Take n’ Bake: Low Carb/Gluten Free Cinnamon Coffee Cake

CinnamonCake-1

I have been meaning to make a cinnamon-oriented baked good for quite some time. I am not sure if it is because I wanted to make up for the lack of seasonal weather that we usually get to experience during these months or if my new KitchenAid stand mixer was just too tempting to ignore, but either way, I had spices and crisp fall weather on my mind when I decided to take this Cinnamon Coffee Cake recipe and give it a bake. Or in today’s case, two.

Last year one of my roommates really got into the low carb diet and taught me about the different kinds of natural sweeteners and flours that are out there. I gained some insight into the effects of high carbohydrate-based diets, the issue of sugar intake, and what this whole gluten business is really all about. I have been trying to cut back on my consumption of all of these substances over the last few months. The hardest part was resisting the temptation of a good chocolate chip cookie or brown. However, once I started to do low carb baking, I did not find it to be much of a challenge to cut back as I could satisfy my forever-present sweet tooth right in the comfort of my home in a healthier way and feel less guilty about eating them.

I took a break from this “diet” for the past few weeks, but now I am back on it and decided that it is finally time to get to this cinnamon coffee cake. It is also my very good friend’s birthday, and since she has trouble eating dairy and gluten, I thought I could whip up one of these cakes for her to have a sweet treat on her special day.

This cake is made from almond flour. The original recipe calls for the use of whey powder to help the cake rise. In my previous experience, I found that almond flour raises just high enough to make a baked good substantial when it is mixed with a little bit of baking powder. I did not have any whey powder at home so I figured I would forgo the special purchase. Luckily, it worked out just fine! That being said, even though I have worked with almond flour so many times, I am still impressed at how cake-like it can turn out to be, even though it just looks like soggy oatmeal pre-bake.

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I made a version of this cake with erythritol and another with sugar. If you are going to bake this cake with sugar, I would recommend changing the proportion of sugar and cinnamon in the filling, making it more cinnamon-y and less sugar. Perhaps it does not take much to satisfy my sweet tooth anymore, but I have always found that coffee cakes are much more enjoyable when they are more heavy on the flavour rather than the sugar. Plus, this cake is quite buttery, so it may be a sensory overload with that much sugar and butter at once, given the size of the cake. In fact, I would even recommend swirling in a bit more cinnamon into the battery for a more savoury taste.

Disconnect In The Sunshine State.

photo 1I’m in Florida for a few days this week and besides being forced into a fast food diet, I am loving it. There is nothing that beats seeing family after a while, especially when you’ve got a little one amidst the ranks who brightens up your life on so many levels. I also really do not mind getting to enjoy the mid thirty (celsius) degree weather, American Netflix and snatching up a few Columbus Day deals. I do hate the lizards, though. That will never change.

My unhealthy dependency on technology also probably won’t change anytime soon. I have always been aware of this, but when I lost my iPhone 4S on Friday night and had to dig up my old 3GS as a [hopefully] temporary replacement phone, I realized the extent of the obsession. It is absolutely terrible how much the resolution of the screen, it’s processor, the limitations of the software, and it’s design irks me. This model came out four years ago but even compared to my 4S, which is now two generations behind in the iPhone world, there seems to be a decade worth of differences. My 3GS is still functional – I can send my texts, catch up on my e-mail, and stay connected through my social media networks – yet somehow, it’s just not the same.

Evolution.

Evolution.

This experience says a lot not only about my own spoiled preferences, but also about how the rapid development of technology and the turnover of softwares and devices can in some ways facilitate disconnection. Maybe it’s more of an internal disconnection with myself as I am still able to do all of the core tasks I did with my 4S, but I just don’t enjoy the user experience as much as I once did.  Perhaps this ssue is more central to areas of the world that are privy to the latest releases and developments within the technology and mobile markets, which can be further magnified by looking at the pockets of consumers who can afford to consistently engage with the various changes. It’s silly, because there are a lot of things to praise about four year old smart phones within the right context. I am curious as to how sustainable the rapidness of modern technology research and development will be in the years to come. Will there be a cap at some point? Does  it create more disparities between regions that are not major players or markets for this industry and those that are? Will R&D become more focused on cost-effective solutions to prevent disparities? Perhaps more companies will use an iPhone 5C-type of strategy to bridge the gaps, but costs and affordability will still be an issue if technology keeps evolving at the rate that it’s evolving at now.

