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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sourdough Herb Boule






Sometimes when developing recipes, it has to be tried several times and tweaked. Other times it just all falls into place but you never quite know which way it will go.

A few weeks ago, Living Without sent a newsletter with a recipe for a sourdough bread and we had been wanting a sourdough. Yum. So I called Daisy in to help me mix up the starter, mainly so she could see that it wasn't a big deal. It isn't a long complicated thing, it just takes a few days.

Four days later we had a loaf of sourdough bread with supper and Daisy took one bite and said "contest bread!" We had been experimenting with some yeast bread and had pretty much picked one out but once she tried the sourdough, she loved it.

I had seen a beautiful round loaf on Pinterest that had herbs baked onto the bread crust as decoration. Daisy and I thought it looked beautiful and since the judges won't actually taste the food (worries of food poisoning), it needs to look as good as possible. Since this herb bread wasn't gluten-free, she tried making the sourdough as a herb bread and it was wonderful.

Honestly the best sandwich I have had was this herb bread with pesto and turkey. But this is really good bread without the herbs.

As for the flour amounts, they aren't written in stone. The original recipe was "3 cups of your favorite flour blend" and this one was made up on the fly. I didn't even write down the amounts I used (but I was was able to get it within 10 grams on each flour). My main thing was 60% starch by weight and 40% whole-grain/protein flour.

She did an amazing job with this bread. Daisy has reached the point where she is comfortable enough in the kitchen to work some on her own, especially on a recipe that she has made several times. Poor thing, nearly every time I would print out a new recipe, something would be wrong with it which made for extra practice times for her. The day before contest, the recipe I printed out was again messed up (the potato starch was missing) so the two loaves made on friday were a mess. She got up on her own at 6 on saturday morning and did everything for the bread. I over-slept (I was going to keep her company) and all that was left for me to do was slide it into the oven.

She won first place and will be going on to district in February. That day she will also be competing again in the Food Challenge. And the following week is youth fair.

Gluten-free Sourdough Herb Boule

127 grams potato starch
100 grams arrowroot flour
73 grams brown rice flour
50 grams almond flour
20 grams sorghum flour
8 grams mesquite flour
50 grams sugar
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1½ cups warm coconut milk (about 100°F)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
whole basil leaves
parsley leaves
thyme sprigs

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, sugar, salt and yeast to combine. Add sourdough starter and oil and mix to combine.

2. With the mixer on low, pour in the milk in a slow, steady stream. Once the flour has begun to incorporate the liquids, beat the ingredients on at least medium speed for 4 to 6 minutes. The dough will be pretty sticky—thicker than cake batter, not quite as thick as cookie dough. Scrape the dough onto parchment paper on a sturdy oven-safe baking dish (cookie sheet or pizza stone) and smooth into a boule shape with wet hands.

3. To decorate loaves: Place a large bowl of cold water beside the stove. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Drop basil leaves, parsley and thyme sprigs into the boiling water for a few seconds. Retrieve with tongs or a slotted spoon and drop into the cold water. Pat herbs dry.

4. Blend egg white and water with a fork in a small bowl; brush over the risen loaves. Arrange herb sprigs decoratively over the loaves. Brush again with the egg-white glaze.

5. Allow the dough to rise in a warm, humid place for 30 to 45 minutes or until it has about doubled in size. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

6. Bake the loaf in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a nice, golden brown crust has formed on top.




Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gluten-Free Banana Struesel Muffins





Each year my kids have participated in our county's 4-H Food and Nutrition contest where they make a food and then have to tell how healthy it is. Its a long list of stuff they need to do and know since they need to know the calories per serving, which food group it goes with and how that fits into a healthy diet, could it be made healthier, as well as explaining how they made it. They have to know what primary nutrients the dish provides (ie protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals) and what those nutrients do. They also have to tell what community service they did, what sort of leadership they did, what they have learned in the project and what sort of activities they did to learn those things.

This was Junior's first real year to compete.

In previous years he would make the food and the older teens would ask questions but he would get a ribbon just for showing up. He could say he didn't make it, his mama did and he would get a ribbon. He could say he didn't even like the food and he would get a ribbon.

