Sourdough Can be Gluten Free!

Recently someone said in my hearing that sourdough is safe for gluten avoiders to eat. I thought, nope. Then I heard it again from a neighbor. I asked a few questions. This very nice neighbor and I share gf baked goods with each other. It turns out she has tummy issues that are causing wheat intolerance. I have celiac. She finds that sourdough bread is very digestible for her. I had to explain that if I ate regular sourdough it would not be at all safe for me. The sourdough process does not remove or magically inactivate the gluten in the wheat based flour. Sadly nope. Would be nice if that were so.

But I do have to say that I have been making some gluten free sourdough baked goods and find that they are delicious and not crazy difficult. The scones I posted a couple of weeks ago come to mind. So tasty, what great texture and flavor! And I have twice made delicious gf sourdough breads; one using white flours that I added oats and oat flour to base flour as well as seeds like poppy and fax seed. Makes such incredible toast. The other bread success has been the raisin bread; a fruited version of a plain sourdough loaf. Both recipes came from a facebook group for gluten free sourdough bakers who want to help each other bake gf sourdough foods. If you are on fb; put in that topic and you should find them. This awesome group has lots of recipes in their home page top right at “files”. And folks answer your questions when a bake turns out less than optimal.

I feel that sourdough breads have a better crumb and texture than regular gf breads. They toast up simply amazing, sort of like an English muffin bread. Makes great sandwiches. Lovely for us celiacs who miss good bread in a deep and fundamental way. I actually have eaten a lot less bread since going gf, its expensive and sometimes very disappointing so I just kept finding ways to avoid it. Baking bread that is worth the time and ingredients can be very hit or miss. My French baguettes are delicious, and my Italian fennel and golden raisin wide loaves are wonderful but I have also made many subpar loaves of gf bread over the past 9 years. Gummy, heavy, grainy and poor flavor plus they often only taste good the day you bake them. I strongly urge you just take a minute and check out this gf sourdough group on fb. Another recent and strong source for possible gf bake recipes are the two cookbooks out by Aran Goyoaga. Last month I bought Cannelle et Vanille in hardcover which is mostly very interesting components of a healthy meal using lots of flavors and lots of vegetables and I just got Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple on kindle. I haven’t baked much yet from either book but I hear a lot of good buzz in social media from gluten free bakers. Folks on fb call her CV as a nickname, now you are in the know too! I will report in this blog on how bread turns out when I use her recipes.

As I wrote above, the ones out of the gf sourdough bread bakers on fb are pretty tasty, the raisin and current loaf was amazing fresh and delish toasted a couple days later. I froze a lot of it and it defrosts quickly in my microwave before toasting slices to give it all those golden nooks and crannies. The seeded one makes awesome avocado toast and I love it toasted along with a couple of eggs in the morning. Just know that these gf sourdough breads take several hours to rise, can’t be rushed. AG’s Bakes Simple has several non sourdough bread recipes. Also other kinds of baked goods. They are much quicker than sourdough; use yeast from the store. Enjoy!

The other book by her is all bakes cookbook but is is pretty much sold-out hence I bought it as a kindle.

Meanwhile, join that gf sourdough group on fb (who would have ever thought that such a group exists!) and make a starter; takes about 7-10 days. I used CV’s recipe that is made with brown rice flour. It’s not that difficult to stir up a loaf if you have a stand mixer and you might really enjoy watching the slow rise of a tasty loaf of gf sourdough bread.

Raisin bread before I cut into it. Incredible scent and flavor. Mmmmm best raisin bread ever!

I feed my starter most every day; just a little bit and try to discard some each week. I guess it is time for some scones this weekend! I made some interesting chocolate chip sourdough cookies the other day; uses just almond flour so it is a bit grainy to me, made also with coconut sugar and coconut oil so kinda healthy but just not quite the texture I am dreaming of. My favorite CC recipe is King Arthur’s recipe. I love how you can form and freeze the cookies in a ziplock bag and bake just as many as I like. I guess I will live without sourdough in them! Back to the sourdough scones; there is nothing going less than perfect with them. Incredible flavor and impeccable texture. This weekend it is raspberry time!

