cake batter was a rather Halloween-like pitch black. It reminded me of the black gook that turns into the black Spiderman suit in Spiderman 3. Frankly, it freaked me out.

But the whole ultimately added up to more than the sum of its weird parts and the final creation was full of chocolately goodness and traditional cake consistency. And it was a big hit not only with Vegan Sis and Veggie Niece, but also the non-vegan/non-vegetarian crowd, so much so that Bullock didn't even send all the leftovers home with his sister, but kept some for us.

So thanks, Pastry Pirate!

And happy Thanksgiving Recovery Weekend to everyone!

1 comment:

The Pastry Pirate said...

Aw, shucks... *blush*... I'm glad it came out well for you, and that you didn't turn back at the snot phase. As for Chef's .625 points off, it was because I submitted all the nutritional comparison information in a printed table instead of filling in, handwritten, a chart in the grading handout we had to attach. Yeah, chefs. They're all crazy.