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Monday, September 24, 2012


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear
     These scones are rich, tender and moist with a natural orange flavor and just enough chocolate chips.  The orange flavor is from both the grated zest from one orange and ½ tsp. of pure orange extract. 
     I used the recipe from my Lavender Scented Scones (minus the lavender) and used heavy cream in place of the milk.  
     I have noticed that measuring flour for bread or quick bread type recipes, like scones, is not the same as for cakes, pies or cookies.  Many bread recipes give measurements for the flour by weight (ounces, grams etc.) not volume (cups, tbs., etc.).  Now I know why…depending on how you measure out the cups you can have a lot more or less flour in the recipe.  This difference in amounts of flour can change the texture, moistness and consistency of breads, scones etc.  Some batches may be too dry, others too wet and heavy.  No I did not take the time to weigh out my flours after measuring them by cup, but I did measure out the tapioca flour differently on purpose. Somehow with tapioca flour the cup measuring is not as consistent as with the chickpea or sorghum flours.  I scooped the tapioca flour into the cup instead of spooning it in from the bag of flour. This gave the scone mixture a stiffer and easier to work with consistency without making the scones dry.  The other flours I measured out as usual, spooning the flour into the cup and then leveling it off.
     When I was a teenager I lived in Denmark for a half a year with a Danish family.  I learned then that in Europe most baking measurements are done by weight. I brought home a kilogram scale and a deciliter cup to use with the Danish recipes I learned (I still have and use the scale and cup). There was one recipe for pancakes with beer that used a measuring cup.  I will never forget how shocked I was when my Danish “Mother” banged the cup of flour down on to the counter to compact the flour for measuring.  In the USA this is just not done.  Here if you want light cakes you spoon flour (sometimes sifted first) into the cup and level it off gently with a flat knife.  All flour is measured that way here.  I have been doing more bread baking lately and I find that it works better in bread recipes to weigh the flour out instead.

By glutenfreebakingbear.com

1 ¼ cups
Sorghum Flour
¼ cup
Chickpea or Chickpea/Fava Flour
¼ cup
Tapioca Flour
½ tsp.
Xanthan or Guar Gum
4 tsp.
Baking Powder
5 Tbs.
¼ tsp.
Salt (I used pink Himalayan Sea Salt)
1 Tbs.
Grated Orange Zest (I used the zest of one Orange)
½ tsp.
Pure Orange Extract
5 Tbs.
Butter – Cold & Unsalted cut into 5 Tbs. sized pieces.
2/3 cup
Heavy Cream
½ cup
Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
Egg – mixed with a fork for brushing the tops of the scones before baking (optional).


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl place the flours, baking powder, salt, xanthan or guar gum, sugar, and orange zest.  Stir together until well mixed.
If you have a food processor you can place all these ingredients into the processor and pulse a few times until well mixed.

Add the cold pieces of butter and, with a pasty blender or two knives, cut the flour mixture into the butter until it looks like wet sand.
With a food processor, add the butter to the flour mixture in the processor bowl and pulse until the flour mixture is cut into the butter and it is the consistency of wet sand. (see photos and directions on my Lavender Scented Scone post for more detailed instructions)

If using a food processor put this mixture into a bowl and then continue with the next steps.

Make a well in the center of the flour/butter mixture and, all at once, pour the cream and chocolate chips into the well. 

Stir the cream and chips into the flour/butter mixture with a fork until just mixed.  Do not over mix or the scones will be heavy and hard.

Turn the dough out onto a counter or cutting board covered with plastic wrap.

Gather the dough together into a circle and press together gently until it holds its shape.  The circle will be about 2 inches high.

Cut the circle into eight pieces by cutting it in half, then cut each half in half, and then cut each quarter in half.

Half a circle of dough cut into quarters.
Place the scones on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and let rise for about 15 minutes before baking.
Scones resting on silpat lined baking pan.
Bake in center of the oven for 12-15 minutes (This batch took 18-20 minutes, I think it was because they were quite thick.  I covered them with aluminum foil so they would not get too brown with the longer baking time).
Baked GF Orange & Chocolate Chip
Scones right out of the oven.
Serve warm or at room temperature.  They are best served the same day.
Freeze leftovers.  Thaw and/or reheat before serving.

These scones do not need butter, clotted cream or jam.  They are rich and sweet enough on their own.


