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Monday, April 28, 2014


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     OK, this is not the easiest dessert to make, but it is really amazing and worth the effort.  I suppose you could save time and use a pre-made pie crust and canned pears.  I understand that the French usually do use canned pears when they make this. I do however encourage you to make the Pâte Sucrée crust.  It is rich, flaky and delightful to eat in its own right.  I know because I baked the dough scraps and thoroughly enjoyed them plain.
     This is a classic French tart.  I based this recipe on one from Martha Stewart.  Frangipane is a custard or pastry cream made with ground almonds.  The filling puffs up around the fruit while baking and makes an impressive presentation. The vanilla poached pears perfectly compliment the almond filling and everything is just heavenly inside the crisp pastry.  

Makes one 9” or 10" tart

Tart Shell
3/4 cup Sorghum Flour
1/4 cup Chickpea Flour
1/4 cup Tapioca Flour
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/8 tsp. Sea Salt
4 1/2 tsp. Sugar
1/2 cup/1 stick Unsalted Butter - cold
1 large Egg Yolk
3 Tbs. Water - ice cold

3/4 cup/3½ -4 oz./94 gm. Almonds - blanched
1/2 cup Sugar - divided
1 large Egg
1 Tbs. Sorghum Flour
1 Tbs. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Almond Extract

4 Pears - firm & just ripe (Bosc, Bartlett or Anjou are best)
If the pears are too soft they will fall apart while cooking.
2 cups Water
1/2 cup Sugar
(You can use 1 tsp. vanilla extract if you don’t have a vanilla bean.)
Vanilla Bean Pod - cut in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out.
You will use both the pod and the seeds.
1/4 cup Apricot Jam - for glazing the pears after they bake.

First make the tart shell:
  1. In a food processor add all the flours, xanthan gum, salt & sugar.  Pulse a few times to mix the dry ingredients well.
  2. Cut the cold butter into pieces and add to the flour mixture. Pulse several times until it resembles coarse meal with some larger pieces of butter still visible.
    Pieces of butter with the flour mixture.

    Flour and butter after pulsing is done.
    Note the pieces of various sizes.
  3. Add the egg and pulse to combine.
  4. Add the water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing a few seconds after each addition, until the dough just hold together.
    Dough coming together in a ball after water was added and pulsed in.
  5. Press the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic.  Chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator or 30 minutes in the freezer.
    Dough disk wrapped in plastic before freezing.
Next Poach the Pears:
  1. Peel, cut in half and core the pears. I like to scoop out the seeds with a small melon baller to make a clean cut center.
    Peeled pears, one cut in half with stem and core being removed.
    Note how clean a cut the melon baller makes when coring the pear.
  2. Bring the two cups of water to a boil in a large (3 quart) saucepan.
  3. Add the sugar and vanilla.  Gently place the pear halves into the liquid and reduce the heat to a simmer.
    Pear halves poaching in the liquid.
    Note the vanilla bean pod and seeds in the water.
  4. Cook until the pears are easily pierced with a fork, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. Allow the pears to cool in the liquid, then remove them to a cutting board.
  6. If you like, you can boil the cooking liquid down to form a syrup that can be used to sweeten tea or to eat over waffles or pancakes.  
  7. Pat the pears dry with paper towels so that the filling will not get wet.
  8. Cut each pear crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Take care to keep each pear half together so that you can transfer the entire half to the tart using a spatula.  Set aside.
    Pears sliced crosswise.
    I forgot to pat them dry.
After the dough is chilled and the pears are poached continue:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.  Lightly butter a 9 or 10-inch tart pan that has a removable bottom. Set aside.
    9" tart pan with removable bottom.
  2. Roll out the pastry dough between two pieces of plastic wrap.  Roll the dough into a circle (13” in diameter for a 9-inch pan and 14” for a 10-inch pan).  Do not make the pastry too thin.  Fit the pastry into the pan, pressing the edges against the sides of the pan. Cut off the excess dough by rolling over the top of the pan with a rolling pin. Transfer the dough lined pan to the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.
    Dough, rolled out and pressed onto the bottom and sides of the pan.
    I kept the top piece of plastic on while pressing down the dough
     to keep it from sticking to my fingers.

    Trimming the edges by rolling over the edges with a rolling pin.
  3. To make the frangipane filling, first grind the almonds in a food processor with 3 Tbs. of the sugar.  Pulse until you have a fine meal. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter & the rest of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. About 2 minutes.
  5. Add the egg, vanilla & almond extracts, ground almond mixture and 1 Tbs. of Sorghum flour.  Beat until smooth.
    Frangipane after all mixed.
  6. Take the chilled tart out of the freezer and spread the frangipane filling evenly in the tart shell.
    Empty shell well chilled and firm.

