Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lemon-Lime Refrigerator Cookies

As I did Christmas baking with a newborn baby in the house, I found I couldn't always (or ever!) finish what I started, so I made a lot more refrigerator cookies than I had ever made before. I loved that I could mix the batter and put it in the fridge until the baby fell asleep, but I also discovered that refrigerator cookie recipes adapt very well to gluten-free flours.

These lemon-lime cookies were the biggest hit of the Christmas season in our gluten-free family. This recipe is adapted for gluten-free flours from a recipe originally published in Canadian Living, a fantastic source of reliable recipes.

1 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tsp finely grated lime rind
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz finely chopped white chocolate
1 egg white
1/2 cup ground almonds

1 cup GF icing sugar
3 tbsp whipping cream
1 tbsp softened butter
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp grated lime rind

In a large bowl, very lightly cream the butter with sugar. Beat in egg, lemon rind, and lime rind. In a smaller bowl, whisk flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt. Stir into butter mixture. Fold in white chocolate.

In a separate small bowl, beat egg white until foamy. Sprinkle almond meal on waxed paper. Set both aside.

Divide dough into four parts. Place one at a time on a large piece of waxed paper. Using paper as a guide, roll and press firmly into a 6” long log. Remove paper. Brush with egg white and roll in about 1/4 of the almond meal. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about three hours, rerolling as logs harden to keep round shape.

With serrated knife, cut into generous 1/4” thick slices. Place about 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined pans. Bake at 375F until bottoms are light golden, about 10 minutes. These cookies burn easily, so watch them carefully and help keep the heat consistent. I found it best to cook just one pan at a time in my oven.

GLAZE: Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the icing sugar, cream, butter, and lemon and lime rinds until smooth. Spread over hot cookies. Transfer to racks to let cool.

Makes 60 cookies.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Easy Almond-Cashew Cookies

Gluten-Free Girl is the goddess of gluten-free writing on-line, which is why I'm sticking mostly to recipes on this blog. Well, two reasons for the focus on recipes, really: 1) I bow to Gluten-Free Girl's supremacy and 2) I have a baby who is keeping me preoccupied.

Recently, I experimented with the almond cookies she shared a recipe for, and I made a few variations that suited our household's tastes very well. All the ingredients I used were organic or fair trade. Just Us in Nova Scotia distributes fabulous fair trade coffee, sugar, and chocolate products that are easier and easier to get in stores in Atlantic Canada now. FYI -- Their chocolate has a "may contain wheat" allergy alert.

1 cup smooth organic almond-cashew butter
1 cup raw fair trade sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
1 large egg
2 tsp GF baking powder
1 100g bar fair trade organic dark chocolate, broken into 24 pieces

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine almond-cashew butter, sugar, egg, and baking powder, stirring well until combined.

Divide dough into 24 small balls (about 1 tbsp of dough per cookie). Place balls 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined pan and press lightly with the back of fork to make cross-hatched lines and to flatten the cookies slightly.

Cook for 9 minutes. Remove from oven. Drop one small square of chocolate on each cookie. Return to oven for one minute or 90 seconds, just long enough to melt the chocolate. With an oiled or greased knife, spread the melted chocolate over the top of the cookie. Allow cookies to cool on the pan until they are solid enough to be moved to a rack to cool.

Makes 24 cookies.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Gluten-Free Raisin Bread ("Plum Loaf")

Over Christmas, I found myself missing the "plum loaf" my mother and grandmother used to make with big, sticky raisins, and I decided I would try to make some. I bought the raisins, but I didn't find the time to adapt my grandmother's recipe, so "plum loaf" was one of the cuts I had to make to my extensive Christmas baking list.

I made two loaves today to give as gifts to my mother and mother-in-law, and I was very pleased with the results. The bread smells like Grandma's and is buttery and mildly spicy and sweet. Here's the recipe I used. The proportions are inspired by a recipe by Bette Hagman for a bread with a healthy (or unhealthy) dollop of butter.

2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup amaranth flour
1 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup potato starch
1 tbsp egg replacer
1 tbsp xanthan gum
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 lb sticky raisins
3 tbsp brown sugar + 2 tsp more for proofing the yeast

2 1/2 cups warm water
2 packets (2 1/2 tbsp) yeast
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 large eggs

In a very large bowl, combine the flours, egg replacer, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 3 tbsp brown sugar. Whisk until well combined. Stir in the raisins, coating them well with flour so they don't stick together and are well-distributed throughout the dough. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, dissolve 2 tsp brown sugar in half the warm water (1 1/4 cups). Sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside until very frothy.

