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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)

It is pretty unbelievable to me just how much I love baking now. I actually used to despise it, I hated that seemingly every little measurement had to be perfect or you would pull it out of the oven to find it ruined, with no way to fix it. That is so different from cooking and it was way too much pressure for me. I love with cooking how no measurement has to be precise, there isn’t as much chemistry of ingredients involved so you can really play around. I got even more scared of baking when I found out I was gluten intolerant nearly 7 years ago. All the different flours, starches and gums made my head spin. I was always nervous that I would spend nearly $10 on a package of flour that I had never heard of, to just ruin the recipe and not even have a delicious treat after all that.

I have finally loosened up a bit with baking and I am really starting to enjoy it. There are so many wonderful bloggers sharing their delicious gluten-free baked good recipes that I just started out by making those, making subtle substitutions here and there. As I have done more and more baking and experimenting, I have started to see what works and what doesn’t. What flours react well together and which ones don’t. I am still far from being an expert and I very rarely just dive right in and create my own recipe completely from scratch, it still intimidates me quite a bit. However, I have started to play a lot more this year and though there have been some pretty rough flops and fails along the way, I am still enjoying it.

I decided I wanted to make a fun fall-inspired cookie this weekend. Beyond wanting something sweet but relatively healthy after my cleanse, oatmeal cookies have just sounded good for a while now. Plus, it was my birthday weekend and we had a really fun weekend of fall activities planned to celebrate my aging and the beautiful fall weather. On Friday, we played hooky from work a few hours early to head up to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the afternoon. We walked around and checked out the little shops, I did some wine tasting, we had a couples massage at the Shaw spa and we had an incredible dinner at Epicurean. It was such a fun night. On Saturday morning, I made some delicious concord grape jam (I am gonna try to get a post together, though I didn’t take any process photos since it was a very dark and rainy morning), these cookies and then we spent the rest of the day working. Saturday night my parents took us out to Mangia Ristorante to celebrate my birthday. (By the way, Mangia has some of the most delicious Italian food I have had and almost all of their pasta dishes are available with gluten-free pasta). On Sunday we woke up and went apple-picking in the morning at Blackman Homestead Farm with my sister, Vicky, and my niece, Teagan. We had so much fun. Then we came home and I made a delicious fall dinner for us – a roast chicken from Sojourner Farm, with roast acorn squash wedges and baby fingerling potatoes over arugula – all from local farms. For dessert, we had some hot spiced apple cider that I had picked up at Blackman Homestead when we were apple picking and we served it with a couple of these cookies on the side. Such a perfect way to end a perfect fall weekend. Yesterday was my actual birthday and when we were eating dinner Mark had mentioned feeling bad that we were eating cookies that I made for dessert and that there hadn’t been any cake or candles all weekend and no birthday gifts to unwrap. I explained to him that my birthday included absolutely everything that I love and I couldn’t ask for anything more. That really is the truth. I am not one for cake and to me being around the people I love is truly gift enough.

Me at Niagara-on-the-Lake

Me at Niagara-on-the-Lake

Me and Mark - apple picking at Blackman Homestead Farm
Mark and me at Blackman Homestead Farm

Teagan enjoying an apple while apple picking at Blackman Homestead Farm
My niece, Teagan, enjoying an apple while apple picking at Blackman Homestead Farm

Vicky and Teagan
My sister, Vicky and Teagan sharing an apple.

Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Beyond all the awesomeness of the events surrounding these cookies, they also made me super happy because I didn’t use a recipe – I just planned my own recipe with ingredients I knew (well, probably more like hoped) would work together. I ended up adding more oats than I had originally planned, because I knew with how the dough felt in my hands that it would be too thin. This is huge for me. A year ago I would have slopped the dough onto the baking pan and had a little fit when they came out flat and too soft. My guessing and instincts overall paid off and these cookies turned out wonderful. They are so moist and chewy, not dry at all the way some oatmeal cookies can be. They have the perfect mix of spices and I love that there is no butter or sugar in them. Just grape seed oil and honey. You could certainly replace the raisins with dried cranberries or even chocolate chips, you could add nuts and of course, you could simply use your favorite egg replacer to make them vegan.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend as well? Did you do anything fun?

Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)
makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

2 cups blanched almond flour (meal) – I use Honeyville brand, I don’t care for the Bob’s Red Mill almond flour
2 cups rolled oats (not instant) certified gluten-free if you are intolerant
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (canned will work)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup organic local honey (maple syrup would be great here, too)
1 large farm fresh brown egg (or egg replacement of your choice)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup raisins (dried cranberries would also be delicious)
1 1/2 tablespoons flaxseeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375º F, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and honey until smooth and well blended. Mix in the egg, pumpkin and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stir to combine well, add in the oats, raisins and flaxseeds, stir until everything is well combined.

Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons 2-inches apart on the baking sheets, flatten the dough gently with a fork. Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes until they are moist and soft but appear to be dull on the outside and are starting to lightly brown. Rotate the baking sheets during baking for even heating (I rotated mine every 6 minutes). Remove the cookies from the baking sheet after a few minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack. Or eat one while they are still warm, you know you want to.

Once the cookies are cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Gluten-Free Crispy Zucchini Rounds

I have seen a number of crispy oven-baked zucchini recipes floating around online and in cookbooks, some as rounds, some as “fries”, but obviously all were made with regular wheat flour and breadcrumbs, so they weren’t gluten-free. However, with my insane love of zucchini, every single time I would see a photo of one of these recipes, I would instantly salivate, how couldn’t crispy oven-baked zucchini slices be delicious? I decided to experiment with making my own gluten-free version and I have to say for the first attempt, they turned out perfectly. I am so excited. I love when that happens.

The outside was so incredibly crispy, the inside was tender. Topped with a bit of freshly shredded parmigiano-reggiano and some fresh basil from the garden, each and every bite was full of flavor. I only sliced up one of the large zucchini we grabbed from the farmers market, but it was more than enough for the two of us as a side dish, with plenty leftover. It would be enough for 4 people, but if you like this as much as we did, it is actually a perfect sized side dish for two. We ended up eating seconds, since they were so delicious. I served this alongside some gluten-free penne with a delicious mint pesto .

These crispy zucchini rounds would also be wonderful as an appetizer. You could create a delicious creamy dipping sauce or even serve them with some hot marinara sauce. Though a dipping sauce would be delicious and fun, we went nude and enjoyed them as is. They were so full of flavor, they didn’t really need anything more.

Gluten-Free Crispy Zucchini Rounds
I ended up using my mandoline slicer to make sure each round was cut evenly, so they would cook evenly, but it isn’t necessary. You could simply cut by hand, doing the best to keep them generally at the same thickness.

Gluten-Free Crispy Zucchini Rounds

Gluten-Free Crispy Zucchini Rounds
serves 2-4

1 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick rounds
2 large farm fresh brown eggs *see below note about making this vegan*
1/3 cup tapioca flour (sometimes called tapioca starch)
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs, plus more if needed
1/4 cup shredded parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Olive oil for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 450º and lightly grease a large baking sheet (or two smaller) with olive oil . On 2 separate plates, add tapioca flour and bread crumbs. Lightly beat 2 eggs in a medium bowl.

Dust both sides of zucchini rounds with the tapioca flour, dip in egg, and pat onto the plate of gluten-free bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on the baking sheet(s). Drizzle olive oil over the top, sprinkle with sea salt and a very small amount of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes on the first side, using a spatula flip each zucchini round over (you can drizzle a bit more olive oil on this side, if you wish) and bake an additional 10 minutes until crispy and lightly browned on both sides.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven, sprinkle the remaining parmigiano-reggiano cheese and the fresh basil overtop of the rounds and serve immediately. Salt and pepper to taste.

