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It's All About the Baking came about because I want to share my Gluten-free baking. I've developed recipes and tricks over the past ten years so I could enjoy old favorites that tasted, well, just like the old favorites! Hundreds of experiments and tastings (including and especially friends who can eat gluten) later, I'm ready to share!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cranberry Upside-down Cake. A real jewel!

Just look at the color! This cake is really beautiful. It's adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali and is on my list of regular winter bakes. I'm offering the recipe in time for Christmas and other winter holidays. It's a treat without being overly sweet, and the perfect ending to a family dinner or for guests who drop in for coffee. Serve it with whipped cream, rum added or not, or a rich, vanilla ice cream.

For the topping:
4 TB unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 bag of cranberries (3/4 pound)
berries, butter, and brown sugar
on stove top

For the cake:
1 cup GF flour*
1/2 c corn flour or quick cooking polenta or corn grits
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp guar or xanthan gum, or 1 tsp psyllium seed husk powder
1/2 tsp salt

8 TB room temp unsalted butter (Needs to be softened but not melted.)
1 cup sugar

2 eggs, separated, whites whipped (with pinch of cream of tartar) to stiff peaks with an electric hand-held mixer, yolks reserved. If you're short on time, skip the separating and whipping of whites and add whole eggs as the yolks.
whipping the egg whites

1 cup of whole milk
1 tsp vanilla

Process for the batter:
Butter bottom and sides of an 8 inch metal cake pan.
Over medium low heat, melt the 4 TF butter together with the 3/4 cup of brown sugar and the (cleaned and picked-over) berries. Heat until bubbly and the brown sugar and butter are combined and hot. There may be some sugar granules. Set aside.

If you haven't yet beaten the egg whites, do it now unless you're taking the time-saving approach.

Sift or stir together the first five (dry) ingredients.

combining flour mixture and butter
Cream together the 8 TB butter with the sugar and vanilla extract. Add the yolks one at a time.
Alternate adding the milk and flour mixture in two or three additions.

With a silicone spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter, but do not over mix.
folding whites into dough

Turn this mixture out into the cake pan into which you've melted the topping. Spread out and smooth to cover entire top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes, checking at 50. When done, cool on rack for five minutes, run a sharp knife around the edge, then invert on a pretty serving plate.

Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream, flavored with rum or an orange liquor, or vanilla ice cream.

* ATK flour blend, this is what I always use:
24 ounces (4 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup white rice flour
7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cups) brown rice flour
7 ounces (3/4 cup) potato starch
3/4 ounce (3 TB) nonfat milk powder
If you want to understand the science behind why this works, please buy the ATK cookbook.
out of the oven
It was delicious!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Banana Muffins

Sweet, moist, banana muffins! Always a treat and so many ways to make them. I don't worry too much about how many bananas I have to use and I don't go out and buy bananas with muffins in mind. The muffins are usually a result of having bananas on hand that need to be used. Try to come close to the measurement called for, but don't give up the idea is you don't have enough. You can always add some apple sauce, grated apple, a little yogurt, or milk instead. And a little more banana than called for is OK, too.

Please see the notes near the end of the post.

Preheat oven to 375
Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin papers

Sift, whisk, or stir together:
1 1/2 Cups GF flour mix (or sorghum, rice, or mixture)
1/2 C sorghum flour (or more of your favorite GF flour mix)
2 tsp baking powder
1 TB psyllium seed husk powder (or 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Chopped walnuts

1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts, stirred into the dry ingredients
Mashing the bananas

Beat together:
2 eggs
1/2 C brown sugar
1 1/3 C mashed bananas (2 - 3 bananas)
1/4 C veg oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mix thoroughly. Cover (to allow the flour to absorb the liquid) and let stand for 30 minutes. Divide among 12 muffin cups lined with muffin papers. Bake at 375 18 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Notes: I've made these with a combination of a regular flour mix (resembling a "regular" white flour) and sorghum. If you prefer baking with different, high-protein, high-fiber flour, feel free to substitute sorghum or your favorite mixture. This batter will be thick and airy after the rest time. It's OK. If it feels dry, stir in some whole milk or water, even yogurt or extra oil. The walnuts are optional; I like to add raisins or coconut or both to my banana muffins, the ones here just have walnuts. As usual, I use the America's Test Kitchen formula* (I recommend buying their GF cookbook!) for my flour blend using Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice Flour. These have 1/2 cup of sugar. My usual amount of sugar is 1/4 to 1/3. Lately I've been using 1/4 to 1/3 cup of maple syrup. Go with what you like. I don't happen to like overly-sweet muffins; I don't want them to be cupcakes.

