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Monday, August 27, 2012


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear
     Here is another recipe from my dear friend Rita Symczyk.  This cake is not like Spanish Flan; which is custard with caramel sauce.  This is a Scandinavian recipe that is a yellow cake with whipped cream and fruit.  It looks like the cakes they sell in supermarkets next to the strawberries.  The store made ones are always disappointing in taste and are dry.  Homemade Flan Cake is moist and very flavorful.     
     This cake is baked in a special Tiara pan that has an indented central area, which acts as a shallow ‘bowl’ for berries and whipped cream after the cake is baked.  A thin border of cake surrounds this ‘bowl’ of fruit and whipped cream. Tiara pans were very popular for a while in the 1980’s.  Duncan Hines had all sorts of cake mixes for this pan and sold the pan as well.  In fact, my pan says “Duncan Hines” on it.

     The original recipe was a wheat recipe that I converted into a Gluten Free version.  This cake can be made Dairy Free and Vegan. I have made it with a variety of fruits together such as kiwi, berries, mangos and bananas; and also with a single fruit such as strawberries. The fruit can be placed in a nice pattern.

¾ cup
¼ cup
Butter (for Vegan or Dairy Free use non dairy margarine or apple sauce or soy yogurt or soy sour cream)
Egg Yolks (for lower fat can use 3 egg whites; or 1 whole egg and 1 yolk; or 1 whole egg and 1 white) (for Vegans use 6 Tbs. water mixed with 4 1/2 tsp. corn starch, 1 1/2 tsp. oil, 1/4 tsp baking powder and  1/8 tsp. xanthan gum.)
¾ cup
Sorghum Flour
¼ cup
Tapioca Flour
¼ cup
Chickpea or Chickpea/Fava Flour
¾ tsp.
Xanthan or Guar Gum
1 Tbs.
Baking Powder
½ tsp.
½ cup
Milk (for Dairy Free or Vegans use any non dairy milk such as soy, rice or almond milk.)
½ tsp.
Lemon or Almond Extract
1 cup
Heavy whipping cream. (For Dairy Free or Vegan use a fruit flavored non dairy yogurt; or puree a block of silken tofu in a food processor with some fruit such as berries or a banana and sweeten to taste with agave or sugar.)
2 Tbs.
Powdered Sugar to taste to sweeten whipped cream.  I use 2 Tbs. of sugar; some people may prefer to make the whipped cream sweeter and use 1 or 2 Tbs. more sugar.
2 cups
Sliced fruit of choice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour (with GF flour) a Tiara pan.
   My tiara pan is quite old and worn.  I line it with aluminum foil (that I grease and flour) so that the cake comes out of the pan without breaking apart.  You may want to line your pan also to get foolproof results.
     In a bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream ¾ cup Sugar and Butter or butter replacement such as margarine or applesauce.
     Add eggs or egg substitute and lemon or almond extract and mix well.
     In a separate bowl place flours, salt, baking powder and xanthan gum and mix well.
     Add flour mixture alternating with milk to the egg/butter mixture and mix until well blended.  Batter will be thick.
     Place in pan and spread batter out evenly in pan using a spatula or wet hands.

     Bake 25 minutes or until done.  When done cake will spring back when lightly pressed with a finger; or a wooden toothpick will come out clean when inserted in thickest part of cake.

     Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
     Whip cream until slightly thickened add sugar to taste and whip until desired consistency.
     About half an hour before ready to serve fill center of cake with whipped cream or non-dairy filling of choice.

     Arrange fruit in a pattern on whipped cream.
     Slice and serve.  Enjoy!


Tupperware measuring cup with cover
     I love this old Tupperware measuring cup with cover.  It is the perfect size to whip a cup of cream into whipped cream and then you can save it covered in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear
     The first time I made these cookies was for the GF Afternoon Tea Party.  I wanted to try something new and different.  I thought that cardamom would have an exotic taste and add some interest to the Tea Party menu. 
     The cookies are buttery and very delicious.  The texture is just softer than crisp.  The cardamom is subtle and delightfully unusual.  The coconut, pistachio and sugar topping gives this cookie a heavenly flavor.
     The original wheat based recipe is one from Martha Stewart.  I have about five of her cookbooks.  In my experience her recipes always come out well and the directions are very clear.  I have also found that any recipe I have tried from her cookbooks are extra delicious and get rave reviews. 