*To Make This Vegan: After a request on Facebook, I decided to make these again, but this time I attempted to make them vegan. In place of the two eggs I used 3 teaspoons of Ener-G Egg Replacer with 1/4 cup of warm water. Stir together until fully mixed. You may find you need to make a bit more depending on how large your zucchini is, but that is a good starting point. Substitute the egg replacer for the eggs in the above recipe, do everything else the exact same and just skip the parmesan cheese. That’s it. They turned out just as delicious, with a perfectly wonderful crispy brown outside.

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This may seem a bit off topic, but I have a massive obsession with Pinterest. Holly, a friend of mine sent me an invite a few weeks ago, since she knew I would love it, and she couldn’t have been more right. Basically, as you come across images on the web, you can virtually “pin it” onto your different boards on Pinterest. The appeal is that not only does it act like virtual inspiration boards, but it also works as a way to remember and store links to projects, recipes and other fun things you want to try out. I like that I can access my pins and boards from any computer or device. I have been coming across some super fun images for inspiration and a ton of exciting and easy to do DIY projects for both work and for fun. Not that I don’t already have enough to do, but I love a good crafty project, especially once the weather cools down. You can also see other people’s boards and you can repin their items into your boards. It is so addicting.

This recipe is one that caught my eye on my daily internet travels a week or so ago, but when I had come across it, I didn’t have the time to make it, but I really wanted to remember it. Rather than print the recipe out, waste paper and have it get lost in a sea of papers in my office, I “pinned it” to my recipe related board on Pinterest. A few days later I hit the farmers market, grabbed some cherries and was ready to get baking.

These muffins were bursting with flavor and were so easy to make. I have fallen in love with almond flour, it is so easy to bake with, you don’t need to add tons of other flours or any gums, and on top of it, it has a lovely nutty taste. The other bonus is that almond flour is protein packed and low in sugar. I love by keeping the cherries in halves you get a big burst of tart, sweet flavor in every bite.

If you are on Pinterest you can follow my boards here. If you are looking for an invite, post your email address and I will send you an invite.

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Cherry Almond Flour Muffins
makes 6 large muffins
Adapted from So Good and Tasty

2 cups blanched almond flour*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 local farm fresh large brown eggs
1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1/4 cup grape seed oil (or olive oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add in the honey, vanilla and oil and whisk until well combined.
Add the dry mixture to the wet, stirring until combined. Carefully fold in the cherries.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, filling to the top if you want a nice muffin dome, or as us ladies know it “muffin tops”. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the muffin pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Gently pop the muffins out to continue cooling on the rack (don’t cool them longer than 5 minutes in the hot pan they’ll definitely get soggy). Enjoy a muffin after they have cooled 10 minutes, you know you want to.

I find storing muffins covered tightly in the refrigerator or freezer to be the best, especially in the heat of summer. Just pop one out as you want it, heat slightly in the microwave if you want to take the chill off and go.

* Something I have learned from baking on my own and from reading Elana’s Pantry, is that not all almond flour (or meal) is created equal. Bob’s Red Mill makes an almond flour, though easy to find, that doesn’t seem to react quite the same as other almond flours. It doesn’t seem to rise as much and it just seems to leave recipes flat. On Elana’s recommendation I now buy Honeyville brand almond flour in a 5-lb bag from their website.

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If you are gluten-free you NEED this book!

I came across Elana Amsterdam’s blog, Elana’s Pantry, quite a while ago and I have been playing around with many of her recipes ever since. They are all so wonderfully simplified, not loaded with tons of strange flours or gums. Just simple and healthy gluten-free adaptations of classic recipes, many times featuring almond and coconut flours. After making many of Elana’s recipes and always being impressed, when I found that she was releasing a Gluten-Free Cupcakes cookbook I knew  I had to have it. I preordered the cookbook so I would have it the minute it released. I went through every single page the minute it showed up this spring and made a game plan for which recipes I would make first. With it being such a busy spring and summer I haven’t been doing nearly as much baking as I would like, but every single time I passed Elana’s book on my shelf, I salivated thinking about making gluten-free cupcakes from scratch, in my kitchen. I am not one of those people who freak out over cake (like my husband, Mark), even before being gluten-free I almost always passed it up at birthday parties, but there is something about a deliciously made and adorable little cupcake that always gets me. It’s the perfect amount of cake for me. Whenever I am in NYC I always make it a point to travel out of my way to Babycakes, for that very reason.

