By Melissa Clark, The New York Times
A few months ago, Zachary Golper, the chef and an owner of Bien Cuit bakery in Brooklyn, New York, gave me his recipe for rice flour poundcake. The rice flour, he said, would make the cake light, silky and very tender, while the combination of coconut oil and butter would give it a gentle flavor that was less overtly rich than the usual all-butter versions.
Never one to hesitate when it comes to baking a cake, I made it as soon I could. Back then, when I could just pop into any store anytime I wanted, finding the ingredients was easy. Rice flour was available in Asian markets and in the gluten-free section of large supermarkets, and there was plenty of it.
The cake was every bit as good as Golper promised: with a tight-knit, melt-in-the-mouth crumb and a delicate flavor spiked with a little black pepper and some mezcal.
It was certainly one of the best poundcakes I’d ever made, and it was gluten-free. But I didn’t feel any rush to publish it. I filed it away as one of those evergreen recipes I could call on when I needed it. Maybe in summer, I thought, when people could pair it with berries.
Then, everything changed. Suddenly, all-purpose flour became as scarce as hand sanitizer, and rice flour became an excellent and unusual option.
When Golper developed the recipe, he used white rice flour that was milled in Japan, where, he said, they have a different grinding technology that produces a consistently fine particle size.
When I first made it, I used some of his Japanese flour, and it was divine. But since then, I’ve made it with non-Japanese rice flour, and it was nearly as good, maybe ever so slightly less satiny on the tongue. (Full disclosure: My husband and daughter didn’t notice a difference.)
But perhaps the best part about this cake recipe, in this particular moment, is that if you don’t have rice flour, Golper said, you could use white rice.
“Just throw some into a coffee grinder, and you’ve got rice flour,” he said. “I mean it’s definitely class C rice flour, but it will work,” he said. (Class C refers to a lower-quality flour.)
Which means, even if the supermarket baking aisle shelves continue to offer up slim pickings — cassava flour, anyone? — if you have rice, you can make cake. And a very good cake, indeed.
Recipe: Rice Flour Poundcake
Yield: 1 (8-inch) loaf
Total time: 1 1/2 hours
- 4 tablespoons/55 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
- 4 tablespoons/60 milliliters coconut oil
- 1 1/2 cups/200 grams white rice flour (not sweet rice flour)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon/225 grams sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup/80 milliliters sour cream
- 2/3 cup/160 milliliters unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon mezcal or tequila, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan. Melt coconut oil in small saucepan over low heat. Bring oil back to room temperature before baking. In a medium mixing bowl, combine rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper, if using.
2. Using an electric mixer, whisk together coconut oil, butter and sugar at high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. With the motor still running, add eggs and combine until creamed and very fluffy. Reduce to low speed and whisk in a third of the flour mixture. Once combined, add sour cream. Whisk in another third of the dry ingredients, then half of the coconut milk. Add the remaining flour mixture. At a medium speed, whisk in the rest of the coconut milk, and mezcal, until smooth and completely combined.
3. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 to 55 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn on a wire rack to cool completely.