Monday, September 17, 2012


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     Yesterday seven of us had a lovely afternoon sipping Mint Juleps (virgin ones) and savoring shrimp and grits; broccoli and cheese quiches; cornbread with brie, apple and mushroom ‘bacon’; tea sandwiches and an endless array of desserts.  We bantered about southern expressions with our best southern accents, as best as Yankees can do Dixie.
     It was great fun.  The hardest part of acting Southern was drawling slowly.  We are just at a very fast pace up here in the North and kept having to remind ourselves, and each other, to slow down.
     The food was heavenly.  I made many things that I had never attempted before and some I had never eaten before.  Everyone loved and thoroughly enjoyed the meal.
     I spent a few weeks reading Southern Cookbooks from the library and then created a menu for the Tea Party from the recipes that seemed typically southern and yummy.  I sort of adapted the Southern recipes to a Northern palate.
Shrimp with Creamy Grits
Cornbread with Brie, Apple and Mushroom Bacon
& Honey Mustard Mayonnaise
Broccoli Quiches - Crustless
     I will be posting the recipes over the next few weeks. On this post I will give directions for making the pink sugar ‘cubes’.
     For dessert I made mini strawberry cakes with strawberry frosting; banana pudding with homemade vanilla wafers; orange chocolate chip scones; chocolate brownie cookies; buckeyes; and strawberries with whipped cream.  Again, I went overboard a tad with the sweets and no one could even try them all.  Doggie bags for all!
     My friends made Mint Juleps, Jungle Juleps and Roasted Chestnuts (from the garden).  None of us had ever had a Mint Julep before.  They are really good!  No wonder they are popular in the South.  Quite refreshing on a hot day!  Jungle Juleps, from Disney World, are made from passion fruit, orange juice and mangos.  These are also very good on hot days.  I will get the recipes for these from my friend and post them.
     We also had an assortment of hot teas.  We ate indoors and later sat out on the deck, I mean verandah, and sipped teas and laughed and talked (always with Southern accents).  We decided that the next Tea will be a Russian Tea.  My head is already churning with ideas: blintzes, borscht, caviar, hot tea in glasses…..
     I sure enough hope that y’all enjoy and try my Southern Tea Recipes.


¼ cup
½ tsp.
Water with Red Food Coloring added to it.  (I use India Tree brand natural food dyes that are made with vegetables and fruits.  The red dye comes from beets.)
Of course, if you do not want the cubes pink, just add plain water.
Natural Food Dye
     Mix water and food coloring into sugar and press this mixture into candy molds or ice cube trays with small holes.  
     Allow to dry for 24 hours before you unmold them and then allow the cubes to dry completely for a day or two.
     Store in an airtight container.
Sugar mixed with water and food coloring.
Sugar pressed into a candy mold.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Posted by Gluten Free Baking Bear aka Bryna Bear
     I had some extremely ripe bananas.  Though I do love banana bread, I just wanted to do something different with these bananas. 
     I have Betty Crocker’s Pie and Pastry Cookbook (copyright 1968) that was a gift from a high school classmate.  It is quite well worn, as evidenced by the covers that are separated from the rest of the book and the food stains all over the pages.  This book has served me well.  I learned how to make every type of piecrust, apple pie, pumpkin pie and many other pies from this book.  Back then I did not know that I was allergic to wheat and used the recipes as written.  Now I still use these tried and true recipes, but with GF flours and xanthan gum. One of the things I appreciate about this book is that all of the recipes are from scratch.  No “use a box of this mix” or “a can of that filling”, just how to make fillings, crusts and toppings with fresh ingredients.
     The banana cream pies I made always had graham cracker crusts.  Now I make a cookie crust with gluten free cookies.  Next time I might use the tart crust recipe from the Peach Tart post on my Blog last month. The tart crust is a little more tender than the cookie crust; both recipes taste great.
     The pastry cream I tried at the Culinary Institute GF baking class a few months ago was the best I had ever tasted; so I decided to use that recipe which is in the Gluten Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America cookbook by Chef Richard Coppedge, Jr. (page140).
     I served the pie at dinner with two friends and the leftovers were eaten at a meeting the next night.  Everyone loved this pie.  I especially enjoyed it, as it had been a long time since I made (or even ate) Banana Cream Pie.
     I just whipped up some cream for the topping.  For a Southern take on this pie you could use meringue topping (and vanilla cookie crust).

From GFbakingbear.com
1 ½ cups
GF Cookie Crumbs
¼ cup
Butter, melted or (for Dairy Free) Oil
½ tsp.
Xanthan or Guar Gum
1/8 tsp.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I use a Gluten Free cookies such as these to make the crust.
To make crumbs put cookies in a plastic bag and
crush them with a rolling pin.
     Put all ingredients into a 9-inch pie pan and mix well (I use my hands).  Press crumb mixture down evenly and firmly along the bottom and side of the pan.
Unbaked crust.
     Bake for 10 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
     Cool on a rack.
Baked Crust
2 large
Ripe Bananas, sliced
Egg Yolks
2 cups
Whole Milk, divided
½ cup
Sugar, divided
5 Tbs.
3 Tbs.
½ tsp.
Vanilla Extract

     Mix together Egg Yolks, ½ cup Milk, ¼ cup Sugar and all the Cornstarch in a bowl and set aside.
     In a saucepan put the remaining sugar first, then add the rest of the milk.  Bring to a boil over moderate heat.
     To temper the egg mixture, add ¼ cup of the heated milk mixture to the eggs and stir.  Keep adding hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, ¼ cup at a time; stir well after each addition, until ¼ of the hot milk mixture is blended into the egg mixture.
     All at one time, pour the egg mixture into the pan with the simmering milk mixture.  Whisk continually until it comes to a boil and begins to thicken.  Remove pan from heat.
     Stir in Butter and Vanilla Extract.
     Pour custard into a wide shallow baking pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and then press the plastic onto the surface of the custard. This will prevent a ‘skin’ from forming on the top.
     Cool completely in refrigerator before using. 
     Stir custard after it is cooled to make it smooth before filling the pre-baked piecrust.

