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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, April 26, 2015

Brie and Jam Muffins

If you only ever make one recipe from my collection, this should be it. When I bit into this warm, decadent muffin, I knew it was a winner. Sweet and salty, flavors of both the jam and the cheese distinct, all I wanted was another. And another. Reviews from co-diners were positive. I'm keeping myself from baking another batch today because I'll just want to eat them. It's best to make a batch and share with friends, they're  delicious with a pot of Darjeeling tea. (And they reheat beautifully, too, 325 degree oven for ten minutes..)
If you want me to convert the recipe to wheat flour, leave a comment and I'll post the changes.

Sift or stir together and set aside:
1 3/4 cups sorghum flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg, optional

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c plain, whole-milk yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
Brie in batter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apricot jam
Cold brie cut into approximately 3/8 inch chunks. You'll need a dozen pieces, one for each muffin.

Make a well in the dry ingredients. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, combining thoroughly, scraping down the bottom and sides of bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and let rest for half an hour. This allows the flour to absorb the moisture and the muffins will rise better.
Jam and brie in batter

Stir the batter down. Fill ten muffin cups about 1/3 full, then push a chunk of brie into the each portion of batter. Spoon a scant teaspoon of jam on top of the cheese. Divide the rest of the batter between the cups to top the muffins, making sure to seal the cheese and jam as completely as possible. (Otherwise it will run out of the muffin.) Bake at 400 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes, mine were done at 23. Some of the filling will inevitably leak out; it's fine, the muffins will still be perfect.
Hot out of the oven, a bit of jam
has leaked and burned on the
pan. It's just fine!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fruit Crunch

Ready to serve
When I was little my mother had a friend who was about the right age to be her mother. Her name was Alice and we called her Auntie Alice, or more specifically, "Annie" Alice. I didn't realize it then but she was an unusual and amazing woman. She was vegetarian though we didn't know that word. We just knew she didn't eat any animals. In the winter she would ignore the mice in her dining room claiming that they had to eat, too. Deer grazed in front of her little cabin where she let the apples fall from the tree for them. She invited me to spend the night once when I was about six and we foraged for dinner; we found mushrooms, watercress, berries, and something that I always thought was milkweed pod, which was floured and fried in butter. I don't remember if it was the right time of year to pick milkweed pods but don't know what else they could have been. It was an unforgettable evening, from walking in the woods behind her little house, picking watercress by the stream, to smelling the mushrooms frying up in butter. We had the berries with cream and sugar, then watched the deer family quietly graze in front of the house.
For the topping

This recipe came from her. I've never shared it with anyone before. I'm sure it's something old fashioned and common yet I've never seen it served other than in our family. It's not a fruit "crisp." There are no oats or nuts in it. While baking, it forms a lumpy, hard, top crust with a soft, cakey layer underneath. It's heaven in a baking dish. And there was no time for a nice photo of it plated; another time!

 I used frozen peaches which were delicious but don't don't hold up well as far as texture is concerned. My mom always made it with apple slices and I will say that it's my favorite. But fresh peaches blanketed by this buttery goodness are wonderful, too. Or fresh, Michigan, sour cherries!

This version is specifically for gluten-free flour. If you need the gluten-full version, leave a comment. You may be the first person I share that version with!

Fruit Ingredients: About
3 pounds of apples or peaches, 7 or 8 of either, sliced into approximate quarters. If you use cherries or berries, I'd use about 1 1/2 times the amount you'd need for a pie. Combine fruit with
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar and about
1 1/2 Tb corn starch.
These are not precise amounts but should be a good starting point. (And I always say that if you have good ingredients you'll have a delicious, if imperfect, dessert. If it's soupy, vanilla ice cream saves the day.)

Grease or butter a 9x13 pan or one of equivalent size. The oval baker pictured just fits inside my 9x13 pan. You can always add a few more slices or pluck them out. You want the pan full since the fruit will cook down.

Stirring dry ingredients
3/4 cup of your favorite GF flour. I use sorghum for this. It's a healthy flour and only adds to the flavor.
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum or guar gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
6 TB melted butter
The "crumble"

Put the fruit that has been tossed with the sugar and cornstarch in the baking dish. (I usually bake this naked fruit mixture half an hour or so until hot through out and then pull it out of the oven and finish.)

Stir together the dry ingredients.
Break the egg into the dry ingredients and stir with a fork to combine. It will be crumbly. Use your hands if you don't mind getting messy.

Sprinkle the dry ingredient/egg mixture over the fruit. Drizzle the melted butter over the top. If using a slightly smaller baking dish, reduce the butter a bit. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, longer if you haven't pre-baked the fruit. This is best eaten the same day. Let it cool, at least a bit, before serving. Oh, I also made home made vanilla ice cream. Enough said.
Grandma's recipe
Almost ready for the oven

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

 I'm taking dessert to an Easter Sunday potluck. One co-diner prefers fruit desserts and another, chocolate. These brownies are for the chocolate lover. They have a hint of cinnamon and cayenne pepper, and just a little espresso powder to deepen the flavor. We'll eat them with home-made vanilla ice cream; does it get better than this?

please see notes at end

Melt together in top of a double boiler:
8 TB unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 tsp espresso powder dissolved in 1 TB boiling water

Whisk to combine above ingredients, cool until comfortable to the touch.
When cool, stir in:
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten

Sift together:
Whisking eggs and sugar into cooled
chocolate mixture
2/3 cup your favorite GF flour (I just used sorghum flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
cayenne pepper, from a pinch to 1/8 tsp, or more if you're brave

1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Add the nuts to the dry ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture, combining thoroughly.
Toasting the pecans
Pour into a greased and floured (I dust with cocoa powder instead of flour) 8 inch square baking pan, smooth the top, and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Check sooner than that, don't over bake. Cool completely before serving. I know, this is hard, but they really are better when cool. And I've found that the flavor develops after a few hours. They'll be good tomorrow, too!

I added 1/2 cup of toasted, chopped pecans. Walnuts would be great but I was out. Best when eaten fresh, they won't last long anyway!
Cooling; patience!

notes:  You  may omit the cinnamon and cayenne if you wish and make a traditional brownie. Nuts are also optional. You may skip toasting the nuts but I like the subtle difference in flavor it makes.
If you want a non-GF version of these brownies, leave a comment and I'll post the instructions.