Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Spontaneous Come Baking

Image result for mixer bird of paradise


Do you have a jar of pumpkin pie spice sitting on your shelf just waiting for next Thanksgiving to roll around? I did, but I decided to dust it off and try it in a number of recipes I would normally use cinnamon. Cookies, muffins and bread pudding became lit with the addition of allspice, ginger and cloves from the pumpkin pie spice.  I decided to add it to some oatmeal chocolate chip bars I decided to bake today rather spontaneously.

Classic Glass Cake Stand with Dome - Threshold̢㢠- image 1 of 1Like a lot of us there are those moments, especially during various holiday times, that you realize some sort of cake, cookie or other tempting non-gf and non-allergy free goodie will be served to a group, and your child is sitting in the corner fiddling with their thumbs. Instead, make sure you have something great for them too. It can be tough, like the time I got a call after 10 p.m. (true story) to ask if I can send in a cupcake the next day, because that mother was making a birthday party in school. "Sure no problem", I thought, " I'm in my pajamas, but was I really THAT interested in going to bed?". So it helps to have some easy recipes that you can make on the fly and in the flash.

Today was one of those days I needed something, but had no interest in complicated or time consuming. I threw together a pan of blondies for which I normally use oat flour. But, I was too lazy to grind the oats I had into flour, so here we go with Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Bars. They're kind of like a lazy (did I say that already) version of Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip cookies.  They're also really easy if you want to occupy your kids on a cold winter day with a baking project that doesn't make your floor look like a technicolor beach.

You can substitute all or part of the chocolate chips with your favorite mix-ins that fit with your dietary requirements such as: dried cranberries, toffee bits, mini m and ms, caramels cut in pieces, chopped nuts or any chopped dried fruit.

Spontaneous Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Bars

(Gluten Free and Vegan)

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum (like Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 GF Baking Flour)
1 1/2 cups gluten free old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch non-stick baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (optional: line with parchment paper). Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat margarine on medium-high until softened. Add brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

Add next five ingredients and beat on medium speed until incorporated. Add milk and vanilla, continuing to beat until incorporated and smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread batter in pan, smoothing top with a spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown.

Allow to cool completely on wire rack. Cut into rows of 6 x 4, yielding 24 bars. Store in an airtight container, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil to freeze.

Yield: 24 bars

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Perfectly Pie


A good friend of mine gave me some advice when I first got the news that Lillie had Celiac disease. She advised me to focus on desserts that were naturally gluten free, like mousses, ice cream and sorbet, instead of banging my head against the wall trying to replicate the texture and flavor of "gluttenny" desserts. Well, of course I didn't let good advice stop me! 

As such, I have a good stable of gluten free (and mostly vegan...for Rosie), cakes, cookies and donuts, but pie crust has been elusive. It's sort of Moriarty to my Sherlock. I'll find a pie crust recipe that looks promising from a reliable source only to end up with a too tough or too crumbly or just blechy tasting product. I've drunk the kool aid that made me believe coconut oil was the answer, and another almond flour. I've used butter, oils and margarine along the way. But in the end, the phrase, "It ends like it began" comes to mind. The key is Crisco! You can whisper it if you like, you can shove the tub under your kale in your shopping cart, but it is the key to a good pie crust--as I knew when I used to make wheat flour crusts. It stats it does not contain trans fats, and it now has "Gluten Free" on its label. Unfortunately, the product still has a stigma as being an unhealthy item. But, in my life at least, pies are a once in a while treat, and I feel it's alright.

With my new found fave crust, I decided to make an apple galette (see recipe below), which is essentially a very lazy pie. It's normally made on a cookie sheet, so you can actually roll out the dough right on a cookie sheet without sides, and bake on the same sheet. The pie recipe below will make a two crust pie, so you can certainly make a regular apple pie. In the picture of my galette, I actually baked it in a pie plate, as I felt it was more stable for travel. I like the galette too, because you don' t have to roll it out perfectly, you can flatten it with your hands if you don't own a rolling pin. Another rolling pin-less trick, is to wrap a wine bottle in plastic wrap and use that for rolling out crust. Whatever way you slice it (pun intended), this pie crust is fab for all your holiday baking and beyond!

Check out my YouTube video on the techniques and hints that will help you make a perfect GF Pie Crust.

This recipe was inspired by an empanada dough recipe by Liza Agbanlo in her book Quintessential Filipino Cooking, which I highly recommend. To use this recipe for a pot pie, or any other savory application like deli roll or empanadas, reduce sugar to 1/4 cup.

Double Crust Gluten Free and Vegan Pie Crust

3 cups all purpose gluten free flour with xanthan gum (such as Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour)
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening (I prefer Crisco  Sticks), chilled
1/4 cup ice water (measure out the water and add several ice cubes)

In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together the first 3 ingredients.

Cut shortening into cubes, about the size of dice. If using shortening from a tub, add it to your bowl by teaspoonfuls. Add shortening to flour mixture. Using your fingers, rub shortening and flour mixture between your fingers in a "snapping movement" (see video above at 6 minute mark). You may also cut the shortening in with two knives or a pastry blender.

Once shortening appears to be well coated and incorporated into the flour, add the water a tablespoonful at a time and mix. Unlike wheat flour, you can't overwork your gluten free pie dough (that means building up gluten strands for a tough, not flaky texture). The dough should be firm and hold together after 2-3 tablespoons of water, but you may add the full 1/4 cup if you need.

Note: Unlike wheat pastry dough, I skip the chilling step.

Form dough into two rounds and use as desired. If not using immediately, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze. Bring back to room temperature before using.

This recipe works well with pears and peaches too!

Apple Galette (or Lazy Apple Pie...see I'm even too lazy to choose a title)

3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and sliced in 1/2-inch thick slices
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch sea salt
1/2 of pie pastry recipe above

Pre-heat oven to 400F degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper (alternatively, a pie plate sprayed with non-stick cooking spray may be used.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the pastry.

Form the pastry into a ball and flatten slightly with your hand. Place pastry in center of parchment paper. Place a second piece of parchment paper (of equal size to the first) over the dough and roll out into a circle approximately 1/4-inch thick. Remove top piece of parchment paper and carefully lift parchment paper and transfer dough to cookie sheet leaving bottom piece of parchment intact. Note: If you have a rimless cookie sheet, dough may be rolled right on cookie sheet. If you are using a pie plate, flip dough into pie plate and discard parchment paper.

Arrange the apple slices in an overlapping circular pattern in the center of the pastry dough, leaving a 1 1/2 -inch margin all around.

Fold margin of pastry dough over apple slices. You may use a knife or spatula to help "flip up" the dough.

Bake in pre-heated oven for approximately 40 to 50 minutes, until apples are soft when pierced with a fork, and dough appears light golden brown.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm galette with whipped cream or ice cream. 

Serves: 8-10