Baking


I have made many loaves of Gluten-Free bread over the last few years, a few flops and a few successes, though none have been spectactular. None have blown my socks off and given me the flavour and texture that I was really hoping for; the flavour and texture of delicious gluten that is.

Once I discovered the absolutely delicious potato bread from the 6th Ave Bread and Deli, I stopped making bread. I’m pretty sure I haven’t made gluten-free bread in close to a year; I just haven’t seen a recipe that sparked my interest enough to be worth making, when I could just eat the stockpile of Potato bread I regularly keep in my freezer.

This weekend, I found Shauna’s post on Gluten-Free Crusty Boule Bread, and it looks delicious and easy to make. This recipe is from the new book “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” which apparently has an entire gluten-free section, all of which is touted to be delicious. The recipe can also be found on the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Blog complete with pictures of each step (note that the recipe is doubled compared to Shauna’s on ABin5).  The recipe recommends a dutch oven (which I don’t have), so I am going to try the preheated pizza stone method (as described in Shauna’s post).

Now Shauna’s praise and pictures MAY have been enough to win me over, but the promise that the dough can be kept in the fridge for a week and can be used to make pizza crust, naan and even pitas. Now I had to try this bread.

I’m making a half batch (Shauna’s quantities), and am planning on a loaf of bread and some pizza. I do love my GF yeast free pizza crust, but the pictures (and comments) on the ABin5 blog practically made me drool with anticipation. I’m not sure what toppings will be going on the pizza, but at least I know I’ll have a week to make it, so there’s no need to rush (though I anticipate pizza on the menu for tomorrow!!).

For the record, I was able to throw this recipe together and wash up the dishes in about 10 minutes (seriously super fast), which is likely to be a very positive feature of this recipe if it lives up to the hype.  Mommy’s going back to work and time is going to become even more of a hot commodity.

The bread is rising as we speak – I’m so excited!
Happy Baking.

It’s hard for me to believe that my son is almost 10 months old, I will have to return to work in less than two months, and as my husband says, everything will change AGAIN. My little man is now grasping at independence, including when it comes to eating. He wants to feed himself, though he does allow me to shovel in spoonfuls of food between bites, provided its something that he likes/wants. Unfortunately, as most parents know it is difficult to find finger foods that my guy can pick up and eat, that are safe for him to eat, that he likes and that are nutritious.

He likes to eat pasta with sauce, meatloaf, chunks of chicken, sweet potato fries, cheese, pears, bananas (sometimes), gluten-free cheerios, mum-mum crackers, avocado, gluten-free toast, rice cakes, natural baked white cheddar cheesies and I’m sure at least a few other things that I can’t think of right now.

Of course I continue to make him baby foods (much thicker and chunkier nowadays) and I have been searching the internet for recipes and ideas that might suit our needs. He really likes the fruited jello (last recipe, scroll all the way down) – I think I’m going to make it with blueberry puree next time instead of plain applesauce. I’ve also tried making meatballs with rice cereal to thicken it (he didn’t care for those too much, but I’m going to try cooking them in pasta sauce (which he loves) and have a feeling that might have better success.

Then for some reason last night I had a thought, MORNING GLORY MUFFINS they have some protein (from the Quinoa), vegetables (zucchini and carrots) and not too much sugar. This morning I got to work and was super happy with the results.

I made a few changes, namely:

  • I used the 1/2 cups of white sugar the recipe called for, but no brown sugar
  • I replaced the 3 eggs with, 2 egg yolks, 1/4 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup warm water mixed with 2 Tbsp ground flax (allow this to sit for at least 5 minutes before using, it should get goopy)
  • I used the flour mixture in my post (less quinoa than the whole foods recipe)
  • I used cornstarch instead of potato starch (because I was out of potato starch, though I prefer it to cornstarch – either would do)
  • I omitted the walnuts and orange juice
  • I used chopped craisins instead of raisins (I like craisins better and they are related to blueberries which my little guy loves)
  • I used a pear instead of an apple (combined with the applesauce egg replacement these are plenty sweet enough without the extra sugar)

I baked these mini muffins at 355 F for 17 minutes (yield 3.5 dozen mini muffins), until the muffins were golden and a toothpick inserted came out clean. They are delicious and my little guy seemed to like them – now Mom must refrain herself from eating them all herself!

