Friday, December 20, 2013

Making and Baking


This time of year the end of aisle displays include packages of flour and sugar stacked up like a brick wall, vanilla, scary looking red and green petrified fruit, and all manner of baking supplies. For those of us who bake for special diets, such as gluten free or vegan, our supplies are off the beaten path. Sometimes they can only be procured at health food stores or online. However, lately I have seen more and more options in the "regular" stores, such as millet flour, coconut sugar and agave nectar.  These new found conveniences can be put to good use with two great new "from scratch" cookbooks for special diets. The first in her continuing series, Laurie Sadowski presents gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and soy-free goodies in The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies.  If you're hankering for the comforting smell and taste of home baked bread, try Gluten-Free Bread:  More than 100 Artisan Loaves for a Healthier Life by Ellen Brown .

The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies by Laurie Sadowski takes no shortcuts, but yields wonderfully fresh tasting and flavorful baked goods without gluten, dairy, egg or soy---no easy feat. Baking both vegan and gluten free is a balancing act akin to the feats of Chinese acrobats. It takes skill and artistry, and if done right, the results are awesome. Laurie Sadowski has achieved this using fresh, real ingredients like millet and sorghum flours, coconut oil, avocados, tahini and flaxseed to create an array of cookies, cakes, bars and cupcakes. The recipes range from the familiar like Boston Cream Pie and New Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake to Mini Triple-Coconut Cupcakes and Shortbread with Dried Cherries and Cacao Nibs. Being a Canadian, maple syrup figures prominently in Sadowski's book with the likes of Maple-Cinnamon Biscotti and Cream-Filled Maple Leaf Cookies.

The recipes are clear, but the ingredient list can seem daunting. Don't be discouraged. Just gather your ingredients incrementally, and like any recipe, read through it first.  The other downside is I would have preferred more pictures of the actual desserts. The pages are jam packed with black and white pictures of bakeries from around the world, which is charming, but there are only a few of the actual desserts and several of the author in retro-50's housewife gear.  The bakery pictures, I suppose, are a nod to the international variety of recipes in the book, but I believe most people want an idea of what the finished dish will look like.

Lastly, the author provides a comprehensive explanation of ingredients, nutritional information for gluten-free flours, as well as tips to help you in this specialty area of baking. Overall it is a winner for the home baker who enjoys using quality ingredients for fantastic results.

In Ellen Brown's new book, Gluten-Free Bread, the seasoned cookbook author has brought us a volume with an extensive array of breads, focaccias, bagels and almost all the savory, gluten-free baked goods one could want. From Muesli bread to French Baguette to Traditional English Dried Currant Scones, even Cornbread Stuffing-- this book has got it all.

Brown provides a thorough explanation of flours, yeast and the overall processes necessary to achieve great bread without the essential ingredient that makes bread so deliciously "bready"--gluten. 

The photography in Gluten-Free Bread is worth mentioning as well. Steve Legato's artistic photos give a clear rendering of what to expect from the finished product.

The recipes are clear and easy to follow. As the subtitle states, these are "artisan" recipes, implying they are crafted by those who care to take the time for a superior product.  I made the challah recipe in individual Bundts; each one really is enough for 2 servings. They looked adorable and tasted yummy straight out of the oven. Like most gluten-free breads, they are best freshly baked or warmed up in the oven.

Whichever book you choose, these make great gifts and are sure to keep the recipient occupied in the kitchen for a long time.

My kid's really liked this one. The real orange zest and juice give this bundt cake a really great fresh, vibrant taste.  I subbed all-purpose gluten free blend for the other flours in the cake, and it came out fine.

Chocolate Chunk-Orange Bundt Cake
The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies by Laurie Sadowski, p.p. 30-31 (note: I have condensed the text of the recipe).


1 1/4 cups sorghum flour, plus more for sprinkling the pan
1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon tapioca flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups unrefined cane sugar
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup finely grated orange zest (about 4 large oranges)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseeds
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups vegan buttermilk (for each cup, mix 1 Tbsp. vinegar into non-dairy milk (i.e. soy or rice milk))
1 1/2 cups nondairy semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar

Orange Drizzle:
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache:
2 Tablespoons nondairy milk
1  1/2 teaspoons coconut oil or vegan buttery spread
1/4 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips

To make cake:  Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Lightly oil a 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. Sprinkle with sorghum flour, tapping out excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together first 8 ingredients.

