Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Agave Holiday Cookies

It's holiday time, and with Christmas just around the corner, the baking has begun. We have several ingredient issues in our family; This Sister can't eat sugar, That Son can't eat dairy, This Blogger can't eat gluten, soy, or dairy, and it wouldn't hurt her to avoid sugar as well. SO, when my friend asked if I had a sugar free sugar cookie recipe that she could make with her grandkids, I was more than motivated to see what I could find. 

I scoured all my allergy-friendly cookbooks before turning to my new Almond Flour (by Beverly Lynn Bennett) cookbook. With some tweaking, Cut-Out Sugar Cookies has become "Agave Holiday Cookies". They are good plain, with frosting, with a dusting of sugar sprinkles (that and frosting kind of defeat the purpose... but...) and with a candy cane window. They roll out well, and bake up nicely. If you, or someone you love, has dietary issues, I'd encourage you to try these cut-out cookies. 

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Becel Vegan margarine
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot starch and salt. With a silicone spatula, mix in margarine, agave nectar and vanilla. Mix well. When all ingredients are well combined, divide into 2 parts and wrap each with plastic wrap. Refrigerate about an hour to chill.

Meanwhile, cover your cutting board over with plastic wrap and preheat the oven to 325*F. When dough is chilled, place half at a time on wrapped cutting board, cover with a second large piece of plastic wrap and roll between the plastic with a rolling pin to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. Make shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet with a flat silicone lifter. Decorate with coloured sprinkles, raisins or nuts if desired.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness, until light golden brown. Let stand on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes before removing to wire cooling rack to finish cooling.

* To make candy cane windows, cut a smaller shape in the centre of a large cut-out cookie. Fill the smaller shape with crushed candy canes or crushed clear, coloured hard candy. Fill the window generously as the candy shrinks when melted. Bake as directed above.



Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Coconut Cookies

My Mom made some (apparently) really good coconut cookies that I was supposed to get the recipe for.  When I went to try making them, I decided to go for a gluten-dairy-free version to see if He-Who-Requested-The-Cookies would notice.  They turned out pretty good, but not as good, of course, as the wheat flour/buttery biscuits. The second time around I tried a few things, and came up with a much better cookie than my first attempt.  It's a flaky, rich biscuit with big coconut flavour, and no dairy, no gluten. I'm interested in trying them with agave nectar instead of sugar... I'll let you know how that goes if I get around to it. These are seriously nice cookies. All the taste testers agree that you'd never know they were allergy friendly. If you don't have xanthan gum (or guar gum)on hand, I'd try without it. I feel like they might hold together just fine without the added gum. 

1 cup coconut oil, unmelted; chipped and packed into measuring cup
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup coconut
1 cup oatmeal

Mix coconut oil together with sugars, egg and vanilla until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix until mixture holds together. It should be a little sticky, but not too sticky, and not too stiff. (*if it feels too sticky, and if a test cookie doesn't hold it's shape/spreads way out, add a little more oatmeal and coconut flour- equal amounts, a Tbsp at a time.) 

Make 1 Tbsp balls of dough, and space them out on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. To be allergy-safe, I use parchment paper. Flatten cookie balls with a fork, and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar. Bake at 350*F for 10 minutes. Let rest on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool  completely. Store in a sealed bag or container.

Made 3.5 dozen cookies. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hot Cross Muffins

A delicious take on Easter's Hot Cross Buns that's adapted from the Company's Coming Mostly Muffins cookbook. If you love hot cross buns but don't have the time or inclination to bake them, you should check out the Mostly Muffins cookbook and bake up a batch of  Spiced Fruit Muffins. If you can't tolerate gluten or dairy, give this adapted recipe a try. If you like hot cross buns you will like these muffins. If you've been missing the joy of hot cross buns because of food intolerance, I promise you will LOVE these muffins. 

1 1/3 cups gluten-free, all-purpose flour blend
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp each nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves
1 large egg
1 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup dark raisins or currants
1/2 cup chopped mixed glazed fruit

Measure all dry ingredients into a medium/large bowl. Stir together with a wire whisk. Add egg, milk and oil. Whisk together vigorously for several minutes until very well incorporated and smooth. Stir in raisins and glazed fruit. Let stand for 1/2 hour.

Heat oven to 350*F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Divide batter between lined cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are browned and a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Let stand a few minutes then move to wire rack to cool completely before adding icing crosses.

ICING

Mix 1/2 cup icing sugar, 2 tsp non-dairy milk and 1/8 tsp vanilla together to make a smooth paste. Spoon it into a small freezer bag; snip a small hole in one corner and squeeze icing to/through the hole to pipe crosses onto the cooled muffins.

Makes 10-12 muffins.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Toasted Walnut Cake

Apparently I'm not done with my Company's Coming "Baking: Simple to Sensational" cookbook. I've been using it to adapt recipes for gluten and dairy free desserts lately. This Toasted Walnut Cake turned out beautifully! I might add raisins to it next time, since my Other Half doesn't like walnuts and didn't help me eat this. I did a half batch of the original recipe and used my bundt pan for baking. I used the full glaze recipe, but I'll convert it here. (feel free to double the glaze recipe here.) I did find the glaze a bit thick, so I added hot water to make it a little more runny. I think it would work in an 8 or 9 inch square pan; you might have to bake it a little longer, but it should work. Just drizzle the glaze all over the top. Enjoy!