*ATK flour blend:
Hot out of the oven
24 ounces (4 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup) white rice flour
7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cups) brown rice flour
7 ounces (3/4 cup) potato starch
3/4 ounce (3 TB) nonfat milk powder
If you want to understand the science behind why this works, please buy the ATK cookbook!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Lemon Cake

I really believe this cake may be the best I've ever made. Co-diners have varying opinions, but this is my favorite. It has a moist crumb, a dense lemon flavor, holds up well, and keeps a couple of days, too. The recipe I used calls for a cup and a half of blueberries, which are a wonderful addition in season, but the lemon holds it own in this cake. Serve it with or without the glaze; I like to add the glaze for a bit of dressing up. Today the occasion is a celebration of a friend's new job, so it's complete with blueberries and glaze.

In our eagerness to get the celebration under way, I forgot to take a photo of the cake, ready for slicing. So this photo is from another occasion for celebration; it fits right in! This time I added a tablespoon of poppy seeds. Still delicious!

Here's the recipe!
Whisking dry ingredients

1 3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cups butter, softened but not melted
4 large eggs

3 cups (13 3/4 ounces) GF flour, my favorite is at the end*
1 TB baking powder
1 1/2 tsp guar or xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup of sour cream
milk, enough to bring the measurement in the measuring cup with sour cream to measure 3/4 cup
1/3 cup lemon juice (this varies by the size and juiciness of the lemons, from 1 1/2 to 3 lemons). Reserve 1 TB for the glaze.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract or my preference, Fiori di Sicilia
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (optional but delicious)

Optional glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 TB half and half, cream, or whole milk
1 TB fresh lemon juice

Heat your oven to 350 degrees
Butter and flour a bundt pan, set aside

Juice the lemons and set aside

Folding in dry ingredients
In a large bowl, cream, but do not beat, the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one or two at a time.
Set aside

Sift or stir together the GF flour, baking powder, guar or xanthan gum, soda, and salt together to completely mix. If you're using the blueberries, stir them into these dry ingredients now. Set aside.

Combine the sour cream/milk mixture, lemon juice, and extracts, and whisk.

Alternating the flour mixture with the wet ingredients, begin mixing them into the butter/sugar mixture. If you're using the blueberries, do not use an electric mixer. Instead, fold the ingredients together using a silicone spatula or the cake will be purple-ish with bits of berry juice. On the other hand, you may like the lavender look!
 Please do not over beat.

Turn the batter, which will be very thick, into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes, checking for doneness at the 50 minute point.
When done:
Cool on a wire rack for about ten minutes, then loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a sharp knife. Put the wire rack on top of the bundt pan and flip, so the cake comes to rest right side up to finish cooling.
When cool, glaze with the lemon juice, powdered sugar mixture.

Sift 1 cup of powdered sugar into a bowl
Stir in 1 TB cream, half and half, or whole milk and 1 TB of lemon juice
Stir until completely combined, adding more liquid if it's too stiff to drizzle or more sifted powdered sugar of the glace is too thin.

I think you could use whole-milk yogurt for this cake, but I would not recommend Greek style. The batter tends to be quite thick and the Greek yogurt would make it too thick and dry.

Thank you, I'd love a slice!

* I always use Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice Flour for all of the flour in the formula for GF baking flour from America's Test Kitchen.
Here is their formula for the ATK flour blend:
24 ounces (4 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup)
7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cups) brown rice flour
7 ounces (3/4 cup) potato starch
3/4 ounces (3 TB powdered milk
If you want to understand the science of why this works, please buy the ATK GF cookbook.

Ready to flip


They say half a cake is better than none!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Plum Torte

It's not too late this fall to pick up a basket of purple plums from your favorite market. If you don't find the dark purple, or as my family calls them, Italian Plums, you may use any other kind. This cake is moist and dense, not overly-sweet, and bakes up quickly.

This is adapted from the New York Times, the article describing this as their most requested recipe! Smitten Kitchen has a similar recipe (also adapted from the times?). I used plums of various ripeness, from overly ripe to not quite ripe, and it's accepting of both.

It is delicious as soon as cooled but the flavor deepens if you can leave it alone, covered overnight. The flavor and juices from the plums will be absorbed by the cake. It's perfect for breakfast, too.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle. Grease a 9 inch springform pan, flour it and set aside.

