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Sunday, June 24, 2012

A GLUTEN FREE TEA PARTY, PLANNING AND MENU; RECIPES ON NEXT POSTS



 Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear
     I just had my first Gluten Free Tea Party.  Nine of us dressed up for the occasion with hats, lace gloves, fans and parasols; and we spoke with British accents.  It is likely that the English would be amused, shocked or even offended by our Americanization of the Afternoon Tea, but we had an irreverently grand time.
     The menu consisted of savory and sweet items and an assortment of delicious teas.
     In my next few blogs I will be posting the recipes for everything I made for the Tea Party. 
The Savories
   European Cucumber with Lemon Mint Cream Cheese
   Curried Egg Salad with Chutney Butter
   Smoked Salmon with Dill Cream Cheese 
   Waldorf Salad on Raisin Bread
The Sweets
Lavender Scented Scones with Clotted Cream and Strawberry & Plum Jams
Mini Tart Shells filled with Lemon Curd and Peach Jam
Fresh Strawberries with Whipped Cream
The Teas
HOT                                                      COLD
Earl Grey                                             Mint
Jasmine                                             Lemon Verbena
Peach Lavender Coconut
Chocolate
Blooming Flower Jasmine
 The Sweets
     I went a bit overboard with the sweets and would suggest omitting the Russian Tea Cakes and or the Brownie Bites if you follow this menu.
     It is difficult to find ready made dainty GF baked goods that are really delicious and as good as or better than regular baked goods.  For this reason I baked all of the desserts myself.
     The bread makes or breaks the sandwich. I bought a good GF Raisin Bread by Canyon Ranch and I made the bread for the other sandwiches. I love to bake and I love to entertain, so baking the bread was fun for me. I chose to bake a GF Challah Bread recipe that I have made before.  It is moist and delicious and is good eaten without being heated or toasted even if it is four or five days old.  It was easy to cut into thin slices with a serrated knife.  I baked the loaves two days before the Tea; cut off the crusts and sliced it the day before.  The sliced bread kept well in a plastic baggie.  I put the leftover crusts into the food processor to make breadcrumbs and froze them for later use.
     All of my guests (only one of which is GF) remarked about how much they liked the bread that I made.  Next time I will make the raisin bread also.  I might just add raisins and cinnamon to the GF Challah recipe that worked so well.
 Curried Egg Salad & Waldorf Salad Sandwiches 
Photo by Kathy Graves
 Crustless Quiches
 Smoked Salmon with Dill Cream Cheese Sandwiches
Lemon Mint Cucumber Sandwiches
   I asked everyone to bring their favorite teas and as a group we decided which ones to make pots of.  It was almost 100 degrees outside, and someone brought Stevia sweetened Iced Teas to share.
     Planning the Tea involved many details.  First of all I decided what kind of Tea Party to have. I researched about Teas on-line. Tea Time in England is when people will sit and have a cup of tea with a biscuit (cookie), scone, sandwich or some sort of light fare to tide them over until supper.  High Teas are a heavy substantial meal. There are Southern Teas, Children’s’ Teas, Morning Teas and Summer, Fall, Spring and Winter ones.  Afternoon Tea is more of what we think of when we say Tea Party.  You can make it as formal or casual as you like with savory and/or sweet goodies.  I think that you can make it whatever would be special to you. I decided on an Afternoon Tea that was a little formal with both sweet and savory items.
     After deciding on the date and time, invitations were made on the computer and sent via e-mail.  Depending on the occasion, you could do the traditional paper invites and mail them.
     Next I planned the Menu.  Again, I searched the Internet for ideas and recipes for teas sandwiches and desserts.  You will need 6-8 sandwiches per quest.  Each sandwich is the size of ¼ slice of bread.  You can cut them diagonally or into narrow rectangles.  Per 2 slices of bread you can make 4 finger sandwiches with my homemade recipe.  The store bought raisin bread was smaller and made 2 finger sandwiches per 2 slices of bread.  Some people use cookie cutters to make heart or flower shaped sandwiches.  I did not do this because it wastes quite a bit of the bread. GF bread is more expensive than regular bread and I also would have had to bake more loaves to make enough sandwiches for nine people and I knew I would be doing quite enough baking already.
Servers for Cake and Sandwiches
Photo by Kathy Graves
     I counted my teacups and saucers, teapots, dainty plates and serving dishes.  I asked my guests to contribute their Tea worthy things to make up for whatever I was lacking.  My friends were happy to get into the spirit of the party and eagerly collected their teacups & saucers, fancy serving dishes and pretty teapots.
Favor Place Card
     Party favors are a tradition I love.  I decided to give each guest a pretty porcelain teabag holder.  There are other tea themed favors such as teapot shaped tea strainers, tea bags, teacups, teaspoons, etc. that could be used depending upon your friends and your budget.  In the dollar store I found 9” circles of tulle, thin ribbon and tiny ribbon flowers in coordinating colors and I used these to wrap the favors.  I made place cards by printing out each guests name on colored paper that matched the favor wrapping and then attached the name tags to each favor.     
      Since I was baking so many items I made a list of what had to be done and organized the tasks by days of the week and started preparing food three days before the Tea.  Butter cookies keep well for many days, so I made them first.  I also measured out, labeled and put in plastic baggies all the dry/flour ingredients for everything else I would be baking later in the week.  By the day of the Tea only the sandwiches needed to be put together (sandwich fillings and spreads were all ready prepared) and the scones needed to be mixed and baked.  Scones take very little time to mix (especially if the dry ingredients are ready in a baggie), shape and bake and I wanted them very fresh for the Tea.
Place Setting with Menu and Favor
     The table was set a few days before the Tea.  I printed out small menus and put them by each place setting. I asked a friend to come early on the day of the Tea to help make sandwiches and set up the food.  
Homemade Sugar 'Cubes'
     Finally we all sat down to Afternoon Tea.  I made sugar ‘cubes’ myself by pressing moistened sugar into rose shaped candy molds and ice cube trays with small holes.  Everyone wanted to try them in their tea, so between the sugar cubes and the sweets we were all on a sugar high. We got quite silly, but this cannot be blamed entirely on the sugar.
     We enjoyed tasting the different teas and we ate a remarkable amount of food.
     All my guests really appreciated the detail and work that went into the party.  Rave reviews were received for all the food.  This may just become an annual tradition.
    We are talking about having a Southern Tea soon and each of us will make some of the food.  Corn bread, Mint Juleps, sweet potato pie...what other southern food can be served for Tea?   