1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup Canola oil
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted*

Maple Glaze
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp Becel Vegan margarine
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 cup maple (or maple flavoured) syrup

1-2 Tbsp chopped walnuts, toasted

In medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and sugars. Add milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Whisk together really well, until thoroughly blended and your arm starts to get a little tired. Stir in walnuts. Let stand for 30 minutes.

While batter is standing, grease  a bundt or small angel food tube pan and preheat the oven to 350*F.

After 30 minutes, spread batter evenly in pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let stand in pan on wire until the pan is cool,  then gently ease cake out of pan onto wire rack to continue to cool.

Mix up all glaze ingredients together until smooth. (If too thick, add a little hot water. ) Drizzle glaze over top of cake, allowing some to drip down sides. Immediately sprinkle with second amount of walnuts. Let stand until glaze is set.

*You can toast the walnuts in the oven, spread evenly in ungreased shallow pan at 350*F for 5-10 minutes, stirring or shaking often, until lightly browned and fragrant, OR you can toast them on the stove in a skillet/frying pan or saucepan, likewise stirring and/or shaking them. Toast all 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp together, reserving out the smaller amount for garnish.

The "Minus 1/3" Gluten Free Baking Solution

I've discovered a four-part trick to easily convert regular muffin, quick bread and cake recipes:

1. Remove 1/3 of the required amount of regular all-purpose flour and substitute an all-purpose gluten free flour blend.
2. Add 1/4-1/2 tsp xanthan gum, if it's not already in your flour blend (I generally do 1/2 tsp per cup of flour)
3. Beat the batter to death (opposite of normal quick breads and muffins)
4. Let the batter stand for 30 minutes before filling muffin tins/cake pans

Mixing the batter up and letting it stand for half an hour allows the gluten free flours to absorb the liquid. As the flours are absorbing the liquid, the batter gets thicker, so it makes sense to reduce the amount of flour used. I've had success with this formula for numerous muffin recipes, for banana bread, pancakes and waffles. Also a chiffon cake, surprisingly. The baked food is noticeably less "dry/ grainy" than previously, and it doesn't dry out as quickly- lasting several days longer than usual.

These pancakes worked, these Cranberry Orange Muffins, (using 2/3 cup + 1/4 cup GF flour blend) and Blueberry or Chocolate Chip Muffins, (2/3 cup GF flour).

The secret seems to be reducing the flour, really beating the batter and then letting it rest for half an hour.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Gluten and Dairy Free Baking Powder Biscuits

I just tried Baking Powder Biscuits using this formula. Success! They didn't brown very well, but they had a good biscuit texture, didn't taste at all "grainy/dusty" and were delicious with the hamburger soup I made for supper. 

1 1/3 cups Gluten Free flour blend
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup Canola oil*

Measure flour blend, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum into a medium sized bowl. Whisk together until well blended. Add milk and oil. Beat with a whisk or rubber tipped spatula until very smooth and dry ingredients are well incorporated. Batter will seem too runny, but let it stand for 30 minutes, and the flours will absorb the liquid, making it thicker. Set the oven to 350* F. After a 30 minute rest, drop batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet into 9 mounds.  Smooth and shape the batter mounds (with a spoon or fingers dipped in cold water) and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the tops are firm and slightly browned. The biscuits didn't get as golden brown as traditional/wheat flour biscuits, but they had a good texture and tasted quite delicious.

To turn these into "scones", add 1/4-1/3 cup sugar to the dry ingredients, brush the tops of the biscuit rounds with almond milk and sprinkle with sugar. The dough can also be formed into one large round, brushed with almond milk, sprinkled with sugar and scored with a knife into 6-8 pie shaped wedges to create more traditional scones. 

*I've also used Becel Vegan Margarine with good results. Biscuits were pretty much the same with the vegan margarine as they were with the oil, so I've been using oil as it's less expensive than the margarine, choosing to save the margarine for eating on the biscuits.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Gluten, Diary, Soy Free Banana Cake With Cream Cheese Icing

This is the Banana Cake recipe from the Purity Cook Book- mine is a lovely copy I found at a second hand bookstore a few years back. I've employed the "normal recipe minus 1/3 of the flour" technique, increased the amount of mashed banana so the oil and sugar can be reduced a bit, and discovered the glories of Daiya non-dairy cheese! It's a delicious cake and it keeps well in the fridge for about a week. No one will know it's gluten and dairy free. Enjoy!

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups gluten-free flour blend
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 well beaten eggs
1/4 cup non-dairy milk soured with 1 tsp vinegar/cider vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk/beat together the wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry, and beat together until completely incorporated and very well mixed. Let stand for 30 minutes, (batter may seem runny, but as it stands the flours will absorb the liquid and it will get thicker).

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350*F and lightly grease or line with parchment paper, one 9" square pan or two 8"round layer pans. (I found the 9" square pan made a very high cake. I preferred the height I got using a 9 x 13" baking pan.).

After 30 minutes, pour/divide batter into pan(s). Bake for 50-55 minutes for a square/rectangle cake, 30-35 minutes for a layer cake. Test for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the middle. Cake is done when the toothpick comes out clean, cake bounces back when lightly touched and is nicely browned.

Let cool completely before removing from pans and frosting.

Faux Cream Cheese Frosting:

3 oz (which is 125g/@1/2 cup)  Daiya Plain Cream Cheese Style Spread
1/4 cup  Becel Vegan Margarine (or other non-dairy butter-like spread)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups icing sugar

Beat together until smooth, creamy and of spreadable consistency. Spread evenly over cake, or between layers and on top.