Raspberry-Oat Bars {gluten-free}

We’ve been enjoying these raspberry oat bars a lot the last few months. They helped get us through Winter’s dearth of fresh fruit. They are arguably the perfect balance between health food and decadent dessert, with a not-too-rich pecan shortbread base that doubles as a streusel topping and a thick layer of raspberry preserves in between.

GLUTEN-FREE RASPBERRY OAT BARS
Adapted from Karen Demasco’s The Craft of Baking *

The first time I made these bars, the cookie base came out a little thicker than I prefer.  So, I’ve since scaled the dough portion of the recipe back by a quarter, which also creates a slightly higher ratio of preserves to dough. Just the way I like it.

Also, my first batch was a little salty.  I read later that Demasco uses a particular brand of kosher salt in her baking.  So, if using table salt or sea salt, it is necessary to decrease the salt by close to half, which I’ve noted below.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (for vegans: Spectrum organic shortening or Earth Balance margarine)
3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour (for GF: 1/3 C. sorghum flour, 1/3 C. + 1 Tbl. brown rice flour, 3 Tbl. potato starch and 3 Tbl. tapioca flour, 1/8 tsp. xanthan gum)
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal (for GF: use gluten-free oats)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup good quality raspberry preserves **

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil an 8 inch square, metal baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • Melt butter in saucepan or glass bowl in microwave.
  • Toast pecans on baking sheet in oven 5 minutes, cool.
  • In a large bowl mix together the flour, xanthan gum, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and baking soda.  Stir in the gluten-free oats and chopped pecans. Pour in the melted butter and mix until well combined.
  • Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom the oiled pan, until firmly and evenly packed.
  • Spread the raspberry preserves over the dough (an offset spatula like pictured above is perfect for this step). Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of dough evenly over the preserves.
  • Bake until golden brown about 40 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • For easier cutting, transfer the cooled pan to the freezer for 20 minutes to harden. Remove bars from freezer, then from pan and cut into 2″ squares.

** I made these once with Smucker’s strawberry jam and the results were very disappointing.  The jam layer turned a funny brown color and became very wet.  I suspect it was either the high fructose corn syrup in Smucker’s, or the fact that I substituted strawberry for raspberry, but either way, from now on I’ll stick to a true, high quality raspberry preserve WITHOUT high fructose corn syrup.  You tend to get what you pay for with a pricier preserve.

Blueberry Cardamom Breakfast Cake {gluten-free, vegan}

This cake is a year-round staple for us.  It is full of whole grains, dotted with plump blueberries and sweetened just right for a breakfast dish. My favorite part is the crunchy raw sugar top, and of course, the spicy warmth of the cardamom.

BLUEBERRY CARDAMOM BREAKFAST CAKE
When it comes to vegan baking, especially cakes, I always err on the side of a dryer batter than a wetter one. A cake with too much moisture results in a sunken gooey mess which is impossible to salvage.

I love the rumpled irregular surface of this cake. It looks so old-fashioned and rustic, the lumps only add to its charm.

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour (for GF use – 3/4 cup millet flour, 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour (or more brown rice flour), 1/2 cup tapioca starch, 1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 mashed ripe banana (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup butter or ghee, at room temperature (for vegans substitute – coconut oil, Spectrum organic shortening or vegan margarine)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup warm water or milk of choice (rice, almond, cow)

Additions:

  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon or more raw or turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a 9″ round cake pan.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. In a stand mixer combine the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined.

Fold in thawed and drained blueberries. Scrape batter (which will be quite thick) into the oiled pan. Sprinkle top of cake evenly with 1 tablespoon raw or turbinado sugar.

Bake 50 – 60 minutes until firm to the touch and a tooth pick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cover the cake with aluminum foil if it begins to brown too quickly (40 minute mark for me).

* If you’re not gluten free omit the xanthan gum and substitute 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour for the gluten free flours, but I would highly recommend at least keeping the millet flour, because it really lends a unique and complimentary flavor.  If you go that route you only need 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour.

