One of my fondest memories of growing up was helping my Mom with Christmas baking. Every year the menu was the same; fruitcake (which I didn't really like), shortbread, almond rolls, cranberry loaf and my favourite, Mexican wedding cake. Despite the name, it wasn't cake at all, but a wonderfully tender, rich shortbread-like cookie full of butter and pecans. Heaven in every bite. When I was really young, my job was to take the baked cookies off the tray and drop them into a bowl of sieved icing sugar, coating both sides before carefully placing them on waxed paper to finish cooling. My job also involved keeping Dad from eating too many before they were put away for another day. As I grew older, I took over baking them from start to finish. Once I had my own kitchen, the smells of buttery cookies filled the air every year, and my daughters took over the role of sugaring. It was a wonderful tradition.
Our first few gluten-free Christmas's were sadly missing these sweet treats. Two years ago I decided to try converting this recipe. I still remember how excited I was when I took a bite of the first one out of the oven. It was perfect! When my celiac daughter tasted it, her smile was radiant, full of excitement at having these cookies back in her life.
A conversation yesterday with a new celiac acquaintance reminded me that it has been too long since I posted on this blog, and that I want to share these amazing cookies with
others who can't handle wheat. A word of caution though... these cookies are incredibly crumbly when they come out of the oven, so give them a minute to cool, and then very carefully lay them in the icing sugar. But of course, if they break, it means you can eat the damages instead of having to wait for a special occasion!
DO NOT double this recipe. It doesn't work. And do not press them too flat before baking - they will spread out to paper thin size and be ruined. I just lightly touch the top with the palm of my hand to take them out of the ball state.
As fussy as they are to make, the results are so delicious, you will quickly forget the pain and begin a second batch. Trust me. They are heavenly. And your kitchen will smell divine.
For those of you who do eat wheat, use regular flour and leave out the xantham gum. Enjoy!
GLUTEN-FREE MEXICAN WEDDING CAKE
1 cup butter (1/2 lb), at room temperature
1 cup brown rice flour
1½ cup certified wheat-free oat flour
4 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. xanthan gum
4 oz. (1 cup) very finely chopped pecans (may use food processor but be careful not to over-process)
2 tsp. GF pure vanilla extract
Mix dry ingredients in bowl of electric mixer, then add butter in large chunks. Using kneading hook, mix at medium speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Add vanilla and mix until thoroughly incorporated into dough. If you don't have an electric mixer, cut the butter in with a pastry blender and then knead by hand as you would shortbread.
Put small teaspoon-size balls of dough on parchment-lined cookie sheet and slightly flatten the top with palm of hand.
Bake in 325° oven for 25-30 minutes, until slightly browned. Let cool slightly, remove from tray and dip in sieved icing sugar and place on rack lined with waxed paper.
Handle these gently, especially when still warm, as they are crumbly by nature, even in the regular recipe.
Store between sheets of waxed paper, and keep refrigerated for maximum freshness. Makes about 42-48 cookies.
RHUBARB ORANGE MUFFINS
makes 12 muffins
Line muffin tin with papers or grease. Preheat oven to 350°F.
1 ¾ cups finely chopped rhubarb
⅓ cup coconut sugar
1 ⅓ cups sorghum flour
⅓ cup quinoa flour
⅓ cup potato starch
1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp GF baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ground chia or flax seed combined with 3 tbsp water, let sit for 10 minutes
2 tbsp grated orange zest
⅔ to ¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup chopped walnuts
1. In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb and sugar. Mix well and let sit for 10 minutes. This is an important step as it draws moisture out of the rhubarb, softens it a bit, and makes the batter moister.
2. In a large bowl combine flours, starch, and remaining dry ingredients . Mix well and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, beat chia mixture, orange zest, juice, oil and vanilla until combined. Stir in rhubarb mixture. Add dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Stir in walnuts.
4. Spoon batter evenly into each cup of prepared muffin tin. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until firm. Remove from pan immediately and let cool completely on wire rack.
NOTE: I use a fine thermometer to make sure the centre of the muffin is at 200°F to be sure it is done.
The original recipe calls for ⅔ cup juice, but I found the batter was a bit better with ¾ cup, likely because it has been converted from a real egg to vegan.