Put the sugar, coconut oil, orange zest, orange juice, flaxseeds, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl. Mix on medium-low speed; beat until well combined.

Turn the mixer to low. Alternately add the flour mixer (3 additions) and buttermilk (2 additions), beginning and ending with the flour mixer, beating well after each addition. Turn off the mixer.

In a small bowl, toss together the chocolate chunks and 1 tablespoon tapioca flour, until well coated.  Add the chunks to the batter, stirring with a spatula until evenly distributed. Immediately stir int he cider vinegar until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan using the rubber spatula. Smooth the top with the spatula.  Bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  The cake will be golden brown, begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, and will spring back when lightly touched.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert the cake directly onto a serving dish. Let cool to room temperature before you prepare the drizzle and ganache. 

To make the drizzle:
In a small bowl, stir together the drizzle ingredients until smooth. Stir in up to 1 tablespoon additional orange juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, as needed to achieve  a runny consistency.

To make the ganache:
In a small pan, heat the nondairy milk and coconut oil over medium heat until the oil is just melted.  Immediately remove from the heat and stir in chocolate chips until they are melted and the mixture is smooth.

To assemble:
Spoon the drizzle and ganache over the cake, letting them run down the sides. The drizzle and ganache can be applied alternately or the drizzle can be applied firs,t then the ganache.  Serve at room temperature.

Store in a sealed container. The cake keeps for 3 days at room temperature, and 2 months in the freezer.

Yield:  12 servings

Popovers are a perennial favorite at holiday dinners. If you are dairy allergic, you can substitute soy, rice or help milk and non-hydrogenated margarine for the butter. However, they do require real eggs for their signature airy texture.

from Gluten-Free Bread by Ellen Brown, p.p. 217-19

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1  1/4 cups whole milk, heated to 90F  or 38C) degrees
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C) degrees and grease a 12-cup popover pan or muffin pan.

Combine the rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, salt, and xanthan gum in a deep mixing bowl. Whisk well.

Combine the milk, eggs, and melted butter in a blender or food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend until smooth. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth.

Ladle the batter into the prepared cups, filling each two-thirds full.

Bake for 25 minutes, without opening the oven door. Lower the oven temperature to 350F (175C) degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the tops are browned. Remove the pan form the oven and allow popovers to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.

Note:  The batter can be made up to 4 hours in advance and kept at room temperature. Blend it again to distribute the ingredients before filling the cups. The popovers must be baked just prior to serving.


Add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley) to the batter.
Add 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the batter.

Yield: 12 popovers

Note:  The recipes below are not necessarily gluten free, but are part of a blogger link-up.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bake Someone Happy


My first thought for a title for this blog entry was, "'tis the season...for allergic reactions". But, I felt that a bit too pessimistic, and chose instead an old Betty Crocker slogan--as I feel home baked goods do make people happy.  But, the fact of the matter the holidays are a minefield for those with food allergies and other special diets. Yesterday, I was sitting with another "allergy mom" recapping the Thanksgiving/Chanukah long weekend, and griping about how even those close to us don't seem to "get it", when it comes to food allergens. "Can you believe it?" she said, "they brought a nut cake into my house...a NUT me!" As you may have guessed, her daughter is nut allergic. On my end, I added that three, (3!), close relatives gave me treats for my children that had "may contain traces of peanuts", on the label.  Frustrated? You bet. And this is with loved ones. School parties, synagogue parties, friend's homes, are even more hostile territory. My children's school sent out a list of items they would be serving at their holiday party. Unfortunately, Lillie and Rosie could enjoy nothing more than the smell at the party, as every item posed a hazard for them. So that is why I would like to give the authors Ashley McLaughlin, Baked Doughnuts for Everyone and Jennifer Katzinger, Gltuen-Free & and Vegan Pie a big virtual hug for making sweet treats my celiac and food-allergic kids could enjoy.