Everyday Bread

Bread – one of life’s simplest pleasures – requires no long-winded introduction. It has its place as a staple in various forms through most cultures, be it a French baguette, India’s naan or Ethiopia’s injera. I can think of no other food that is so humble. It rarely takes a leading role, but would be sorely missed if absent. Consider it for moment: hamburgers without a bun, panzanella sans the croutons, or roast beef with no side of Yorkshire Pudding!

However, for the Celiac or gluten intolerant it can become a swift and crashing reality, at least at first.

I have spent the last three years searching, testing, substituting, trying and trying some more to find a suitable gluten free bread. The worst recipes yeilded flavorless bricks destined for the trash; the best recipes were decent fresh from the oven, but, within hours, turned to a dry, crumbly mess. This irked me to my core. I was also continually perplexed by the odd and, what seemed to me, uneccessary additions to make gluten free bread “work”: vinegar, eggs, yogurt, baking powder? I am a firm believer that good bread requires little other than flour, yeast, water and a touch of sugar, to perhaps feed the yeast.

At last someone proved my hypothesis for me.

This brings me to today’s post: my favorite homemade bread recipe, ideal for tearing and dipping in olive oil, building sandwiches, or toasting with a smear of jam for afternoon tea. So good, you’ll forget it’s gluten free.

Sincerely, you might shed a tear.  I know I did.

MARK ENGELBERG’S MULTI-GRAIN BREAD
from Aprovechar’s post “Bread for the First Time in a Long Time”

I have googled this Mr. Engelberg with nary a result other than this recipe. I have no idea who this gentleman is, but he is surely a saint, for this bread is delicious: pliable, pleasantly chewy, perfectly moist and it stays this way for days; not to mention the flavor: subtle whole grain complexity with a pleasantly sour tang from the yeast. Please do study the perfectly irregular air holes, the crispy outer crust. Most cherishing of all, this bread is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free and vegan.

I bake the suggested two loaves at a time, feel free to halve the ingredients, if you wish. I store one loaf in an air tight container at room temperature and freeze the other for future use.

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups millet flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour!)
1 cup cornstarch (or more potato starch)
1 cup tapioca flour
4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (not instant)

Wet Ingredients:
4 teaspoons olive oil
3  1/4 cups warm (not hot) water

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the dry ingredients: millet flour through yeast.  Add the wet ingredients
  • Using the paddle attachment, add the wet ingredients (water and olive oil) and beat until thoroughly mixed, scraping down the sides if necesary. There’s no gluten, so you can’t over do it.
  • Evenly distribute the dough between two oiled loaf pans.
  • Allow dough to rise until doubled in size or until it climbs a little over the edge of the pans, 30-60 minutes. Here are three ways to do this:

Option 1: Set loaves, covered, in any warm location.
Option 2: Preheat your oven to 200 degrees while mixing the dough, turn the oven off and allow the bread to rise in the warmed oven.
Option 3: Per Sally at Aprovechar, heat a glass of water in your microwave until it boils. Set the glass to the back and enclose the loaves in the steamy microwave to rise.

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Once risen, bake both loaves for 10 minutes then cover with foil and bake an additional 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool 10 minutes or so before removing from the pan.  This slices better once completely cool.  However, I never have the patience to wait that long before digging into it.

 

*** TROUBLESHOOTING OR SUBSTITUTIONS ***
If you have any trouble with this recipe or have questions about ingredient substitutions click over to Aprovechar’s original post and read through her comment section.  She has over 250 comments regarding troubleshooting and substitutions.  I make her recipe exactly as written and I’ve never had any trouble with it, so I can’t speak from experience about using any ingredients other than those listed above.

Apple Fritters {gluten-free, vegan}

A little over a fortnight ago I was bewitched by a certain volume of books. Not cookbooks, either. Nonfiction, actually. I have since neglected every duty in life and given myself completely over to this force. We’ve gone many a night without dinner, laundry is piled high, and my personal hygiene has begun to suffer. However, who can resist a doomed love story? Star-crossed lovers? The dreamiest, most selfless vampire in history?

 

Twilight.

Don’t you dare snicker!

Sure, I was where you were once. I used to cringe at every advertisement, roll my eyes in apathy at the teeny bopper posters, all the silly hype for some pubescent, and I was sure, poorly written high school romance.

