Almond Tort

I found this recipe on line somewhere for an almond cake but it was in British measurement and oven temp. I did some math and measuring; a lot of number changing and a bit of guessing. I gave it a whirl; made some minor changes to amounts, simplified a bit and added some almond extract for more flavor. And it turned out so delicious.   More of a torte in my mind so that’s what I am calling it. Next time I think I will use a slightly smaller spring-form pan; an 8 inch rather than the 9 inch I made it in.  That will make it thicker; might have to bake it longer. Otherwise; perfect dessert treat: tender with a delicate almond flavor. The coconut is a back note but I liked it in there. Just sweet enough for us. You can add another quarter cup of sugar if you are mad for sweet…

I wasn’t planning to blog this so I took no pictures. This is the last slice left 24 hours after it was baked. Went fast…definitely a keeper recipe! Next time I will snap a shot of the whole torte and some pictures of the process of making it.

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Almond Torte – serves 6-8

Ingredients:

11 Tbsp. butter; melt it and let it cool to room temp. Plus a tsp. to butter the pan.

1 ½ cups almond meal plus a Tbsp. to coat the buttered pan

2/3 cup sweetened coconut, flaked

¼ tsp. sea salt

1 cup sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. almond extract

3 Tbsp. sliced almonds

DIRECTIONS:

Place shelf in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the 11 Tbsp. of butter and let it cool. I did that in my microwave. Butter (1 tsp butter) a 9 inch spring-form (8 will work too) on bottom and first inch and a half up the sides and then dust with almond meal; about a Tbsp of almond meal should do it.

Mix almond meal, coconut, sea salt in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl beat the eggs until frothy; add almond extract and vanilla extract. Add the cooled butter. Mix. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well with whisk. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top evenly. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Top should spring back lightly when touched, lightly browned. You can dust with powered sugar but I liked the look of it plain. Guessing it could be yummy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Cover to store leftovers; doubt they will last long. Enjoy!

Originally published in spring of 2019

Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins

My love for snacking muffins unfolds further…what new flavor shall I make?  Turning to my trusty basic muffin recipe I went for a sweet treat; chocolate chip muffins. They are a riff on my blueberry muffin recipe. If you are wondering why I am posting yet another muffin recipe: homemade muffins are lots cheaper than commercially made GF muffins plus they taste so fresh and oh so tasty. I walk right by all those pricey gf snack bars and cookies; knowing that in my freezer is a zip-lock bag full of luscious muffins that defrost to taste as though I made them that morning.

This batch of muffins was delightful: delicate texture yet with a great crunch and the lightly chocolate flavor from the mini chips.  I cut back on the chips a bit so they are not too heavy or too chocolaty. The walnuts also contribute to the crunch and add a subtle nutty taste.  I added a bit of cinnamon which pulls it all together.

The streusel topping gives a great look and adds texture and flavor.  I messed up my topping this batch; had to sprinkle melted butter over them after topping. Still yummy but they are slightly bald on top as a lot of the oats didn’t stick properly due to my error.  Next time they will be perfect. And there Must be a next time as these sweet treats are awesome!

I love how healthy these muffins are compared to commercial gf muffins, no preservatives, chemicals or weird ingredients I would never bake with.  Try them and see how eating gluten free can be so easy when you bake your own snacks. As always I freeze those I won’t eat in two days time; a zip lock freezer bag works great.

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below) or King Arthur Basic GF Flour blend

2/3 cup granulated sugar  or granulated coconut palm sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 large eggs

½ cup milk, 1 or 2 percent plus 2 tbsp more if you use the palm sugar

½ cup canola oil

—————-

Topping: Mix the following in a bowl, add the butter last after you stir it up a bit: use a spoon to blend. Set aside while you make the muffin batter.

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3  cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. almond meal

¼ tsp. cinnamon

3 tbsp. butter, melted

——-

Muffin directions: Heat your oven to 350 degrees, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 14-16 muffins.  I got 16 when I made them.