Beat the yeast mixture into the flour mixture, then pour in the remaining half of the warm water (1 1/4 cups), the melted butter, and the cider vinegar. Beat well with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time to make a very soft dough. Beat for as long as you have patience, or 3 minutes. (I run out of patience first.)

Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and leave to rise until doubled, about an hour. Meanwhile, grease two bread pans.

When the dough has risen, stir to remove large bubbles and then beat the dough for several more minutes. Spoon evenly into the two prepared pans. The dough will fill them to the 1/2 to 2/3 mark. Cover the pans with plastic wrap or a towel and set aside again to rise until the bread reaches the tops of the pans, about another hour.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove the plastic or towel and place loaves in the oven when it is up to temp. Cover the loaves with foil after 15 minutes. Cook for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until both loaves ring hollow when tapped. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Delicious fresh or toasted, especially served with a sharp, old Cheddar cheese.

Oatmeal-Blueberry Muffins

I like these best with the dark, granular, molasses-y evaporated cane juice -- which is just what it sounds like: really, really unrefined sugar. They work just fine with light brown sugar, instead.

Be sure your oats are certified pure and uncontaminated like the ones sold by Cream Hill Estates here in Canada. Make sure also that any celiac muffin-eaters-to-be are okay with oats.

1 cup pure, uncontaminated rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane juice (or light brown sugar)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp gelatin
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 baking soda
1 cup blueberries (frozen are fine)

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oatmeal and buttermilk, and soak for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients and do a little dance around the kitchen to kill any extra waiting time.

In a small bowl, whisk together flours, xanthan gum, gelatin, baking powder, and baking soda.

Add eggs, sugar, and melted butter, stirring well to combine.

Stir in dry ingredients, just to combine. Fold in blueberries. Divide batter into 12 prepared muffin cups, and bake for 20 minutes until slightly risen and evenly golden or until the muffins test clean. (Muffins made with the evaporated cane juice will be darker than you will expect.)

Makes a dozen delicious muffins.

Friday, January 26, 2007

White Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Cookies

It's too cold to take my little baby anywhere today, and I'm bored out of my head. I'm reluctant to scrub the kitchen floor (as always) or start any other interruptable projects, and it will be hours before we have a visit from an auntie. So I've done what I always fall back on doing: I've made some cookies.

These cookies are unreally delicious: tender, sweet, and full of buttery macadamia nuts. It is definitely hazardous to one's health to spend a cold day indoors with nothing but a baby and these cookies to distract one.

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup amaranth flour (or more rice flour)
1/3 cup potato starch
3 tbsp tapioca starch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, quartered

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla together lightly until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk flours and starches with soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture to combine well. Stir in white chocolate and macadamias until well-distributed in the batter.

Roll 1 tbsp of batter at a time into a small ball. (This should result in about 36 balls.) Place balls 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Flatten the balls slightly. Bake cookies for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from oven and cool cookies on racks, if you can resist eating them.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

This pizza crust has a nice crispness to the edges and a satisfying chewy denseness to the parts under the toppings. It is not like the light and airy wheat-based crusts I used to make, but I like it anyway. My true love likes it enough that when I made him his own wheat-based crust, he forgot and ate my gluten-free pizza instead. I forgave him, eventually, but stopped bothering to make him a special crust and stopped bothering to keep any wheat flour in the house at all.

A single recipe will make a fairly thin (less than 1/2") crust in a 9 x 12" rectangle that yields six slices. I usually make two pizzas at the same time so I can freeze the leftovers, but when I do this, I mix the two crusts in two separate bowls. This could just be superstition on my part, but it also could help ensure two equally nice, evenly mixed crusts. Anyway, it seems to ward off waste and other disasters. Besides that, the dough is soft and sticky enough that I would hate to have mix up twice as much. I have little patience with unclogging my mixer's beaters when they get full of gluten-free dough.

Really, this crust is better than I'm making it sound so far. And the cooked version doesn't taste as much like beans as you think it will when you smell the dough.

1 pkg (1 tbsp) yeast
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup chick pea flour
1/3 cup corn flour (like fine cornmeal)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp gelatin powder
1 cup warm regular milk (110F) or soy milk
1 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
a handful of cornmeal

Preheat oven to 400F.

Blend dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a small, warm bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm milk and sugar and set aside until frothy. Add vinegar and oil and combine with dry ingredients. Beat on high speed of an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until tired of unclogging the beaters.

