Archive for Bread

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

    March 15 was the day of the 2011 Soup Supper annual fund raiser for The Caring Place. Every year the best restaurants in Georgetown contribute gallons of their specialty soups and TCP volunteers donate cornbread and desserts. Aside from baking we also put on aprons and serve our guests who come to enjoy the meal.

    There is also a silent auction featuring some of the very nicest things from the in-house Fabulous Finds resale store. Clothing from the boutique is modeled to show off the incredible quality that can be found in that department.

    Once again I baked gluten-free cornbread. Last year I made one batch of scratch cornbread and one batch from a mix. The scratch gluten-free version was no doubt the favorite. So this year I baked two double batches of scratch cornbread.

    I made a test batch a few weeks ago just to be sure I would not mess up a lot of expensive ingredients and I am glad that I did. I found that the cornmeal remaining from last year, carefully stored in the freezer, had developed an ‘off’ taste. So every year that I make this I will be sure to buy a fresh bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornmeal.

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

    Astigmatism makes cutting straight lines a challenge so I got out my ancient, trusty forms ruler from data processing days. Yes, the little sticker has my name on it. Back-in-the-day Don and I had his-and-her forms rulers; definitely a geeky household here.

Cornbread Measured with Forms Ruler

Cornbread Measured with Forms Ruler

    It is wonderful how many people turn out to support this organization. By the time I gathered my few remaining wits together we were winding down, most of the cornbread was gone, but I did manage to snap a photo of Amanda. She was charming and cheerful throughout the evening and the time passed very quickly.

Amanda Serving Cornbread

Amanda Serving Cornbread

    We were wearing the yellow construction ‘hard’ hats to call attention to the fact that work has already started on the new food pantry facility at The Caring Place. Donation boxes on the tables were another subtle reminder.

    Those of us who work in the pantry are delighted that this construction has begun. We are also anticipating a better warehouse area for managing the storage of food and more efficient stocking of the pantry.



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Flax Bread with Variations

   Note: Jessica Meyer at ATX Gluten Free  is featuring Austin area gluten-free bloggers during the month of September. This week it is The Gluten-Free Edge  with Mom and Rita each telling the stories of our gluten-free journeys. As I mentioned back in April, Jessica provides an excellent service by highlighting gluten free options in Austin. In addition she is a personal chef who generously posts some of her tasty gluten-free recipes!

    Rita initially called this flax bread recipe to my attention. It is not the bread from your pre-gluten-free past because you probably never had anything exactly like this. But it is very tasty, satisfying and I keep baking some nearly every week. It goes together as fast as or maybe even faster than cornbread. You can find the original recipe by Kiva Rose at The Medicine Woman’s Roots.

Flax Bread Cooling

Flax Bread Cooling

    The ‘flours’ in this bread are ground flax seeds and nut meal so consequently it has a very coarse texture (fiber is good, right?). I have baked it in muffin top pans, extra-large muffin pans, a pie pan, and even a brownie pan. The batter spreads easily and bakes quickly. In the flat pans it can bake in 12 minutes.

Preparing Flat Flax Bread

Preparing Flat Flax Bread

    It tastes good toasted!

Flat Pieces Fit in the Toaster

Flat Pieces Fit in the Toaster

    The first time I made these with melted Earth Balance for the fat and a whole teaspoon of salt. They were so buttery tasting they brought to mind the old children’s story where the tigers chase each other around in circles for so long that they turn into a puddle of butter.

   So now I use less salt and substitute olive oil as the fat. You can improvise here with your own favorite herbs and spices. I keep thinking about making a sweet version but each time I go right for the savory. The garlic and oregano version reminds me of pre-gluten-free garlic bread. The sage and onion version are wonderful with soup and/or salad. Cumin and chili powder is another combination that I want to try.

    My current favorite is to make them in the Texas size muffin pans where they pop out like perfectly formed biscuits. Then I split one and fill it with a spoon of peanut butter or a small slice of cheddar. If I have time consuming errands on my to-do list I sometimes tuck one of these in my purse for a homemade version of ‘emergency food’.

