In Flavor Flours (Artisan Books, 2014), Alice Medrich brings her legendary skill and impeccable palate to non-wheat flours. These flours can be used artfully, not just as replacements for wheat flour, and Medrich presents nearly 125 recipes that showcase the unique qualities of a variety of ancient grains, coconut flour, and nut flours. The following excerpt is from chapter 4, “Buckwheat Flour.”
My favorite version of fruitcake is made with nuts and dried (rather than candied) fruit, and it normally has just enough batter to keep it from falling apart. It’s rich and inherently sweet from the fruit rather than lots of sugar, which can also be adjusted to your taste. When I tried using buckwheat flour instead of wheat flour in this treasured recipe, the outcome was so flavorful and so delicious with the cherries and walnuts that I ultimately increased the amount of batter just to get even more buckwheat flavor! The result makes a decadent and rather sophisticated snack, a good midafternoon bite with a cup of tea, or a chic addition to a cheese course.
• 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (70 grams) buckwheat flour
• 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3 to 4 tablespoons (35 to 50 grams) firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
• 1 cup (175 grams) dates, pitted and cut into quarters
• 1/4 cup (40 grams) lightly packed dried apricot halves or dried pluots, cut in half
• 1/4 cup (40 grams) dried sour or Bing cherries
• 1-3/4 cups (175 grams) walnut pieces
• 2 large eggs
• 1-1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 8-by-4-inch (4-cup) loaf pan, bottom and all four sides lined with parchment paper
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the brown sugar, dates, apricots, cherries, and walnuts and mix thoroughly with your fingers, separating any sticky fruit pieces from one another. Set aside.
3. Whisk the eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl until lightened in color. Scrape the eggs into the large bowl and mix with a spatula until all of the fruit and nut pieces are coated with batter. Scrape into the prepared pan.
4. Bake for 60 to 80 minutes, until the top feels firm and crusted. Cool in the pan on a rack. Lift the ends of the paper liner and transfer to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut very thin slices. The cake may be stored, airtight, for at least 1 week at room temperature, or longer in the refrigerator.
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Reprinted with permission from Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Flours by Alice Medrich and published by Artisan Books, 2014.