Monday, June 18, 2012

GLUTEN FREE CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

This cake is moist and light and the cream cheese frosting makes it ‘eyes roll back in your head’ good. My wife loves Whole Foods carrot cake so I adapted their on-line cake recipe into a gluten free version and, though I also am not usually a fan of carrot cake, I really loved this cake. My friend Louise was visiting from Arizona when I made this. She raved about it and tells me she is anxiously waiting for me to post this recipe. My wife and I prefer desserts that are not overly sweet so I played with the frosting recipe and created a less sugary one.  I also use unrefined sugars in recipes to lessen the sweetness.  In this recipe I used evaporated cane juice crystals in place of the sugar in the cake and evaporated cane juice powdered sugar in the frosting.

GLUTEN FREE CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Ingredients

Cake
1 cup      
Unsalted Butter, room temperature- (1 cup=2 sticks)
½ cup   
Canola or Olive Oil
1/3 cup    
Plain Yogurt
1 ½ cups  
Natural Cane Sugar
1 cup       
Sorghum Flour
½ cup      
Tapioca Flour
½ cup      
Chickpea or Chickpea/Fava Flour
2 tsp.       
Xanthan or Guar Gum
2 ½ tsp.   
Baking Soda
2 tsp.      
Cinnamon
¼ tsp.     
Salt
4 large     
Eggs
1 tsp.      
Vanilla Extract
1 Tbs.    
Apple Cider Vinegar
3 cups    
Grated Carrots
1 cup
Chopped Pecans-toasted

Frosting
16 oz.
Cream Cheese at room temperature
4 Tbs.
Unsalted Butter at room temperature
½ cup  
Powdered Sugar
¼ cup  
Whole Milk
2 tsp.  
Vanilla extract

Directions

Cake
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray.
Toast pecans in oven.  Let cool and chop.
With an electric mixer cream butter and oil until blended.
Add yogurt and sugar and mix until well combined.
In a separate bowl combine flours; xanthan or guar gum; salt; cinnamon and baking soda.  Stir with a whisk until well combined.
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternating with eggs, adding one at a time.  Beat well after each egg is added.
Add the vanilla extract and vinegar and blend well.
Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated.
Fold in the nuts.
Divide batter between the two cake pans and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until done.
For cupcakes place batter in ungreased paper baking cups in muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.
Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or when cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
Remove from oven and let cakes cool in pan for 10 minutes until inverting them on wire racks to cool completely.

Frosting
With an electric mixer combine all the ingredients and whip until well combined and light and fluffy.