Biscuit with Melting Cheese

Biscuit with Melting Cheese

Flax Bread with Variations – 6 servings
Dry Mixture:
2/3 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup nut meal (Bob’s Red Mill almond or hazelnut both give good results)
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1/2-1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup water + 2 Tbsp.

Measure the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add your choice of seasoning or leave plain.

Beat the 2 eggs together with the olive oil and water. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture in the mixing bowl.

Set the oven to 350*F.

Pour the batter into your choice of pan or divide into six muffins of about 1/4 cup batter each.

Bake for 12 minutes for muffins or 15-18 minutes for a small bread pan or pie plate. I usually have one biscuit warm and the rest go in the freezer to use throughout the week.

Remember to drink plenty of liquid!

Mom (Gretchen)

Happy Birthday to Rita’s Aunt Mandie aka my Baby Sister in Bryan, Texas!

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Poached Egg on Toast

   One of the breakfasts that Don used to cook on Sunday was poached eggs on toast. We didn’t have it often so when we did it was a real treat. In recent years I tried poached egg on rice cake, on cooked brown rice, on socca (a gluten-free pancake made from chickpea flour), on spinach, plain on a plate, and there was never a home run on the substitute for toast. There were some wraps I bake that are very close to toast in flavor and crumb but they do not soak up the egg like proper toast.
   This breakfast was one of the first things that I thought about with the sliced white bread from Faith’s Place Bakery that I was raving about earlier this week. Six remaining slices went into the freezer for future use and this morning one of them came out for the breakfast treat of long ago.

Fried Toast
   Homemade bread does not fit my toaster because it does not adapt to various slice sizes – the toaster is older than any of my children. I learned about ‘fried toast’ many years ago in Georgia at a little roadside diner. Friends and I had stopped for breakfast. As one of the ladies bit into her toast her eyes lit up and she exclaimed ‘fried toast, they made fried toast!’. This was explained as a very old Southern custom but it was not one I had heard of at that time or since. Even then it seemed exceptional.
   If you do an internet search for ‘fried toast’ you mostly get variations on recipes that call for egg and milk. Don also makes that version and we call it French toast (I don’t know why). There is an English video that explains how to make ‘fried bread’ with cooking oil which is very similar (as part of a ‘full English breakfast’). Wikipedia describes several variations of  ‘Fried bread’.
   But the Southern version of ‘fried toast’ is just buttered bread that is grilled briefly on each side in a skillet until it is as dark as you prefer. And that is how I made the toast for my poached egg. It didn’t take any longer than Don’s bread in the toaster. With the poached egg quivering on top it made quite a presentation. And don’t you know, I forgot to take a picture!


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Inspired by a recipe from The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O’Brien.
Taste tested and certified by people who can eat any kind of cornbread they want.
Certified as ‘very good’ by two people who usually do not like cornbread!

   Our Georgetown, Texas organization known as The Caring Place (TCP) provides a wide variety of services for people. They have a yearly Soup Supper fund raiser. Local restaurants donate hearty soups while TCP volunteers bake cornbread and desserts. I volunteered cornbread; not that I have ever been a big fan of any kind of bread for the obvious glutenful reasons. Gluten-free cornbread was my objective and for this I needed help. I had to enlist taste testers who know how traditional cornbread is supposed to taste.
   My first attempt seemed dry and even gritty. My friend Ann verified this for me. I was working with gluten-free, stone ground cornmeal which is fairly coarse. For the next attempt I decided to go all out and try also to target those who have dairy and egg allergies which meant searching for a vegan recipe. The one I chose specified ‘egg replacer’ and neither that term nor product has ever appealed to me.
   Flax seed and chia seed both form a gelatinous, viscous mass reminiscent of egg white when soaked in liquid. Some recipes are beginning to call for these seeds as the binder to use in place of egg. And both of these seeds contribute substantial nutritional benefits – my idea of what you should use in your food. As best I can tell right now flax seed requires three times as much by measure to bind like chia. Earlier recipes just called for the ground seed mixed with the dry ingredients. But experience is proving that preparing the seed separately in advance gives much better results.
   For the non-dairy ‘milk’ I prefer a mixture of my favorite almond milk mixed half & half with regular canned coconut milk. These combine to enhance the slight sweetness of cornbread and provide extra moisture that contributes greatly to the unique taste and texture.