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

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. Press it in a bit so it won’t all flake off after baking. Bake 21-23 min until golden brown. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Remove within 2 minutes from the pans and cool on a rack.  They freeze well for a few weeks: if they last that long.  Keeps in an airtight cookie jar for 2-3 days.  

Originally published in March 2019, no recipe changes made.

Brown Butter Apple Galette

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine and thought I could make it, just a little simpler and (of course) gluten free. Feel free to check it out on line or in the magazine rack at the library.  http://www.bonappetit.com/

I liked how it looked: the shape of it and all those skinny slices.  What the heck is a galette?  I goggled it and the term can refer to a French free form cake or a free form tart that is sort of between a pie and a tart.  It should be less work than a pie or a fancy tart.  This one is a rectangular shape which I loved.  Not that tough to shape.  You can do it. The hardest part for me was spelling the word correctly for this post!

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For more galette info; check this New York Times article with a great video: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/dining/the-galette-forgives-you.html?_r=0

Anyway, my apple galette was easy to make and gorgeous to look at and even tastier to eat! Impress your family when you toss this together – they will think it took hours to make.  Leaving the skin on the apples makes them easier to slice thin, they hold their shape better and you save time.  Plus you get the bonus of all the fiber and nutrition of the apple skin and right below it.

First, make the crust and chill it a bit while you slice the apples.

GF Tart 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

6 Tbsp cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg, room temperature

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

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 flat fat rectangle with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), put another piece of wax paper on top and chill it all in your fridge 15 minutes

Baking pan: Spray 10 x 14 inch metal baking pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour or line with parchment paper.

Filling:

3 cooking apples – a pound or a bit more

2-3 tbsp. salted butter

3 tbsp. dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tbsp. granulated sugar

Take 2 tbsp. salted butter and heat it in a sauce pan until it is browned, watch closely or it will burn.  Pour it into a small bowl to cool a bit.  It will brown a touch more even out of the pan so take it out at a medium brown.

Wash and dry three firm cooking apples.  I used golden delicious that I bought at an orchard store; Bechdolts Orchard to be exact. Apples are extra fresh when you get them from where they grew. I cut them in half and cut out the core with my knife. Not peeled; the peel helps the slice keep its shape.   I put the cut side down and cut the apple half into skinny1/8 inch slices.  Leave them all close together still shaped like an apple half. Cut them all like that. I ate the end pieces that were rounded or otherwise less than perfect!  apple galette 008

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Roll out the somewhat chilled crust between the two sheets of wax paper into a rectangle; about 10 by 14 inches, try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! I use my pie bag as it works great even for weird shapes. Peel off one side of paper and place on pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.

Place your skinny sliced apples skin side up, separating them slightly.  I made two long rows and put a few slices down the sides.  Leave a 1 ½ inch border of crust untouched all around the fruit.  apple galette 009

Pour the brown butter all over the fruit.  Sprinkle with the dark brown sugar.  Fold up the border of dough to form rustic sides; connect at the corners, no need to make it perfect; it is a galette!  Beat the egg well with a small whisk and add the water.  Brush the entire tart shell and fruit with it.  Sprinkle with that spoonful of regular sugar.

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Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40-50 minutes until bubbly and the crust is light brown.  Cool at least 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

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I served mine with the time honored tradition of vanilla ice cream, my favorite: Turkey Hill’s homemade variety of vanilla.   It was also delightful all by itself so you can savor the delicate flavors of the apples with the brown butter and brown sugar.  apple galette 017 The original recipe had some fancy whipped cream flavored with a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup; next time! And there sure will be another apple galette this fall. It was tasty and I loved the extra crunch the crust had from the painting of egg wash and sugar.  My pie crust has never been put to better usage nor had better flavor.

Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

We had this for lunch today; made with empire or Cortland apples; absolutely delightful.  I put 1/2 tsp. cinnamon in the crust before adding the egg. And I used big crystal sugar for the topping tbsp. of sugar.  Even better than last time I made it.

Last posted in 2018; minor text changes made.

Focaccia – Light, Crisp and Delish!

