Posted by: thedirtybaker | November 29, 2013

Torta de Quinoa (Quinoa Cake)

The title sounds healthy, doesn’t it?  It sounds like it’s going to be some kind of a gluten-free-crunchy-granola-hypo-allergenic-paleo-friendly-only-good-if-you-haven’t-eaten-the-real-thing-in-over-a-year-and-your-taste-buds-have-lost-their-memory cake.  Have you met me?  Have you read any of my other blog posts?  I would never lead you astray with such a monstrosity. In my opinion, if you want to eat healthy, don’t eat cake – but don’t ruin cake by trying to make it healthy.

This is the first (as yet only) recipe I tried from a South American food-history-cookbook, The South American Table.  And it’s good – I should really try some of her other recipes..  In addition to the super-healthy-high-protein-gluten-free grain substitute, it contains all the things that make cakes delicious: butter, sugar, flour, and egg.  Oh, and apples, raisins, nuts, and cinnamon.  Actually, it wasn’t supposed to contain apples, but I’d gone apple picking not long before making it, and I had a lot of apples to use up.

The recipe calls them quinoa bars, but that makes them sound a lot sturdier than they are.  The texture is more like cake, and the quinoa becomes crunchy when baked into cake (after pre-cooking).  Flavor-wise, it resembles a not-too-intense spice cake.  They go well after a long mountain bike ride, and with beer, but so do most good foods.

Torta de Quinoa*

2 c. water
1 c. quinoa, rinsed
1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 c. rice flour, corn starch, or all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I’d use at least 2 tsp.)
½ tsp. ground cloves (I probably used more)
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I probably used ½ tsp.)
1 tsp. anise seeds (I probably skipped these.)
½ c. seedless black or golden raisins
½ c. coarsely chopped dates or dried apricots (I used apricots)
½ c. chopped walnuts
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (not in original recipe)
½ c. unsalted butter, melted
½ c. fresh orange juice
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I use double strength vanilla)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the water to a boil.  Add the quinoa and cook until all the water has been absorbed, about 12 minutes after it comes back to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, anise, raisins, apricots, walnuts, and apples.  Add the cooled quinoa, the butter, orange juice, vanilla, and eggs, and mix well.  Transfer to the prepared baking pan and smooth the top.  Bake in the upper third of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Let cool in pan, then cut into 24 bars.  Serve dusted with confectioners’ sugar if desired.

*Maria Baez Kijac, The South American Table, p. 360. Harvard Common Press, 2003.


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