Posts tagged ‘gluten free baking’

Almond pear cake

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I tore this recipe out of a magazine a few years ago. The increasingly tattered page has been stuck to the side of not one, but two fridges (the one in our Vancouver apartment, and then at our house in Victoria), and now it has earned a place of honour in the pine recipe box my grandfather made for me when I was about 15.

I made the cake early in December with some D’Anjou pears that took forever to ripen, and then got too ripe too quickly. It was amazing that such an elegant and delicious cake could emerge from those pears, which were mottled with brown spots and mushy parts. I planned to serve it for a dinner we were having with an old friend until I remembered his nut allergy, so I put it in the freezer and then brought it out on Christmas morning to munch on as “pre-breakfast” while we opened gifts.

Last summer we pre-ordered two pear trees from Fruit Trees and More, a nursery in North Saanich  (a truly inspiring place that deserves a post all on its own). This weekend’s project is to prepare space for them in our yard, so it seems like a fitting time to share the recipe for this lovely cake. It is perfect in so many ways: gluten free, so easy to make, stores well in the freezer, and it’s a little bit healthier than the average dessert thanks to almond meal and the fruit. I hope in a few years once our new pear trees are established that I’ll be able to go on a baking frenzy like I’ve done in the past the harvest from our other fruit trees, which gave us delicious plum cakes and apple pies.

Almond pear cake (adapted from Style at Home’s recipe for Almond Pear Tart)
Makes 1 cake (6-8 servings)

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/3 cups almond meal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Zest of 2 lemons
3 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
Raw sugar and cinnamon for dusting
Plain yogurt for serving

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a round springform pan. Cream the butter and sugar in a mix master until just combined. Add the eggs, almond meal, flour, baking powder and lemon zest and process until all the ingredients are just incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the springform pan. Arrange the pears on top of the tart mixture and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the tart comes out clean. Sprinkle the tart with the raw sugar and cinnamon and allow to cool in the pan. Serve with yogurt.

January 21, 2016 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

Lovely plums, lovely cake

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It is plum season at our house. One of the great pleasures of our garden is the old, gnarly plum tree growing in the southwest corner of our yard. When we moved in to our house last summer the tree was bursting with fruit. We ate as many as we could (which was a lot – I was about 6 months pregnant then!) and several of our friends came over with plastic grocery bags to pick the fruit. I called the food bank to see if they wanted to harvest some. The wasps had a field day with everything that dropped to the ground.

I have a memory of standing out on our deck surrounded by the loud buzz-buzz-buzz of circling wasps, drunken on overripe, fermenting fruit. I remember thinking I should really do something about this, I should get out the hose and some soap and spray the whole thing down. Instead I ignored the mess and stood there eating plum after plum, with sticky juice streaming down my arm, realizing how happy I was to be in my new home with a little bambino kicking away inside me.

The tree is not quite as full of fruit as last year, but there is still more than enough. I’ve been taking baskets of plums with me wherever I go and I hope all of our friends and neighbours are enjoying the receiving as much as I am enjoying the sharing. It is such a proud feeling to show off the home-grown goods.

When I was in Vancouver last week I brought along some plums to share with a dear friend. We met up at the beach for a dinner-time picnic of salad, cheese and fruit, and while we were picnicking she described a recipe for plum cake. She is a great cook and a foodie extraordinaire, so I knew I had to try it. Sure enough, it was absolutely delicious.
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As you know, I can’t resist tinkering with recipes to suit my own tastes, so this is an adaptation on the famous plum cake recipe she sent me from the delightful smitten kitchen site – truly one of the best food blogs out there. I used our golden plums instead of purple ones, spelt flour instead of wheat flour to make it gluten-free, and some hemp hearts and a little less sugar to make it a tiny bit healthier (although not too little sugar – as I once learned, yellow plums turn quite sour when you bake them).

The only problem with the recipe is that the cake is gone in a flash. We enjoyed it the other night with my in-laws and everyone agrees it is already time to make more. I’ve got another one in the oven right now for our neighbourhood shindig later this afternoon and it smells so good.

Yellow plum cake
Serves 4-6

1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar (I used raw cane sugar), plus 1-2 tablespoons for sprinkling on top of the cake
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
8-10 golden plums, pitted and halved (I’m sure any kind of plum would be delicious)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add in eggs and then dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Spoon batter into a 9″ springform pan and top with plums, skin side up. Sprinkle the cake with lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon, and bake for about 45 minutes. So easy, so delish!

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July 25, 2015 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

This recipe for chocolate chip cookies is adapted from one of my favourite cookbooks, Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes, which I’ve referenced before for its awesome chocolate brownies recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 24 to 36 cookies

1-1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup white or cane sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups gluten-free flour mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
2 cups chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350F and grease two baking sheets or line with silicone mats / parchment paper.

Beat the butter and sugars together and then beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt, and baking soda and beat well, and then fold in chocolate and walnuts.