I have made a few attempts at focaccia; some are too bready, some are heavy and it has been rather disappointing. Until now! I just made a great focaccia last week; so fluffy yet crisp on outside and with delicate crumb, really light and a delightful flavor. It is topped with fresh rosemary, grated parmesan cheese, kosher salt and fresh black pepper. I am crazy for it! Best the first day; maybe freeze the leftovers? It does reheat nicely. It makes 2 so you can do 2 12 inch breads or make pizza out of the second half. I have my half in the fridge; making pizza shortly.

Here is the recipe link: https://www.letthemeatgfcake.com/gluten-free-focaccia-bread/#wprm-recipe-container-21

Here are the ingredients if you want to make sure you have them on hand. I had this flour in my freezer but since last week I made a new batch; easy enough if you have a good scale. I love mine; can do grams or ounces and it will zero off the container you put the flour in which is super helpful. This is definitely a white bread flour. I think you could sub in a bit of brown rice flour; it wouldn’t be quite so fluffy but that would add more flavor to the breads you make with it.

Focaccia

  • INGREDIENTS
  • 2 tsp Rapid rise (instant) yeast
  • 1 1/3 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups Kim’s gluten free bread flour blend
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil, extra virgin
  • 4 tbsp. Butter
  • 2 1/2 cups Milk
  • 2 tbsp. Parmigiana cheese
  • 2 tbsp. Rosemary, fresh and chopped up
  • 1/4 tsp. Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt

Finding GF AND Gum Free Recipes

This week I discovered an old college friend has suddenly developed an allergy to wheat and to gluten. When his wife tried to bake gluten free using xanthan gum, he hated the after taste he noticed (I personally have never noticed that phenom but it sure could be so!) and guar gum made him break out in a nasty rash. She loves to bake and just was dismayed with a number of recipes she tried. Terrible texture and heavy especially without the gum. Generally disheartening. I decided immediately that I had to help them out. So after some research here are a few of my ideas, resources and general thoughts to help them.

Of course I wanted to help them out; I love a good challenge and to help friends is a true joy. So, I looked in my cookbook collection last night and discovered that my book by Nancy Cain titled “against the grain” is chock full of gluten free recipes that have no xanthan or guar gum in them. I haven’t made many of her recipes but I think they could work well for my friend. Bonus points as she takes a rather natural approach to baking gf and I am all for natural foods.

My second cookbook choice is “The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook, Volume 2” by America’s Test Kitchen. This book contains two gf flour blends neither of which has a gum in them. I have made several recipes from it and can say they are tasty and worth making again.  Not all the recipes avoid gums but they mostly use a tiny amount; ¼ of a teaspoon. I feel this could be replaced by several choices.

For that I did a search and found this: bakingkneads.com/substitutes-for-xanthan-gum-in-baking/ by Sarah. This is a wonderful post and I highly recommend you visit it. Here is a brief summary: you can use chia seeds softened in water, egg whites, cornstarch, konjac powder, agar -agar and flax seeds mixed with water (the flax seed “egg”). For cornstarch you use the same amount as a gum. For the flax seed or chia “egg” I believe it is a tablespoon of chia and 2 tablespoons of hot water. Let it stand about 5 minutes. You can grind the seeds up if you want a smooth mixture as whole seeds can definitely add texture or pop to your bread. I can’t wait to try a few of these ideas out. I have used the flax seed egg in the past and it works okay in a cake. I think it would work better in a whole grain bread which would more disguise the seedy texture and flavor.

Another cookbook I like is “Gloriously gluten-free cookbook) by Vanessa Maltin. It focuses on three cuisines: Italian, Asian and Mexican. The red velvet mochi cupcakes with ginger buttercream icing recipe looks amazing and no gum. There are dozens of gorgeous sounding ethnic recipes. I am wondering why I haven’t cooked from it lately!