Add additional warm water, about 1 tbsp at a time, if you like a softer dough. (Softer dough will rise a bit more but may be harder to spread on the pan.) The dough should resemble soft bread dough.

Grease a baking pan by brushing on olive oil. Sprinkle on a handful of cornmeal. Spread the dough on the cornmeal to make a 9x12” rectangle with slightly thicker edges. (Dampen your fingers or spatula with water or lightly grease them with oil to make the spreading and shaping easier.) Allow to rise 30 minutes, or until slightly puffed.

Top the pizza and bake for 20 minutes at 400F. Or, for a crispier crust, bake the crust 10 minutes alone before adding toppings, then add toppings and bake another minutes, or until nicely crisp and browned.

Our favourite toppings are these, applied to the crust in the following order:

a small amount of pizza sauce (absolutely no more than half a small can)
a sprinkling of herbs -- especially oregano, basil, and crushed fennel seeds
a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan
a few slices gluten-free pepperoni
a slice or two of cooked bacon
a quarter of a red onion, diced
half a red pepper, diced
half a can of artichoke hearts, drained and cut into sixths
four big mushrooms, sliced
lots of grated mozzarella

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter-Banana Muffins

Since I always buy more bananas than I care to eat before they turn black and gooey, I make a lot of banana bread and banana muffins. These have an unusual texture -- dense and moist but ever so slightly crumbly -- and they have a satisfying bit of protein added to a chocolatey muffin! I have also made these with almond butter -- subtle and yummy.

I adapted this recipe from a brand-promoting recipe I received in the mail before Christmas. Can't recall the brand . . . didn't use it anyway.

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp gelatin (omit if vegetarian)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup soy milk (or regular milk)
2 medium eggs
2 mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup peanut butter (organic, natural peanut butter or almond butter worked just fine)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Whisk flours, xanthan, gelatin, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir a very little bit more.

Bake at 375F for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden.

Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gluten-Free Morning Glory Muffins

I keep meaning to make a more low-fat version of these muffins, which are much too much like carrot cake for breakfast in the incarnation described below.

However, every time I set out to make the muffins, I find I have all kinds of vegetable oil and absolutely noto a scratch of the plain yogurt I would need for the low-fat version). And then I think of the lovely crunch to the muffin top in the not-even-close-to-low-fat version, and somehow, I've made carrot cake for breakfast. Again.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl:
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup amaranth flour (or another 3/4 cup brown rice flour)
1/2 cup tapioca or potato starch
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (optional)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar (or evaporated cane sugar)
2 tsp cinnamon

Stir in evenly:
2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup nuts or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries or other chopped dried fruit
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated

In a separate small bowl, beat:
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla

Stir the wet ingredients into the flour-fruit-nut mixture until just combined.

Dollop into well-greased muffin tins.

Bake at 375F for 20 minutes. Makes 15 nice, fat muffins.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal is a treat I wasn’t sure I would be able to enjoy again until I ordered pure, uncontaminated oatmeal from Cream Hill Estates in Quebec. Hooray! I ordered a 25 pounds of rolled oats, and I've been experimenting with all kinds of cookies and muffins. I've been converting all my beloved granola recipes, too, and I can't wait to make a proper rhubarb or apple crisp.

Be sure to use only pure, uncontaminated oats before making these for celiac friends, and bear in mind that some celiacs can't tolerate even pure and uncontaminated oats, and it's nothing personal. (See the Canadian Celiac Association's statement on oats here.)

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp GF vanilla

1/4 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup amaranth flour

1/4 cup potato starch

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp GF baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips (or to taste)

Cream butter and sugar very lightly, just until combined. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and almond extract. Combine flour, baking powder, soda, coconut, and oats. Mix well. Add to creamed mixture and stir. Stir in chocolate chips until well distributed.

Drop by the teaspoonful, spaced 2 inches apart, onto a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes, until light golden. The cookies will have spread. Cool on the pan before transferring to racks or to your mouth.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

All the celiacs in my extended family are cookie crazy, and these peanut butter cookies turn out so well and get made so often that we're all thoroughly tired of them. Until we smell a fresh batch baking . . .

I add a few tablespoons of flaxseed meal to these, for nutrition. Then again, I add flaxseed meal to just about everything. I also usually prefer a blend of rice and amaranth flours. I find this creates a more satisfying and reliable texture. You could probably substitute sorghum flour for the amaranth, or you can always use all rice flour if you prefer. My mother-in-law uses 3/4 cup white rice flour instead of brown rice and amaranth flours combined, with very good results.