This year he had to know his stuff.

He chose banana muffins - actually he first said banana bread but when I pointed out that he would have to serve it to the judges he decided muffins sounded easier to serve. Then I suggested a streusel topping since sometimes gluten-free baked goods just turn out ugly. Its unfortunate but true. A streusel could hide a number of flaws. Junior was less convinced about a streusel but he didn't remember ever eating one. The compromise was to make a practice batch and do half with the streusel and half without but by the time he was topping the muffins, he decided that the streusel sounded good and they were all topped.

The muffin recipe came from Carol Fenster's book Cooking Free and the streusel came from Gingerlemongirl's Streusel Topped Fresh Blueberry Muffins.

And how did he do in the contest? Well, he told the judges that they didn't want to know what protein did because it is "absolutely disgusting!" Luckily the judges realized he meant fiber.

He won first place and so will go on to district in February. And everyone loved his muffins - not even realizing that they were gluten-free or what that meant. They were just yummy, cinnamony muffins.

Gluten-Free Banana Streusel Muffins

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
112 grams potato starch
74 grams sorghum flour
22 grams almond flour
47 grams tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas
½ cup chopped nuts of your choice (optional)
Streusel topping
3 tablespoons sorghum flour
2 tablespoons certified gluten free oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease muffin tins with nonstick spray or insert cupcake liners.
2. Cream sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla with electric mixer.
3. Mix together potato starch, 74 grams sorghum, almond flour, tapioca starch, salt, baking powder, and spices in a separate bowl.
4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, alternating with bananas. Stir in nuts if using. Batter will be soft. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan.
5. Mix 3 tablespoons sorghum flour, oats, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, and butter in a bowl with a fork and sprinkle over muffins.
6. Bake for 18-24 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.


Monday, October 31, 2011

why I use weights to measure

I love baking. I made my first loaf of bread when I was 12 and my mom was out of town. My dad let me do what I wanted in the kitchen. It was a basic white bread loaf and I was so proud of that loaf. Later in speech class we had to come up with a speech explaining how to do something and I chose bread baking (since I had made 3 or 4 loaves and was now an expert in my 13 year old mind).

I loved the kneading and punching down, it was a great stress reliever. Plus, since regular bread takes so long to prepare - a minimum of 3 hours - it would force me to slow down. That is really what I miss about baking gluten-free is the stress-busting properties of bread baking.

When I saw the list of ingredients for a basic gluten-free bread recipe, it was discouraging. I searched for weeks trying to find the definitive basic white bread before I realized there wasn't one. This person may use white rice flour, cornstarch and sorghum while this person uses brown rice flour, millet and tapioca starch and each claiming that their recipe made the "best ever sandwich bread."

I would spend forever measuring out each ingredient because each baked good has a minimum of 3 flours (except for a few rare exceptions like Jowar Roti). I had done some weighing of ingredients (Alton Brown highly recommends weighing bread or all purpose flours when baking because it is more accurate) and I decided that had to be easier. It just had to.

So I set out to find a conversion chart of weights of gluten-free flours and I found this lovely resource but it wasn't quite what I wanted because I didn't want to have to take out a calculator each time I needed a 1/3 cup. So I sat down and made my own chart with 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4 and 1 cup and then hung it inside the cabinet door where most of the flours are.




It now takes me less time to measure out 2 1/2 cups of several flours than it takes someone to measure out 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose. I know because we went to a 4-H workshop where scones were made and I was surprised at how long it took to measure out the one flour.

It also takes me less time to leave the kitchen and look up the weight of peanut butter so I can weigh one cup of peanut butter than it would for me to try to get rid of all the air holes in the measuring cup.

I have handwritten the weight of All-Purpose flour so I can easily convert recipes that are not gluten-free.

My husband isn't as familiar with the weighing method but he doesn't bake. Last time he measured out flour for me (we were making 3 batches of Jowar Roti), each bowl had a different weight varying by almost 20 grams. A 1/4 of a cup of sorghum weighs 31 grams so there would have been a difference between the batches.

