Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting {gluten-free, vegan}

Cupcakes aren’t usually my first pick for dessert. Most often I hanker for fruit filled pastries and the like, but every now and then a girl just wants something cloying, decadent and over the top. Cupcakes fit the bill swimmingly.

This cupcake recipe itself is a great find. The batter rises beautifully to create perfectly domed, lightly sweetened vanilla cakes. If you don’t have any dietary restrictions these are still great cupcakes!  Especially when you’re out of eggs.  Just substitute 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour for the gluten free flours and omit the xanthan gum.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
3/4 cups rice, soy or almond milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with liners.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flours through salt.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients: milk through vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until thoroughly incorporated. Divide the batter evenly amongst the muffin cups, filling them about 2/3 full.
  5. Bake 350 degrees 20-22 minutes until lighly browned and springy to the touch.  You can also use a toothpick to test for doneness.  Don’t overcook or the cupcakes will be tough and chewy.

Chocolate Frosting:
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine or Spectrum organic shortening (or about 5 tablespoons room temperature coconut oil)
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Using a stand mixer beat the first five ingredients together until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.

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.

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.


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.

Fudgy Brownies


There is really no good excuse for not making brownies from scratch. I know box mixes sound convenient, but really, you still have to add eggs, oil, and mix it all up.  I’m willing to wager that this recipe comes together just as quickly and the texture/flavor combo is dead nuts. DEAD NUTS!! I’m afraid my pics aren’t doing them justice. Notice the thin flaky crust on top, the dense fudgy center and the quintessential cracks in the photo below. These are the real deal.



Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

The trick is to not overcook the batter.  Also, I like to freeze the finished product about 20 minutes before cutting into squares. That way you don’t get the gooey buildup on your knife. Enjoy.

3 T. sorghum flour *
3 T. brown rice flour, plus more for dusting
1 T. potato starch
1 T. tapioca starch
1/4 t. xanthan gum
generous pinch of salt (less than 1/4 t.)
1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips or a 3 oz bar, chopped
6 T. ghee, Spectrum organic shortening, or butter (I used half ghee, half coconut oil)**
1/2 C. plus 2 T. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 375. Oil an 8×8 dish or pan or cake pan. Dust with rice flour, tap out excess, set aside.
  • Whisk together flours, xanthan gum and salt. Set aside.
  • Melt chocolate and 6 T. of ghee/coconut oil/butter in a heat proof bowl (I prefer glass), set over a small pot of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove melted mixture from heat to cool slightly.
  • Mix brown sugar and eggs with an electric mixer on high for 2-3 minutes. Turn to low and slowly add the melted chocolate until incorporated. Add the vanilla.  Add flour mix and continue to beat until just combined.
  • Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake 20-30 minutes until top has cracked and the center is just set.  Mine took about 23 minutes. Cool and freeze 20 minutes to cut into squares.

* Replace the gluten-free flours with an equal amount (1/2 C.) of all-purpose flour if you’re not gluten-free, omit the xanthan gum.

** I use Spectrum unrefined coconut oil.  It smells slightly of coconut, as it should.  I’m wary of the “refined” coconut oils.

Early Fall Salad

Early Fall Salad {gluten-free, vegan}

Last night we brought salad to a pot-luck dinner with friends.  And don’t get me wrong, I like salads and all, but I wouldn’t say I typically sit around daydreaming about what raw veggies to mix up next. However, in the half hour I had to throw this together, I figured I could either bemoan that I didn’t get to bring dessert or go big and make a really damn good salad.

I was craving something with a hint of autumn in it: apples, roasted nuts, maple syrup, etc.

This is infinitely adaptable to one’s personal taste.  I think the caramelized nuts along with maple vinaigrette really make the dish.