½ cup
1 Tbs.
Pistachios – chopped
1 Tbs.
Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
½ cup
Unsalted Butter (soft)
Large Egg – Separated with the white lightly beaten
½ tsp.
Vanilla Extract
½ cup
Sorghum Flour
¼ cup
Tapioca Flour
¼ cup
Chickpea or Chickpea/Fava Flour
½ tsp.
Xanthan or Guar Gum
¾ tsp.
Ground Cardamom
¼ tsp.

In a small bowl mix 1 Tbs. of the (1/2 cup) Sugar, Pistachios and Coconut.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream butter and remaining sugar on medium speed until well mixed.
Add Egg Yolk and Vanilla.  Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
With mixer off, add the Flours, Xanthan or Guar Gum and Salt.  With mixer on low speed, blend until smooth.
Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap; pat down and cover with another sheet of plastic wrap.  
With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is a 12”x8” rectangle and is ¼” thick.
Put this plastic wrap covered, rolled out dough onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place firm dough sheet, still between plastic wrap, onto a cutting board and remove the top sheet of plastic wrap. 
With a pizza cutter or sharp serrated knife and ruler cut the rectangle of dough into 2”x2” squares.  
It should make 24 cookies.  

Brush the cookies with the beaten Egg White and sprinkle with the Coconut/Pistachio/Sugar mixture. 
If the cookies got soft, return them to the refrigerator to get firm again before moving them onto cookie sheets.
Place the cookies 2 ½” apart on cookie sheets that are lined with silpat or parchment paper. The cookies will spread while baking so leave plenty of space between them.
Bake 10-12 minutes.  Cookies are done when they are a pale golden brown on the edges.
Let cookies cool completely on a rack before storing them.
Store in an airtight container or in a tin lined with wax paper.  They are best when eaten within 3 days. 

When there were some left, that I did not plan to use for a while, I froze them baked and later thawed them when ready to eat. They were just like fresh baked cookies when I did this.

To make them ahead, for later use, it is be best to store unbaked cookie squares in the freezer until ready to bake.  Place raw dough squares, with plastic wrap between each cookie, in a plastic bag to store.  When ready to bake,  place frozen squares on a lined cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven. 

Monday, August 13, 2012


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     These cookies are tender, delicious and they just melt in your mouth.  They can be made Dairy Free or Vegan with delightful results. I adapted this recipe from a regular wheat version that I have used for over thirty years.  I have also seen the same recipe called Mexican Wedding Cakes and Snow Balls.
     I usually make these at Christmas time; it is one of the many cookies I make during the holidays to enjoy with cocoa and to give as gifts.  I make these occasionally during the year at my wife’s request.  She does not have a sweet tooth, but cannot resist these cookies.

Makes about 30.
1 cup
Unsalted Butter (soft).
For Dairy Free or Vegan use ½ cup Vegan Margarine (such as Earth Balance Buttery Spread) and ½ cup of plain Shortening (that is not hydrogenated such as Spectrum Shortening) and omit salt in recipe.
½ cup
Sifted Powdered Sugar (I use organic unrefined confectioner's sugar so it has a more natural sweetness)
1 tsp.
1 ¼ cup
Sorghum Flour
½ cup
Tapioca Flour
½ cup
Chickpea or Chickpea/Fava Flour
½ tsp.
Xanthan or Guar Gum
¼ tsp.
¾ cup
Walnuts - finely chopped
2 cup
Sifted Powdered Sugar to roll baked cookies in

In a large bowl add Butter and ½ cup of Powdered Sugar and mix well.
Add Vanilla and Salt and blend well.
Add Flours and Xanthan or Guar gum and mix until well blended.
Mix in nuts.