Sift together and set aside:
1 cup Gluten-free flour or your favorite blend.*
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp psyllium seed husk powder or 1/2 tsp guar or xanthan gum
Sifting the ingredients
1/4 tsp salt

Cream together with a mixer:
1/2 cup (8TB) butter, softened but not melted
3/4 cup sugar. If your plums are not quite ripe enough, increase sugar to 1 cup

Beat in, one at a time
2 large eggs
Scrape down sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula and then
Mix in the flour in two batches making sure it's thoroughly incorporated. (You may use your mixer for this step.)

You'll need
12 plums
Juice of half a lemon
Cinnamon sugar

Creaming butter and sugar.

While the batter rests:
Split and pit approximately 12 plums and set aside.
Sprinkling with cinnamon sugar mixture
Ready for a fork
Push your batter into the prepared pan with a silicone spatula and smooth out the top.
Place the plums cut side down on the batter.
Squeeze or sprinkle the juice of half a lemon over batter and plums, then give the top a generous dusting of cinnamon sugar.

Bake in your 350 degree oven for approximately one hour, checking at around 50 minutes.

Cool for ten minutes, loosen sides of cake from pan by running a sharp knife around it, then release from the spring form. When the cake is cool, slide it on to a plate.

Finished cake, cooling

This is my favorite, all-purpose baking mix.

*ATK flour blend:
24 ounces (4 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup white rice flour
7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cups) brown rice flour
7 ounces (3/4 cup) potato starch
3/4 ounce (3 TB) nonfat milk powder
If you want to understand the science behind why this works, please buy the ATK cookbook. Having said that, I use only Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice Flour for both types of rice flour in this formula. This is a wonderful company and deserves supporting and this flour makes the absolutely best baked goods.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


It happens to everyone. You make an old favorite, a standard recipe, and it doesn't work. What? I just took a Zucocoa cake out of the oven and had to laugh. It failed! It fell! I don't think I've had quite this thing happen. I've gone over my ingredients and can't figure out where I went wrong. I get everything out before I begin the baking process and put each item away once I've used it. Well, I misjudged something because the cake doesn't have a mind of it's own. Did I forget the baking soda or baking powder? Did I mismeasure the flour?

I suspect that last one is probably it. I was in a hurry. I've had a busy day and was baking for a gathering this evening. And I'm running
on very little sleep. Still, I'm experienced at this.

Perhaps it's meant to be Zucocoa Brownies?
I'm going to taste it, and if it's passable, will glaze it with ganache.

Stay tuned for an update!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Peach Muffins, or The Most Delicious Peach Muffins Ever

Right out of the oven!
I wish that I could claim divine inspiration for these muffins, but inspiration came from Smitten Kitchen's post for Perfect Blueberry Muffins. With a few changes, these became The Most Delicious Peach Muffins. Ever. (Ask the co-diner if you doubt.)
Peaches are in season here in Michigan as September begins, and blueberries are not. I had some peaches reaching their peak of ripeness on my kitchen counter and had been dreaming of eating a sweet treat with a cup of tea. Within and hour we were happily enjoying both.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees; grease or use paper muffin liners for ten muffins.

Dice and set aside two medium peaches or about 1 cup
Lovely ripe, diced, peaches

Sift or stir together:
1 1/2 cups GF flour or flour mix*
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanathan or guar gum*

Peachy, creamy batter
Cream together with an electric mixer:
5 TB softened (not melted) butter
3/4 cup sugar
Add and beat in:
1 egg
3/4 cup yogurt (full fat preferred) or sour cream
3 TB half and half or milk

Stir the diced peaches into the dry ingredients, then fold in the wet ingredients scraping bottom and sides of bowl. The batter should be quite thick at this point. (This is where I let mine rest for 15 minutes or so which allows for the GF flour to absorb the moisture and will produce a better rise.) But you don't have to wait. 

Divide the dough/batter among the ten muffin cups and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, checking at the 25 minute mark.   

Cool slightly before eating. If there are any muffins left, slip them into a zipper bag or air-tight container and refrigerate. The moisture from the fresh fruit could cause the muffins to ferment or even grow mold. These are good ingredients; you don't want them to go to waste.