So much to consider.

#TeamDaryl

#TeamDaryl

Let’s turn to other fun tidbits. I recently binge-watched AMC’s The Walking Dead over the course of four days and finished it just in time for it’s fourth season premiere which scored AMC 16.1 million viewers. Like other AMC properties, it’s a great character-driven show, and it has given me a much clearer picture about the network’s offering on a whole. I have started to rethink some of the ideas I presented in my post, The Curious Case of AMC, where I discussed AMC’s development strategy and what my thoughts are on their future. After watching it I realized how critical it is to AMC and am now excited at the prospect of a spin-off.

Just having a Shrek of a time here talking about The Walking Dead.

Just having a Shrek of a time here chatting about pop culture things.

Regardless, if you haven’t watched it yet and can handle some really gross gore, I would highly suggest checking it out.

It’s also nice to know that I am not the only crazy television watcher in this world. Anthony Hopkins recently reached out to Bryan Cranston to praise him and the other cast and crew members on Breaking Bad. In the letter he wrote, “Thank you. That kind of work/artistry is rare, and when, once in a while, it occurs, as in this epic work, it restores confidence.” That is a lot coming from an accomplished actor like Anthony Hopkins who has seen the industry go through so many different phases. It is also nice to see someone who is primarily involved in the film industry applaud the creative work being completed on television. Although television does have its designated prestigious awards and buzz, I think it sometimes falls into the shadow of film simply because of the emphasis we place on box office scores, which can be unfortunate given the strong quality of story telling that can be experienced from the comfort of your home. You can read the entire letter here.

Once you’ve read it then join me in giggling over how much of a fanboy he is…and also sit with me to think about how odd it is that we can identify with Hannibal Lecter.

Finally, I simply must insist that you watch this video of Tom Hiddleston hanging out with Cookie Monster. If that’s not a cute overload, then check out the video below where he does an impression of Cookie Monster (around the 1:30 mark) so you can once again join me in a giggle fest of sorts. You can catch Tom in the upcoming sequel to 2011’s Thor, Thor: The Dark World, out in international markets on October 30th, and in North America on November 8th.

If you’re a fellow Canuck, then I hope you had a wonderful long weekend and I wish you a belated Happy Thanksgiving. Cheers!

October Picks: Films, Albums, and Concerts

People often ask me how I hear about things. It could be things like events in the city, upcoming movies, concerts, new albums, auditions, anything along those lines. Maybe I spend a lot more time lurking Toronto-based websites, Ticketmaster, music blogs and watching television than others, but I do make it a priority to stay in the know so that I can spend my money on experiences rather than buying the latest trend at the mall (but I’m only human, and a consumerist one at that, so I am sure you will see me out and about in some blue suede shoes soon enough).

I have decided that at the beginning of every month I will write about some of the things that I am looking forward to that month. I am not in any way promising that I will deliver “exclusive” scoop, but I will do my best to share the things that I am excited to hear, see, eat, and possibly drool over.

There are tons of movies that I am excited to check out this month, kicking off with Alfonso Cuaron’s highly anticipated Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney which releases this Friday, October 4th. I was initially turned off by the plot description of the film, but after reading several reviews that have been gushing about the visual experience, I have been patiently waiting for the film to get a wide release. I was really tempted to see it at TIFF, but I figured waiting a couple of weeks could not hurt if it meant a cheaper ticket.

Another TIFF movie that I am absolutely ecstatic about seeing is The Fifth Estate starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the infamous Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. I think it will be important to take the contents of this film with a grain of salt as it may sensationalize the original tale a little bit, but I am interested to see it come to life. I wrote an extensive paper on Wikileaks and international law in my final semester of my undergraduate degree so there is a little bit of a personal dorky interest here as well. The Fifth Estate will be released on October 11th.