Roll into 1” balls. I use a small scoop that measures 1" across to measure out equal sized portions and then roll them into balls. Place balls on tray and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.  If you are short on time you can put them in the freezer for an hour or so until they are cold and very firm.
When ready to bake cookies:   
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place balls of dough 2” apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat.

Bake 10-12 minutes until set, but not brown.
Wait 5-7 minutes to let the cookies cool a bit.  Hot cookies will break apart if touched or moved.  While cookies are still warm sift powdered sugar over them.  Then gently pick them up and move them on top of some of the sifted sugar on the pan so that the bottoms gets coated too.  Place on a rack to cool completely.

These will keep well in wax paper lined tins for about a month (if there are any left).  I have frozen the baked cookies and thawed them when ready to eat them.  They were just as good as when fresh baked.  I have also frozen the dough balls in a plastic bag and baked them fresh at a later time when I wanted to have them.


Saturday, August 11, 2012


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     It is peach season here in New Jersey.  I love peaches, especially white peaches, but I love yellow ones almost as much.  Here in Monmouth County, NJ there are lots of farms with some of the best tasting peaches you’ll ever have.  One of my friends went to visit her daughter in Georgia and stopped to buy some famous Georgia peaches.  There were none left, but they had New Jersey peaches for sale from a farm right here in Monmouth County.
     I usually buy a quart basket (or two) at a time.  You can pick them yourself just ripe off the trees or go to the farm and buy already picked ones in their store.  The ones at the store take a few days to be perfectly ripe.  One time I left a quart to ripen while my friend Shirley was visiting.  I ran an errand and when I came back she had eaten all the peaches.  She apologized, explaining that they tasted so good she just couldn’t stop.  She said that it had been such a long time since she tasted peaches that were so flavorful and sweet. 
     With two quarts of ripe peaches I decided to bake a peach tart.  This recipe is adapted from a wheat recipe that I got from my friend Rita Symczyk.  The crust is like a tender shortbread.  I brought this to a meeting last Thursday and people were eating the crumbs off the table when the tart was gone. 
     It is easy and fast to make this tart.  There are instructions in the original recipe for making a custard version.  I have not done this, but I will include this information in case someone wants to try.  I have made this recipe with peaches and apples.  I think it would work well with pears and plums as well.

Sorghum Flour
½ cup
Tapioca Flour
¼ cup
Chickpea or Chickpea/Fava Flour
½ tsp.
Xanthan or Guar Gum
¼ cup
Sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)
½ cup
(1 stick)
Unsalted Butter into 8 pieces (for Dairy free or Vegan use ¼ cup dairy free margarine like Earth Balance Buttery Spread and ¼ cup of unflavored shortening like non-hydrogenated Spectrum Shortening and omit Salt from recipe)
1/8 tsp

5 medium
Peaches (skins removed)
In a separate bowl mix:
½ cup
Sugar (adjust according to the sweetness of the fruit…use 2 Tbs. less sugar for sweet fruit. For less sweet fruit use 2 Tbs. more.  Taste a piece of fruit and add more sugar if needed.  Add 1 Tbs. at a time, tasting after each addition until desired sweetness is attained.)
½ tsp.
1 ½ Tbs.
Cornstarch (If the fruit is very juicy add 3 Tbs. of Cornstarch.)

     Place rack in center of oven.    
     Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
     In a bowl mix flours; xanthan or guar gum; salt and ¼ cup sugar.
     With a pastry blender or two knives cut the butter into the flour until it is the consistency of coarse cornmeal.
     If you use a food processor add the flours; xanthan or guar gum; salt and sugar to the bowl and pulse until well blended.  Add butter and pulse until consistency of coarse cornmeal.

     Use a 9” tart pan or spring form pan. Pour the flour/butter mixture into the pan and press into the bottom and 1” up the side of the pan.