1.5 chia eggs (1.5 tbsp ground chia seed, 4 tbsp water; sit for 5 mins)
¼ cup coconut oil
1/3 cup mashed very ripe banana (1 small)
¼ cup maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
½ cup coconut sugar
½ tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp xanthan gum
½ cup almond meal (almond flour)
1 ¼ cup basic GF flour mix (rice, potato starch, tapioca starch)
½ cup plain almond milk, unsweetened
1 heaping cup (packed) grated carrot
1 small apple, finely grated
2/3 cup gluten free rolled oats
¼ cup raw walnuts chopped
¼ cup currants
Mix according to directions below and keep extra in freezer. Always bring to room temperature before using in baking. Also, this flour settles so stir it up and lightly spoon into measuring cups for the best results.
GF basic flour mixture:
For 3 cups of GF Flour mix:
2 cups Brown rice flour*
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour (starch)
Store-bought gluten-free cookies are about as tasty as a mouthful of cardboard. And I miss the kitchen smells wafting from a pan of freshly-baked cookies. Cry no more.... the name says it all. Honestly, they are amazing. I have made them before, but always struggled with an acceptable egg replacer. Lately I have experimented with using ground chia & water, and it has turned out to be the secret ingredient for cookies. Hooray!
You will notice there is no xanthan gum - not a typo. Oat flour is very close to wheat flour in consistency, so it doesn't seem to need any. Enjoy the recipe.
½ cup Earth Balance vegan shortening
¾ cup natural peanut butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp ground chia seeds & 3 tbsp water; combine and let sit for 10 minutes
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups Lara's wheat-free whole grain oat flour (available at Choices Market)
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cups wheat-free rolled oats
1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks of dark chocolate (at least 75% cacao)
Preheat your oven to 350°F
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder and soda. With a mixer, cream butter, sugar, and peanut butter together. Blend chia seed mixture and vanilla into butter mixture. Add dry ingredients slowly to mixture. Fold in chocolate chips by hand. Place cookies of your desired size onto cookie sheet. I squish slightly with a fork. Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheet for 15 minutes or until done.
Cool on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
Makes about 40 medium-sized cookies.
My love affair with bread didn't start until I was commanding my own kitchen. The white mushy bread I grew up eating was insipid, to say the least, and by the time my Mom started baking her own bread, I had moved out. To be honest, I think I inspired her to bake bread, but don't tell her I said so!
I began experimenting with all kinds of yeast breads almost 35 years ago, and when I had to switch to a gluten-free diet, my heart was broken. I have been GF for almost seven years now, and it is only in the past 2 months that I have finally discovered the most amazing recipe book ever. The book is called Gluten-Free & Vegan Bread by Jennifer Katzinger. The fact that these recipes are vegan is the deciding factor for me as I can't eat eggs either. She uses Chia Seeds as an egg replacer, which works well.
I am working my way through the recipes, and there are many many wonderful pages in the book. This is my third, and because it is as delicious as the first two, I decided it is safe to share my good fortune and get everyone buying this cookbook. I have only one caution about the recipes - others on the web have made the same observations. Her baking times are crazily long, and the bread would be cooked beyond edible if you followed the times given. Even in her Errata (http://jenniferkatzinger.wordpress.com) she still uses the impossibly long baking times of 90 to 120 minutes for a loaf. Way too long. I have basically used the same staggered temperatures she calls for, but halved the time for each stage, and it seems about right. Just be sure to use that trusty food thermometer to arrive at an internal temperature of 200degrees F and you will know it is done.
The key to Jennifer's recipes is that she doesn't let the bread rise in the usual way. Instead she relies on "oven spring" to rise her breads - if you have ever baked traditional bread you will know what that is. And darned if it doesn't absolutely work perfectly for GF bread. Her mixture of flours in each recipe is different. She adds healthy flours like teff, amaranth, sorghum and millet to the GF staple of tapioca starch, potato starch and brown rice flour. The resulting breads are crusty and dense, and thrown in the toaster are my idea of heaven. I can't wait to try the baguette recipe.
Love is a slice of toasted cinnamon-walnut bread, almond butter, black coffee and the New York Times. Sigh..... can't wait til tomorrow morning.
