Holiday Bread Pudding

What to do with the leftover cookies from Christmas that are kinda starting to get stale.  My preference is to salvage them by making a delicious cookie bread pudding. It varies depending on the cookies you throw in it. I also use holiday bread leftovers like stolen and my favorite Italian fennel and golden raisin bread. The more the merrier!

This is a basic oven baked bread pudding. Nothing tricky or fancy. You don’t have to soak or let it stand a long time.  You can make it with gluten free cookies or wheat based. Store or homemade. I’ve been making it for many years and it works great with gluten free cookies. This time I used delicate meringue filled cookies but a host of cookie varieties will do just as well. I admit it is not a pretty pudding. But it will taste delish and use up those holiday baked goods you have hanging around still!

bread pudding in cup

Angie’s Cookie and Bread Pudding

Approximately 2-3 cups crumbled leftover cookies/bread; not packed in cup I used about 2.5 cups of crumbled cookies

1 Tbsp soft butter

3 eggs

3 cups whole or 2 percent milk ( plus up to a cup more milk if needed)

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. real vanilla extract

Pinch salt

 

Directions: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 1 quart baking dish; I generally use a medium (7 inch diameter) ceramic souffle pan. Place broken cookies/bread into buttered dish. Do not squash down.

Beat eggs in a mixing bowl until fairly well broken up; add milk. Add sugar, vanilla and salt, stir well to melt the sugar. Pour over the cookies. If the milk mixture does not reach the top of the cookies you might have to add a bit more milk. You don’t want to start off with not enough liquid to form custard. Don’t add more than another cup of milk or it will substantially change the proportions of the custard. Place pan in oven and bake 35-45 minutes until the top is slightly browned and the custard is firm-ish. I wiggle the pan to see if it still is liquid; you want a little bit of wiggle; just not so much that your pudding is under-baked.bread pudding in pan

Cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Goes great with a bit of freshly whipped cream. Enjoy!bread pudding with cream

Christmas Stollen – Even Better

I am very traditional about certain things and stollen for Christmas is one of them. I made it a couple of years ago but wasn’t that impressed with the gf version I chose. This December I made it from a recipe on King Arthur’s website and it was so easy and so very delish I just had to share it right away with you. My mom and I had some together this afternoon and I marveled at how perfect it was, you would never guess it is gluten free. It is made without a mixer, just a whisk, a pastry cutter, a big spoon and a bread board to knead it briefly. The recipe is found at: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-holiday-stollen-recipe. It uses their basic all purpose blend, does have eggs and butter and some ricotta cheese. No fancy techniques. Sort of almost a quick bread that looks like you were baking all day. Tastes like Christmas should taste!

I made a few changes; I didn’t have the butter flavor additive. I added 1/4 tsp lemon extract to up the lemon flavor that came from the zest of an entire good sized Meyer lemon.  I added 2 more Tbsp. of ricotta cheese. I used full fat and maybe that altered things but it was a bit dry so I added as I mixed it up and kneaded it. I shaped each half into an oval about the size the recipe says and I folded it the short way so it was chubby and appealing; I used to do it the long way; like it much better like this.  Makes  nicer slices and fits on my big sheet pan much easier.

stollen fruit

 

My dried fruit inside was tuned up by 1 Tbsp. of brandy that soaked right in.  I only did the butter brushing after baking once. Did sift powdered sugar then and after it was mostly cooled.  My dried fruit mix was 1/2 cup golden raisins, and 1/2 cup of currants, chopped dried apricots and a cherry and berry dried blend. I started the oven heating and toasted my almonds as it got hot; put them outside in the cold for 2-3 minutes to cool before adding to the mix.  stollen wet ingreds

I baked this about 8 extra minutes as it just wasn’t brown; don’t be afraid to do that if something looks too pale or underdone; far better to be a tad crunchy than saggy underbaked dough insides. stollen ready to bake

This was easy; no yeast to deal with. The only special tool I recommend is a pastry cutter; it has several blades and cuts the butter into smaller and smaller bits which is what gives this bread pastry its flaky tenderness. You could use a butter knife instead; will just take longer. stollen baked

