know thyself – coconut mochi cake w sweet red bean filling (gluten-free)

know thyself – coconut mochi cake w sweet red bean filling (gluten-free)

Confession time: this dessert baker has been cutting down on gluten and sugar. As an experiment–and thanks to one of my instructors at the gym–I’m eating less gluten and processed sugar in order to increase my energy level.

When I started this project to change my diet, my first thought was that I could never give up my desserts. Well, I didn’t need to slip down that path: it’s all about moderation. Many of you have asked how I can stay in shape and eat all the desserts that I bake (and sample from bakeries and restaurants). The simple answer is I don’t consume that much. I always share my desserts that I post here with friends. There have been a few incidents where M loved something so much that we would eat more than our fair share, but we would cut down on the next batch.

According to some experts, the secret to a diet is not to deprive yourself of the foods your crave but to know which ones and how much best suit your metabolism. I’m refining what my balance is so I can achieve an improved level of health while not feeling deprivations of vital culinary consumption. (There’s an awful lot that feels vital.)

When it comes to sweets, I still long for a sweet ending to a nice meal. I yearn for a nice treat to go with my afternoon coffee. By no means do I want to crush these desires–I seek alternate solutions that deliver satisfaction on a healthier plane. In this case, I wanted to combine two favorite childhood food sensations: chewiness of mochi and the earthiness of red beans. Though the red bean filling is cooked in sugar, it can still be a wise choice–in moderation.

Coconut Mochi Cake w Sweet Red Bean Filling


  • 3 cups (16 ounces) mochiko (sweet rice flour)
  • 2-1/2 cups (17-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 (14-oz) cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure coconut extract
  • 1 can (16-18 ounces) sweetened red bean paste


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350℉.

2. Whisk together mochiko, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together coconut milk, eggs, butter, and extracts in another bowl. Add coconut mixture to flour mixture, whisking until batter is combined.

3. Pour batter into an ungreased 13- by 9-inch baking pan, smoothing top, and bake until top is golden and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1-1/2 hours. Remove cake from oven and cool completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.

4. Remove cake from baking pan, trim edges. Split cake horizontally in half. Spread red bean paste over cut side of bottom layer of cake, top with top layer. Cut cake into squares and serve.

recipe adapted from Rachel Laudan