Finally, I have heard some buzz surrounding Isaiah Washington’s performance in the upcoming Blue Caprice, which is based on a true story. You can check out the trailer here and the film when it gets it’s limited release on October 11th.
UPDATE: The release date for 12 Years A Slave got moved up from December to October 18th. This movie has been getting TONS of buzz over the last few months and made a HUGE splash at TIFF this year. REALLY REALLY REALLY looking forward to this one. And yes, caps lock means everything is serious.
Other Films: CBGB, Carrie, The Counselor 

If you are on a hunt for new tunes, you are in luck. There are tons of albums already out!  Listen to Justin Timberlake’s  The 20/20 Experience Part 2, Kelela’s mixtape (free download here) and Lorde’s Pure Heroine. You can also stream Sleigh Bells’ third album, Bitter Rivals and Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz, both which will officially release on October 8th.

But there are so many bigger releases to come, the highlight of which is probably The Arcade Fire’s follow-up to 2010’s highly successful The SuburbsReflektor will be released on the 25th, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait long to hear some good music. I mean that literally. G.O.O.D. Music’s Pusha T is set to release his debut solo effort My Name Is My Name on October 8th and a week later hip-hop fans will also be treated to A$AP Mob’s currently untitled record and London, ON’s Shad’s fourth effort, Flying Colours (I am just going to say in a very uncryptic manner that you should be excited about that last record. Just saying.)

OctoberPix-2If you have been listening to Drake’s Nothing Was The Same as much as I have been,  I am sure you will find yourself just as obsessed with a certain female voice on his track From Time. Her name is Jhené Aiko, an LA songstress who has worked with Childish Gambino, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Casey Veggies, J.Cole, and Big Sean, amongst others. She will be releasing her highly anticipated mixtape Sail Out at the end of the month. I checked out her performance at the Manifesto concert at Yonge and Dundas Square a little while ago and I can say with full confidence that she is completely worth the hype. 
Other New Releases: Of Montreal’s Lousy with Sylvianbriar, Ryan Hemsworth’s Guilt Trips, Cults’ Static, Katy Perry’s Prism and Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time

It is really hard to ever call any month a slow month when it comes to shows in Toronto. OctoberPix-1There are just so many to pick from, and there are a few that are particularly on my radar. Lorde (the girl who has that oh so catchy song, Royal) will be hitting up the Danforth Music Hall on October 6th. Tickets are currently sold out, but I have a feeling there will be a small handful available the day of the show. Janelle Monae will be performing at Kool Haus on October 19th in support of her sophomore record, The Electric Lady. It greatly saddens me that I will not be able to check out her show as I am already committed to Shad’s show at The Opera House that night, which is currently sold out. I urge you to go see Janelle, mainly because she is amazing, but it also does not hurt that her show is only $35.

But if you are on a hunt for some new music, you are in luck: Indie Week Canada is taking place from October 16th – 20th at various venues all over the downtown core. Tickets are on sale now and it is definitely worth checking out, especially for Rural Alberta Advantage’s headlining show on the 18th at Adelaide Hall. See you at the Rivoli?

And of course, the big musical kahuna of the month goes to Mr.Aubrey Graham’s stop in his hometown on October 24th, which is also his birthday. Although I loved attending OVO Fest over the years, I am looking forward to seeing Drake perform some of his new music from his new record on this tour stop. I am also fairly certain we will see this global ambassador bring a few friends along for the party, outside of openers Miguel and Future (I’m personally hoping for Sampha, Jhené Aiko, and a reunion with Kendrick Lamar.) I would tell you to get tickets, but you probably already have them…unless you don’t, to which I would say stalk the LiveNationON Twitter to find out when they will release more tickets.
Other Shows:  Cyhril Hahn & Ryan Hemsworth @ The Hoxton on October 4th, J.Cole & Wale @ Massey Hall on October 8th & 9th, The Weeknd @ Massey Hall on October 17th, 19th and 20th, Fiona Apple & Blake Mills @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 17th

There are just so many things to look forward to this month. Pumpkin Spice Lattes, for one. Comfy sweaters. Boots. The conclusion to Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, Allegiant. The return of all of my favourite CW teen dramas. Cooler weather. Nuit Blanche. Let me know what you are looking forward to this month!