Since it had been so long since I had made a cupcake or any cake for that matter, I decided I wanted to go with the classic, chocolate cupcake with vegan chocolate frosting. Elana’s book has all of the sweet classics as well as some really fun new twists on cupcakes like Raspberry Cheesecake, Vanilla Fig, Pina Colada and so many others, there is even a section of savory treats like Scallion Goat Cheese Muffins, Chive Pepper Muffins and more. All of the recipes in this book feature coconut flour, almond flour or both. So no need to buy strange flours that you’ve never even heard of.  Elana’s book also has vegan versions of many of the cupcakes as well as a variety of frostings both vegan and not. I decided to try the vegan frosting since it sounded easy to make and I was very curious to taste it. Not surprisingly, it was some of the best frosting I have ever had, super-rich and very chocolatey. I may have had a spoonful or two (or 5) of the frosting right from the jar, it’s that good.

The cupcakes were so chocolatey, moist and fluffy, I couldn’t believe that the only flour in the entire recipe was a 1/4 cup of coconut flour. When I read the recipe, I was convinced this had to be a mistake. I went to the front of the book to read more about coconut flour where Elana explains that coconut flour absorbs all of the moisture in recipes, which is why the ratio always seems off. Coconut flour is really quite amazing and unique, it rises so nicely in recipes and a little goes a long way. Most people assume that coconut flour will cause a recipe to strongly taste of coconuts, but this isn’t the case. The little bit of experimenting I have done with coconut flour has always yielded wonderful results, I cannot wait to keep playing and baking with it.

I’m gonna tease you with this recipe from the book, but you really really need to go buy the book yourself and start baking from it, you won’t regret it. I myself need to keep baking from it and start practicing my cake decorating skills. I attempted at first to use an icing bag to pipe the frosting on for the photos. Wow, what a mess, it looked like a 5-year-old did it. So, I stuck with what I am good at and decided to just take an icing knife and swirl it on.

Besides this wonderful book, Elana has an array of beautiful and tasty looking cupcake recipes on her blog, which you can access here.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcake with Vegan Chocolate Frosting

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 9 cupcakes*

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup unsweetened organic cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 large farm fresh local brown eggs
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 9 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, grapeseed oil and agave nectar. With a hand mixer, blend the wet ingredients into the flour mixture in the large bowl, until thoroughly combined.

Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into each prepared muffin cup.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes (mine actually took more like 25 to 28 minutes until they were done), just watch them and test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a cupcake, when it comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, they are done. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for an hour, then frost and serve.

* Looking for more than 9 cupcakes? Elana notes in the book that rather than doubling the recipe, it is best to just make a second batch.

 

Vegan Chocolate Frosting

6 ounces dark chocolate chips (73% cacao) (about 1 heaping cup)
1/2 cup Spectrum all-vegetable shortening
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon water
Pinch of sea salt

Heat the chocolate in a medium saucepan over a very low heat, melt until it is smooth. Allow the pan to rest on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes to cool the chocolate to room temperature.

With a handheld mixer, blend in the shortening, then blend in the agave nectar, vanilla extract, water and salt until smooth. Place the saucepan in the refrigerator for 3 to 8 minutes, until the frosting is spreadable.

If the frosting gets too stiff to work with, reheat the pan very briefly over a low heat and stir until it is softened. If the frosting is too runny, place it back in the refrigerator until it firms up.

Use the frosting immediately or store in a glass Mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Flax-Seed Muffins

Yes, my muffin obsession continues. I can’t stop playing with recipes and trying out new ingredients. But, don’t be fooled, it isn’t all fun and tasty games, even though you don’t see it, there have been some epic muffin failures. Last week I attempted to make strawberry rhubarb muffins with a cinnamon crumble top and they turned out to be a sunken in soggy mess, boo! They were so delicious and full of flavor, but it appears my measurements weren’t correct and they just plain failed. So, we ate the soggy muffins and I vowed to redeem my muffin-loving self with a new recipe this week.