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup amaranth flour
1/4 cup potato starch flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp GF baking powder

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup smooth organic or natural peanut butter
1 tsp GF vanilla
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg

Optional: chocolate chips, to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Combine flours, salt, xanthan gum, and baking powder in a small bowl. In a large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter, and vanilla just until well blended. Add both sugars and beat until light. Add half the dry ingredients, then the egg, stirring well after each addition. Add remaining dry ingredients and combine well. Stir in chocolate chips, if desired.

Roll cookies into 1 1/2” balls and set 2” apart on the baking paper. Press tops lightly with back of fork to flatten. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. Allow to cool on the pans until "set" enough to move. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. Yields 2 dozen cookies.

Gluten-Free Bannock

This recipe recreates the flavour of my grandmothers' soda bread, and it is ready in just 20 minutes. It makes a flat, circular loaf that can be cut into wedges and sliced open for sandwiches. It is especially delicious with hummus, tomato slices, and cucumber slices or with good, smooth cheese such as old Cheddar or medium spiced gouda topped with salad leftovers or tomatoes and alfalfa and radish sprouts. Small wedges of soda bread are great for dips or spreads.

Instead of making a loaf, my mother makes this same batter up in small rounds, like big thick pancakes. These are easier to turn in the pan and can be used as hamburger buns as well as for sandwiches or spreads.

1 cup brown rice flour (or my preference, 1/2 cup brown rice flour and 1/2 cup amaranth flour)
1/3 cup soy flour
1 tsp GF baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 or 2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp oil

Sift flours, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Make a well in the centre. Add combined buttermilk and egg. Heat oil in a frying pan over low-medium heat. Pour batter into pan. Cook, covered, over low heat until surface becomes reasonably dry. Turn and cook until browned underneath.

A turning tip: This bread is quite tender and can be tricky to flip with just a spatula. Try sliding it, cooked side down, onto a smooth flat saucepan lid with a handle you can grip. Then bring the frying pan to meet the uncooked side of the bread on the pot lid.

For gluten-free “focaccia”: Add to dry ingredients 1 to 2 tbsp fresh rosemary or other herbs and a bit of cracked pepper. Cut into small wedges and serve with good virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

Buckwheat, Buttermilk, and Blueberry Pancakes

These pancakes have the advantage of requiring only one special gluten-free flour, buckwheat. They are my favourite breakfast food. I often make a batch on Sunday morning and refrigerator or freeze the leftovers to toast up on weekday mornings.

Separating the eggs for these pancakes adds a step, but it’s worth it — it makes them light and airy. The flaxseed and blueberries add fibre and flavour.

1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 rounded tsp baking soda
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (optional)

1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 eggs, separated

1 cup blueberries (optional — frozen okay)

Whisk together dry ingredients in a big bowl. Combine buttermilk and egg yolks in a small bowl. Beat egg whites until stiff in a medium bowl. In the large bowl, mix dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture until just combined. Fold in egg whites and then blueberries. Pour by the 1/4 cupful onto a medium-hot oiled griddle or pan. Cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Serve with maple syrup or Blueberry Sauce.

Makes 12 pancakes.

Blueberry Sauce: Bring 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Add 2 cups blueberries (frozen are fine). Return to a boil, lower heat, and simmer while making the pancakes. Stir 1 tsp arrowroot flour or cornstarch in 2 tbsp cold water. Whisk into simmering sauce. Cook until clear and thickened and sticky.

My Wheat's End

Welcome. I've known I was gluten intolerant for three years, and I've never felt better than since I realized I was at My Wheat's End. I'm grateful to have a disease that is curable by being mindful about my food.

My family is full of celiacs, and there's celiac disease in my husband's family, too. This is plenty of incentive to experiment. We have far too many Irish ancestors for anyone's good health, and the Scottish ancestors haven't helped broaden the genetic pool by much. But, on the positive side, I have at least five celiacs to cook and bake gluten-free foods for, and this is plenty of incentive to experiment with adapting recipes.

I enjoy cooking and adapting recipes and will use this site to post successes and, if I'm feeling self-revelatory, failures. The adaptations are likely to be idiosyncratic rather than scientific. I keep about 15 1.5l mason jars full of different GF flours in my cupboard, and I tend to mix a little from this jar, a little from that jar. If what I cook turns out well, I don't question either the methods or the results much. That leaves lots of scope for others to experiment, I figure, and it leaves me with an argument that I'm actually less perfectionistic than is widely believed.

Bon appetit! Be well!