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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

GLUTEN FREE RED GRAPE POLENTA CAKE

Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I sent my wife to the store for a pound of grapes.  I did not weigh them, but I suspect that there were way more then a pound.  This was a perfect opportunity to bake something using red grapes.  I found a recipe on FineCooking.com that looked good.  I converted it into a gluten free version and it turned out great. 
     The cake is very moist with a hint of a cornbread taste.  The grapes give small bursts of flavor that are like tiny pockets of gourmet grape jelly hidden randomly inside the cake.  It is quite delicious.
     Though I did read the recipe before I started to bake, I got interrupted a few times and did not mix up the batter as per the instructions.  I added the sugar to the oil instead of the eggs and then decided to just add the eggs to the oil and sugar and mix it all together until light in color. (Instead of mixing the egg and sugar alone until light in color and then adding the oil.)  The cake texture was good, it rose well and no sink hole.  It did take longer than recommended to bake, but it could be my oven ( I am still not used to the one in my new place).  To prevent excessive browning, I would suggest covering the cake with foil if you need to bake it longer than recommended.
     The original recipe used all extra virgin olive oil in the cake.  My EVVO has a very strong flavor and I decided to use half EVVO and half canola oil which is neutral tasting.  I am glad I did because it would have been overwhelming for me if the olive oil taste was any stronger than it came out with my diluted version.
     I am very happy that decided to bake this cake with my extra grapes, it is so yummy.
    


GLUTEN FREE RED GRAPE POLENTA CAKE
Makes one 9-inch round cake.

Ingredients
½ cup
Sorghum Flour
¼ cup
Chickpea Flour
¼ cup
Tapioca Flour
½ cup
Yellow Corn Meal
½ tsp
Xanthan Gum
2 tsp
Baking Powder
¼ tsp
Sea Salt
2 large
Eggs
cup
Sugar
¼ cup
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup
Canola Oil
cup
Milk or Dairy Free Milk of choice
1 tsp
Vanilla Extract
1 tsp
Lemon Zest - finely grated
1 ¾ cups/10 ounces)
Red Grapes - washed and dried

Directions
1)    Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by greasing it.  I lined mine with a cake cardboard (that I greased) so that I could transfer the cake easily off of the bottom of the springform pan and onto a serving plate.
A greased 9-inch springform pan with a cake cardboard on the bottom.
The cake cardboard makes transferring the cake to a serving plate easier.
2)    In a small bowl add the flours, salt, baking powder and xanthan gum and whisk together well.  Set aside.
Dry ingredients mixed well with a whisk.
3)    In the bowl of a stand mixer add the sugar and eggs and beat on medium speed until light in color. (I accidentally added the sugar to the oil, so I just mixed the oil, eggs and sugar all together until light in color. If you actually follow the instructions from the original recipe it might come out even better than mine.)
4)    Add the oil by streaming it into the egg mixture while the mixer is running on low speed. After all the oil has been added turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix for a minute.
Egg mixture light in color.
5)    Add the milk and lemon zest and mix on low until blended.
6)    Add the flour, ½ cup at a time and mix in on low speed after each addition until all the flour is incorporated.  Mix on low speed for another two minutes.
7)    Add half of the grapes and fold into the batter by hand.
Batter with half the grapes folded in by hand.
8)    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.
Batter in the pan.
9)    Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and top the cake with the rest of the grapes, distributing them as evenly as possible over the cake.
Cake after 10 minutes of baking.

The partially baked cake with the remaining grapes scattered over the top.

10) Return the cake to the oven and bake an additional 40 minutes.  (Mine took 60 minutes.  I topped the cake loosely with foil during the additional 20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.)  The cake is done when a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or when the center of the cake springs back when pressed lightly with a finger.
Baked cake cooling in the pan.
11) Cool the cake in the pan.  When cool, run a knife around the edge of the cake and loosen the rim of the springform pan.  If you baked the cake on a cake cardboard you can easily lift the cake onto a serving dish.  If you did not use a cake cardboard you can transfer the cake, still on the bottom of the springform pan, to a plate for serving.
12) The cake will keep at room temperature for 3 days.