    Frangipane spread evenly in the tart shell.
  7. Carefully lift each sliced pear half and place on the filling, large side of the pear towards the edge of the tart and the tapered end toward the center.  It makes a nicer presentation to evenly space the pears around the tart in a circle.  You can put a pear in the center as well, if you like.
    Pears evenly placed around the tart.
  8. Fan out the slices of each pear half by gently pushing and pressing the pear towards the center of the tart.
    Fan out the pears by pressing the slices up with your hand.
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the tart shell is golden brown and the frangipane filling has puffed up and browned nicely.
    Tart hot out of the oven.
    Note the frangipane is puffed up around the pears.
  10. While the tart is baking, heat the apricot jam until melted.  As soon as you take the tart out of the oven, brush the melted apricot jam over the hot pears, taking care not to get jam on the frangipane filling.
  11. Cool the tart, still in the pan, on a rack. 

    Tart with apricot glaze on the pears.
  12. When cool remove the tart from the pan by holding the bottom of the pan and allowing the rim to drop down.  Slide the tart, still on the pan bottom onto a serving plate.  If you prefer, you can use a cake lifter to gently lift the tart off the bottom of the tart pan and transfer the tart to a serving plate.
  13. For more decadence, serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
  14. The tart will keep covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Freeze for longer storage.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I am very excited to post this recipe. I was finally able to make a great Vegan version of my favorite GF Brazilian Cheese Bread.  Substituting the cheese and butter for vegan cheese and margarine or oil was easy and worked perfectly when using a real egg, but using egg substitutes produced gummy centers. I tried several egg substitutions and chickpea flour and water created the right texture in this recipe.  Some people suggest using 3 Tbs. of chickpea flour and 3 Tbs. of water to equal one egg when making breads.  This made a better texture than other egg replacers, but the dough was still too wet, so I tried 1 Tbs. of chickpea flour and 1 Tbs. of water per egg.  The dough was dry and crumbly, but I decided to just gather the crumbs and press them into balls and bake them.  It held together well when baked and the texture was like the regular Brazilian Cheese Bread recipe.  Success!
     My son, who is a wheat eating vegan, ate the whole batch in two days and asked if the recipe was on my blog. I told him that I would post it next, so here is the recipe.

Makes 11 rolls if using a 2-inch scoop


1¼ cup Tapioca Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tbs. Chickpea Flour
2 Tbs. Water
2 cups Shredded ‘cheese’. Use non dairy cheese shreds such as Go Veggie or Daiya. For Red Lobster type rolls use cheddar shreds for milder more neutral tasting bread use mozzarella shreds.  You can also use veggie parmesian cheese instead of shreds.
¼ cup Non dairy margarine-melted or olive oil.
1 tsp. Dried Herbs such as Parsley or Dill or herbs of choice.
If you use fresh herbs you will need to use more, 1 Tbs. or to taste.
(Herbs are optional.)
For Red Lobster type rolls use parsley.
½ tsp. Garlic Powder or Onion Power or Chives (optional).
For Red Lobster type rolls use garlic powder.


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a silpat mat or parchment paper.
  2. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix on lowest speed until there is no loose flour.  Increase the speed to medium and mix for 1-2 minutes. The dough will be dry and very crumbly, but will stay together if pressed firmly into a ball.
    Dough will be this crumbly, but will stay together
    when squeezed into a  ball with your hands.
  3. Measure out portions of the dough with a scoop that measures 2” across. Press each portion of crumbly dough together and shape into a ball. 
  4. Place each ball on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2-inches of space between each portion.  After baking the ball will flatten slightly.
    Raw dough balls.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops start to get lightly browned.
    Baked Vegan GF Brazilian Cheese Bread.
  6. Serve warm. Once cooled they get a little stiff, reheating will restore the original texture.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     A friend who knows how I love to have Tea Parties gave me a book called The Afternoon Tea Collection.  It has great ideas for small tea sized food with recipes and lovely photos.  I realized after looking at all the ‘slices’ recipes that ‘slices’ were the equivalent of ‘bars’ here in the States.  Even though the book is published in New York and made in China I strongly suspect that it was written in England.  As well it should be, since the British must be the experts on Afternoon Tea foods.  There is no author’s name to give credit to; too bad as someone did a wonderful job of compiling the recipes and converting them into US ounces and cups.  The metric measurements are also there.  Weighing ingredients and using milligrams is much more accurate and produces more consistent results than using ounces and cups.  I don’t know why we don’t switch to the metric system for baking at least.
     I never heard of Bakewell Slices.  After a quick google search I found that Bakewell Tarts are an English treat.  In the Bakewell Tart there is a tart crust with a layer of jam on the bottom and then a moist almond cake-like filling.  There is sometimes a glaze on top or sliced almonds and powdered sugar.  The jam and top have many variations. The Bakewell Slices are cut from a rectangular shaped tart. 
     Not being sure of how it should taste or what the texture should be I relied completely on the recipe in the book.  At many points the instructions went against my usual baking methods, but I did what the recipe said anyway (except for the glaze).  To my surprise I ended up with a crisp flaky tart bottom, a layer of raspberry jam, a moist almond flavored cake filling and a lemon glaze.  They all blended harmoniously together and were quite delectable.  When cooled the tart was easy to cut into small Tea sized cakes. Yum!