Frost the cakes and enjoy. Garnish cake with chopped nuts, if desired.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

GLUTEN FREE BANANA CAKE, WITH VEGAN, STEVIA SWEETENED AND DAIRY FREE VARIATIONS

By Bryna Bear

     This recipe has a rich banana flavor and a lighter texture than most banana bread or cake recipes.  I converted a regular banana cake recipe that I found on the Internet into a GF one. Roasting the bananas in their skins before using them in the batter is what makes the banana flavor so strong.
     My son is Vegan and I have friends and relatives who are diabetic so I have also made this recipe as GF Vegan, GF Dairy-Free, and GF Sugar-Free as well as GF Sugar-Free Vegan.  The recipe holds up well in all these variations and the cake stays light.  In the Sugar Free version I use Stevia extract powder and it is hard to taste any difference from the sugar version, though the batter does not rise as much.
     When baking with Stevia I have found that it works well in recipes where there is naturally some sweet flavor, as with fruit, in carrot cake or with dairy products.  It seems that with Stevia there is a delayed reaction and it takes a little time for you to register its sweetness.  If you have some immediate sweet taste, like banana, to carry over the sweet taste until the Stevia registers then the Sugar-Free recipe will be more successful.  Chocolate is bitter and when you bite into a chocolate cake sweetened only with Stevia you will be going "ewww" from the bitter taste of the chocolate way before you get any sweet taste from Stevia. This is not a pleasant experience, nor one I would recommend repeating.  With more sour or bitter foods it tastes better when you add some sugar or other sweetener as well as the Stevia. The sugar or other sweetener will have an immediate sweet taste that will hold you over until the sweetness of the Stevia can be detected.
     In this recipe I use pure Stevia Extract Powder.  Stevia comes in many forms.  The packets that are used in hot beverages contain fillers and should not be used in this recipe unless the amount is adjusted.  I have never used the liquid Stevia in recipes because I always am trying to reduce the liquid contents of GF recipes as the end product tends to be too 'wet' for my liking. Here is a link to a page that is very helpful in explaining how much Stevia to use to replace sugar in a recipe. Sweetleaf Stevia Conversion Table.
 GF Banana Cake (on Left) and GF Sugar-Free Banana Cake (on Right)

GLUTEN FREE BANANA CAKE

Ingredients
3
Ripe Bananas-mashed. For stronger banana flavor roast bananas with skins on (see directions below)
1/3 cup
Melted Butter- for Vegans or Dairy-Free use an equal amount of olive oil or melted Earth Balance Buttery Stick
¾ cup
Sugar - for Sugar-Free use ½ tsp. of pure Stevia Extract Powder
1
Egg – (for Vegans: in a separate cup add 1 Tbs. Corn Starch, 1/8 tsp. Baking Powder, 1/16 tsp. Xanthan or Guar Gum, ¼ cup Water and 1 tsp. oil. Mix these well together with a fork or small whisk until frothy.  Add to recipe where an egg is called for. This is a good 'egg' replacer in cakes.)
1 tsp.
Vanilla
1 tsp.
Baking Soda
Pinch
Salt
1 cup
Sorghum Flour
¼ cup
Tapioca Flour
¼ cup
Chickpea or Chickpea/Fava flour
1 tsp.
Xanthan or Guar Gum
½ tsp.
Cinnamon
1 Tbs.
Vinegar


Directions
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
 
Roast bananas in their skins for 20 minutes turn over and roast 20 minutes on the other side. If using ripe bananas bake 10minutes per side. Cool, then mash and use in recipe.

In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients. For Sugar-Free version add Stevia Powder to dry ingredients at this step.

In a large bowl mix butter or oil into the mashed bananas . Mix in the sugar (for Sugar-Free do NOT add Stevia to wet ingredients-add to dry ones INSTEAD), egg (or Vegan 'egg' replacer), and vanilla.
 
Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture and mix well.

Lastly add vinegar and mix in well.

Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cake is done when it springs back when pressed lightly with a finger or when a toothpick inserted to the center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack 10 minutes then remove from pan to cool completely on rack. Slice to serve.

To make cup cakes use paper liners in a muffin tin and bake for 20-30 minutes. Makes about 18 cupcakes. I use a 1/4 cup scoop to measure out the batter into the paper liners. Cup cakes are done when they spring back when pressed lightly with a finger.


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Monday, June 11, 2012

Meet my New Sous Chef Gluten Free Baking Bear Mini

 Gluten Free Baking Bear Mini   

I just did not realize how much work blogging would be.  I was baking and writing and worst of all, trying to figure out how to tag things and learning how to write in HTML.  Whew!  When I met GF Baking Bear Mini while out shopping I knew she was the answer to this feeling of overload.  She was right on board from the start when I approached her.  I spent a little bit of time making her the perfect apron and baking hat.  We are still scouting out appropriately sized baking equipment for her, but she is proving to be a great asset already.  She uplifts and cheers me no matter how things go in the kitchen.

This week we will be posting a recipe on GF Banana Bread, with Vegan, Sugar-Free (Stevia Sweetened) and Dairy Free versions.