Friday, October 16, 2015

GLUTEN FREE VEGAN BANANA CAKE

Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     My son lives in another state and we get together about once a month.  In miles we are not very far (if only we had a helicopter), but in traffic we are between 1½ and 3 hours away.  I knew he was coming to drop off my grandson for a week of babysitting.  I decided to bake something for him.  He is a vegan and I had four over ripe bananas.  Banana cake was inevitable.
     Vegan baking, like gluten free baking has its challenges and tricks.  It is doubly difficult to combine both vegan and GF ingredients when baking.  I find it best to use an already vegan recipe and convert it into a gluten free one rather than to take a gluten free recipe and convert it into a vegan one.  Replacing eggs in a cake can be challenging and often may require more than one try.  I did not have the time to experiment so I found a vegan recipe on Food.com and made it GF.  I like using recipes from this site because there are many comments and reviews that are very helpful and insightful.  Reviewers offer tips on how they had to change up the recipe and good feedback about the recipe results. 
    This cake has a great flavor and is moist with a slightly dense texture.  It was very easy and simple to mix up the batter.  My son loved it and so did everyone else who tried it.  This recipe is a keeper.  It will work well to make a vegan version of my Thomas Quinn’s Favorite Cake recipe.



GLUTEN FREE VEGAN BANANA CAKE
Makes one 9-inch square cake.

Ingredients
1 cup
Sorghum Flour
½ cup
Chickpea Flour
½ cup
Tapioca Flour
½ tsp
Xanthan Gum
2 tsp
Baking Soda
½ tsp
Sea Salt
1 cup
Sugar
¼ cup
Oil - mild tasting like canola
4 ripe/1  cup
Bananas - mashed
¼ cup
Water
1 tsp.
Vanilla Extract (I used ½ tsp butter vanilla emulsion and ½ tsp vanilla extract)
½ cup
Chopped Walnuts or Pecans - optional
½ cup
Chocolate Chips - optional

Directions
1)    Preheat the oven to 350.  Prepare a 9-inch square pan by greasing it or lining it with parchment paper.
2)    In a small bowl add the flours, salt, xanthan gum and baking soda.  Mix well with a whisk and set aside.
3)    In a large bowl add the sugar and oil and mix together.  Add the mashed bananas, water and vanilla and mix well.
4)    Add the flour mixture, all at once, to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
5)    Mix in the nuts and or chocolate chips if using.
6)    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. (I used some chocolate chips on half of the top of the cake instead of mixing the chips into the batter because some of my family does not like chocolate.)
Batter in parchment lined pan.

Batter with chocolate chips on top of half of the cake.
7)    Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Baked cake cooling in the pan.

8)    Cool in the pan. Cut into pieces of the desired size, I made 16 squares.

