Help! Gluten-Free Coconut – Pumpkin Spice Cake, Delicious Disaster!

Anyone who spends enough time baking and cooking in the kitchen will occasionally have

kitchen_disaster

credit: 25andfly.wordpress.com

both minor and epic failures in what they are trying to achieve with each dish. Sometimes even dishes one has made dozens of times will turn out a failure for some reason or another. Fortunately even famous chefs have their  less than stellar kitchen moments. Julian Child, apparently lacking the courage of her convictions, famously failed in her attempt to flip some potatoes she was browning in a pan. Chef Emeril Legasse confesses to having “blown up” a pineapple-upside-down cake he was baking for a dinner. Knowing that the most skilled of chefs and cooks have mistakes helps to ease the pain of personal kitchen disasters a tiny bit; however, the time and expense that goes into making a dish, especially a gluten-free baked item, makes the failure an economic concern as well as drag on one’s ego. Finding a way to repurpose the failure into something successful (and edible) is a sure way for a cook to turn a challenging day in the kitchen to a triumphant day. Today, I’m having one of these challenging days in the kitchen, and I’m looking for help in turning it into a triumphant day! Continue reading

Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

IMG_3981At midnight last night, June 29, 2016, gave way to June 30th, 2016. In a continuing cycle set forth from time’s beginning, one day gave way to the next. Today, like the the day before, and the day before that, and so on, is a blessing. Each day teems with life and where life exists, hope exists, and in this hope resides blessing. Always. Remembering the blessing every morning is an important way to begin the day, even during times of negative stress (as opposed to the positive stress caused by such things as getting married, having a baby, getting a promotion). I once heard a priest refer to the burden of hope. Hope contains the idea that one’s life can be better, and the improvement may require action on one’s part. Introducing a recipe for gluten-free sourdough blueberry muffins by referencing such transcendent notions as blessings and hope may seem strange; however, these things are tangentially related. Continue reading

Home-Made Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Bars

August in Texas is hot. Just plain hot. At times when I run and see the

image of Texas from wikepedia.com

image of Texas from wikepedia.com

brown, dead or dying grass, parched plants, and cracked earth, I think of the words the narrator in Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Comes” imagines spoken by Nature:

No! penury, inertness and grimace,
In the strange sort, were the land’s portion. “See
Or shut your eyes,” said Nature peevishly,
“It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:
’T is the Last Judgment’s fire must cure this place,
Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free.”

Without trying to minimize the tone of despair expressed by the unnamed narrator in Browning’s poem, I do feel a sort of despair at the over-whelming energy, life-sapping heat of August. To get ourselves through the often steamy, always sweltering days of August, Phillip and I plan an October race somewhere in a cooler region outside of Texas. We plan this yearly October trip for two reasons: October is our anniversary month, so our fall race in a less taxing climate doubles as our anniversary celebration, and planning for the autumn trip and race throughout the summer adds purpose to the miserable runs we must endure throughout the scorching summer months. This year, on October 18th, Phillip and I will be in Bar Harbor, ME, running the Mount Desert Island Marathon. Whoo-hoo! The date is quickly approaching! Relief from the heat is in sight! We will feel very sad for our friends and family in Texas, who will still be suffering temperatures in the 90s as we are enjoying a much cooler climate in beautifulMaine!

Image from mountdesertislandmarathon.com

Image from mountdesertislandmarathon.com

In the meantime, Phillip and I are ramping up our miles and the distance of our runs. Continue reading

Variations On Coconut Flour Snack Cakes

Coconut flour is a wonderful, but unusual, substance. It’s wonderful in that it is a very nutritious, high protein food. In addition to its high coconut flour snack cake 6protein content, it’s an excellent source of copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and manganese. It also provides a respectable amount of folates, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, and potassium. It’s fibrous nature provides makes it a suitable replacement for the gluten in wheat flour; in fact, I use a little in all my baked goods as a replacement for the usual gluten-gluten substitutes xanthan and guar gums. Moreover, coconut flour is an excellent substitute for gluten-free grains, for those gluten-free eaters who want to remove gluten-free grains from their diets. Coconut flour is strange, however, in that it is so fibrous and absorbent that baking with it one to forget for a moment what she’s learned about baking in general, and about baking with gluten-free flours specifically, and approach coconut flour on its own terms. Because of its nature, a little coconut flour goes a long way. One cannot use it in the same amount she uses more commonly utilized gluten-free flours. When coconut flour is included in a recipe, depending upon the amount used, the success of that final baked product depends upon an increased number of eggs, and possibly liquid as well. Continue reading

Christmas Blessings In July, Part 2: Grain-Free, Gluten-Free Peppermint Bark Cakes

grain-free peppermint bard cakes 2A couple of days ago, I posted a recipe for the gluten-free peppermint bark cakes I made for my mother-in-law’s surprise Christmas-in-July 75th birthday celebration. I used grain flours in that recipe, so that the texture would be more familiar to those attending the party who are not used to the sometimes different texture of gluten-free foods. Personally, however, I use gluten-free nut and seed flours much more often than I do gluten-free grain flours these days. I believe grain-free flours are more dense with vitamins, good fats, and other nutrients. Even though dessert is, well, dessert, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be as healthy as dessert as can be while still being delicious (which means loaded with whole fat butter, raw sugar, and cocoa!). I remade the cakes yesterday, using almond, cashew, and coconut flours. It tasted every bit as delicious as the cakes I made with the rice, sorghum, and tapioca flours. I did make a little adjustment to the recipe, to accommodate the extra fat in the almond / cashew flours. I reduced the amount of coconut oil by 2 oz. Other than that, I used the same recipe I developed for the original cakes I made for my mother-in-law’s birthday party. Continue reading

Serving Up Breakfast: Gluten-Free Almond Coconut Granola Quick Bread

I’m becoming obsessed with Costco. I find grass fed beef there, as well as extra virgin coconut oil, avocado oil, Himalayan pink salt, granola quick bread 3Manchego cheese, and all sorts of inexpensive but high quality food items. Costco now sells Honeyville blanched, super fine grind almond flour, in 3lb bags, for about $18. For about $6 a pound, one can get some pretty nice quality almond flour. I honestly, truly love Costco. I love almond flour, too. It’s so nice to use for baking. Blanched almond flour is made from almonds, the skins of which have been removed by quick immersion in boiling water. The skins of almonds taste bitter; almond flour made with blanched almonds has a milder, sweeter flavor than flour made from almonds with the skins intact. Finely ground blanched almonds make the best quality almond flour one can find. Baked items made with finely ground, blanched almond flour are tender and rich in texture. What’s more is that almond flour is a healthy flour, high in protein. I use almond flour as the main flour in just about everything I bake these days – which brings me to the point of this blog post. I have a new bag of Honeyville blanched, finely ground almond flour (purchased from Costco, naturally) just begging to be opened and used. This past week I tasted some Gaia’s Light S A original flavor gluten-free granola for the first time. The granola packaging doesn’t mention what specific spices are in the granola, but whatever they are, they taste like Christmas. As I was eating the granola, I thought that mixed into almond flour, it would make a delicious, warmly spiced flavored breakfast quickbread. Continue reading