This is the Christmas bread of my dreams. Don’t be afraid; you can make this my friends! Enjoy the holidays and Merry Christmas! stollen sliced

Lemon Birthday Layer Cake

If you know me you know I love to bake. Pies, cookies, bars, muffins, sweet breads….cakes not so much except angel food cake which I am rather good at if I do say so. But birthday cakes are my kryptonite – I screw them up time after time. I guess it is the pressure….it gets to me. So I was going to make my birthday cake last week and went with a lemon flavored layer cake with a bit of lemon curd between the layers. Sounds kinda ambitious but I was determined to try a new recipe and use some of my wonderful homegrown lemons mailed all the way from Texas.

I had some new Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 baking mix to try out. But it turned out that what I needed was the same flour mix I love and use in the majority of my recipes *King Arthur’s All Purpose blend. Perfect. The new mix will wait….

My sister Karen suggested cream cheese icing after I told her I was not too happy over the super sweet sounding icing that this recipe used. The cake was simple to make; lower fat as it was made with canola oil not butter.  It can also be dairy free but I used the whole milk I had.

I made the layers using my hand held mixer as I have found that the stand mixer is too strong; it over-beats cakes.  Both layers rose well; I used those old school cake strips I have; they help make for level layers that aren’t overbaked on the edges. The cake texture was perfect; not heavy but not light; great crumb and moist.

I had made my own lemon curd the day before; used the Meyer lemons my brother Robert sends every year about now.  The recipe is actually calibrated with Meyer lemons but I am sure you can use standard lemons; will be a bit tarter.  It really added the perfect filling inside this cake; don’t be tempted to use more than half a cup as  your cake will have lemon curd running down the sides….not a good look.

Putting it together was tricky; the curd made the layers slide a touch so I put the whole thing in the freezer to chill and stabilize before I finished the icing. The topping per the recipe was fresh blackberries; got some at Aldi’s and put them around the edge and in the center.  My family gobbled up their slices. Everyone loved it and that is hard to accomplish!  Maybe the birthday cake curse is over…….

 

lemon cake layer

A few minor defects but it is tall and well baked.

The recipe can be found at glutenfreepalate.com/gluten-free-lemon-cake/

I didn’t use the icing used there; went with something less sweet. My citrus cream cheese icing recipe:

1 stick butter, at room temperature

4 ounces light cream cheese at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar; sift unless it is a new bag

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1  to 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Grated zest of one lemon, zest of half a navel orange (about a tsp)

Use hand mixer to fluff up butter; ;add cream cheese and blend well. Add powdered sugar 1/3 cup at a time on slow speed. Add extracts, one Tbsp. lemon juice and zest. Blend until fluffy adding more lemon juice if needed to reach a good spreading consistency.

lemon birthday cake

As you can see I am not a great decorator or a fantastic photog but  you get the idea of this rich lemony treat of a birthday cake!

You can buy some lemon curd. I made mine as I am an overachiever and I had all the ingredients; can be pricy stuff plus it tastes even better fresh. THe recipe I used is from the Cake Mix Doctor’s GF Cookbook;  2 large lemons, 3/4 c sugar, 2 large eggs and 6 Tbsp. butter melted and cooled somewhat.

Wash the lemons and dry. Grate the zest onto a plate lined with some wax paper. You need about a Tbsp of zest. I had to use most of a third lemon to get that much zest. Juice the two lemons; you want 1/4 to 1/3 cup juice. Put juice, sugar and eggs in medium sauce pan; heavy bottom and whisk until blended. Then add the melted butter and whisk. Heat pan on medium heat until it comes to a boil; you MUST keep whisking it constantly so it doesn’t burn. Once it reaches a boil I like to boil it up to a minute; stir like a mad woman (or man)! Take off heat; pour into a bowl and chill. You can strain it but I like the zest in mine and my lemon juicer strains off seeds so I don’t see that step as necessary. Chill it well before using; at least 2 hours. I made mine the night before. I had 8 oz leftover and am debating how best to enjoy it! lemon birthday cake slice

I used one small container of blackberries and a few more from a second container. Afterwards I wished I had put them all on there as the flavor of them is just perfect with this lemon cake.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! Enjoy!

lemon cake half cropped

Can you see the lemon curd layer? I used my three hole zester to make long strands of Meyer lemon zest to decorate after I put on the blackberries. Not too pretty but pretty darn delish!