Monday, October 5, 2015

GLUTEN FREE KASHA VARNISHKES

Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     It is now two months since I moved and I am finally feeling more centered and able to get back into a normal schedule.  I am still not baking as much as usual, but I am always cooking.  I am posting a recipe for a traditional Eastern European Jewish side dish, Kasha Varnishkes.
     Kasha Varnishkes is made with pasta and kasha.  Kasha, also known as buckwheat or buckwheat groats is a gluten free grain.  Despite the word wheat in the name, buckwheat is not a type of wheat.  Buckwheat groats come in many forms:  whole, coarse ground, medium ground and fine ground.  For this recipe I find that medium ground works best, but some people prefer to use coarse ground.
     Usually bowtie pasta is used in this dish, but I have never seen gluten free pasta in bow tie shapes.  I like to use spiral shaped pasta because the nooks and crannies in the spirals help hold kernels of the cooked kasha so that you to get adequate amounts of kasha with each forkful.  Small shells would also work well.
     The secret to getting a flavorful Kasha Varnishkes is to do two things.  First you must get the onions browned until caramelized, being careful not to burn them.  You must also pan roast the kasha that has been coated in egg until it turns a darker shade of brown and has a nutty aroma.   Following these two steps will give you a Kasha Varnishes just like Grandmas.
     Just a few words here about gluten free pasta.  I prefer the rice pasta in this dish to corn pasta because it is more similar in taste and texture to what I remember this dish tasting like.  I have found that how you cook gluten free pasta will make a huge difference in how the pasta comes out.  Most people overcook gluten free pasta, which may be partly due to the instructions on the package that usually suggests a very long cooking time.  I usually cook the pasta 3-5 minutes less than the package states and then taste a piece.  From there I decide if it needs to be cooked longer and if so how much longer.  I check every minute until it reaches the right consistency.  Some gluten free pastas tend to be very starchy, so be sure to use a very large pot of water and salt it well with 1-2 tsp. of salt.  The GF pasta also tends to clump together leaving it unevenly cooked with some pieces very undercooked.  When it is first added, stir the pasta until the water returns to a boil.  Then stir every few minutes to be sure it is not clumping together or sticking to the bottom of the pot.  If the GF pasta is very starchy (the cooking water gets very cloudy and sometimes thick), rinsing the pasta once it is cooked will keep the pasta from sticking together and also will stop it from continuing to cook and getting over done and mushy.


GLUTEN FREE KASHA VARNISHKES

Ingredients
2 large
Onions - chopped
2 Tbs.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup
Buckwheat Groats - medium ground
1 large
Egg - beaten
2 cups
Hot Water
1
No Salt Added Vegetable Bullion Cube
To taste
Salt and Pepper
½ tsp.
Granulated Onion Powder (optional)
12 ounces
Gluten Free Rice Pasta - I like to use spirals to catch the kasha in the pasta. Small shells would also work well.  My favorite pasta brand is Tinkyada Pasta Joy.


Directions
1)    In a large frying pan (I used a cast iron one) saut√© onions in the 2 Tbs. of oil until nicely browned and caramelized.  Season the onions while cooking with salt and pepper to taste.  Browning the onions until caramelized is a crucial steps needed to get a flavorful Kasha Varnishkes. When the onions are done transfer them to bowl and set aside.  Do not clean the pan.
Chopping onions.  I forgot to get a photo of the cooked onions.
2)    In a small bowl add the kasha and then mix the beaten egg into the kasha.  Be sure to coat all the grains.
Medium ground kasha or buckwheat groats.
Medium ground kasha mixed with egg.
3)    In the same pan used to cook the onions add the kasha and egg mixture.  Over medium heat, stir the kasha for about 2-3 minutes until it gets a bit darker and emits a nutty aroma.  Use a fork to break apart any lumps and stir frequently to be sure all the grains get dry and  separate.  Browning the kasha until it has a nutty fragrance is also a crucial steps in this recipe.
Dry cooking the kasha in the same pan that the onions were browned in.
Using a fork to break up clumps of kasha.
4)    Add the 2 cups of water, salt and pepper to taste and the onion powder if using, stir until well mixed.  Lower the heat and cover the pan.  Cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the kasha kernels are tender when bitten, about 8-10 minutes.
5)    Meanwhile boil a pot of water and add a tablespoon of oil and 1-2 teaspoons of salt.  Cook the pasta as directed on the package.  I usually cook the noodles 1-2 minutes less than the package states and then test for doneness.  You do not want the noodles too mushy, it is better to leave them a little al dente because the noodles will absorb some moisture from the kasha.
My favorite pasta.  It is a rice pasta that is just like regular pasta in texture.

Spiral rice pasta.

6)    Drain the noodles.  If using Tinkayada Pasta Joy brand you do not need to rinse the pasta, but if using other brands that are very starchy, rinse the pasta with water.   I add some oil and salt and pepper to the cooked pasta and mix well.  In a large bowl or the pot that the pasta was cooked in (without any water) mix the pasta and kasha together. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Add a tablespoon or more of oil if a bit dry.  Serve warm.