Chia Goop (binder):
1 teaspoon ground chia seed
3 tablespoons water
Mix together in a medium microwave bowl.
Heat the mixture for about 30-40 seconds (just until it boils).
Set aside for at least an hour; longer is better.
It should be viscous like egg white.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
4 teaspoons GF baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup GF cornmeal

Liquid Ingredients:
1 cup non-dairy milk (1/2 cup almond + 1/2 cup coconut)
1/4 cup agave nectar (low-glycemic; provides extra moisture)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Oil a non-stick 8” square pan with the same vegetable oil used for the batter and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and blend with a whisk. Add the other wet ingredients to the chia preparation and whisk those together. Dump all of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour immediately into the prepared pan.

Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Test with a cake tester or toothpick to be sure. If you’ve done this before you can use the ‘touch test’. Cool briefly on a rack before cutting.

   I plan to pre-cut and wrap each serving piece separately to prevent cross-contamination with the regular cornbread. A package of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free cornbread mix will also be prepared. Gluten-free is very much in the news lately and this will be interesting to observe just how much demand there is for the gluten-free versions as opposed to traditional cornbread!


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The Bread Farm – a ridiculous true story

   Yesterday was one of those days when a long-ago, best-forgotten memory was triggered. And it was also a significant anniversary date of that memory.
   The trigger was a comment posted here by Sharon at Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking. The anniversary was the day I went into labor with my first child – that would be Rita. The memory was the kitchen disaster I perpetrated that my own Mom cleaned up the next day describing it as ‘The Bread Farm’.
   My paternal Grandmother, she of the chickens, home grown vegetables and homemade soap, also baked her own sourdough bread. I was allowed to ‘help’ and usually had a small portion of dough allotted to me for my own creations. Grandma was always patient and she narrated each and every step of the process for my benefit.
   At home I learned to bake from recipes. I used store bought yeast just as we also used store bought eggs and store bought soap never realizing the essential differences.
   So that fateful evening Rita’s Dad and I were at home in our tiny apartment. I was restless and decided there was time to make up a batch of bread before bedtime. I mixed it up, kneaded it, and set it for the first rising on top of the stove where the pilot light would keep it warm. The utensils went into the sink for cleanup when the bread went into the oven. By then my feet hurt and my back was really aching. I stretched out in the recliner in the living room to read but mostly dozed. And I completely forgot the bread and went to bed
   In the morning the stove was covered with dough and was running down the front and one side. Across the top it had turned into a tenacious brick-like substance. After Rita’s Dad left for work I started the clean up.
   Mourning the loss of that perfectly good batch of bread I had the bright idea of salvaging it by using the remainder to start another batch. Grandma always put some of dough in a jar with additional flour and water and put it in the refrigerator until her next batch. So I carefully made up my ‘starter’ in a mason jar, screwed on the lid, and set it in the middle of the breakfast table. In the meantime I was having terrible stomach pains but that had been the story of my life (thanks to no gluten awareness at the time). I just rested across the bed between bouts of pain and in between times chiseled away at the stove. I never finished – hubby came home from work and called the doctor. We headed for the hospital.
   The next day my parents arrived, Rita and I were bonding, the stove was still doughy, the sink was full of utensils buried in an ever expanding yeast glob, the lid on the mason jar had come undone, and dough was spreading across the breakfast table.
   That was what happened the last time I attempted ‘sourdough’. While sourdough sounds like a good idea . . . . . .

Happy Birthday today, Rita!

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Hamburger Buns!

   These wonderful buns were adapted from the recipe for Gluten Free Whole Grain Hamburger Buns at WHEATLESS & MEATLESS. I used tapioca flour instead of cornstarch and agave nectar instead of sugar (yeast likes pretty much anything that has calories to feed it). When I use egg whites and have no use for extra yolks then I pull out the dry egg white powder and reconstitute it. This is a great basic recipe however you tweak it!