My kids find it much easier to bake with weights. I need to make a chart with other commonly used ingredients like sugar, coco powder, and brown sugar and others rather than look it up each time.

The other thing that makes it easier is with the gluten-free flour blends that most of the cookbooks have. Each one is significant with only that cookbook and they usually make 4 1/2 cups and the recipe I chose usually needs 3 cups - or some similar ratio so that I can't do a double batch of the recipe without making 2 batches of blends.

It. Drives. Me. Crazy. Soon the pantry is filled with blends and there is no unblended flour and no room for any unblended flour.

So I now sit down with a calculator and figure out how much the weight of each flour is in a cup of the blend and I write it in the cookbook. Then on the page of the recipe I want to make, I am able to write down the exact measurement of each flour for that recipe.

So Much Simpler. That is what I did for my sons banana muffin recipe that he made for 4-H contest (post to follow soon). My daughters bread recipe called for 3 cups of our favorite blend, I looked at the weight for Carol's sorghum blend (the last blend I mixed up) and realized I needed 378 grams of a flour blend . . . but more on that later.

The long and short of it, if you bake gluten-free, get a scale.

If you don't bake gluten-free, but you bake very much at all, get a scale.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Camping menu

One of the hardest parts for me of our recent camping trip was planning the meals. It sounds simple until the realization that everything going with the meal needs to be packed. For instance, if pancakes sound good then you need all the ingredients for the pancakes plus whatever toppings (syrup, fruit, whatever) that everyone will want.

It is easy to say that Friday we will cook hamburgers but to think of everything that everyone is going to want on the hamburger as well as what sides can make it more difficult.

All in all though, I think we were all satisfied with the camping menu.

As a special surprise, we made donuts while camping. When I was a kid, my dad would make donuts out of canned biscuits that were shaped and then deep fried and rolled in a cinnamon sugar mixture. Yum.

Since we are gluten-free, those canned biscuits are out and I hoped I could find something to taste equivalent. What I ended up doing is taking a cinnamon roll Chebe mix and making donut balls with it that were rolled in cinnamon sugar. The flavor was really good but they were chewier than I really want them to be. The kids loved them though - Hubby said they had a good flavor but he couldn't really eat them (long story that will come later).

Full menu to come in a post soon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

White and Dark Chocolate Dacquoise part 2

The meringue is the persnickety part of the whole thing. Or at least the most persnickety. If you missed part one click right here

Next comes the buttercream but it isn't the sugary sweet stuff on the store cakes. Ok. If I am honest it is still plenty rich though.

This is with the white chocolate but you get the idea
Using a double boiler you melt 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate and 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate. If you have never done a double boiler, you place a bowl over a saucepan with an inch or two of boiling water but be sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. I like covering the bowl with cling wrap to be sure that no water droplets get in the chocolate so it doesn't seize. It will take about 8 minutes.

You then remove that bowl from the heat and put on one with 8 ounces of white chocolate and let it melt for 8 minutes. The dark chocolate will need stirring to make it look melted and then after the while chocolate is done, you stir it as well.

While these are heating cream 1 pound of butter. Yep, 1 pound or 16 ounces or 4 sticks. After the chocolate has cooled a bit, stir half of the butter up with the dark chocolate and the other half with the white chocolate.

Then wash the bowl really quickly but be sure to get every single drop of oil off the mixing bowl and beat 8 egg whites Whisk on high until stiff but not dry, about 1 ½ minutes. Gradually add ¾ cup of granulated sugar and whisk on high for 1 ½ more minutes. Remove bowl from the mixer and divide egg white mixture between white chocolate mixture and dark chocolate mixture. Use rubber spatulas to thoroughly combine both mixtures (still keeping white chocolate separate from dark chocolate.) Place each in its own pastry bag without a tip.

Remove one meringue rectangle (circle) from parchment paper and place bottom side down on work surface. Using pastry bags, pipe a ½ inch wide strip of dark chocolate buttercream along one short end. Pipe an equal sized strip of the white chocolate, then another line of dark chocolate and another line of white chocolate. Continue until the meringue is covered with buttercream. (If you are doing circles, just do a circle of dark then a slightly smaller circle of white then a smaller circle of dark then white until you reach the center.)

