More Gluten Free Fun

My experiments with gluten free baking have been continuing for weeks. It is not as challenging as I would have thought, though, the hardest part is consistency of results. Using yeast has always been a tough one for me. I don’t understand it very well, and I find that the need for exacting measurements and temperatures can make it hard for me to succeed. I’m finding, though, that with a little patience and persistence, even gluten free baked goods with yeast are worthwhile.

After the pizza, I moved on to sweets. I love brownies and my husband made some wheat based brownies that smelled delicious. So, I pulled out my gluten free flours and had a stab at it myself. I started with a recipe I found online. It used a base of coconut flour, which, to my taste, was too strong. The coconut flavor overruled the brownie taste and I found that disappointing.

Next time around, I decided to replace the coconut flour with mochiko – sweet rice flour. I had a bunch in my cupboard from experimenting last summer with making ice cream mochi. In addition, I had some leftover silken tofu in the frig, and I know that makes a lovely pudding style topping.

Mixing brownies

Mixing brownie batter

silky chocolate pudding

Silky chocolate pudding top

The brownies are moist, a tiny bit cakey, and quite a deep chocolate flavor. I’m quite pleased with the result.

Gluten Free Brownies with Silky Chocolate Pudding Top

½ c. butter, melted

¾ c. cocoa powder

3 eggs

¼ c. water

½ c. maple syrup

½ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. Madagascar vanilla

½ c. mochiko (sweet rice flour)

GF brownie slice

GF brownie slice

pudding top brownies

Pudding top brownies

Silky Chocolate Pudding:

9 oz. silken tofu, firm

1 Tbsp. vanilla almond milk

½ tsp. Madagascar vanilla

1 Tbsp. honey

⅓ c. chocolate chips

1.     Preheat oven to 350ᵒ.

2.    Melt butter and stir in cocoa powder. Set aside.

3.     Beat eggs, maple syrup, salt, baking powder, water and vanilla.

4.     Add melted butter/ cocoa mix.

5.     Add flour and whisk until smooth.

6.     Spread evenly into an oiled 8×8” pan.

7.     Bake for 20 – 30 minutes. Cool.

8.    Prepare pudding by putting all ingredients, except chocolate in a mixing bowl. Blend thoroughly with a hand blender until silky smooth.

9.     Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double boiler. Stir melted chocolate into tofu blend and mix thoroughly.

10.  Spread evenly onto cooled brownies.

The brownie success led me to “graham” crackers. I’ve been making real graham crackers for my pies and they are simply delicious. The gluten free pie crusts I make are good, but not the same style as a graham cracker crust. So, I thought, there’s got to be a way to get a similar quality with gluten free flours. And I succeeded! The secret is to use a little almond flour to get the texture of the graham flour. Now, I can offer a gluten free “graham” cracker crust for my pies.

GF graham dough

GF graham cracker dough

GF graham crackers

GF graham crackers

 

Another cracker that I like to make at home on occasion is one I found in the New Farm Cookbook, an old whole foods style cookbook from the ’70’s. There’s a Cheezy Cracker recipe that gets its cheesy flavor from nutritional yeast and they’re quite addictive! I didn’t think to take any pictures of these when I made the gluten free version, but I’ll have you know, that my family loved them so much I had to practically fight them off to get my share!

 

 

On the savory gluten free journey, I discovered that I could also make pasta. This seemed like a daunting task that actually was quite simple.  I found a recipe online again and made a few minor changes to the flour mix. A lot of these recipes use large amount of tapioca flour which doesn’t sit well in my stomach. It also ends up being too much like white bread, so I adjust the recipes to include other flours like teff, brown rice, millet or sorghum for a heartier flavor.

stroganoff sausage noodles

Stroganoff sausage with GF egg noodles

 

I didn’t roll the dough out thinly enough on the first try, but the flavor was good and made for a delicious meal with Sausage Beef Stroganoff Sauce with Gluten Free Egg Pasta. A side of steamed broccoli made it a perfect meal.

 

 

 

I’ve been making a melt in your mouth marinated salmon (gravlox). I love to have lox on bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes or blended into a spread. I make my own spread and enjoy it with rice crackers and salad for a healthy lunch, but really miss having bagels. So, I decided to have a go at making gluten free bagels.

homemade lox with capers

Homemade lox with capers

 

As before, I had trouble with the yeast activating properly, so these bagels didn’t turn out that well. They look pretty good, but instead of being a little fluffy with their chewiness, they turned out heavy and dense. That is because the yeast didn’t do it’s thing. They are edible, and even better with the lox spread.

Next time I will use a different mix of flours so they have a heartier quality. I may combine the two online recipes I have to get the best effect.

bagels before baking

GF bagels before baking

garlic onion asiago bagel

Garlic onion asiago bagel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


It’s Pizza Time!

Pizza!