 

Browned Butter Wedding Cake Cookies

These miniature snowball cookies were the foundation of the Christmas cookie baking when I was a kid.  They were always made every year, sometimes a second batch had to be baked as we ate them all before the big day!  You can use pecans but I rarely do; walnuts are cheaper and I sort of prefer their flavor.  Some people call them Mexican Wedding Cookies but we generally called them Russian Teacakes…but today I am giving you a variation I plan to try this Christmas baking season. I am making them with browned butter today! No change in ingredients; one extra step.

For me it is not Christmas without these cookies so I was extremely pleased to find a great gf recipe. My sisters think they are better tasting than the old regular recipe!

They are super easy to make with not too many ingredients.  Be careful lifting them off the pan as they are delicate until fully cooled. The texture and subtle flavor of this GF version is actually superior to the wheat flour recipe of my childhood. When you bite into one it shatters into a delicious mouthful of sweet cookie. They are delightful with a cup of tea or coffee.  My family clamors for a few to take home!

If you like them really sweet sprinkle on extra powdered sugar, less of it makes them perfect for those who are not used to too much sweetness. No one will ever know they are GF and you will get complements on their flavor and texture.  This recipe is from Annalise Roberts’ fabulous Gluten-Free Baking Classics with some minor changes by me and the browned butter idea which comes from Bon Appetit.  Enjoy: they are rather addictive cookies!

xmas cookies 006

Browned Butter Wedding Cake Cookies

1 cup salted butter, room temperature

6 tbsp. powdered (confectioners) sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups brown rice mix (King Arthur basic blend or see recipe below)

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 cup walnuts or pecans chopped fine

Confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling

Directions: Heat butter in a heavy sauce pan; swirl it around and NO NOT walk away! It can go from yellow to dark dark brown in a few seconds so stand there and watch closely until it gets lightly brown and then pull the pan off the heat and immediately pour into  your stand mixing bowl. Let it stand until it is mostly congealed into a solid mass. Then beat butter and powdered sugar in large bowl of stand mixer until light and creamy.  Add vanilla, beat in.  Add flour and gum, mix in until well blended, stir in walnuts until distributed.  Chill dough for an hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Form dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar if you like.  Place on cookie sheet lightly sprayed with Pam (not the baker’s version that has flour).  Place about 1 ½ inches apart.  Bake 13 to 15 minutes until lightly browned on top and bottom.  Cool on pan for 5 min and then sprinkle with lots of powdered sugar before placing on wire rack to cool. I like to sift it onto the cookies so the coating is even.  You could put a sheet of wax paper under the wire rack to catch the excess sugar.  Store well wrapped: in airtight container, in fridge for a week or freezer for up to 30 days.  You could store unbaked dough in fridge for a few days.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix  (same as King Arthur gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch *not potato flour

1/3 c tapioca flour

Note: This wonderful cookie was first posted December 2014 on my blog.  Minor revisions have been made since then.

Fig and Cheese Galette

Yeap…another fig recipe. Sorry, but I still am harvesting the sweet beauties and this new recipe is my favorite dessert to bake right now. A delicate and not overly sweet treat. My figs are small so I used like 14-16 of them, at least! But use store ones if you don’t grow them and if they are big; cut the figs in thirds.  It goes together pretty quickly if you use your stand mixer to blend up the pastry crust. My old recipes used goat cheese but cream cheese is a less tangy choice and reminds me a bit of cheesecake. I softened my cream cheese in the microwave. Don’t worry if there are some tiny lumps in the filling after beating but do soften it close to room temp for best blending results.  One time I used an egg wash on it and one baking version I didn’t. More sugar sticks onto the crust if you use the egg wash. Just saying it helps but if you don’t want to you can get away with not doing that step.