I have a lot of things to write about – a lot of meals I have made and a lot of meals I have eaten.  I have traveled to Asia with minimal stomach issues and I enjoyed a delicious Christmas Dinner, including gluten-free stuffing the entire family enjoyed and gluten-free desserts.

Right now however, time is precious.  My husband is giving our son a bottle and hoping to coerce him back to sleep, but I may be called up at any moment.

This Christmas I was thrilled to recieve Gluten Free Betty Crocker mixes for both cookies and brownies.  Though I know there are many mixes out there (which I rarely use), I am excited to hear that a mainstream company like Betty Crocker is now producing Gluten-Free products.  I have yet to try the mixes (I’ve only had them a day), but when I do I will let you know how they fare.

I always wonder how why these huge companies don’t jump on the gluten-free bandwagon, they surely have enough money to be able to chance it on a new product in a niche market.  I guess these issues need to hit close to home; right on the side of the box it explains why they decide to try out gluten-free.

Not long ago, two of our co-workers found themselves in the gluten free world. Linc was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and Colleen’s family switched to the diet for her son’s well-being.

Their experiences opened our eyes to the challenges families face following the diet. It’s hard to be different, especially when it affects sweet moments with friends and family. No one wants to miss sharing a birthday cake or see their child have to turn down a homemade cookie from a buddy after a game.

We hope we can help by bringing you these mixes for gluten free desserts that look and taste like the treats you’ve been longing to share. Finally, Betty Crocker® Gluten Free!

-The Betty Crocker Baking Team

My mother-in-law bought me these mixes on a recent trip to the states, and I have yet to seem them here in Canada though I am hopeful they will appear soon.  Anyone else tried them? Or seen them in Canada?

I had never had blondies until a few years ago – I never realized that they were basically caramely brownies.  I’m sure if I had known that I would have tried them and definitely made them much earlier in my baking  life.  Since it was one of the last things that I learned to make before going gluten-free, it was something that I definitely wanted to add to my repetoire of gluten-free baking skills.

If you, like myself, have a bit of a chocolate addiction these Blondies are for you.  Although the delightful caramel richness of blondies should be enough on their own, the truth is I needed the chocolate too.  You could mix things up and replace some of the chocolate chips – the original recipe ALSO called for walnuts, pecans and peanut butter chips, but I voted for all semi-sweet chocolate chips.   I would like to note however, this particular recipe is NOT for you if you are watching your waistline…its full of butter, sugar and all the things that make baked goods so mmm mmm good!

GF chocolate chip blondies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Blondies
(Adapted from 500 Best Cookies, Bars & Squares by Esther Brody)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 9×13 pan.
  2. Whisk the first 8 ingredients together and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, to wet ingredients, beating until incorporated.
  5. Stir vanilla into the wet ingredients.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.
  7. Stir chocolate chips into batter – it will be quite thick.
  8. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  9. Allow pan to cool completley on a wire rack before cutting.
  10. Enjoy – and try not to eat too much at once!

After making that delicious pumpkin cheesecake pie, I found myself with a fair amount of pumpkin puree and no recipe to use it. I HATE throwing away food, so instead I decided I would find a recipe to use my leftover pumpkin, fortunately I didn’t have to look far, Donna Washburn and Heather Butt’s “Complete Gluten-Free Cookbook” had a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. I had my doubts about how tasty they would be, but my practical side convinced me that it was worth a try.

And I need not have worried, the cookies were soft and cake-like with just a hint of pumpkin flavour – absolutely delicious!

GF Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Donna Washburn and Heather Butt’s “Complete Gluten-Free Cookbook”)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sorghum
  • 2/3 cup bean flour (I used garbanzo fava, but the recipe called for whole bean)
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 tbsp grated orange zest (I don’t like citrus so I didn’t include it and they were still delicious)
  • 1 – 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Mix first 9 ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Blend the pumpkin, sugar and shortening together with an electric mixer for 3 minutes until smooth.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, blending well.
  4. Stir in orange zest (if using) and chocolate chips.
  5. Drop batter by rounded spoonfuls, approximately 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with a fork. Let cookies stand for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease cookie sheet(s).
  7. Bake cookies in pre-heated oven for 10-14 minutes, or until set. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  8. ENJOY! Mmmm

It’s been far too long since I wrote, and I know the posts have been far and few between. For that I apologize; the truth is, I’m pregnant and for the first few months, I was tired and now that I’m in the second trimester, I am just so overwhelmed (in a good way) with the excitement and preparations for the arrival of our little one, that the blog has just slid to a back burner.