     Bake empty crust for 10 minutes and remove from oven to cool on a rack.
     Take half of the sugar/cinnamon/cornstarch mixture and spread it evenly over the bottom of the partially baked tart crust.
     Slice peaches into wedges that are 1” thick at large edges.  Arrange peach wedges around the bottom of the tart crust.
     Pour the other half of the sugar/cinnamon/cornstarch mixture over the fruit and gently coat the peaches.
 GF Peach Tart Before Final Baking

     Bake 30 minutes.  Cover with foil last 10 minutes of baking if crust is getting too brown.
     Cool on rack.  Serve that day.
GF Peach Tart after it is completely baked

Instructions for Custard Tart
     Mix 2 Eggs and 1 cup of Heavy Cream and set aside.
     Follow instructions for making the tart.
     After the first 15 minutes of baking, increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and pour egg/cream mixture evenly over fruit.
     Bake an additional 30 minutes.

Next week I will continue the Afternoon Tea Party recipes and post a cookie recipe.


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     On this post I will start the recipes for the Savories on the Tea Party menu. 
     This Challah bread recipe is perfect for finger sandwiches.  It is sturdy, moist and very tasty.  The recipe is one I found on the Internet a few years ago on Gluten Free Diva's Blog.  The recipe was originally created by Sara Nussbaum.  I changed up the flours and reduced the water by ¼ cup.  You can make this bread two or even three days ahead and it will stay moist with a great texture. Be sure to store the completely cooled loaf, well sealed, in plastic wrap. The day before the Tea Party you can cut off the crusts, slice it thinly and store the sliced pieces in a plastic baggie until you make the sandwiches.  If you just want to eat the bread and not use it for Tea Party sandwiches, it will keep moist and tasty for at least five days.  It has never lasted longer than that at my house so I do not know how much longer it will stay fresh.  I love this recipe as, unlike most GF breads, it is not necessary to heat the bread or toast it to enjoy it, even if it is several days old.
     The sandwich recipes are from various sources. It had been a few years since I made a Tea Party.  I went Googling to get ideas for sandwich fillings.  I remembered that I had saved a March 1986 Ladies Home Journal article “The Most Elegant Tea” that had recipes for a Gala Tea at the British Embassy.  The Curried Egg Salad and Minted Cucumber Sandwich recipes are from this article. In the article they served smoked salmon with dill sauce. I did not want to get too messy or formal so I thought up the Smoked Salmon with Dill Cream Cheese Sandwich as an upscale lox and cream cheese and sort of homage to my NYC and Jewish roots. The Waldorf Sandwich recipe is from a site called myrecipefriends.com.  I decided to toast the walnuts for more flavor.

1 Tbs. (1 pkg.)       Dry Yeast
1 Tbs.                   Sugar
¾ cups warm         Water (120 degrees)
1 ¼ cup                 Corn Starch (if corn allergies are an issue you can 
                            use Tapioca or Arrowroot Flour instead)
1 cup                    Sweet Rice Flour - (this flour is finer and produces a
                            lighter product more similar to regular bread in texture
                            than White or Brown Rice flours)
¼ cup                   Tapioca Flour
3 Tbs.                   Chickpea or Chickpea/Fava Flour
1 Tbs.                   Xanthan or Guar Gum
1 tsp.                    Salt
2 Tbs.                   Dry Potato Flakes or Mashed Potatoes
¼ cup                   Butter, melted (or an equal amount of Olive or Canola
1/3 cup                 Honey (or and equal amount of Sugar)
4                          Eggs
1                          Extra Egg Yolk
1/8 tsp.                Vanilla Extract                                             