Chocolate chip and walnut sourdough scones. My dieting downfall…

Pear Spice Muffins…Another Snack Option

I had few portable baked snacks and a few bosc pears so I figured it was time for a new muffin recipe. This is a riff off a recipe out of Annalise Robert’s cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics. It is  similar to my recipe for apple nut muffins that I created from her banana muffin recipe. If I had to have just one GF cookbook hers would be the one for me.

Do use a fairly firm pear; I used a bosc which is naturally great for baking but almost any firm pear will do. Notice I didn’t say “hard”. Nope to that; not gonna taste great.  Don’t chop them super fine or big; 1/3 inch dice is good.

I always enjoy eating a muffin still warm out of the oven. It is smart to freeze any you won’t eat in 2 days; ziplock freezer bag works great.  They make super snacks.  These  muffins are kinda delicate; if you want to take them on a hike or car ride put them in a plastic food box – the rigid sides will keep your muffins safe from crushing.

Pear Spice Muffins              

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 c granulated sugar (can use coconut palm sugar: just increase milk by 2 Tbsp.)

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

skimpy 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1  1/2  c chopped firm pear; peel and core! (about 2 pears)

½ c chopped walnuts

2 large eggs beaten

½ c milk, 1 or 2 percent

½ c canola oil

DIRECTIONS:  Heat oven to 375, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 14-16 muffins.

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer or big bowl

Add pear chunks and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix

Combine milk and oil,  Beat in eggs.  Add liquids to big bowl; stir until blended.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  I use a big serving spoon and fill it about half way to dump in each muffin space. Sprinkle the top with a bit of raw old fashioned oatmeal; 2-3 Tbsp. should do it or try  cinnamon sugar.

Bake 20-24 min until golden brown. I used my convection setting and did them for 17 minutes. Perfect. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Rest five minutes and then remove from the pans and cool on a rack.

Freezes well for up to 3 weeks.  Keeps in fridge (well wrapped) a few days.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Fruity Nutty Yummy Healthy….All in One Muffin!

No muffins in the freezer, and I was a tiny bit tired of all my flavors: it was time for a new kind of muffins. This is a riff on a recipe out of Annalise Robert’s cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics.  It is very similar to her blueberry muffins. If I had to have just one GF cookbook hers would be the one: her quick breads are delicious!  I saw the topping on a blog (Swirls and Spice) and modified it just a touch.

These muffins did not disappoint: delicate texture yet crunchy outside with a great blueberry cinnamon flavor.  The pomegranate seeds add color and a touch of flavor.  Fall is the season for pomegranates so toss them in and surprise your family.  I suppose you could leave them out; add another ¼ cup of blueberries.  I used frozen blueberries; easy to get in the winter, don’t defrost them before adding. There are walnuts in there to so you get some really great nutrients from the fruit and nuts.  No guilt in eating one of these treats!

It must be mentioned that I used a different sugar; organic coconut palm sugar from Frey’s Better Foods.  It looks like soft brown sugar, can be used 1-1; same amount as granulated sugar and tastes great.  Best of all, it is low on the glycemic scale so you don’t get that sugar rush/crash nearly as much as most sugars.  I found that to be so; no sugar reaction like I often get when eating sweet baked treats.  I think it tastes slightly like brown sugar and it does darken the baked good slightly.  As a pre-diabetic I love that this sugar is low glycemic; much better for my body.  But use granulated sugar if that is what you prefer.

I always eat a muffin from the batch while they are still warm out of the oven, just perfection.  The streusel topping makes them look like they came from a bakery.

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It is smart to freeze any you won’t eat in two days time; a zip lock freezer bag works great.  These muffins are delicate; if you take them on a hike or trip, put them in a plastic bin – rigid sides will keep them safe from crushing.