Of course, I have still been cooking and eating and enjoying the deliciousness of food. In fact I have pictures on my camera, just AWAITING a post, but we will start with Thanksgiving. Canadian thanksgiving was almost a month ago, but now I can post this just in time for those of you searching the web for recipes.

I have to be honest, this was my best gluten-free Thanksgiving yet, I hadn’t realized how boring it had become for me, until I decided that this year, I was going to make gravy and stuffing and take it along with me to my parents’ and mother-in-laws homes when we had dinner. Why should I suffer through a dry, bland dinner when I was completley capable of making my own seasonings.

Rejoice my friends – it is possible to have an absolutely amazing holiday dinner without feeling sick or deprived!

Stuffing

Since I was going to undertake the task of making stuffing from scratch (a new feat for me) I started off by making some bread from a Kinni-kwick bread and bun mix (which I rarely ever do), which smelled delicious and rose beautifully. Once cooled, I used Shauna’s recipe for Gluten-Free Stuffing which smelled delicious and tastes absolutely divine, especially when smothered with GF Gravy – I thought I had died and gone to gluten-free heaven. The recipe did make a huge batch, so I ziploc baggied the leftovers and popped them in the freezer, hopefully they will still be tasty come Christmas dinner.

Gravy

How I never conceived that I could make my own gravy with a little bit of rice flour roux and chicken stock, I will never know, but now that I am aware of this secret, I shall never go without gravy again. Once again, I thank Shauna’s Gluten-Free Gravy for enhancing my every holiday meal from this point forward.

Dessert

In my books, it wouldn’t be a holiday dinner, without a fantastic desert, preferably with a pumpkin theme. I was also craving cheesecake and found a lovely (and simple, might I add) recipe on the Kraft Canada Website for Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie. The only barrier? Of course, the graham cracker crumb crust.

I replaced the Graham Cracker Crumb crust with Mi-Del Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps, pulsed in the food processor to make crumbs; the ginger was a delicious accent and held up quite well. My only comment, use a food processor, I tried to break these cookies up by hand first (to save myself some washing) and they are much too hard, you need the food processor.

Mmm, pumpkin cheesecake pie was a hit with the whole family, even those who don’t care for traditional pumpkin pie.

gf-004

I often shop at Choices Market, but despite hearing raves about Whole Foods, there are none near my home and as such, I have never visited the store. I also had never visited their website, until a co-worker pointed out to me that they had oodles of recipes on their site. When I typed “gluten-free” into their search engine, I was ecstatic to have over 800 hits.

There are a number of recipes that I want to try, but the one that caught my attention almost immediately was for MORNING GLORY MUFFINS. I have seen “morning glory muffins” in cafes and coffee shops and have always been intrigued by the wholesome combination of fruits and vegetables, but I never expected to find a recipe, already adapted to be Gluten-Free.

I worked from home today and took advantage of that fact; I made some muffins during lunch. I made a minor changes to the flour ratio, as I find Quinoa flour a little overwhelming in flavour (and I didn’t have a cup on hand anyways). Overall I was hugely impressed, these muffins have great texture, great flavour and a pretty high healthy quotient in my books.

I don’t usually re-post other people’s recipes, but the link has changed in the past few days due to some website re-organization and I just don’t want to lose it.

My changes to the recipe:

  • Replace 1 cup of Quinoa Flour with:
    1/2 cup Quinoa Flour, 1/4 cup Sorghum Flour, 1/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • Replace 1 tart red apple with:
    1 granny smith apple

—————————————-

Gluten-Free Morning Glory Muffins

Makes 18 muffins

Gluten-free flours combine with apples, carrots, zucchini, raisins and walnuts in these nutritious and satisfying muffins. You can also try our Whole Grain Morning Glory Muffins.