     Make a proofing box out of your microwave oven by placing 2 cups of water in the microwave.  Turn on the microwave and heat the water for 20 minutes or more while you prepare the bread dough.  Proofing is allowing the yeast in the dough to work so that the bread will rise.  A proofing box is a special piece of equipment that maintains a certain temperature and moisture level to help bread to rise well.  If you do not have a microwave, you can use a large plastic container, the ones that are used to store clothes. Place the bread in the pan on a counter and put a bowl of hot boiled water next to the bread pan. Cover them both with the large plastic storage box.  This will create a warm moist environment that will help the bread rise.  Or, when dough is in pan, cover with plastic wrap and let bread rise in a warm place. 
     Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan or 9” springform pan or a bundt pan.
     In a small bowl add yeast & 1 Tbs. sugar to warm water.  Put in a warm place for 10 minutes or until frothy.  If it does not foam, the yeast is not fresh and active; you should get fresh yeast and start again or the bread will not rise.
     In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer add Cornstarch; Sweet Rice, Tapioca & Chickpea or Chickpea/Fava flours; Xanthan or Guar Gum; salt and; potato flakes.  (If using fresh mashed potatoes, mix the dry ingredients together first, and then add the potatoes when you add the eggs and vanilla.)
      Add the Yeast mixture; melted Butter; and Honey and turn on mixer to Medium speed until all the ingredients are mixed together.
     Add Eggs and Vanilla (and Mashed Potatoes, if using) and mix until well blended.
     Turn mixer to High speed and beat batter for 2 minutes.  It will look like thick cake batter.  GF breads do not have to be kneaded. (Kneading is necessary with GLUTEN breads. The gluten is worked until it binds and creates an elastic dough that catches gases from the yeast and helps the bread to rise.  If there is no gluten, no kneading is necessary.)

     Spoon batter into the greased pan and smooth the top with wet hands.
     If you want to put sesame or poppy seeds on top of the bread, brush the top with egg white and sprinkle with seeds before letting the bread rise.
     Place bread pan with batter into the microwave, leave the cups of boiled water inside and close door.  Do NOT turn microwave on.  Do NOT open door until bread has risen.  Allow bread to rise for about 45 minutes.  Bread should rise to just above the rim of the pan.  Do let it rise too long and pour out over the edge of the pan or the taste and consistency may be adversely affected.  
     While bread is rising, adjust oven racks so that the top rack is in the center of the oven and the lowest rack has enough space above it to accommodate a sheet pan.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  The oven must be at the correct temperature before you put the bread in.  If it is not hot enough the bread will not bake well.
     I took a GF Baking class at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park a few months ago.  The class was for ‘enthusiasts’ and was one day long. Chef Coppedge explained that bread needs moisture in the oven to rise and bake well.  Julia Child used to put an old cast iron skillet in the oven while it was preheating and throw ice into the skillet when she put the bread in the oven to bake.  The ice hitting the hot pan creates enough stream and moisture to bake a successful loaf.  I do not have an old cast iron skillet to spare.  I placed a sturdy sheet pan on the bottom shelf of the oven while it was preheating and threw ice cubes onto the sheet pan when I put the loaf into the oven to bake. You can do this also if you like.
     Place the loaf pan in the middle of the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a digital food thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 210 degrees.  If you do not have a thermometer you can test for doneness by turning the loaf out onto a rack; knock on the bottom of the loaf and listen for a hollow sound.  I strongly recommend that you purchase a thermometer if you plan to do a lot of bread baking. 
     After the first 20 minutes of baking, cover the top of the loaf with foil to prevent excessive browning.
     When done, take bread out of pan immediately and allow to cool on a rack.  If you leave the loaf in the pan to cool the bread will be soggy.

     To make crustless Tea Sandwiches, cut the crusts off the loaf and then cut into thin slices with a serrated knife.  The crusts can be made into bread crumbs in a food processor and stored in a plastic baggie in the freezer until needed.

     The knife will develop a buildup of dough on the blade as you slice.  Clean the knife frequently to make it easier to make thin even cuts.
     This recipe can be doubled with success.  Make sure your mixer is strong enough to handle two batches at one time.


4                Eggs - Hard Boiled
3 Tbs.         Mayonnaise
1 tsp.          Curry Powder – mild
½ tsp.         Salt
¼ tsp.         Pepper
6 Tbs.         Unsalted Butter, softened
¼ cup         Chutney – Major Gray’s – chopped
16               Slices of thin sliced crustless bread.
     Mix all Filling ingredients together in a bowl.
     In another bowl mix together all the Spread ingredients.
     You can make the spread and filling up to 24 hours ahead and keep in refrigerator.
     To make sandwiches take the slices of bread and spread a thin layer of the chutney butter on each piece.  Put curried egg salad on half of the bread slices.  Place the remaining slices on top and cut into quarters diagonally.
     Makes 32 sandwiches.