I am no longer ashamed. Instead I dote on the novels with brazen abandon. I’m seriously considering hanging a poster of Robert Pattinson in our bedroom.  I have been so engrossed in the tale that I’ve consumed each book in 24 hours.  Of course, I had to take a fews days off in-between to ponder every detail, catch up on sleep, eat, bathe, etc.

What does this have to do with apple fritters? Well, nothing directly. I’m just waiting, rather impatiently, for the last book in the Twilight Series from the library. Until then, I thought it might be nice to surface from my obsession and live in the real world for a few days.

So, without further ado, I give you apple fritters.

APPLE FRITTERS
Loosely adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

These would no doubt impress anyone. We had them for breakfast this morning. And like a stingy little kid on Halloween I over indulged. These are like funnel-cake doughnut hybrids, with a sliver of apple in the middle to put the health conscious at ease.

  • 1 cup gluten-free flour mix (I use 2/3 cup brown rice flour, 3 tablespoons potato starch, 2 tablespoons tapioca starch)*
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces sparkling water
  • 2-3 crisp, sweet apples
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add the seltzer/sparking water and mix to achieve a smooth batter. Set aside.

Peel and core the apples, slice into 2″ long and 1/4″ thick strips, much like french fries. Add apples to batter and gently stir to cover.

Heat 1 1/2″ – 2″ of oil in a wide, shallow pan over medium heat. When a drop of water crackles in the oil it is ready, 2-3 minutes. Using two forks lift up 4-5 apple matchsticks from the batter, allowing the excess batter to drip back into the bowl. Gently lower the irregularly shaped wad into the hot oil. Let cook until crisp and lightly browned, flipping a few times throughout, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool slightly. Repeat, cooking 2-3 batches at a time. Don’t crowd the pan.

Serve immediately with a generous sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar.

* Swap out all purpose flour if you’re not gluten-free

** Next time I will lightly dredge the fritters with a mix of regular sugar and a pinch of cinnamon before dusting with the powdered sugar. I thought they needed just a hint more sweetness.

Sunrise Banana Bread

Rosy-fingered Dawn cast such a pretty light on my banana bread that I thought I ought to change its name. I am all about banana bread. I love it’s golden crumb, the characteristic black specs from the cooked bananas, with or without nuts. Chocolate chips? Yes, please. Coconut? Sure. Gooey dates? Why not? However it is tricked out, I am sure to be a fan.

And then there is Sunrise Banana Bread.

There is a reason I make this particular recipe time and time again. It is the one I always come back to. What makes this banana bread so special is the addition of quinoa flour (pronounced Keen-Wa). You should get to know this pseudo-grain if you haven’t already. Here, I’ll introduce you…

Quinoa, native to the South American Andes, was a sacred food of the Incas AND has been eaten for 6000 years (!), for good reason, too. The grain-like seeds are nutritionally dense: high in protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Quinoa is also gluten-free, lucky me.

Its flour, though rather pricey, imparts a subtle nuttiness to baked goods and pairs particularly well with bananas, dark chocolate and nuts, hence the ingredient combination. I also really appreciate that I don’t get the sugar blues after a few bites. The addition of quinoa, with its high protein and fiber content, means you digest it s-l-o-w-l-y, which is great for your blood sugar. This is health food, People! Health food with a sweet facade.

SUNRISE BANANA BREAD
I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but alas, I can not. This is adapted to be egg-free from Bea’s recipe at La Tartine Gourmande.

Dry Ingredients:
3/4 cups quinoa flour
1/2 cup white or brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup very ripe mashed bananas (about 2 1/2 bananas)
2/3 cup blond cane sugar (or white sugar)
1/3 cup olive oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Egg Replacer:
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Add In:
1/2 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour a 5×9 loaf pan, tapping out excess flour.
  • Whisk together dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients until relatively smooth.
  • In a third small bowl mix the egg replacer.
  • Add the egg replacer to the wet ingredients and then fold in the dry ingredients, mixing until there are no more lumps.
  • Stir in the chocolate and walnuts.
  • Scrape/pour into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If your loaf browns too quickly, simply cover with aluminum foil. Allow bread to cool slightly before loosening from the pan.