Blueberry Pomegranate Cinnamon Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1¼ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup pomegranate seeds (ariels)

2 large eggs beaten

½ cup milk, 1 or 2 percent

½ cup canola oil

½ tsp. vanilla extract

Topping: Mix the following in a bowl, make sure the butter is in tiny pebbles; use your fingertips to blend.

½ cup rolled oats

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. almond meal

1½ tbsp. butter

¼ tsp. cinnamon

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Directions: Heat your oven to 375 degrees, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 12-16 muffins.  I got 16 when I made them yesterday.

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Mix all dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer or big bowl Add fruits and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix.  Combine milk and oil.  Beat in eggs, add vanilla.  Add liquids to big bowl; stir just until blended.  It is a very thick batter.

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Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  I use a big serving spoon and fill it about half way to dump in each muffin space. Sprinkle the top with the topping. Gently press the streusel into the muffin batter just a bit so it doesn’t fall off after they are done. Bake 21-24 min until golden brown. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  I let them cool 3-4 minutes before I removed them from the pans to cool on a rack.

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Freezes well for a few weeks.  Keeps in fridge (well wrapped) or an airtight cookie jar for 2-3 days.

Post script: I froze 2/3 of my batch and six days later I have just two left. These muffins are addictive and I love how they don’t raise my blood sugar noticeably yet they taste so wonderful; bursts of blueberry/pomegranate flavor and the crunch of the nuts. I promise that you will be thrilled with these muffins even if you skip the pomegranates!

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix

2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Pumpkin Pie, Easy Peezy and G-F

So you might need to make a GF pie for the holidays.  There are lots of fancy pies but I think pumpkin is a traditional yet easy to make pie choice: it has only a few steps and no top crust, not even crumbs.  Make a crust, dump and mix up the filling, bake it, chill it and yumm it up!! Some people like theirs with whipped cream, I like mine plain so I can savor the spicy flavor all the better.

pumpkin pie 2

This GF crust by Annalise Roberts will work for any pie you should want to make including pecan pie.  This particular pumpkin pie filling recipe is adapted from my 1970s Betty Crocker and is one I have made for years; perfect custard texture.  If you like it really sweet add another quarter cup sugar.

My mom always says that eating a slice of pumpkin pie is like having an extra vegetable serving.  I like to cook up a butternut squash and run it through a food mill to make it silky smooth for the pie but you can just buy a can of pumpkin, not pie filling which has other stuff; just the pumpkin please.

Go ahead, bake as easy a pie as is humanly possible and enjoy a tasty yet kinda healthy dessert for Thanksgiving or Christmas!

Angie’s GF Pumpkin Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Spray a 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you make the filling.

Filling:

2 eggs

2 cups cooked pumpkin or butternut squash puree (canned is okay)

½ cup sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. cloves

Sprinkle of nutmeg

1 3/4 c evaporated milk (1 can)

Beat eggs well and add the rest of the ingredients and mix it all together with a mixer at low speed until blended.

Put It Together:

Roll out pie crust between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! My sister Karen gave me a pie bag and I love it for an even thin crust.  You can get one on line from King Arthur Flours.  Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  Fill with pumpkin pie mixture.  Sometimes I sprinkle the top with more cinnamon and nutmeg.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, lower temperature setting to 350 and bake for 45 minutes until just set and the crust is light brown.  Cool and chill at least 2 to 4 hours before serving at or close to room temperature.

Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cake Perfection

Okay, I have to confess something.  I am a terrible cake baker, under pressure, that is.  I call it the birthday cake curse.  Really.  I actually took a personal vow like 8-9 years ago to make no more scratch birthday cakes as they always get screwed up.  I can make a great cake the rest of the time but birthdays…not so much.  Once I baked a birthday cake for my sister Margie at my mom’s house and unbeknownst to me there was a second bottom on her cheesecake pan; my pear ginger cake was all goopy in the middle because of that! And then there was that fancy three layer cake I baked for my birthday long ago; the top layer was a sort of raspberry gelatin and it slid mostly off! Disaster at the party… Any number of cakes that didn’t rise properly or cracked as it baked or broke as I tried to get them out of the pan. I could go on and on.  The curse continues!