I have been craving a sweet breakfast muffin that was a little bit healthy and a little naughty. I mean, really who doesn’t love the concept of chocolate for breakfast. I actually usually prefer savory over sweet for breakfast but I had been craving something a little sweet, so I went with it. Since I added in chocolate chips, I took the sugar down to a mere 1/2 cup. I figured by taking down the sugar and adding in the flax-seeds, it would balance out the fact that I would be eating chocolate for breakfast. These muffins are perfectly moist and subtly sweet in my opinion. I left the flax-seeds whole, so there would be a nice little nutty crunch, you could grind them first or if you want to skip the flax-seeds altogether, you could just add in your favorite chopped nut or go without. I liked the idea of the flax-seeds since they add in fiber and some of those lovely, healthy Omega-3 fats.

Mark cannot get over that these muffins are gluten-free and every chance he gets, tells me they are better than any gluten-containing muffin like it that he has had. Talk about an ego boost!

*If you wish to skip the eggs to make these muffins vegan, replace the egg whites with 1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 1/4 cup warm water till frothy.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Flax-Seed Muffins

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Flax-Seed Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1 1/3 cups almond flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch or tapioca starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup organic sucanat (dried cane juice)
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 organic free-range egg whites (depending on the size, you are looking to get 1/4 cup of liquid), beaten until frothy*
1/2 cup warm water, more as needed, up to 3/4 cup
1/3 cup organic flax seeds, (I used them whole, you could certainly grind them first)
9 ounces of organic, semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375º F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk together the first 7 ingredients (up to and including the xanthan gum). Beat in the sugar, olive oil, vanilla, egg whites and warm water. Beat until it is smooth and like a thick cake batter.
Add in the flax seeds and chocolate chips. Stir briefly, until thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. A wooden pick inserted into the center should emerge clean.

Cool the muffin pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Gently pop the muffins out to continue cooling on the rack (don’t cool them longer than 5 minutes in the hot pan they’ll definitely get soggy). Enjoy a muffin after they have cooled 10 minutes, you know you want to.

Freeze any leftover muffins in tightly sealed freezer bags and pop one out for a quick and easy breakfast.

*See above note about making these vegan.

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Gluten-free Whole Grain Pizza with Asparagus, Parmesan and Eggs

I’ve been using the same gluten-free pizza dough recipe for sometime now and though I do like it, I wanted to try something a little different and without the gums. I came across this recipe on Gluten Free Girl and The Chef a while back and when I saw that it contained no gums and it was flexible with the flours you can use, I was very intrigued. Shauna has a formula she created to make your own gluten-free all-purpose flour without gums and by weight instead of volume, plus it is very easy to make it a whole-grain mix by using different flours. Here is the original post about their pizza recipe that they changed a bit since their book came out. There are a few different flours you can choose from if you have sensitivities to things like corn or potato. I used their whole grain flour mixture that they featured in their post for whole grain muffins. I don’t have a ton of experience with baking, it is something I have only learned to love in the last year or so, but with the little bit I have done, I find that weighing your dry ingredients as opposed to measuring really gives you a consistent result, time and time again.

I decided a nice way to try out this new pizza dough recipe was to really let it shine, by not loading it with ingredients and sauces. I wanted a simple, tasty spring pizza that featured asparagus and eggs. The only thing I may change next time would be to use some mozzarella in addition to the parmesan to give it a bit more melty of a cheese base since the parmesan tends to not get super melty, however the dough was so delicious it honestly didn’t need it. Overall it was full of flavor from the asparagus and the fresh chives and the eggs were a wonderful compliment on top. The runny yolk was perfect for dipping the delicious crust into. You’ll be so surprised when you taste this crust at how it tastes just like real pizza crust – you’ll never know it’s gluten-free.

I know this post is large and contains a lot of info – but I promise it is all worth reading through. I am happy to finally have a good all-purpose flour mix to have on hand for different things and an even better pizza dough recipe. Play around with different toppings and flour combinations and please feel free share, I’d love to hear what you come up with.