Place the other meringue, top down on buttercream pressing gently down. (With the circle cake, you have more butter cream to pipe on this layer just like you did the bottom layer, then top with the remaining buttercream.) Place the entire cake in a freezer for at least 1 hour.

Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into 5 strips approximately 1 ½ inch strips length-wise.


sorry for the horrible color, we were tired and it was late
Then cut a triangle off the end and then cut parallel strips a little over an inch wide making 6 diamonds (parallelograms) per strip for a total of 30. (You will have a left-over triangle on each side of each strip to eat or throw away.) Set diamonds aside. (skip this whole part for the circles.)

like this, except I think someone ate the triangle off the right side

I promise it won't take as long to get the last steps posted but for now, here is the recipe so far:



White and Dark Chocolate Dacquoise

Meringue
          ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
          1 tablespoon cornstarch
          8 egg whites
          ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
          1/8 teaspoon salt
          1 cup granulated sugar
White and dark chocolate buttercream
          6 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into ½ ounce pieces
          2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into ½ ounce pieces
          8 ounces white chocolate, broken into ½ ounce pieces
          1 pound unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
          8 egg whites
          ¾ cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

To make the meringue:
Draw two 8x11 rectangles on a sheet of parchment paper with a pencil and lay face down on a cookie sheet large enough (or put on 2 cookie sheets). Set aside.

Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and corn starch. Set aside.

Place 8 egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high until stiff but not dry, about 1 ½ minutes. Gradually add granulated sugar while still whisking on high for an additional minute. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the dry, sifted ingredients.

Fill a pastry bag with no tip with meringue and trace around both drawn rectangles with a ½ inch thick piping of meringue, then fill in with remaining meringue. Place in preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. Lower oven temperature to 200 degrees and bake for an additional 2 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for 30 minutes before handling.

To Make the buttercream icing:
Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 6 ounces semisweet chocolate and 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate in the top portion of the double boiler. Tightly cover with film wrap and place over the water. Allow to heat for 8 minutes. Remove chocolate from heat and place in a stainless steel bowl. Use a whisk and stir until smooth. Repeat with white chocolate. Set both melted chocolates aside and allow to cool slightly.

Place 1 pound butter in bowl of electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat butter on low for 1 minute then scrape down the paddle and the bowl. Beat on medium for 2 minutes and then scrape the paddle and the bowl again. Beat on high for 5 minutes until light and creamy. Evenly divide the butter into the two chocolate bowls and use rubber spatulas to thoroughly fold the butter into the chocolates. Set aside.

Place 8 egg whites into a very clean electric mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high until stiff but not dry, about 1 ½ minutes. Gradually add ¾ cup of granulated sugar and whisk on high for 1 ½ more minutes. Remove bowl from the mixer and divide egg white mixture between white chocolate mixture and dark chocolate mixture. Use rubber spatulas to thoroughly combine both mixtures (still keeping white chocolate separate from dark chocolate.) Place each in its own pastry bag without a tip.

Remove one meringue rectangle from parchment paper and place bottom side down on work surface. Using pastry bags, pipe a ½ inch wide strip of dark chocolate buttercream along one short end. Pipe an equal sized strip of the white chocolate, then another line of dark chocolate and another line of white chocolate. Continue until the meringue is covered with buttercream. Place the other meringue, top down on buttercream pressing gently down. Place the entire cake in a freezer for at least 1 hour.

Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into 5 strips approximately 1 ½ inch strips length-wise. Then cut a triangle off the end and then cut parallel strips a little over an inch wide making 6 diamonds (parallelograms) per strip for a total of 30. (You will have a left-over triangle on each side of each strip to eat or throw away.)  Set diamonds aside.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

White and Dark Chocolate Dacquoise

This is what my 11 year old daughter made for youth fair. So you could do this. What is a daquoise? it is a meringue cake (usually the meringue has nuts but this one doesn't) that usually frosted somewhat like a normal cake. This one has a white chocolate and dark chocolate buttercream that goes between the layers of meringue and then is topped by a ganache.

uh-huh. The buttercream is not the typical birthday cake buttercream that is just butter and powdered sugar, in fact the dark chocolate has a bit of the bitter taste of dark chocolate (enough so that my kids didn't like it without the meringue).

