Gluten-Free Dessert, Drool, and Kristan Higgins

One of my favorite escapes from the drama of life is losing myself in a fabulous book.  Not much beats crawling into bed early with a great read…especially when it has the trifecta of humor, light romance, and drama.  No one delivers better on that forefront than author Kristan Higgins.

Photo courtesy of Kristan Higgins

Photo courtesy of Kristan Higgins

Kristan is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of 14 novels, which have been translated into 24 languages and are sold all over the world. She is the mother of two teenagers and the wife of a heroic, good-looking firefighter.  (Courtesy of Kristan Higgins Books)

As a devoted fan of Kristan’s books, I follow her on Twitter (@Kristan_Higgins) and Facebook (Kristan Higgins Books) and simply drooled over the Gram’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe she recently shared.  Only it wasn’t gluten-free.

So what’s a hungry girl to do?  Improvise, of course.  I made the cake  by switching out regular flour that the recipe called for with King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour and a dash of xanthan gum.   And you know what?  It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Seriously, this cake is no joke.  In fact, as I type this I’m trying to think of an excuse to make it tonight.

Gram’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake has now become my family’s most requested dessert.  I happily take it to work functions and get-togethers and no one knows it’s gluten-free until they see me scarfing down a piece.

So I asked Kristan about the story behind this cake and she was happy to tell me.

“My grandmother was the BEST baker, and she could make anything in about 15 minutes, I swear. Her motions were so efficient and perfect, and she always had the ingredients on hand. My daughter made this cake recipe for our state fair, and it won first, I’ll have you know! It’s so warm and cozy; we make it every Christmas morning and think of dear Gram.”

From the very bottom of this gluten-free girl’s heart, THANK YOU, Gram!

And thank you, Kristan, for allowing me to share Gram’s recipe here with my readers.

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Gram’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake  (A No-Fail Guarantee of Deliciousness)

Preheat oven to 350; grease and flour a Bundt cake pan.

Sift together 2 cups of gluten-free flour; dash of xanthan gum; 1 tablespoon of baking powder; ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In mixer, beat together 2 sticks of softened butter and 2 cups of sugar. Add 2 beaten eggs, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and 1 cup of sour cream. Beat well. Fold in the dry ingredients by hand and mix well.

In separate bowl, combine ¾ cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. You can add a cup of nuts (pecans, almonds or walnuts) if you like. I think they’re better if you toast them first.

Put in Bundt pan in the following order:

  • Just enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • One third of the cinnamon mixture.
  • Two-thirds of the batter.
  • Two-thirds of the cinnamon mixture
  • The remainder of the batter.

Bake for 60 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then loosen with a butter knife, lifting the cake up to get air underneath. Invert, and voila! Serve warm with a nice cuppa joe or glass of milk.

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As much as I love this cake, I’d be doing you a disservice if I left it at that.  Kristan is both warm and funny and that is beautifully reflected in her writing.  To read one of her books is like sitting down to coffee with your bestie and laughing until your stomach hurts.

In honor of that, I asked Kristan a few questions about herself and her work.  So grab a cup of coffee (and maybe a piece of this cake) and pull up a chair for this virtual chat.

What about writing novels gives you joy?

Kristan:  “My readers, my characters and my struggles, actually. The latter always makes me a better writer.”

What three words would you use to describe your books?

Kristan:  “Optimistic, funny, emotional.”

One of my favorite things about reading your books is the laugh-out-loud moments created by your characters.  Tell me about the use of humor in your books and how that translates into your everyday life.

Kristan:  “I can’t imagine a book without humor. I think I have a good eye and voice for it in everyday life, just being able to notice and capture a moment. I hope so, anyway! And I do laugh a lot (and cry a lot, too…they go hand in hand). A lot of TV shows make me cry, or people winning things, or heroic moments…baby elephants make me cry, too, for some reason.”

What are you working on now and can you share something about it with us?

Kristan:  “I’m finishing a Blue Heron book and starting a new women’s fiction. I’ll give you the first line of the Blue Heron book (ANYTHING FOR YOU): “Get up, doofus.”

Some of my favorite of your books center around the Holland family.  When I think of them, I think of family dinners, social events, and the like.  Have you ever included a character with food allergies or celiac disease?  How do you think a family like the Hollands would react to having such a character in the family?

Kristan:  “Food is always a big part of my books, because I think we all love to eat, and when and where and what say a lot about the moment, don’t you agree? The Hollands would take a food allergy in stride, though the older grandparents, Goggy and Pops, might be a little confused. “Wheat? How can you be allergic to wheat?” I based them on my own grandparents, whom I just adored, and anything that was different, food-wise, always confused my Gram a little. I haven’t written a food allergy in yet, but I just might. So many people, including several of my closest friends, have issues with this, so it would feel pretty natural to include that element.”

Because your heroines know the value of a good glass of wine paired with a dessert, I have to ask- what is your favorite of each?

Kristan:  “I love a full-bodied Chardonnay with all those flavors and a nice buttery texture. Favorite dessert? So hard to pick! I just ate a vanilla cupcake, so I’ll go with that.”

Don’t just take my word for it.  Visit Kristan Higgins’ website where she shares her favorite recipes from food in her books and so much more.

Kristan:  “And pop by Facebook and have some fun there. I can pretty much guarantee at least one smile a day. www.kristanhiggins.com, and www.Facebook.com/KristanHigginsBooks.”

Treat yourself and pick up one of Kristan Higgins’ books today.  Not sure where to start?  Two of my favorites are Just One of the Guys and The Best Man.

Courtesy of Kristan Higgins Books

Courtesy of Kristan Higgins Books

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