I admit that I could live on date squares. They seem like the perfect food to me - full of sweetness, fibre, texture, fruit..... yes, some calories too, but I choose to ignore that. When I went gluten-free, they were sorely missed. I am happy to say that these are amazing. No one would ever know they were not the regular variety. The oat flour is the reason they are so close to the original, I think. The problem now is not eating the entire pan in one sitting.
I like big man-sized pieces, so I make mine in an 8x8 pan instead of the 9x9 the recipe called for. You can use all rolled oats (Bob's Red Mill are good) or a mixture of rolled and quick oats.
This makes them hold together a bit better (London Drugs in Vancouver is carrying a new brand of wheat-free oats from Regina that are really well priced and come in quick-cooking) I choose to make them vegan, but that isn't required. I also keep them in the refrigerator, though mostly to keep them out of sight, to lessen the temptation, if you know what I mean. Let me know how they turn out, if you can tear yourself away from the pan long enough to post a comment. Life is full of challenges...
GF | Vegan Date Squares
2 cups dates, cut up (I use Medjool)
1 cup Water
½ cup Sugar, coconut or Sucanet preferably
3 tbsp Lemon juice
Base and Topping
1 1/3 cups Oat flour, certified wheat free (Laura's Oat flour is available at Choices Market here in Vancouver)
¼ tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking soda
¼ tsp Xanthan gum
1 cup Brown sugar
1 ¾ cups Oats, certified wheat free
¾ cup Earth Balance vegan “butter”
Combine ingredients for filling in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thick and smooth, stirring constantly. Cool slightly.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum and stir well. Stir in brown sugar and rolled oats.
Cut butter into dry ingredients until crumbly.
Pat half of the mixture into a lightly greased 8"x8" pan. Spread with date filling. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over top. Pat down lightly.
Bake at 375° for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares when cool.
Adapted from a recipe in The Canadian Living Cookbook.
I had about a cup of pumpkin puree left from my pumpkin loaf, so I though I would adapt a recipe to make a pumpkin scone. This turned out to be a great idea; the combination of pumpkin and the cultured coconut milk I use instead of yogurt gives it a delicious flavour. The scone is light and yet dense at the same time, crumbly as a scone should be, but not overly so. The recipe comes from a really good cookbook called Gems of Gluten-free Baking by Wendy Turnbull. A lot of her recipes are also egg-free, which is rare in GF baking. I highly recommend this book.
Brown rice flour for pan.
1 ½ cups brown rice flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
3 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan margarine (not spreadable)
about 1/3 cup pumpkin puree, mixed with almond milk to make 2/3 cup liquid
1/3 cup So Delicious plain cultured coconut milk (my sub for yogurt)
½ cup currents
Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Sprinkle brown rice flour on it in a 6-inch circle and set aside.
In mixing bowl, blend all dry ingredients. Using pastry blender or fingers, cut vegan margarine into flour to resemble a coarse meal. Mix in currents.
Combine almond milk/pumpkin mixture with cultured coconut milk. Add to dry ingredients, folding and blending gently. It will seem very dry but continue just enough to moisten and until it pulls together into a soft ball in the bowl.
Turn dough out onto the prepared sheet and pat into a 6-inch flattened circle, about 1.5-inches thick.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until baking thermometer inserted into the centre reads 200°. (The original recipe said to bake for 20 minutes but mine wasn't even close to done at that time). Turn onto rack to cool, then cut into six wedges. Serve same day.
Adapted from a recipe by Wendy Turnbull. Here is a link to her website. Under the recipes tab you will find the original scone recipe, which is not vegan.
Just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving, here is a yummy recipe for a vegan gluten-free pumpkin loaf. This was adapted from a recipe by the Gluten Free Goddess, Karina Allrich. I find many of her recipes have too much sugar for my taste, but this one is just too good to pass by. If you want a decadent guilt-free dessert, do this - place a thick slice in a non-stick pan, and heat until both sides are crispy-brown. Top with So Delicious Coconut Milk frozen dessert (my answer to ice cream) and enjoy.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Loaf
¾ cup lightly packed organic light brown sugar or coconut sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
2 "chia eggs" = 6 tbsp water and 2 tbsp ground chia seeds combined and let sit for 5 minutes (or 2 large eggs, beaten)
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup millet flour
¼ cup sorghum flour
½ cup tapioca starch
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
½ cup golden raisins
Prepare a large loaf pan by greasing the bottom and dusting with a teaspoon of flour. Shake out excess flour.