Next week our favorite Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, with Vegan, Sugar-Free (Stevia Sweetened) and Dairy Free versions will be posted.

GF Baking Bear Mini is helping me plan a menu for a GF Afternoon Tea Party that we will be hosting next week. I can't wait to blog about the Tea Party and post the recipes.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GLAZE - INCLUDING VEGAN AND DAIRY FREE VERSIONS


Posted by Bryna Bear

Yesterday, by special request, I made this cake for a friend's birthday party.

I am a chocoholic.  My favorite cake is a dark chocolate one.  Converting an old favorite chocolate cake recipe into a GF one has been a challenge for me.  Sometimes the recipe was a success and then sometimes, even with the same recipe and ingredients, it would have a crater in the center.  The cakes all tasted great, but not wanting the giant indent, I decided to search the internet for a GF Chocolate Cake recipe that someone had already perfected into a crater-free success.  I found a great recipe on food.com: recipe #209764 by Queen Bead.  I made it as it was the first time and then I changed the flours and added coffee granules.  It has a moist texture, a wonderfully chocolate taste and a dent free result every time.

This recipe is also very easy to make into a GF vegan or dairy free version with excellent results.  I will put vegan/dairy free replacements in the recipe.

I have tried this as cup cakes, a 9" round and as a bundt cake (with the recipe doubled), each one has a great texture.

The Chocolate Glaze is easy to make and dairy free.

These cupcakes are made from the same recipe.

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE CAKE

INGREDIENTS 
1 cup
Sorghum Flour
½ cup
Tapioca Flour
¼ cup
Chickpea or Chickpea/Fava Flour
½ cup
Cocoa Powder
1 cup

Sugar (I use evaporated cane juice or other unrefined sugar for a cake with a not too sweet taste.)(for Vegans make sure that the sugar is vegetarian...*see note at bottom of post about this)
½ tsp.
Salt
2 tsp.
Baking Soda
3/4 tsp.
Xanthan or Guar Gum
5 Tbs.

Oil or Melted Butter (for Vegans or Dairy Free use oil. Olive oil or canola oil work well in this recipe.)
1 Tbs.
Vinegar (I use raw apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp.
Vanilla Extract
1

Egg (for Vegans: in a separate cup put 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp oil, 1 Tbs. cornstarch or tapioca flour, 1/8 tsp baking powder and 1/16 tsp. xanthan or guar gum. Mix together with a fork or a small whisk until frothy, then add to the batter where an egg is indicated.)
1 cup
Water or Milk (for Vegans or Dairy Free use water or soy milk or other non-dairy milk)
1½ tsp.
Instant Coffee Granules

PREHEAT OVEN  to 375 degrees.
Grease and 'flour' pan with cocoa powder.

Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a whisk.

Add all liquid Ingredients EXCEPT for the VINEGAR and mix well.

Add the vinegar and mix in well.

Bake in a 9" round or square pan lined with greased parchment or wax paper for 30-35 minutes.  
For Cupcakes use ungreased paper liners in muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes.
For 10" (12 cup) Bundt Cake pan, double recipe and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Cake is done when it springs back when touched lightly with your finger or when a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

CHOCOLATE GLAZE
INGREDIENTS
¼ Cup
Water
¼ Cup
Sugar (*For Vegans make sure sugar is vegetarian, see notes on sugar below.)
1 Cup
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (for Vegans use Vegan Chips, for Dairy Free use Vegan or dairy free chips)
1½ tsp.
Raspberry extract (optional) if you want a nice raspberry flavor. Add Orange extract for an orange flavor; Mint Extract for a mint flavor, etc. These three flavors work well with the dark chocolate flavor of the cake.

In a small saucepan heat sugar and water together until water is boiling and sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat. Immediately add the chips and stir with a whisk until smooth.  Cool until slightly thickened, about a minute.  Do not leave it to cool too long or it will set and thicken and won't pour.  Pour over cake to glaze it.  For cupcakes dip cupcakes into glaze and set on plate or rack to cool and dry completely. 

*ABOUT VEGETARIAN SUGAR
Many people ask what makes a sugar vegetarian. Sugar itself is vegetarian. Some of the refined white sugars (and even brown sugars) produced from sugar cane are put through a process that involves passing the sugar through charred animal bones in order to make the product very white.  After going through this process sugar is no longer suitable for vegetarians. Unrefined sugars, evaporated cane juice, sucanat, organic sugars and many others are vegetarian as they do not go through this process.  Not all white sugar is processed through animal bones, beet sugar is never processed this way. Whole Foods sells some white sugar labeled "Vegetarian".  To verify if your sugar is vegetarian, you may need to do an internet search or call the company and ask.

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