GLUTEN-FREE GIRL’S ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR MIX

Here is the original information on the all-purpose flour mix (all content and info contained in both the flour mix and the pizza recipes is copyright of Gluten Free Girl and The Chef)

Want to make a whole grain AP mix in your kitchen? Here’s how.

We’re working with 70% whole grains/30% starches. We might someday go to all whole grains for some baked goods, but this blend works well for us now.

If you want to make a big batch for all the baking in your kitchen?

Choose 700 grams of any combination of the following flours:

Almond

Amaranth

Brown Rice

Buckwheat

Corn

Millet

Oat

Quinoa

Sorghum

Sweet Brown Rice

Teff

Almond is not a grain, but it is a whole flour, so I’ve thrown it in there. You might notice that I have not put in garbanzo (I don’t like it) or coconut (I don’t like the way it tastes or the way it sucks all the moisture out of a baked good) or soy (I’m having a hard time finding a good gluten-free one). You might like those. Substitute if you want.

This means that you can make your own blend. If you are allergic to corn, and you know you can’t eat the certified gluten-free oats, blend up 100 grams each of almond, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, millet, sorghum, and teff. (I want to write more about this later, but the flavor you find by blending all these different taste is fascinating. It’s amazing how boring regular AP flour seems after you use this.) Find your own favorite combination.

And then throw in 300 grams of any combination of the following:

Arrowroot

Cornstarch

Potato Starch

Tapioca Flour

White Rice Flour

We like using 150 grams each of arrowroot and potato starch, at the moment.

Combine the 700 grams of whole-grain flours with the 300 grams of starches in a big container. Shake it all up. You have whole-grain flour mix.

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For my AP mix I went with 175 grams each of Almond, Millet, Sorhum and Teff flours and 150 grams each of potato starch and tapioca flour. It was super simple to mix up and it made 1000 grams of all-purpose flour so I have enough to make pizza again.

The flours brought so much flavor to the crust and it was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and chewy inside. This was by far the best crust I have ever made at home and it was simple. I’ve noticed that some gluten-free crusts get abnormally puffy and airy and don’t taste like usual pizza, others are so thin and crusty that it’s almost like eating a large cracker. I also really love

GLUTEN-FREE GIRL’S WHOLE GRAIN PIZZA CRUST

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed or ground chia seeds

500 grams whole-grain gluten-free flour mix

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

15 grams (4 teaspoons) active-dry yeast

50 grams (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil

85 to 190 grams (1/2 to 1 cup) warm water, about 110º

olive oil for brushing on top of the crust

Making the flaxseed or chia slurry. Mix the flaxseed (or chia seed) into a bowl. Pour 2 tablespoons of boiling-hot water over the seeds. Whisk immediately and quickly until you have a thick paste. Let this set aside and cool down.

Combining the dry ingredients. Put the gluten-free flours and the salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix them up together.

Activating the yeast. Put the yeast, olive oil, and half the warm water into a small bowl. Stir gently. Let them sit for a moment to activate the yeast.

Making the dough. Add the slurry to the dry ingredients and mix for a moment. Pour the yeasty water into the dry ingredients. With the mixer on medium, whirl for a few moments, until the dough comes together into a soft ball around the paddle of the stand mixer and feels soft and pliable. If the dough feels too dry, add more of the warm water in small amounts until the dough feels right. (You might not need all the water. You might need more. Yeast doughs can differ from kitchen to kitchen.) Set the dough aside in a warm place and let it rise for 1 hour.

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 450°. (If you feel comfortable with heat, take it up to 550°. Just watch the dough in the oven, carefully.) If you have a pizza stone, make sure it is in the oven. If not, sprinkle a pizza tray or baking sheet with gluten-free cornmeal.

Rolling out the dough. Grab 1/2 of the dough and put it between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Through the paper, roll out the dough to your desired thickness. (We like super-thin crust around here. You might like it thicker.)