Makes about 32 small squares or rectangles

11 Tbs./155g Unsalted Butter
¼ cup/55g Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
¾ cup/90g Sorghum Flour
½ cup/66g Tapioca Flour
¼ cup/29g Chickpea Flour
¾ cup/90g Ground Almonds or Almond Flour
½ tsp. Xanthan Gum

¾ cup/240 g Raspberry or Strawberry Jam


13 Tbs./185 g Unsalted Butter
1 tsp. Lemon Zest-finely grated
¾ cup/165g Sugar
3 Eggs
1¼ cup/150g Ground Almonds or Almond Flour
2 Tbs. Sorghum Flour
1 Tbs. Chickpea Flour
1 Tbs. Tapioca Flour
½ tsp. Xanthan Gum
1½ tsp. Almond Extract

2 Tbs./30 ml Lemon Juice
1 cup/160g Confectioner’s Sugar
1 Tbs./15 ml Water

First make the Tart Dough:
  1. In a small bowl add the flours, ground almonds & xanthan gum and mix well.  Set aside.
  2. Mix the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add the egg yolks and mix until well combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture in two batched and mix after each addition.
  5. Gather the dough together into a ball and flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Next make the Filling:
  1. Combine the flours, ground almonds and xanthan gum in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well after each addition.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture until well incorporated.  Set aside.
    Filling all mixed.
Then put the Tart together:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
  2. Grease an 8”x12” (20cm x 30cm) rectangular baking pan.  Line the bottom and the long sides with parchment paper allowing it to extend 2” (5cm) over each side.
  3. Roll out the pastry dough between two pieces of plastic wrap until it is large enough to cover the base and 2-3” (5-8cm) up the sides of the pan.
  4. Remove the top piece of plastic and invert the rolled out dough into the prepared pan.  With the second piece of plastic on top of the dough, press the dough into place.  When the dough is evenly covering the bottom and partway up the sides remove the second piece of plastic.
    Pressing the rolled out pastry onto the bottom and sides of pan
    using the piece of plastic wrap to keep the dough from sticking to fingers.

    Dough pressed into the pan.
  5. Spread the jam as evenly as possible over the raw dough.
    Jam spread over the bottom of the raw tart dough.
    I will use a bit more jam next time.
  6. Spread the almond filling evenly over the layer of jam, taking care not to disturb the jam too much.
    Filling over the jam in the raw tart.
  7. Bake about 30 minutes.  The tart is done when the center is firm and the top is lightly browned. 
    Baked tart.  The crust did not have to go that far up the sides.
    Next time I will only press it about 2 inches up the sides. 
    If the tart begins to brown too much and the center is not set, cover with foil and bake until done.
  8. Cool the tart in the pan.
Finishing the Tart:
  1. Make the glaze by stirring together all the ingredients until smooth and spreadable.  Add a little more water, a few drops at a time, if it is too thick to spread.
  2. Spread the lemon glaze over the top of the cooled tart.
    Glaze spread over the top and now set.
  3. Allow the tart to sit at room temperature until the glaze sets.
  4. When the glaze is set use a sharp serrated knife to cut the tart into pieces of the desired shape and size.  I trimmed the edges (they were tasty) and then cut the tart into small rectangles.  You can also make small squares.  I suppose you can make triangles too or whatever shape you want.  The cooled tart slices very easily.  Be sure to lift the pieces with a spatula so that the crust does not separate from the filling when lifted.
    Slicing the large rectangular tart into smaller pieces.
    I trimmed the crust off the edges (and ate it).
  5. The pieces can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.  Do not keep in the fridge or the glaze will get runny.  For longer storage freeze the slices, wrapped well,  then thaw at room temperature when ready to serve them.