Much has been spoken about in the past few weeks of "Thanksgivukkah", the amalgam of the first night of Chanukah and Thanksgiving falling on the same day--a rare occurrence. So the question was, do I make my traditional Thanksgiving pies, or do dougnuts, traditionally fried to commemorate the oil that lasted for 8 days on Chanukah? How about both?!

Gluten-Free and Vegan Pie  by Jennifer Katzinger, former owner of the Flying Apron, Seattles popular vegan bakery, is the fourth of her gluten-free/vegan cookbooks.  The book gives very clear instructions, both in writing and with stellar photographs to make the often tricky gluten-free/vegan pie crusts. The tempting recipes and  photos redolent with flaky pastry and ripe fruit for Apricot and Cherry Crostata, Maple Blueberry Pie and Strawberry Hand Pies, make one want to go on a pie baking binge. In addition, there are savory options such as Layered Eggplant Tarts with Pistachio Crusts and  Asian Pot Pie.

Pie crust is hard enough when you use non-gluten-free and vegan ingredients, and can seem near Herculean when trying to obtain flakiness and tenderness, while still managing to maneuver a top crust without breaking with these specialty ingredients. Ms. Katzinger presents a very easy method for single and double crusts using a brown rice flour and coconut oil based crust. She developed a method where she cuts the top crust into triangles or shapes, then chills them before placing on the top of the pie. This allows for maximum maneuverability and minimal breakage resulting in maximum wow factor! I also appreciate that her crusts do not call for eggs, as most gf pie crust recipes I have found do, since Rosie is allergic to them.

Whether baking a single or double crust, you can once again enjoy the pleasure of pies on a gluten and allergen free diet with this book.

I used a large flower shaped cookie cutter to cut out the top crust. I found it was easier to press the bottom crust into the pie plate instead of rolling it out.  As you work with the dough it may get soft and sticky as the fat begins to soften , and therefore difficult to roll out. One trick is to roll it out on parchment or silipat lined rimless baking sheet, so you can stick it back into the refrigerator to firm up as needed. Or, fill a 9x13 metal baking pan with ice cubes. As the dough softens, place pan on top of dough for a few minutes, and it will chill and firm up.

Traditional Apple Pie
from Gluten-Free & Vegan Pie by Jennifer Katzinger, p. 50, crust p. 11

I used the Double Pastry Crust recipe, while the author calls for her Darker Double Crust (p. 14) recipe.

1 Double Pastry Crust
3 pounds combined sweet and tart apples, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I only use Granny Smith for pies)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot
1/3 cup evaporated cane juice
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1. Prepare the crust as instructed.

2. To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Let the filling sit for 30 minutes.

3. Spoon the filling into the prepared bottom crust. Roll out the top crust to cover the apple filling: Place dough on a well floured, parchment-lined firm piece of cardboard. Roll the dough to the a 10-inch diameter, then gently flip the dough over the filling. Crimp or flute he edges of the dough. With a sharp knife, make 5 evenly spaced 2-inch long slashes int he center of the pie radiating out like the spokes of a wheel. Place the entire pie in the freezer for about 35 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, preheat hte oven to 425F degrees. Place a baking stone or aluminum foil-lined baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven.

5. Place the pie on the baking stone or sheet. bake for 15 minutes, then rotate hte pie 180 degrees and reduce the oven temperature to 350F degrees. Bake for an addition 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden and firm. Let the pie cool for about 2 hours before serving.

Double Pastry Crust
ibid, p.p. 11-13

2 cups brown rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup arrowroot
1  1/2 tablespoons evaporated can juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Place the flours, potato starch, arrowroot, evaporated cane juice, salt, and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and process just until the ingredients are combined. Add the coconut oil and pulse until the dough is the consistency of coarse meal with many pearl-size pieces.  Add the water and vanilla, and process just until the dough holds together.

2. Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper well dusted with brown rice flour.  Divide it into two portions, one slightly larger (about 2/3 of the dough) than the other; this will be the bottom crust. Shape the larger portion into a disc with your hands. Dust both your rolling pin and the disc with brown rice flour.   As you roll out the dough, rotate the paper so you roll in different directions to produces an 11-inch circle.