Drop the dough by two tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart (the cookies will spread out and flatten). Bake the cookies, switching the cookie sheets in the oven halfway through cooking, until they begin to turn golden brown at the edges and the tops appear dry, about 12 to 15 minutes. Don’t overcook if you want them to be chewy!

If you’re vegan or don’t eat dairy / eggs:

  • Replace the butter with the same amount of vegetable oil shortening plus two tablespoons of water.
  • Replace the eggs with two tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal mixed with six tablespoons of water. Stir the flaxseed meal and water together in a small bowl and let stand two to three minutes to thicken before adding it to the recipe.

October 23, 2012 at 11:36 am Leave a comment

How not to make plum pie

Do not think that you can just throw a pile of freshly picked plums into a plate pressed with pastry along with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon and imagine that a perfect pie will emerge on the other side. It will look beautiful, yes, and it will smell divine. But it will be SOUR! Your dinner guests – in laws, no less – will take a bite and then look at you with an expression that your husband helpfully calls “bitter beer face.” Your dreams of domestic bliss will be shot down once again.

Instead, use a recipe that calls for lots and lots of sugar. Or pour honey on top of each slice of the failed pie, along with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, to help drown out the taste.

Luckily I have about 10 pounds of these beautiful golden plums sliced up and packed away in my freezer thanks to the fruit-laden tree just outside the front door of my parents’ new place on Vancouver Island. I will try the pie again. You are all invited.

August 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm 1 comment

Blueberry pie

This is the pie I made for Thanksgiving Dinner this year. It’s adapted from Canadian Living’s recipe for Old-Fashioned Blueberry Pie. I’ve made it gluten free and added in more lemon and more blueberries. The overwhelming sentiment about the pie was, “Wow, that is a LOT of blueberries!” I used one and a half big baskets of blueberries that my parents picked up at Granville Island while they were out exploring, and it probably amounted to at least a cup more than what’s below. If you too want a gigantic pie with LOTS of blueberries, go crazy and jam them in there like we did.

In all three big baskets of blueberries came home from Granville Island. We enjoyed the rest with yogurt the morning after Thanksgiving dinner and then each had a big bowl of fresh blueberries for dessert that evening. Just plain blueberries – so good. The rest finally made their way into a coffee cake for breakfast this week.

Blueberry pie
Filling
6 cups blueberries
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pastry
2-1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon lemon rind
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cubed
1/4 cup ice water
3 tbsp sour cream
1 egg white

Mix flour, xanthan gum, salt and lemon rind. Using pastry blender, cut in butter and shortening until mixture is in fine crumbs with a few larger pieces.

In small bowl, whisk water with sour cream; drizzle over dry ingredients, stirring briskly with fork to form ragged dough and adding more water, 1 tbsp (15 mL) at a time, if too dry. Divide in half; press into discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

In large bowl, combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, flour, lemon rind, lemon juice and cinnamon; set aside.

On lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pastry to fit a 9-inch pie plate. Pour in the blueberry filling and then roll out the remaining pastry. I sliced mine into strips for a criss-cross pattern, which I find much easier than trying to transfer over a whole top sheet of pastry.

Brush the top pastry and the edges with a bit of egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the bottom part of the oven at 425F for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350F and bake until the filling is thickened and the pie is golden, about 35-45 minutes. I usually put a bit of foil around the edges and top of the pie so it doesn’t burn and gradually remove it as the cooking time goes by.

Let cool on rack and serve. Ours made enough for 6 generous helpings plus a big piece leftover.

October 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm 1 comment

Raspberry chocolate scones

In honour of Valentine’s Day, here is the recipe for my husband’s favourite breakfast scones – raspberry with bittersweet chocolate. Gluten-free, of course, and best paired with a steamy hot chocolate. What a good wife I am for making these for breakfast today.

1-1/2 cups flour*
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flaxseed meal or ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used bittersweet)
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together flour (and xanthan gum for gluten-free), sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and flaxseed. Stir in raspberries and chocolate chips, and then add yogurt and vanilla. Stir together only until the dry ingredients are well-mixed with the yogurt. Spoon onto a greased baking sheet and bake at 375F for 20 minutes or until scones are lightly browned.

*I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour mix. For gluten-free, also add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

February 14, 2011 at 12:18 am 3 comments

Banana muffins

Banana muffins were one of the first recipes I mastered in the kitchen when I was learning how to cook in my teens. The recipe came from a Canadian cookbook called Muffin Mania. I still own it; the pages proudly wear all the slops and spills of a well-used cookbook. My family loved seeing a batch of warm banana chocolate chip muffins emerging from the oven on the weekend, and I loved the fact that they loved what I was making. That feeling of mutual enjoyment between cook and eater was born with this recipe and is at the heart of why I find cooking such a joy, a true source of peace and comfort. (more…)

January 9, 2010 at 8:13 pm Leave a comment

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