Pre-baking the dough. Take the parchment paper off the dough, then transfer the dough to the pizza stone or prepared pizza tray. Brush the top with olive oil. Bake until the dough has started to crisp up and browned at the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. (And less if you have the oven cranked up to 550°!)

Take the crust out of the oven. You now have a pre-baked pizza crust. Top with anything you fancy and continue baking until the cheese is bubbly and melty.

Makes 2 – 8-inch pizza crusts or 1 – 16-inch pizza crust. I went with 1 large round pizza. Don’t worry too much about the shape, enjoy the rustic wonkiness of handmade pizza dough.

SPRING PIZZA WITH ASPARAGUS, PARMESAN AND EGGS
Makes 1 large pizza or 2 small pizzas

Gluten-free Girl’s Whole Grain Pizza Dough Recipe (above)
Olive oil
Kosher flake salt
Black pepper
10 asparagus stalks
1 clove garlic, minced
1 – 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or mozzarella (or both)
1 bunch of fresh chives, chopped
2-4 local farm fresh brown eggs (I put 2 eggs on one large pizza, but you could certainly put 2 eggs each on 2 small pizzas)

Prepare dough according to above instructions (or whatever instructions come with your dough recipe). Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Rinse the asparagus, snap off the tough ends and cut in half or thirds depending on how long they are. You want to end up with 20-30 3-inch pieces. Take each 3-inch piece, cut in half on the long side, and then again to quarter. Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat , saute the asparagus slivers and the minced garlic with black pepper and a large pinch of kosher salt until tender and still bright green. Remove the asparagus from the heat and set aside.

Brush the pre-baked pizza crust (pre-bake according to above directions) with olive oil. Sprinkle the crust with the cheese, reserving a small amount for sprinkling on top. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer over the cheese. Crack two eggs into the center of the pizza, sprinkle fresh chopped chives over everything and top with another light sprinkle of cheese. (If you are making two small pizzas, divide all the ingredients in half over the two crusts and arrange in the same order)

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the egg whites are cooked and the pizza is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly for a few minutes, then cut and serve while still warm.

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Gluten-Free Banana Bread

For some reason the smell of overripe bananas drives me crazy. There is no specific reason for it, it’s just so strong and obnoxious to me. Any time they are on the counter and past the point of eating on their own, I always think ‘banana bread’. The perfect use for those little stinkers. This is a very simple gluten-free recipe that requires very little thought and only a  few ingredients. If you hate measuring and buying multiple flours, Bob’s Red Mill makes a great all-purpose gluten-free flour. Of course, you can always create your own all-purpose flour mix, as well.

The great thing about this recipe is you can always change it up, you can add dried fruits like raisins, cranberries or cherries, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, etc. You can even come up with a sweet glaze to drizzle over the top and make this a delicious and simple dessert. This time around I kept it simple and just went with chopped pecans. I also have read you can substitute apple sauce for the oil in this recipe, I will have to give it a try to see how it works out.

This bread is just like the “real thing”, moist and light and it browns nicely on the outside. It has a nice sweetness and has the perfect amount of banana flavor without overpowering. It is equally as nice for breakfast toasted and topped with a smidge of butter alongside a cup of your favorite tea as it is served as dessert with a bit of cream cheese spread over it (I have fallen in love with Nancy’s Organic Cultured Cream Cheese).

Gluten-Free Banana Bread
adapted from Bob’s Red Mill
serves 10

1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2/3 cup organic dark brown sugar, packed
2 large local farm-fresh brown eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe organic bananas (I used 4 small bananas)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Other ingredients you could add:
chocolate chips
raisins
dried cranberries
blueberries
peanut butter chips
coconut

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Use a bit of grapeseed oil to grease a 9×5-inch non-stick loaf pan. You can also make smaller loaves, use three 5×3 inch loaf pans.

Cream together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl. Add flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg to egg mixture, alternating with bananas.

Beat until smooth. Stir in nuts and any other add-ins. Transfer to pan(s).

Bake 9×5″ loaf for 1 hour, 5×3″ loaves for 45 minutes. Make sure a cake tester or knife comes out clean.

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