3. Working quickly, slip your hand under the parchment paper to lift up the dough and flip in into the pie pan. Using the palm of your dominant hand, press evenly and gently into the dough at the base of the pan while rotating the pan every so often.  This will create a thinner bottom crust and thicker side walls. Then press the extra dough into the rim with your fingertips to shape the edges uniformly.

4. Flute or decoratively crimp the edges of the dough. Pierce the dough all over with a fork to prevent air pockets from forming when baking, uncovered, and freeze it for 30-45 minutes before filling.

5. Roll out the remaining portion of dough to about 1/8-inch thickness to create the top crust, either cutting out hearts or other shapes, or creating wedges by rolling out the dough on the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan, trimming it to fit, and cutting it into wedges. Freeze the cutouts or wedges for 30 minutes.

6.  After the dough has been frozen, remove it from the freezer and fill the bottom crust according to your specific recipe.  To assemble the top crust, gently loosen the wedges from the parchment with a spatula and place each wedge next to one another, re-creating your circle. If you're using cutouts, proceed in the same manner.

Yield: 1 double crust

In the dessert trends of the last decade, Doughnuts lay somewhere between cupcakes and hand pies. Now baked doughnuts are in vogue due to the relative ease of making them, and the calories saved as compared to traditional fried doughnuts.  Essentially, it is cake batter poured into a baking pan with 6-12 doughnut shaped indentations, or a small electric machine that bakes doughnuts in less than 5 minutes.  Baked Doughnuts for Everyone by Ashley McLaughlin allows those of us who need to grapple with food allergies and sensitivities to enjoy this food trend to it's fullest. Not only does she have 101 delicious gluten free recipes, she has a whole section of vegan and gluten free options.

The recipes are truly unique and all tantalizingly tempting.  There are sweet flavors like the classic Chocolate Buttermilk to the more exotic Vegan Blood Orange and Green Matcha. Then  there are the more whimsical like S'mores and Baklava flavors. McLaughlin also ventures out of the box with savory doughnut recipes. How about Vegetarian Eggs Benedict on a savory doughnut?  There is even a recipe for Dog Doughnuts (that seem to be edible to their owners too)!

The book contains an explanation of the various gluten free flours used, and helpful tips for re-creating these bakery favorites at home.  The recipes are clear and have most awesome photos.  The author is a food photographer in addition to being a recipe developer.

My favorite recipe is for Jelly-Filled Doughnuts. Sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts, are popular during Chanukah, however they are a big patchke (mess) to make. The McLaughlins baked version cooks with the jelly already inside, and makes for a simpler preparation.

So whatever you tickles your culinary fancy, pie or doughnuts, now there are options for everyone!

I found a very easy and neat way to fill the doughnut pans is to pour the batter into a disposable pastry bag, or gallon sized ziploc,  with a 1/2-inch cut out of the corner.  Pipe the batter directly into pans.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts
from Baked Doughnuts for Everyone by Ashley McLaughlin, p. 169

1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
2 tablespoons almond meal
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons ground flax meal
1  1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 to 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Doughnuts:

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees, and grease a standard size doughnut baking pan.

Combine the dry ingredients in a  large bowl and stir until combined. In another bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients together until fully combined.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a large wooden spoon until just combined, being careful not to over mix.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Do not stir after this point.  The batter will be very thick and not pourable.

Spoon the batter into the doughnut molds, filling to just below the top of each mold, 1/8-1/4-inch from the top.  Lightly smooth out hte top of the batter with a small silicone spatula. Do not pack the batter down.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Slide a thin spatula around the edges of the doughnuts to help loosen them out.  Then place on a cooling rack and allow to cool fully before topping.

For the Glaze:  Mix the glaze ingredients together until smooth.  Add more milk if a thinner consistency is desired.

Invert hte doughnut into the glaze, letting the excess drip off, or drizzle the glaze over the doughnut.  Let set until the glaze has hardened.

Yield:  8 to 10 doughnuts