Ingredients

2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
1/4 cup natural brown sugar
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tart red apple, unpeeled, cored, and finely chopped

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Put oil, cane sugar, brown sugar and vanilla into a large bowl and whisk by hand for about 1 minute to incorporate air into the mixture. Set aside. Put flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking soda, cinnamon, xanthan gum and salt into a second large bowl and stir well to combine. Add flour mixture, carrots, zucchini, walnuts, raisins, coconut, orange zest and apples to the reserved sugar mixture and stir well to form a batter. Scoop batter into 12 paper-lined muffin tins and bake until cooked through, about 25 minutes.

It is with great pleasure that I write this post – I just finished installing a brand new hard drive (courtesy of my warranty) in my 8-month old laptop. I hope that for the first time in its short lifespan, it may actually function properly.

I want to start off by adding to my previous post. I awoke the next morning, only to realize that I had forgotten to mention that I had managed to find some P.A.N. (pre-cooked white cornmeal), and as such had a chance to make some Arepa’s. I think I added a “glug” too much oil, as my arepa’s were consistently slightly goopy in the middle despite longer cooking and/or baking time. Regardless, they were delicious – in fact I may just make some more tonight.

I’m home alone tonight, and softball has been canceled due to rain. I’m trying to decide whether to bake or just chill, at this point, I’m leaning towards the “do-nothing” option, but time will tell. I did in fact, once again, bake up a storm this weekend. In celebration of Mother’s day, I baked a double batch of gluten-free Biscotti for my Mom (who can eat gluten, but loves them), I baked a supposed-to-be-fluffy (but mine wasn’t) gluten-free sponge cake that I layered with mangoes soaked in maple syrup and whipped cream and after “stealing” some over-ripe banana’s from my mother-in-laws, I also made another batch of banana bread.

Then, yesterday a co-worker plopped a container of hemp hearts and a recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Hemp Cookies from a magazine, in front of me. Although I can’t find the recipe on the website, the recipe was courtesy of http://www.poweroffood.com . Of course, I made those too and boy were they easy to make and delicious!

But I digress, after promising in my last post, I am finally ready to share my Banana Bread Recipe.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Adapted from Erin McKenna’s Cinnamon Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Garbanzo-Fava Bean Flour
  • 1/4 cup Potato Starch
  • 2 Tbsp Arrowroot starch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp milk or non-dairy substitute
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 over-ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the Oven to 350 F and lightly grease a large loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl mix together all of the wet ingredients (except the mashed bananas and chocolate chips).
  4. Gently fold the bananas into the wet mixture.
  5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients; just before all of the dry ingredients are moistened, fold in the chocolate chips. Do not over-stir, it’s ok if the batter is lumpy.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow the banana bread to cool a minimum of 20 minutes before turning out, allow to cool completely before slicing.

I have been cooking like crazy for the past week…

 It started last Sunday, when I eagerly tried out Ginger Lemon Girl‘s, Delicious Gluten Free Belgian Waffles.  After craving the soft, yet crispy decadence of Belgian Waffles smoothered in whip cream and fruit for months, I finally gave in and purchased a Belgian Waffle Iron and began searching out Gluten-Free recipes.  I was ecstatic to discover Carrie’s recipe; the waffles were easy to make and tasted delicious, just like the waffles I remember.  In fact the recipe made enough waffles that I froze the excess in ziploc baggies and was able to enjoy this amazing treat all week long.  If you’re curious they crisped up wonderfully in the toaster.  Now I want to try the second recipe Carrie posted, Kelly’s Fast Whole-Grain Waffle “Sandwich Bread”, but first I’ll have to make her GF Master Baking Mix.

The first half of the week passed as per normal, feeding myself, feeding my husband; but on Thursday, I was a “baking machine”.  Friday was my five year old nephews, long awaited school Carnival/Fundraiser.  I of course, offered to make a cake for the cake walk, and my sister-in-law promptly requested her favourite – carrot cake. 

I work a part-time job on Thursday evening, and since I have known for months that I would need a fresh cake for a Friday, I made arrangements to have my shift covered.  I also decided that since I would be baking any ways, I would also bring in the treats for “Friday Morning Tea” in my office.  Last time I brought treats, I brought a carrot cake and half of a Gluten-Free Ponderosa Cake for my other GF friends.  Turns out everyone was intrigued by Gluten-Free and wanted to try it out, so this time I decided to only make Gluten-Free treats.

