I’ve used Pan corn flour in this almond and orange gluten-free and dairy-free corn flour cake, topped with cardamom-infused coconut cream.
A lot of people are turning to gluten-free flours due to coeliac disease and intolerances, so I’ve been trying out PAN corn flour, a naturally gluten-free maize flour, popular in South America.
I’m not intolerant myself, but a few years ago my brother-in-law found out he couldn’t eat gluten, so at Christmas I experimented with gluten-free flours for breads and desserts to ensure he wouldn’t miss out on the usual festive treats. It was eye-opening what a challenge it can be, but I ended up with loads of lovely food.
This time I wanted to bake a gluten-free cake, so when La Casa De Jack asked me to create a recipe using PAN flour, I made a zesty, almond corn flour cake that is gluten-free and dairy-free but packed with flavour and beautifully moist. I’ve topped it with refreshing cardamom-infused coconut cream to compliment the cake’s flavours, without overpowering it like traditional frostings can.
What is PAN Corn Flour?
This recipe uses PAN corn flour (also known as Harina Pan), a gluten-free flour that’s popular in South America. There seems to be a lot of confusion over the differences in flours made from corn, but PAN corn flour is made from corn that is cooked before it is dried and ground finely, whereas cornmeal and polenta are made from corn that is raw before it is dried and ground into different levels of coarseness. The resulting differences are in both taste and texture.
Cornflour/cornstarch is a very fine powder that we usually use as a thickener, made from the ground endosperm of corn.
About being gluten-free, PAN have said: “We would like to confirm that all our products elaborated in Greenville-TX factory, United States. have the certification to produce Gluten free products by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO).”
Pan corn flour only needs to be mixed with water to form a quick gluten-free dough and I’ve used it to make flatbreads and pizza bases with great success. It isn’t strongly flavoured, so it’s perfect for mixing with herbs and spices. A lot of gluten-free pizza bases are made from polenta or cauliflower, but these are often bound with eggs and cheese. PAN flour turns into a thick dough, so makes a vegan, lower-calorie gluten-free pizza base.
In Venezuela and Colombia, it’s PAN corn flour that’s used for the maize dough, called masarepa, to make traditional arepas (griddled pan flour cakes) empanadas (filled dough parcels, similar to Cornish pasties), hallacas (a filled tamale popular at Christmas) and bollos (a breakfast roll).
Pan corn flour is a very versatile flour and can also be used to make brownies, pancakes, porridge and as a gluten-free breadcrumb coating. You can buy Harina PAN from La Casa De Jack, La Chatica (online or at their South London deli and cafe), Waitrose and Amazon.
I’ve used Pan corn flour to make this gluten-free and dairy-free cake. It’s combined with ground almonds and zesty oranges to make a light cake that’s topped with a fragrant cardamom-infused coconut cream frosting.
- 150ml (⅔ cup) vegetable oil
- 100g (½ cup) sugar
- 3 organic free-range eggs
- 100g (1/2 cup) Gluten-Free Harina PAN corn flour
- 200g (2 cups) ground almonds
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder (check that it’s gluten-free, if necessary)
- Juice of 2 oranges
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 x 400ml tin of full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Heat oven to 180C/ 350F. Grease a 9” loose-bottomed or springform pan.
- In a stand mixer, or large bowl, beat the oil and sugar together for a few minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the remaining cake ingredients and combine well.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread out evenly.
- Cook for 40-45 minutes until the surface is lightly brown and the cake comes away slightly from the sides of the tin.
- Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before carefully turning onto a wire rack to cool completely before topping as desired with the icing.
- The chilled tin of coconut milk will have separated the cream from the liquid. Carefully open the chilled tin of coconut milk so as not to mix and spoon only the thick cream into a large bowl. Add the icing sugar and ground cardamom and whip until thick and fluffy. Store in the fridge and use to top the cooled cake just before eating.
Disclosure: La Casa De Jack commissioned me to create a recipe using Harina Pan Corn Flour . All opinions are my own.