Fig and Cheese Galette

Crust:

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

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp. cinnamon

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Line a 15 inch pizza pan with parchment paper.  Can use a thick cookie sheet; preferably with edges. Done it both ways.

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.  Then roll out and put on the parchment lined pan; put back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.  You can make this crust and refrigerate it for hours or a day; will need to warm up for a bit before rolling out. Get it out first and let it stand a bit. No microwaving though!

Filling:

12-16 small figs or 6-8 larger ones

8 oz light cream cheese, room temperature

1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

½ tsp. cinnamon

Sprinkle nutmeg (optional)

Zest of a lemon

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1 medium or small egg; beat up to make an egg wash

1 Tbsp. coarse or turbinado sugar

Directions: Cut your figs into halves or if large, thirds or quarters.

Cream cheese filling: put softened cream cheese in medium bowl. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, optional nutmeg, lemon juice; blend with whisk, add egg and blend well. Zest the lemon with either a fine grater or better yet a loop zester that will give you longer strands. I like to do it onto a sheet of wax paper; add to well blended filling.  It is smart to zest your lemon before you want to juice it for the filling and crust.  If you have time chill the filling for 10-15 minutes before compiling the tart.

Get out the tart crust and pour the cream cheese filling in the center. Leave 1.5 inches of plain crust around the edge, put fig halves gently all over the cheese filling, cut side up, leaving no big gaps, not touching them but with a bit of filling between them. Fold up the edges of your crust and pinch together to create the galette shape. Try not to let it crack at the bottom; pinch and fix those cracks! Use a pastry brush to brush the crust with the egg wash. Sprinkle the coarse sugar over it all including the crust.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  The crust should be lightly browned and filling almost bubbling. Let your tart rest a bit; don’t serve hot but a warm slice will be awesome.  Slice and top with a big dollop of crème or yogurt if you like that sort of thing.  We ate it plain – which is actually my favorite way to appreciate the flavors of this awesome tart. I am wondering if coffee ice cream might go great here… Enjoy! fig tart slice

fig tart cutBrown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur All Purpose GF blend)

2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch – not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour

The crust recipe is from Annalise Roberts great cookbook, GF Baking Classics, Second Edition.

GF Flour Choices and a Few Personal Words….

Wanna know what flour blends I favor? It took me a few months or maybe years to figure this out for my cooking style. First, I bought a zillion weird and a few typical gf flours. Tried to bake with each and every one of them. Found out a few kinda suck and stopped using them. Others are used infrequently but have real value for a few recipes that they match to. If you are new to gluten free or just trying to get into baking gf this post is for you.

My favorite blend is King Arthur’s Gluten Free All-Purpose blend; made of three flours; brown rice, potato starch and tapioca flour. It is versatile. It makes great pie crust that my family really loves. I use it in most of my muffin recipes. I use it for gf pasta making and for cookies that wow.  Get some and give it a try. I actually make my own blend (same exact blend as KA’s basic all-purpose flour) as it is cheaper but you can buy it at your local grocery store in a  box.

 

king arthur flour

Another blend I like very much is Better Batter, the copycat version you can find on glutenfreeonashoestring. I make a batch and keep it in the freezer so it stays fresh. Great for quick breads, desserts and pastries.

If you want a cup for cup replacement flour there are some good options; Cup 4 Cup or King Arthur’s Measure for Measure flour.  They can be used in your favorite recipes for the most part.

king arthur flour

white rice flour

White rice flour or cornstarch work well for breading things and thickening. I always keep both on hand. Ditto for tapioca flour which I use in my blends and some other recipes. Gotta have it available. I also keep sweet rice flour to use in my main blend and in a few recipes. It adds flakiness in my pie crust. Potato starch is great in my basic blend and a few other blends/recipes. Another must have.