-My favorite flour mix is the one I put together with the recipe from America's Test Kitchen Gluten-free Cookbook.
-My rice flour of choice is from Anson Mills, which I buy online. You can't go wrong with any of their products. All of there products that are naturally gluten free, are milled or processed separately.
-Guar or xanthan gum: if you don't have either of these, just omit. Your muffin wil be more delecate but will be as delicious. You may use a tablespoonof soaked flax seen instead, or a tablespoon of psyllium seed husk power.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Scones. Flaky, Tender, Wonderful!

I love scones. Years ago, before Celiac disease, over the course of several months I worked on a scone recipe that I considered worthy, not just good for a "gluten-free" scone. Overwhelmed with Gluten-free baking, too many bad recipes and the availability (at the time) of inferior flours and mixes, I gave up the idea that a good, Gluten-free scone was even possible. As new versions of rice flour appeared on the market, I began experimenting with biscuits first. After all, they had been a staple in my baking for my family. Even as kids, my sisters and I were happy when our mom ran out of bread for breakfast toast because it meant a batch of warm, butter-smothered biscuits. Of course I had to reproduce them for my family, and that recipe was the beginning and basis for my scones. The GF buscuits we now eat are second to none, and the scones come in on top, too.

This recipe is one of three scone recipes I'll be offering. These are a little more dense and moist than my original version, and perfectly match one version of scones that some of my friends prefer. Next I'll publish my first, favorite version, and then the recipe of my friend, Richard's mother, who is Scotish and a school baker and nutritionist in Scotland.

The temps are were the low 70s the day I made these, a perfect day for warm scones and tea after the previous day's high temp of 90 degrees. They have a subtle lemon flavor but I'll write substitutions in case you don't like lemon. And believe it or not, some people do not! Ah, well, we all have our flaws.

I used the flour blend recipe* from America's Test Kitchen Gluten-free cookbook with my favorite rice flour from Anson Mills. I recommend buying this cookbook (it's on sale!). And please go to the Anson Mills website for beautiful photos, wonderful products, and unique recipes and ideas.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Recipe makes eight, good-sized scones
I never eat two
but I did today!

The Recipe
Sift together:
2 cups or 9 ounces of GF flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp psyllium seed husk powder**
1 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 tsp salt

Cutting in the butter
Into above flour mixture cut:**
3 TB cold butter (cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
2 TB shortening OR 5 TB butter or shortening

Then stir into this flour/butter mixture:
grated zest of one lemon**
3/4 C chopped pecans

Measured yogurt
Stir together:
1 slightly beaten, large egg
3/4 C whole milk yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice** (4 tsp for more lemon flavor) and 1 tsp vanilla extract, optional.

Pour the combined liquid ingreients into the dry mixture,
folding and cutting together with a silicone spatula. If you feel the dough is too dry (it will be thick and slightly crumbly) drizzle in whole milk or half and half a tablespoon at a time.

Once combined, cover bowl with plastic wrap or a plate and let rest for 30 minutes at room temp to give the flour time to absorb liquid ingredients and fats.

A pan in a pan
Next you'll need two baking sheets, placing one inside the other. This will prevent the bottom of the scones from getting too dark. Place a piece of parchment paper in the top pan and turn dough out onto the paper. Lightly pat out the dough into roughly an 8 inch circle.

With very sharp knife, cut the dough into eight wedges, pulling them apart slightly so they bake evenly. This will be a bit tedious as the dough will be soft. It's easier and just as lovely to drop the dough by spoon fulls leaving a bit of space between scones. Admittedly, my cutting wedges was an experiment that worked OK. I'll probably go back to just dropping them.
Dough patteted
into a round
Cutting into wedges

Bake in preheated, 450 degree oven for about 17 minutes. The tops will get well browned but check for doneness by pushing lightly on top. Best not to underbake! Let sit for a couple of minutes then finish cooling on a wire rack

Enjoy warm with a cup of tea or coffee, or glass of cold milk.

*ATK flour blend:
24 ounces (4 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup white rice flour
7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cups) brown rice flour
7 ounces (3/4 cup) potato starch
3/4 ounce (3 TB) nonfat milk powder
If you want to understand the science behind why this works, please buy the ATK cookbook. Having said that, I use only Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice Flour for both types of rice flour in this formula. This is a wonderful company and deserves supporting and this flour makes the absolutely best baked goods.

**If you don't have the psylliium, use and extra 1/2 tsp gum
**Use a pastry cutter, two knives, or food processor, which is the easiest.
**If you'd rather have pain vanilla instead of lemon scones, omit the lemon juice and use white vinegar or rice wine vinegar, and omit the grated zest of the lemon.