As promised, I’ve successfully made some gluten free pizza crust. I was amazed at how simple it really was. I started with a recipe that I found in the recent version of the Joy of Cooking that I bought, probably 10 years ago. I was very surprised to find some gluten free recipes in there. So, I started by following their basic pizza crust recipe. It turned out to be pretty good, much like a traditional pizza crust, a little chewy in that pizza crust sort of way. Yum!

Baked white crust

Rising dough

 

Since I prefer a crust that isn’t quite so white, I made a second one that added different flours to improve the nutritional value. I’ve been experimenting to get to know the different flours, so I chose teff and sorghum. I like the flavor of these flours and they both have great nutritional value. According to Wikipedia, Teff is a grass native to Ethiopia. Sometimes it is called Lovegrass – perfect, huh? It is high in dietary fiber, protein, iron and calcium.

 

Baked Teff/Sorghum Crust

 

Sorghum is also native to Africa and has been produced in America primarily as cattle feed. In India, however, it is a staple, often used to replace wheat in China, and in Korea, sorghum is often cooked with rice. Sorghum is known for its high protein content is a valuable grain in times of scarcity.

This crust, also quite tasty, ended up being reminiscent of a whole wheat crust. Not as chewy as the white crust, though full of flavor and a lovely crunch in the crust. I think that, though I liked both of these crusts, I prefer something in between. Next time, I will combine these recipes and I expect then it will be perfect!

 

Pizza Toppings

Toppings are an important part of making good pizza. In many ways, I am a  pizza traditionalist at heart. I prefer the marinara sauce, sliced pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, green and red bell peppers, onions, with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top. Since it is hard to come by nitrate free pepperoni, I decided to use some of the turkey bacon that I had in the frig. It turned out to be very good, tasting somewhat like Canadian bacon, which was a favorite of mine as a kid. The turkey bacon is already cooked, so I simply sliced it into bite sized pieces and laid it out over the sauce.

Open faced pizza -before the cheese

 

Canned pizza sauce is certainly available, but I find that any time I can make something fresh it tastes better. Being winter, I didn’t make fresh tomato sauce this time. That would be a great thing to do with those extra summer tomatoes for next year. I started with a 15 oz. can of organic tomato sauce and added my favorite Italian herbs, some of which I had dried over the summer from plants in my garden. I used these spices: oregano, winter savory, marjoram, basil, garlic powder, salt. This amount of sauce made enough for 2 pizza dough recipes.

 

 

Ready to bake

Pizza can host a large variety of sauces and toppings. I like to mix it up with pesto  or alfredo instead of tomato sauce. Try  adding whatever’s fresh in the garden for toppings.

Toppings:

Sliced Onions              Sliced Green or Black Olives                Artichoke Hearts           Pineapple Chunks

Zucchini slices            Red and Green Bell Peppers                 Sliced Mushrooms

Bacon Pieces – cooked, nitrate-free            Turkey Bacon Pieces – uncooked, nitrate-free         Ground Beef or Sausage Pieces

 

Cheeses:

Mozzarella, Fontina  or Havarti Cheese, shredded

Grated Parmesan or Asiago Cheese

Feta or Goat Cheese

Here’s the revised recipe that will make a nice, wholesome crust for your healthy pizza!

Baked Pizza

Cut Pizza

Pizza Slice

Smell it?

Gluten Free Pizza

2/3 c. brown rice flour

1/3 c. white rice flour

    1/3 c. teff flour

    2/3 c. sorghum flour

    1 c. arrowroot powder

    1 c. potato starch

    1 Tbsp. xanthan gum

    1 Tbsp. sugar

    1 ½ tsp. salt

    2 ½ Tbsp. active dry yeast

    1 c. buttermilk

    3 Tbsp. + olive oil

    2 ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar

    2 large eggs

    1 egg white

    ¼ c. warm water

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400ᵒ.
  2. Use extra olive oil on non-stick, round pizza pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
  3. Put all dry ingredients listed above in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.
  5. Mix until fully incorporated. If the dough is too wet, add a little more rice flour. Or add more warm water if it is too dry.
  6. Pour a little bit of olive oil on your hands to complete mixing the dough by hand. Break it into pieces and pat evenly onto oiled pizza pans.
  7. Place in a warm location to rise, covered with a dry towel, for 20- 30 minutes. On cold days, I put it on the stove next to the back of the stovetop where it is warm from the oven preheating. Or a warm , sunny car is good, too.
  8. Prick the dough with a fork and bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven to add sauce and toppings. (If you are going to freeze the pizza, let the crust cool completely before adding toppings, including cheese. Wrap well with clear wrap, and put inside a plastic bag to seal for freezing.
  10. Bake pizza without cheese for 10 minutes. Add cheese and bake for 5 minutes. Serve.