I constantly use Annalise Robert’s book: “Gluten-Free Baking Classics” I feel  you could use one of those six substitutes I mention and alter her recipes to make them gum free. She uses a simple flour blend of 3 flours but you can buy it too; it is King Arthur’s Basic Gluten Free Flour. There is no xanthan gum in it. I is comprised of brown rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch. Has a nice “wheaty” taste to the pie crusts she shares. I won’t make any other pie crust. I get a lot of complements on it. A suggestion from fb; add cinnamon to your baked goods to hide the taste of xanthan gum. I actually do that for a number of my recipes; will do it even more now that I am thinking on it.

Two more choices are “Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking” by Kelli and Peter Bronski and “‘The Gluten-Free Table” by Jilly and Jessie Lagasse. Most of the Lagasse sister’s recipes are naturally gf recipes, there is some use of xanthan but now armed with my knowledge of several gum replacements I feel I could make them gum free successfully. Ditto with enthusiasm for the Bronski book. It is chock full of interesting and mouthwatering ideas. Definitely work the look and maybe the buy!

Another suggestion, which I found in my gf support group, but haven’t tried yet is: https://shop.betterbatter.org/products/artisanbakersblend?fbclid=IwAR1iOKMW4jM0C9jUKLk33Tb7RHchdrC4rxXNO-xjmyYL_asnvddUDJUgDMc. The site sells a gf and gum free bread flour. Pretty pricy but definitely an option. This blend’s ingredients are: sorghum flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, psyllium husk, and potato flour. I personally make up a Better Batter knock off flour mix and use it a lot; it does have xanthan gum in it. I am betting you could replace that gum with one of the above six replacements for your baking pleasure!

I just discovered there is a gf baking group on fb that uses more psyllium than gums; you could join that group to get advice and learn some new recipes. https://www.facebook.com/groups/354638545553904/?ref=share

I buy a lot of gf items at Aldi’s and sometimes Trader Joe’s or Wegmans. Aldi’s has a bread that is fairly new; it is a multi grain wide pan loaf. I find it life changing. Makes amazing grilled cheese and ham sandwiches. About to try french toast with it. So tasty and the bigger slices are the best!

Yeah; this is 3/4 gone but look at it’s slilce size and at that lovely grain; no big holes here!

Other advice to newbies; read my original early posts on switching to being gf. Look at my 2014 posts: for most of 2013 I posted on Patch. I do not thing those posts are still available but I reposted most of them in my first few months on my new blog location. Critical to success: new bread pans at 8.5x 4.5 with taller sides, new cake and pie pans unless you scrub the heck out of them. You need to read up on cross contamination as it is a really serious problem. You should invest in a new toaster for only gf breads and bagels. Your cutting boards and rolling pins must be incredibly free of all old flour; maybe if you are going to still have gluten in your house buy a new bread board and rolling pin for gf use only. You will absolutely need a new colander for gf pasta. Mark it so or get one very different in color so you can easily distinguish it. Ditto for wooden spoons. In fact, you need to run everything you plan to use for gf cooking through the dishwasher several times or hand scrub a LOT. I found it too difficult to keep both gluten-based flour and my new gf flours around. I have a few burger buns and a loaf of white bread in my basement freezer for Joe or Aiden. No more do I keep gluten-based pasta or mixes.

In short, eat clean, eat organic when you can, don’t buy packaged gf foods if you can make it yourself and avoid the processed gf treats full of fats, sugar and preservatives. DIY is always healthier if it avoids excesses of those demons especially hydronated fats and all sugars other than coconut palm sugar which is low on the hypoglycemic index and possibly use honey, maple syrup and agave syrup but in moderation. Being gluten free is a journey, an adventure in experimentation and can be surprisingly delicious. GF foods have gotten a bad rap and often folks eating my cookies, brownies, pies, tarts and cakes are shocked at how delicious they actually are. I am generally very happy to be gf. Rarely, on visiting people I find them being insensitive; like baking gluten filled muffins right in front of me and offering me no substitute or alternative. I think that behavior is obnoxious; you knew I was coming. Couldn’t you put off your wheaty muffins a few days and buy a gf mix treat to make while I was there? My pet peeve…. oh well. I survived it and I love to bake gf and we eat darn well around here!