Now I am gluten free and there are very limited and expensive options as to making gf cakes.  Perhaps I should mention that I enjoy baking and it is a challenge I accept in my new gluten free life.  So I persevered and several birthday cakes have been created since going gf and all were totally yummy.  A few glitches but on the whole, I am pleased with my new gf birthday cake record.  Today I baked my three year old grandson’s cake.  Not so good in the perfect department but it sure was tasty when we ate it at the party.  When it came out of my oven the layers sank some in the center.  Re-reading her instructions at the start of the cake chapter I discovered that she does not recommend using a Kitchen Aid mixer; it is too powerful and always overbeats gf cakes.  Now I know.  I just flipped one layer over and used it as the bottom. I put extra cream cheese icing in the middle.  The top was level and the flavors were out of this world.

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This is the third time I have baked this cake for a birthday; time to share it.  It is from my go to cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts.  Get a copy if you haven’t already.  This cake is incredibly yummy, no one will ever feel cheated by the gf nature of it.  And it isn’t that difficult to make, just don’t use that big powerful mixer! I like that it is make with low fat milk and canola oil; less fatty than many cake recipes. I used half the vanilla in the cake and it tastes perfect.  I also measure the oil and milk and remove that tablespoon from each before mixing; she does it after mixing.  I think oil and milk are hard to blend so I do it first.

I iced Aiden’s cake with a frosting from the Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor cookbook by Anne Byrn; vanilla cream cheese frosting and the contrast is perfection with this decadent chocolate layer cake.  This icing spreads easily and the cream cheese makes it smooth and less sweet with a tangy undertone; it is addictive. It’s a perfect combo for a birthday celebration once you poke a few candles on top.  This cake gets its deep chocolate flavor from two sources, unsweetened chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder.  You will need a fair amount of sugar to make it sweet enough.  And you will need some of that brown rice flour mix I often use.   Recipe for that is below.

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Not the prettiest looking cake but one of the tastiest chocolate birthday cakes ever!

Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cake

4 oz unsweetened chocolate chopped up

1 ¾ cup brown rice flour mix

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

½ cup canola oil

1 ½ cup low fat milk

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Line two nine inch cake pans with parchment paper; spray the inside of the pan lightly with cooking spray.  You need the paper for safe removal from the pan. Do not use dark cake pans; light ones are far better for this cake. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, oven rack in the middle.

Melt chocolate, stir often.  I used the melting feature on my microwave and did a lot of stirring until the last bits were liquid. You can do it in a double boiler if you are into that sort of thing.  I went for the easy way.

Put all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well to combine.

Measure oil and milk, remove 1 tbsp. from each and discard.  Mix together.

Beat sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Do not use your kitchen aide. Beat until light and fluffy.  Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla, blend well.  Add the dry and wet ingredients alternating half at a time, low speed on mixer.  Mix at medium speed for one minute.

Pour into the prepared pans and bake immediately.  Any delay is not going to help so have the oven ready to go.  Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, run knife around edge, tip out onto a cooling rack.  Flip upright so the top of the cake is on the top.  Let cool completely before icing.

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You could make cupcakes out of it but no 8 inch pans; I tried that once and it overran the pan in a crazy “I love Lucy” manner!

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Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

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Cream cheese Icing

1 8 oz package light cream cheese, room temperature

1  8 oz stick salted butter, room temperature

3 ¾ cups powdered sugar, sieved

2 tsp. real vanilla extract.

Blend the cream cheese and butter in the mixer (yes I used my Kitchen Aid for this recipe!)  Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, blending on low speed.  Do not skip the sieving.  Add the vanilla and blend a bit more.  This recipe will frost one 9 inch layer cake perfectly.