 


Going Gluten Free

Gluten free is quite a fad right now. I prefer not to get too immersed in the food fad experience. In this case, my naturopath suggested that I do a gluten free diet to support my thyroid, so I’ve been giving it a go. I find that if I’m feeling some symptoms related to my thyroid, I can cut out the gluten and it will definitely make me feel better. I’m not extreme about it and I  don’t have a gluten free kitchen. My attitude is one of enjoying the exploration of new foods, new flavors, new textures.

I started many years ago when I was eating a wheat free, vegan diet. Ofer created a recipe copying Pamela’s vegan cookies. He made a dynamite chocolate cookie that has a current incarnation as Midnight Moons, available on our Baked Goods page. I jumped into the game when Ofer started making fresh tahini. My gluten free Tahini Moon cookies have become the best selling item we have! Muffins came next and are also quite popular, especially the mini-muffins among the little people.

Midnight Moons

Midnight Moons

Tahini Moons

Orange Poppyseed Mini Muffins

Orange Poppyseed Mini Muffins

After the heaviness of overindulging in gluten over the holidays, and completing my cleanse, I’m ready to get back to my gluten free baking experiments. I’ve tried the store-bought gluten free breads over the years and find them to be boring and dry. The manufacturers don’t seem to know about the wide variety of grains and flours that are available to use. I go to the local health food store and find a large array of choices. My only complaint is that there aren’t many organic ones. Oh, well. There are always choices in the world.

I’m on a mission now to learn how to bake a satisfying gluten free bread. I’ve searched a lot of blogs on the internet and collected some recipes. As usual, some are good and some not so much. Any time I find a recipe, I make it once following their instructions and adjust to my tastes as I go along. So far, I’ve had amazing luck with a gluten-free pancake (I added fresh bananas) and a brioche-style bread (kind of like an egg bread). I am not attempting to be vegan here, so I’m using eggs and butter with abandon.

I like to keep in mind the Blood Type Diet list when I’m choosing from the various flours. Sometimes I can actually feel the difference in how it sits in my stomach if I use something off of my avoid list. For example, many of the gluten free recipes use a lot of tapioca. Tapioca is on my avoid list for my B blood type. I’ve been making the recipes with tapioca, but now that I know of other ingredients that can be substituted, I will use those more instead. Arrowroot powder and potato starch (not flour) are both good substitutes for tapioca flour.

I got this bread recipe from Simply Gluten Free at simplygluten-free.com. The first time I made it my dough didn’t rise properly. I baked it anyway and found the flavor to be wonderful. I ended up eating the whole thing. In my second try, I had a good setup (since it’s winter, I put the dough in the car in the sun for the rising time) and good yeast and it turned out perfectly. It was easy to make, it just takes time to sit while it rises. It’s a day-long process so do this on a day you will be around the house.

Ready to bake

Fresh out of the oven

Sliced brioche

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Brioche

1 Tbsp. dry active yeast – I used 3 cubes of cake yeast

5 Tbsp. sugar, agave nectar or honey – I used honey

1/4 c. warm (not hot) water  – I used 1/3 c. because I added flour

2/3 c. brown rice flour – I added 1/3 c. sorghum flour

1 c. tapioca starch

2 tsp. xanthan gum

3/4 tsp. sea salt

4 large eggs

9 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temp

1. Combine yeast, 1 Tbsp. sweetener and warm water in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 6 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, tapioca, 4 Tbsp. sweetener, xanthan gum and sea salt. Make a well in the center and add the foamy yeast. Mix well. (This  step can either be done by hand or in a heavy duty mixer. Don’t use a hand mixer as it isn’t strong enough for this sticky dough.)

3. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly. Add 8 Tbsp. butter, also one at a time, mixing well until thoroughly incorporated.

4. Beat briskly for another minute or two until dough is smooth. Scrape into a clean mixing bowl, cover with a towel and let sit in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

5. Use the remaining pat of butter to grease the 8″x4″ loaf pan. Make sure to coat it thoroughly.

6. Scrape the risen batter into the pan and smooth with a wet spatula. Cover with the towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in bottom third of oven.

8. Cut a slit about 1/4″ deep down the center of the loaf with a sharp knife. Mix the last egg with 1 Tbsp. water and whisk well.

Brush the loaf with half of the egg mix and let sit for 5 minutes. Add remaining egg mix to top before baking.

9. Bake 40 – 45 minutes or until bread in golden brown. Let cool in the pan for 15 – 20 minutes.

 

Here’s my recipe for French Toast. It’s quite simple and is delicious with the Brioche or Challah. Actually any of your favorite breads will do.

French Toast with fresh tangerine juice

GF Brioche French Toast

French Toast Bite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Toast

4 slices of Gluten Free Brioche

1 large egg

2 Tbsp. almond milk

dash of cinnamon

butter

1. Mix egg, milk and cinnamon in a bowl or deep plate.

2. Melt butter in large frying pan.

3.  Dip bread slices one at a time in egg mix. Place in frying pan.

4. Cook until nicely browned, turn and brown other side.

5. Serve warm with pure maple syrup.

 Next up – Pizza!