   If you do not have access to great commercial gluten-free baked goods it is worth your time to have a few basic bread recipes in your file so you can stockpile your own goodies. Having some really yummy basic breads stashed in the freezer can bring a smile to your face when you need a mood lift.
   The first pass at making these buns was very rewarding as far as technique and the wholesomeness of the ingredients. Plus I inherited two muffin-top pans (remember those?) from my friend Lynn and put them to good use with these buns.
   Don cooked burgers, potato salad, and deviled eggs for dinner. Having a bun for my burger for the first time in years meant that I cut my potato portion way back but that’s OK. Bun, burger, mayo, and lettuce – that is a luxury item for us gluten-free people! The next day at lunch one of the leftover deviled eggs cut up and sandwiched in a bun was my first egg-salad sandwich in probably twenty years.
   Make these ahead of when you need them and when you also have the time to be patient with the yeast. Yeast can be cranky if you try to rush it. Bake these buns until they are golden. Allow them to cool completely and then wrap and use them as needed. Most of mine are stored in the freezer until the next craving overwhelms me!

Aren’t These Beautiful?

Aren’t These Beautiful?

2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons agave syrup or your choice of sugar for the yeast
1 1/2 cups water at 125*F

1 cup tapioca flour/starch
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 egg whites (reconstituted dry egg white works fine)

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds for topping (they do not toast during baking)

Oil your pan(s), dust with cornmeal (or not) and set aside. The cornmeal gives them a little bit of extra ‘finish’.

Toast your sesame seeds in a small skillet on the stove top or in a glass pie plate in the microwave if you prefer them toasted like I do. Be careful, they go quickly.

Preheat your oven to the lowest setting possible. Then turn off the heat. This should give you a safe warm place for the buns to rise. It keeps the curious at bay (husband, children, cats, etc.)

Whisk your sugar, water and yeast in small bowl. Mix salt, xanthan gum, flours on low in your mixing bowl. Mix the egg whites, oil and vinegar in a medium bowl. When the yeast mixture is foamy, add it to the flour mixture. Then add the egg white mix to the flour and yeast. Turn on the mixer and process the batter on medium speed for four minutes. It will most likely ‘climb’ your mixer beaters so have a spatula handy to push it back down if necessary. Scoop batter, 1/3 cup per bun, and place on or into your pans.

Dip a spatula in water and use it to smooth and shape the tops of your buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover and let rise to double in a safe warm place. Remove the buns briefly from the oven until you can raise the oven heat up to 350*F. Return the buns to the oven and bake for about 20- 30 minutes (all ovens bake differently). Keep an eye on them as the time gets close. They should be golden and toasty but not at all dark. Makes approximately 12 buns (these were four inches in diameter).

Split them with a sharp serrated knife and pile on the fillings and spreads of your choice!


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Sweet Potato Biscuits

   The last of the sweet potatoes from the Gilmer, TX Sweet Potato Festival was calling me from the refrigerator even as I was cruising the net looking at recipes. I happened to pass by a recipe for sweet potato biscuits that was a bit spicy and served up with orange marmalade. I knew that my son-in-law would go for that. But that recipe said to just add mashed sweet potato to your regular biscuit recipe. And you know that gluten-free is not a regular recipe.
   So then I searched for gluten-free sweet potato biscuit recipe and found this one at Gluten A Go Go which I then adapted to my blend of flours and ingredients on hand (don’t we all?). What resulted was so good I immediately called Rita to tell her that I had only baked one test biscuit and that the other 11 were frozen and waiting for Christmas for her and David to arrive here in Texas!

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt (you might prefer less)
(pinch of red pepper – tiny, tiny pinch)
1 teaspoon evaporated cane juice
3/4 cup Earth Balance margarine and/or solid coconut oil
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
1/3 cup coconut milk (regular, not light)
2 teaspoon ground chia seed, dissolved in the coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and blend.
Add the shortening (I only had 1/4 cup Earth Balance; the remaining 1/2 cup was solid coconut oil) to the dry mixture and cut it in until the mixture looks like crumbs. Stir in the mashed sweet potato. Then slowly add the coconut milk/chia seed mixture and blend until you have a cohesive ball of dough.

Scoop balls of dough on to the baking sheet using a 1/4 cup measure. Pat them into biscuit shape. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: The brown sugar is for flavor and I didn’t feel like messing with the bag for just one tteaspoon. So I substituted a teaspoon of that liquid brown sugar flavoring; dark rum. There is no sugar and the alcohol and calories bake right out.

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