Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

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Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake
Story and Photos by Chrystalla Georghiou 

At the age of 23, Victoria De La Fuente found out that her life will no longer be filled with sweets. De La Fuente, a graduate student at St. Mary’s University studying for an MBA, learned recently that she was allergic to the one ingredient most often found in desserts: gluten.

After graduating from St. Mary’s with her bachelor’s degree in business, De La Fuente decided to continue with graduate studies at the university. “I’ve always loved the small community feel of St. Mary’s–coming from a small town, it’s just what I wanted in a school,” she says.

“I wanted to start cooking gluten-free foods because my doctor told me I am allergic. I decided that I want to live a gluten free-lifestyle whether my doctor tells me that it’s ok to eat gluten-free foods or not. Gluten is not something that the human body was designed to digest, therefore it is not healthy for people to eat food which contains that ingredient,” says De La Fuente.

Gluten intolerance, also known as Celiac disease (or Coeliac disease) is a genetic disorder that makes one intolerant to gluten. It is caused by a reaction to gliadin (a gluten protein found in wheat) and affect all types of people; however, it seems to be more prevalent among those of Northern European descent. In the U.S., about one in 133 people suffer from Celiac disease.

Since learning of her condition, De La Fuente has given up some her favorite foods like pasta, grilled cheese sandwiches and red velvet cake. “Luckily I don’t have to give up tortillas. I think I would not be able to survive if I had to give up tortillas,” says De La Fuente.

Because most desserts contain some form of gluten, gluten-free desserts are among the most difficult to prepare. De la Fuente says that the most challenging part of a gluten-free diet is the selection of gluten-free foods. When cooking a red velvet cake, De La Fuente believes that “following the recipe matters more than anything else. All it takes is one simple mistake to ruin a whole cake.”

Some tips De La Fuente advises to young chefs include always making sure to preheat the oven, cleaning up as you go and never eating the frosting before the cake finishes cooking.

“I chose this recipe because it is gluten-free and I love red velvet cake. It’s not every day that I get to eat desserts, therefore, I was so excited to see that I could have my cake and eat it too,” De La Fuente concludes.


  • 3/4 c brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c coconut flour
  • 3/4 c sorghum flour
  • 3/4 c tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 c canola oil
  • 1 1/2 c white sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 oz red food coloring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans with gluten-free flour. In a bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, coconut flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, and 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder in a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat canola oil and sugar until thoroughly combined, and beat the eggs in one at a time until fully incorporated. Stir in the applesauce. Beat the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, alternating with buttermilk, in several additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix the remaining 1 T of cocoa powder with the red food coloring and vanilla extract to make a paste; gently stir into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting. Makes 12 servings.



Cod Pisano

Cod Pisano by Rosie Cortez
Videography and production by Chrystalla Georghiou

Rosie Cortez, a sophomore majoring in math, learns to cook breaded cod pisano from her father for the first time. Cortez talks about how learning how to cook not only brought her closer to her father, but taught her a lot of things about herself.

Sauce Ingredients 

  • 1 lemons cut into fourths
  • 3 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 3 eggs

Sauce Directions 

Separate the egg yokes from the whites in to two different bowls. Beat the egg yokes till they are frothy. Slow in to sauce pan on low heat continuously. Add garlic and lemon juice to taste.


  • 4 fillets of bread cod fish (or seafood of choice)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pasta of choice
  • 1 head broccoli


Pre-heat oven to 350℉. Warm sauce pan on medium heat, add two table spoons of olive oil into the pan. Once hot add two fillets of breaded cod. Brown on each side for 4 minuets, then transfer on to baking sheet and place into oven for eight minuets. when finished place on to plate. Boil water for pasta and add one table spoon of olive oil to the water, once boiling add pasta. Then boil broccoli for 3 minuets in hot water or until deep green (add spices if needed). Makes 4 servings.


Domaldes by Costas and Jane Georghiou
Videography and Production by Chrystalla Georghiou

Costas and Jane Georghiou are parents to Chrystalla Georghiou who is a student at St. Mary’s. Each one of them has learned to cook through watching and helping their parents and grandparents. Both consider cooking to be something that can hold a family together.


  • 2.5 lbs of ground meat (can be any meat, we used 1 lb lamb and 1.5 lbs bison)
  • 40-50 fresh grape leaves or 1 jar grape leaves
  • 1 medium onion
  • ½ cup rice
  • 2 lemons
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 can crashed tomatoes
  • 1 cube vegetable or chicken bouillon (Maggi preferred)


Chop the onion, tomato and parsley. Mix the meat, rice, chopped onion, tomato and parsley in a mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, mint, juice from one lemon and little olive oil. Mix ingredients by hand until ingredients are well mixed.

On a flat plate, place leaves flat, one at a time and put some of the mixture on it. Roll part of leaves around the meat and place in pot keeping each dolma tight to each other. Put some leaves flat at bottom of pan before placing completed dolmades in pot.

After all meat is used, add a can of crashed tomatoes to pot and some water but avoid covering with dolmades with water. Dissolve the bouillon in warm water and add to pot. Add the juice of the second lemon and some more olive oil. Place a plate in the pot to keep dolmades from lifting when cooking. Cover and cook on low heat for 45 minutes. Leave sitting in pot for 1 hour before serving.