This Thursday, instead of working until 10pm, I baked until 10:30pm.  I made a carrot cake for my nephew; I do make his with flour, but I mix it all by hand and in the farthest corners of my kitchen, away from my food and my equipment.  At the same time, I also made my first attempt at adapting said recipe, yielding an amazing, moist gluten-free carrot cake. 

But that’s not all.  I also made Erin McKenna’s Allergen-Free Brownies again, this time using cane sugar instead of Agave Syrup (I noticed very little difference in taste – both were yummy!).  Finally, I made Chocolate Chip Banana Bread; an adapted version Erin McKenna’s Cinnamon-Banana Bread.  I’ll try and share the recipe soon.

I did not manage to get pictures of any of these treats as my office mates scarfed them down in record time – many commented how delicious the treats were and some even asked for the recipes.  In my books if gluten-eaters enjoy my Gluten-Free treats, I’ve definitley done something right.

Although I love Chinese tea, and get an occasional craving for a sweet and milky cup of tea – I AM A COFFEE ADDICT.  I don’t deny it, in fact in the midst of all my food eliminations I adamantly told my naturopath that I wouldn’t be giving up my coffee.  Fortunately, for me, the acidity of the coffee may actually be assisting my body and as such she not only agreed, she encouraged me to continue drinking coffee.  That’s what I find so interesting about my sudden desire to make tea cookies.

I’ve been on the look-out for Matcha for quite some time, however every time I see some, my thrifty side comes out and I convince myself that I will be able to find it for cheaper somewhere else – at least while I decide whether its something I want to make a regular addition to my pantry.  Yesterday, my persistence paid off and I am now the proud owner of some Matcha from a Japanese company, Ujinotsuyu (note: I can’t seem to find my product on the website).  I always seem to think I can make it through a week or even a weekend without baking, but then something like a chance encounter with affordable matcha occurs, and I’m back in the kitchen agian.

After some searching I decided to use Elana’s Butter Cookies (namely splitting the dough in half and making both matcha and chai tea cookies) taking into account Lovescool‘s Green Tea Sweets, which is cross-linked all over the web,and create some gluten-free tea cookies.  As I searched for my base recipes, I discovered that tea cookies could be made with any tea; all I had to do was grind the tea to a fine powder and experiment.  The white chai tea I had recently purchased, quickly came to mind and I knew I had to try it.

tea-cookies-small.jpg

I made a few adaptations to Elana’s recipe, but there’s definitely still some more refinements to be made until they taste just right.  I love the blanched, sliced almonds on the green tea cookies, I’d like to top the chai tea cookies with something too – perhaps just cinnamon.  I’m also still awaiting the re-introduction of refined sugar to my diet – I won’t use it like I used to, but I’d love to coat these cookies in castor sugar, or perhaps even dip them in some white chocolate.  Mmmm, just the thought is making me salivate.

I’m finally beginning to realize, that this process; working with a recipe, slowly changing it, evolving it to my own tastebuds – I’m only just realizing, that I love it.  I learned to cook from my Dad; Asian cooking is about feel, colour, texture.  There’s often no written recipe, just the video in my mind and the familiarity in my senses that tells me how to cook: won tons, beef and broccoli, fried rice, sweet and sour pork, steamed pork – all of my Asian favourites. 

But I always shied away from changing a recipe when I baked.  Yet, I’ve never been a precision baker, my measurements are always “close enough”, often measured using the wrong tools, yet despite the lectures in food class promising utter failure for such actions, my goodies nearly always turned out delicious.   Learning to live the gluten-free life, I’ve finally been stepping up to the challenge of adapting my old recipes to suit my new gluten-free needs.  Now I realize, not only am I not intimidated, I’m excited.   Times are changing, meals are changing and most importantly, attitudes are changing.

 All that being said, I know the that’s not the case for everyone.  I mentioned a friend a while back, who by a stroke of luck, ate my food for a few days, only to discover that gluten may be one of her hidden enemies.  She’s been reading and commenting around here however, although she loves to eat my food, I know that she likes things a lot simpler in her kitchen.  She was so excited at her purchase of a pre-mixed gluten-free flour – finally something she could just substitute into her normal cooking.  Knowing that she too loves words, I have invited her to guest blog and share her perspectives.  Hopefully this will encourage her and you will all have a chance to hear from her soon.

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