Anyway, it is wonderful! but it is also incredibly time consuming.

This is something to make for a big anniversary dinner, not a I-feel-like-having-chocolate Thursday.

The first step is to make a meringue. And here is the cast of characters that play in the meringue:


And yes, buy the 18 pack because you will only have 2 eggs left - and a freezer full of yolks. Unless you forget to add the granulated sugar and then you will be wishing you bought the 24 pack. Don't ask.

You preheat the oven to 250 and then sift together the cornstarch and powdered sugar and leave it in a nice neat pile. She whisked it together because that works just as well.


Place 8 egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.


Whisk on high until stiff but not dry, about 1 ½ minutes. Gradually add granulated sugar while still whisking on high for an additional minute.


Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the dry, sifted ingredients. And it looks pretty much like it did before.

And then I forgot my job was taking pictures because there are not more of the next few steps so pretend.

Fill a piping bag without a tip with the meringue and decide what shape you want. If you want to make life easy on yourself, trace three 9-inch circles on parchment paper. If you want to complicate things, trace 2 rectangles that are 8x11 (do the circles, seriously). Turn the parchment pencil side down and you should still see the outline. Then with the tip cut off the piping bag (you could also use a gallon zip-top bag and cut off a corner), you trace the outline you made and then fill it in.

[Insert imaginary picture here]

We chose the rectangles because when finished, this cuts best very cold and so we had to precut into serving sizes so that it could be served at the contest. Making it for home, I would go with the circles.

[since you are imagining pictures you can also imagine that we made the circles too]

And then place into the oven and bake for 1 hour. After 1 hour, bump the heat down to 200 for 2 hours. And let it cool for at least 30 minutes.

Next comes the buttercream.

But that will be on another post.

Here is the recipe so far:

Meringue

¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
8 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Draw three 9-inch circles (or two 8x11 rectangles) on a sheet of parchment paper with a pencil and lay face down on a cookie sheet large enough (or put on 2 cookie sheets). Set aside.

Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and corn starch. Set aside.

Place 8 egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high until stiff but not dry, about 1 ½ minutes. Gradually add granulated sugar while still whisking on high for an additional minute. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the dry, sifted ingredients.

Fill a pastry bag with no tip with meringue and trace around each drawn circles (rectangles) with a ½ inch thick piping of meringue, then fill in with remaining meringue. Place in preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. Lower oven temperature to 200 degrees and bake for an additional 2 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for 30 minutes before handling.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Leftover Redo

Sometimes I wish I followed recipes just because I would like to remake something. I know approximately what I did but I don't know how well I can make it again.

The other day, I made a lazy chicken cacciatore - just chicken breasts cooked in spaghetti sauce with an onion and can of gluten free broth. The family was underwhelmed and so there was a bunch left over (I was having stomach problems so I just ate rice).

So last night I was thinking of vegetable soup.

It was cold and I had been cold all day. I just looked out the window and felt cold. (Yes, I live in Texas and I know those of you who live further north think that we are wimps. I am fine with that. If I wanted to miserable and cold, I would live further north. I chose to live in the south the be warm. And it wasn't.)

So I turned the chicken cacciatore into a soup somewhat vegetable-like. I added 5 carrots and half of a red cabbage and another onion. Some seasoning salt went in, as well as some black pepper and regular salt. It was good at this point and we would have been happy with it but I had 1/2 a can of coconut milk (we had made sleet/snow ice cream using the first half a can).

I know! As I was pouring the coconut milk in I thought "what am I doing!" My husband saw me doing it and was equally concerned.

And the last addition was a couple handfuls of spinach.

The coconut milk added an unexpected depth of flavor and the soup was so good! Hubby thought it was wonderful and he is one of those that can usually see some way to change or improve a dish. If I can figure out how to do it, I plan on remaking it and I will share a real recipe.

Now to prepare for a steak dinner. It is my father-in-laws birthday and I am also going to make some onion soup. YUM!