4-6 C. your preferred salad green (I used a mix of romaine, radicchio, and baby spinach)
1 medium, crisp, sweet apple like Gala or Fugi
1 small cucumber
1 C. chopped almonds or walnuts
1/3 – 1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/3 C. olive oil
4-5 T. pure maple syrup
3 T. apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or distilled vinegar
1-2 t. dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

  • Tear lettuce into bite size pieces.  Rinse and dry (a salad spinner is great here).  Mound in a large serving bowl.
  • Chop apple and cucumber into 1/2″ pieces and sprinkle atop the bed of lettuce.
  • Prepare caramelized nuts: Spread chopped nuts in a dry 8″-12″ skillet.  Sprinkle sugar on top.  Turn the stove top heat to between low and medium.  I use setting 3 or 4  on a 1-10 dial.  Take a fork and swirl the nuts in the sugar.  Don’t go anywhere.  Things can progress quickly here.  After 1-2 minutes the sugar will become wet, keep stirring.  Then the wet sugar will start turning light brown, keep stirring for just a few seconds until a nice brown color is achieved…not chocolate brown or black.  Err on the conservative side.  Quickly remove pan from heat and scrape your nuts into a glass bowl.  Let cool.  Then break up into pieces by stabbing with your fork (rather gothic sounding) and pile on top of your salad.
  • To make vinaigrette: Mix all remaining ingredients together in a small container with a lid.  Shake, shake, shake. Taste and adjust. If the flavor isn’t popping try adding a tiny squirt more of mustard and/or vinegar.  I always tend to add more maple syrup, too.
  • When ready to serve, drizzle each portion with vinaigrette.

Serves 12, approximately

Stone Fruit Tea Cake with Peaches and Blueberries {gluten-free}

I’m a sucker for anything rustic and old-fashioned, especially when it comes to food. Give me something simple, made well with knowing hands.  Preferably served up family-style on a  big platter.  This is how I cook and this is how I prefer to eat.

DSC01607At first glance this cake might look like a type of pie or cobbler, and in some ways it is. You line the tart dish like a pie and dollop the fruit with dough like a cobbler. What is different, however, is that the two dough layers come together while baking to make a marvelous cake with a delightfully crunchy top.

Adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

This dough threw me off at first. It is quite wet once together, but don’t panic, throwing it in the freezer firmed it up.  I used a combo of peaches and blueberries, because they go so well together.  Any stone fruit or berry would work.  Be careful that your fruit isn’t overly ripe.

Here goes…

2  1/4 cups of flour (for GF – 1  1/4 c. brown rice flour, 1/2 c. potato starch, 1/2 c. tapioca starch and 1 tsp. xanthan gum)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups butter
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups chopped stone fruit or berries (fresh or frozen)
turbinado or cane sugar for sprinkling

  • In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients except the sugar, through the sea salt.  Set aside.
  • Cream your choice of fats along with the granulated sugar for a few minutes or until pale and fluffy.  I used my stand mixer.
  • Add each egg to the sugar mix, one at a time, allowing it to fully  incorporate before adding the next.  Scrape down the sides of your bowl with each addition.  Add the vanilla.
  • Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mix.  It will quickly form a smooth dough, almost like cake batter.  Scrape the dough onto plastic wrap, wrap tightly and flatten into a disk.  Place in the freezer to firm up 30 minutes.
  • Preheat your over to 375
  • Oil a 10″ round tart pan.
  • Remove your dough from the freezer after 30 minutes and break in two halves.  Using your hands press half of the dough into the tart pan and up the sides.  Place your fruit on top.  Pull small chunks of dough (the size of a plum) from the remaining half of dough and place on top of the fruit, distributing somewhat evenly. There will be gaps! That’s okay because the chunks will cook and spread to meet. Sprinkle the dough chunks lightly with cane sugar.
  • Bake 30 to 40 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the cake is somewhat firm to the touch or until a cake tester comes out clean. At this point I placed my cake under the broiler for a minute or so to brown it a little more, but keep a close eye on anything under the broiler. Let it cool a bit before serving (I’m terrible at that last bit.  I always dig right in).

* This reheated well and the top crisped back up the next day by placing it in the oven for 10 minutes or so.