I use sorgum flour in a number of recipes including my delish buttermilk pancakes. It has a nice flavor compared to things like quinoa flour or bean flours. Uggh on them! I still have some in my freezer but I NEVER willingly use them. I do have some chickpea flour but rarely have a need for it.

Occasionally I use teff flour; in small amounts. It makes breads darken and seem like rye or pumpernickel breads.   But, it can give a muddy flavor if you use too much. Coconut flour is another flour I keep in the freezer but only use occasionally.  It can dry out a recipe if you use too much so  use sparingly.

I just got some cassava flour to use to make flour tortillas.  I hear it is fantastic.  I’ll let you know how that goes…

My suggestion is that you start with one or two blends and a couple single flours that can be used in combination. I rarely ever use just one flour except for breading or thickening. A great blend is critical.

Don’t let all the flour choices discourage you.  Try a few and find out what works for you. Some need to be frozen or refrigerated especially if you don’t use them up rapidly; check for that storage information so your flour blend that costs a lot doesn’t get rancid on you.  Have fun!

A personal note. I am sorry I haven’t blogged much lately. Been struggling somewhat. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July and had a partial mastectomy in early August. On the first of October I started radiation therapy and it has sucked my energy and focus away from most of my enjoyable hobbies including this blog. I hope to feel better soon; 3.5 more weeks to go! At least I won’t lose my hair, LOL! I have done a bit of baking and cooking but due to my low energy I seldom can find it in me to write. This will change in November I hope.  Peace and happy gf cooking!

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins With a Surprise Inside!

A few years ago I combined my chocolate chip muffins with my classic banana nut muffins to create a lovely sweet snack.  When I made a batch of them yesterday I decided to move the streusel from the top to the insides of each muffin because so often bits of the topping can come off especially after they have been frozen. I thought that this way it is safely trapped inside the muffin for a sweet surprise.

Success: they are perfect in texture, moisture and totally yummy with that bit of streusel filling that goes so well with the chocolate chips.  I left out my usual half cup of chopped walnuts; add some if you like…I was out of walnuts and wanted to keep it a bit simpler.

 

I don’t include a picture of the inside of a muffin as it really doesn’t photograph the filling very much; just bite into one and you will know it is there.

muffins, stuffed big pix

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 c granulated sugar or coconut palm sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 to 1 c packed ripe mashed banana

¼ cup mini chocolate chips and ¼ cup dark chocolate chips (or any combo of chips that adds up to 1/2 cup total)

2 lg eggs beaten

½ c milk plus 2 tbsp extra if you use coconut sugar, 1 or 2 percent

½ c canola oil

————————————-

Filling

½ cup old fashioned oats

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. hemp hearts or almond flour (I used hemp hearts this time; awesome!)

½ tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. butter

Mix filling dry ingredients, rub butter in with your fingertips.

——————————–

Muffin directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes about 14 or 15 muffins.

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

Add bananas; stir to coat them with dry mix, then add the chocolate and stir briefly.

Combine milk and oil.  Add liquids and the two eggs to bowl. Stir on low until well blended.

Fill muffin pans 1/3 full.  Sprinkle with filling and top with another glop of batter to fill the pan about 2/3 to 3/4 full.  It doesn’t have to look perfect; the batter will rise and swallow up the streusel into the heart of the muffin.  I had a bit of filling left over so I sprinkled it on top of half the muffins. That looked great too!

Bake 20-22 min until golden brown. Do not overbake or they get dry.  Remove from oven and let cool 5-6 min before gently turning them out from the pans to cool on a rack. I use a butter knife to release them by running it around the edge once before tipping them out. They freeze well for up to 3 weeks.  They keep in my ceramic muffin/cookie jar for a few days.   muffins, stuffed, baked

Brown Rice Flour Mix   *same as King Arthur’s GF flour blend
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Note: This muffin recipe is my third generation version of the banana muffins from Annalise Roberts’s wonderful cookbook: Gluten Free Baking Classics.