Mix together sugar, maple syrup, oil, vanilla and pumpkin and set aside.
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk egg replacer into water and mix into liquid mixture. Gently fold wet mixture into dry ingredients, until just evenly distributed. Adjust consistency if needed by adding more pumpkin puree or more flour. Mixture should be thick, not runny and evenly moist. Stir in pecans and raisins.
Turn into prepared loaf pan and set sit on counter while your oven heats to 350°.
Bake for 70 minutes or until a baking thermometer reads 210 ° degrees in the centre of the loaf.
Let sit in the pan to cool for 10 minutes, and then run a knife around the sides of the pan, turning the loaf out onto a rack to finish cooling.
There is a new bakery in New Westminster, BC that caters to those of us who have to, or wish to eat gluten-free. Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery also sells its all purpose gluten-free baking mix in retail packaging for baking at home. Unlike many of the mixes I have looked at, Cloud 9 adds high-fiber buckwheat flour to its mix, which is a positive step away from most GF mixes made up solely of rice flour, tapioca and potato starches. Cloud 9 also include xanthan gum in their mix, which saves having to remember to add this critical component of GF baking. The darker colour and interesting flavour of buckwheat flour is perfectly suited to this old recipe of my Mom's, so I decided the timing was right to try the cup-for-cup substitution claim to convert yet another family tradition. And it worked beautifully - the loaf was delicious, the texture light and it rose in the pan just like the original used to do. I am sold...
This recipe is oil free, and vegan with the substitutes I use.
I have discovered some amazing California (sour) dried apricots at Galloway's Specialty Foods. They are quite tart and I love them in this loaf.
Mom's original recipe called for white granulated sugar. I really prefer this cane sugar - it gives the loaf a crispy brown crust and tastes wonderful.
Gluten-Free Apricot Loaf
1 ½ cups California sour* or Turkish dried apricots, cut into halves or thirds
1 cup water
Bring apricots and water to boil in small saucepan, turn heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Drain any liquid that remains.
Sift together in a bowl:
2 ½ cups Cloud 9 Gluten-Free Baking Mix ™
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
1 cup Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar
1 beaten egg or egg replacer
1 ½ cups milk or replacement of your choice (I use almond milk)
Fold in apricots and ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts. The batter should be medium-thick without being dense. Add more flour if you think it is too runny or a bit more milk if it is too thick.
Pour into 8”x4” lightly greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 350° for 1 hour. Test with food thermometer to make sure it registers 200° in the center of the loaf.
Turn out of pan to cool on a rack.
Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery here
Eating gluten free doesn't limit breakfast choices unless you also can't eat eggs. Then the choices drop to almost zero, apart from my homemade granola, wheat-free oatmeal and GF toast. But once in a while, I long for those lazy weekend brunches that used to leave me feeling so full I wanted to crawl back into bed. What is interesting, though, is that this recipe I developed rivals any pancake I have ever made. But without the wheat flour, I am full but not comatose. Sated but not stuffed. Perfect for this sunny Vancouver Easter weekend!
So give these fluffy beauties a try, and then go for a long walk in the sun and be thankful for living in one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. Really.
The Most Amazing Vegan Pancakes, Ever
1 cup buckwheat flour (light or regular)
1 cup Bajra flour (Millet/rice blend)
½ tsp sea salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp egg replacer
¼ cup molasses
2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix milk, molasses and oil . Add liquids to dry ingredients and whisk until blended. Don’t over-mix.
Spoon or pour onto a medium-hot non-stick griddle. Cook until tiny pinholes appear on the top and they are brown on the underside. Flip and cook on the other side. Serve with fresh fruit sauce, maple syrup or honey.
finely chopped pecans or walnuts, fresh blueberries or chopped strawberries, mashed banana (you may have to add a bit of extra flour to accommodate the additional moisture)
Note: If you don't have access to Bajra flour you can use all buckwheat flour, but the pancakes won't be quite as fluffy.