1                 European Cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced (European
                   Cucumbers are longer and thinner than regular ones; they
                   have smaller seeds; they are not waxed; they are kept
                   wrapped in plastic to prevent them from getting dried out;
                   and they are easier to digest, that is why they are labeled
6 oz.            Cream Cheese, softened
4 tsp.           Fresh Mint, Chopped (I used Lemon Mint from a friend’s
16                Slices of thinly sliced crustless bread.
     Mix Cream Cheese and Mint in a bowl until well blended.
     Peel and slice Cucumber into thin circles.
     Spread each slice of bread with a thin layer of the Cream Cheese spread.
     Top half of the bread slices with two layers of cucumbers.  Cover with remaining slices of bread and cut diagonally into quarters.
     You can make the cream cheese spread a day ahead and store in the refrigerator.  It is better to peel and slice the cucumber the day of the Tea.
     Makes 32 sandwiches.


6 oz.                    Cream Cheese, softened
4 Tsp.                  Fresh Dill, chopped – add more dill to taste, if desired
1 8 oz. pkg.          Smoked Nova Salmon (I bought salmon that had no
                            nitrates or preservatives.)
16                        Slices of thinly sliced crustless bread.
    Mix Cream Cheese and Dill until well blended.  This can be made ahead and stored for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
    Spread a thin layer of the Cream Cheese on all the slices of bread.
     Top half of the slices with two layers of smoked salmon.
     Place remaining slices of bread on top and cut into quarters diagonally.
     Makes 32 sandwiches.


2 cups         Apples, grated
½ cup          Celery, minced, approximately 1 stalk
2/3 cups      Walnuts, toasted and chopped
To Taste      Mayonnaise  (I used about 1/3 cup.)
1 Tbs.         Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
Pinch          Salt
24 Slices     GF Raisin Bread (Adjust amount of bread according to the
                  size of the slices.  This will make 24 triangles of finger sized
                  sandwiches by cutting each sandwich in half.  If the
                  bread is larger and can be cut into quarters then use a
                  total of 12 slices of bread to make 24 finger sandwich
                  sized triangles.)
     Toast whole walnuts in oven at 350 degrees for about 4 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant.  When cool, chop.
     Peel, core and grate the apples.
     Mince celery and chop parsley.  
     Place Apples, Celery, Walnuts and Parsley into a bowl and mix well.
     Add mayonnaise to taste.
     Adjust Salt to taste.
     The spread can be made ahead and stored for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
     Spread each slice of Raisin Bread with Mayonnaise.  Top half of the slices with Filling.  Cover with the remaining slices of bread and cut into finger sandwich sized triangles.
     Makes 24 sandwiches.

     You can make all the sandwiches on the morning of the Tea Party and cover well with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until guests arrive.  I do not recommend that you make the sandwiches the night before as the bread will probably be soggy and the fillings will not taste as fresh.
     Plating the sandwiches on pretty serving dishes and the use of paper doilies on some of the plates will make a nice presentation.

     In England they have lovely three tiered serving stands with plates on them and these are used to serve food at Teas.  Traditionally the scones are eaten first and are on the top tier.  The savories are eaten second and are on the second tier and the sweets are on the bottom to be eaten last. At restaurants and hotels there are servers who come around with trays of pastries in addition to the sweets already on the three tiered stand.
     In a Google search, I found that there are at least two places in London that serve Gluten Free Afternoon Tea: Brown’s Hotel and The British Museum.   If and when I get to London I will treat myself to Afternoon Tea at one of those places.
     I came across a site that gives the protocol for properly eating and drinking when out for Tea. How to Have High Tea  I'm not sure if Americans are expected to follow these instructions.  I should think that it only applies to members of the British Commonwealth.