1 cup
Heavy Cream
1 Tbs.
Confectioner’s Sugar

     Whip Heavy Cream until slightly thickened.  Add sugar (check sweetness and add more sugar if desired) and continue whipping until desired consistency.

To Assemble Pie
     Arrange Banana slices along bottom of piecrust.
     Put custard on top of layer of banana slices and smooth with a spatula.  Be sure to cover banana slices completely with the custard to prevent them from turning color.
Custard covering sliced bananas in piecrust.
     Top custard filling with the whipped cream.  Slice and serve.  You can garnish the pie with shaved chocolate if you wish.
GF Banana Cream Pie

Monday, September 3, 2012


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I had a craving for soft pretzels.  I think it was walking by Auntie Anne’s Pretzels at the mall that started it all.  It had been more than four years since I had a fresh soft pretzel and I wanted one now.
     I looked up pretzel recipes on-line and found one for Auntie Anne’s type pretzels and one by Alton Brown.  My first try was a complete failure…the GF flours I had used were all wrong and the taste and texture were way off, more like a cake in texture and tasted like a pretzel flavored unsweetened doughnut, yuck!
     A few days later I woke up with an ‘aha’ moment and I just knew what I had done wrong and which flours to use.  It reminded me of the story of the person who was working on the sewing machine and could not figure out how to make it work.  The thread kept breaking.  One night he dreamt about people carrying spears with a hole in the pointy end.  He woke up knowing he had to put the hole in the tip of the needle and voila, the sewing machine worked.
     Not that pretzels are equal to sewing machines in their total affect on the world as we know it, but in my GF world this is big.
     My second attempt was perfect, almost.  The pretzels tasted great, they were soft, had a great texture and the baked dough tore apart like regular dough.  I was so excited.  The only problem was that they did not get browned during baking and looked worm white.
      A few days later I made them again so I could take photos for the blog.  To my disappointment this batch was too chewy.  These pretzels were much better than batch one, but worse than batch two.  This batch was chewy and dense with a strong pretzel flavor. They were good, but not the ones I had been craving.
Third batch, boiled for 30 seconds.
     So I made a fourth batch, after I figured out what I did differently.  What gives pretzels their pretzel taste is giving them a bath in baking soda and water.  Without the bath, they would just taste like baked bread dough shaped like a pretzel.  When I made the second batch of pretzels I had not boiled the pretzels, I had dipped them in the baking soda bath (Auntie Anne recipe directions).  The third batch was boiled for thirty seconds (Alton Brown’s directions).  The boiled batch tasted very much like the pretzels that are sold in NYC on street carts.  The dipped batch tasted like a pretzel, but had a milder pretzel flavor, more like Auntie Anne’s. 
     I preferred the dipped batch in texture, but something had to be done about their color.  I rolled a rope of dough and cut it into pieces and ran an experiment.  I dipped a row of pieces, I made six other rows of dough pieces and boiled each for different amounts of time: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 seconds.  Then I tried brushing pieces in each row with different washes to see how they would brown in baking.  I brushed them with egg white; egg yolk; whole egg and oil (so I could make a Vegan version).  I found that dipping the pretzels gave them a softer texture that would brown lightly when brushed with any egg wash or oil, but would not brown at all without a wash.  When the pretzels were boiled they were chewier and denser and baked very dark brown even if not brushed with egg or oil.  The boiled pretzels had a stronger pretzel flavor also.
One of my experimental rows of pretzel bits.
From left -right: dipped, boiled 10, 15,20,25 & 30 seconds.
     After taste testing each piece, I decided to only dip the raw dough in the baking soda bath and to brush them with a whole egg wash or, for a Vegan pretzel, with oil. 
     As I was craving the Auntie Anne pretzels and not the NYC vendor type, I also added brown sugar to the recipe to make them a little sweet.  Auntie Anne dips the warm pretzels into a melted butter bath after they are baked.  I did this with one and it was heavenly.  I also tried dipping one in the melted butter and then into a cinnamon sugar mixture.  Good, but too sweet for me.  Next, I dipped one in melted butter flavored with garlic and then into grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley (Vegans or Dairy-Free can use garlic oil and non-dairy gated cheese), very yummy. 
     I froze them once they were cooled completely and I have been warming them in the microwave as I crave them.  They are denser and chewier once cooled, but still a great soft pretzel in both taste and texture.  These definitely satisfied my cravings for an Auntie Anne type soft pretzel.

*Just wanted to shout out a thank you to a fellow blogger Allergy Warriors and Gluten Free Living who linked to this recipe on their blog.  This blog has some unique and interesting information about living with celiac disease and allergies.

From GFbakingbear.com
Makes 12 pretzels.
1 ½ cups
Warm Water
2 Tbs. (2 Packets)
Active Dry Yeast
4 Tbs.
Brown Sugar
1 tsp.
Sea Salt
(22 ounces total)
(GF Flour as listed below)
One 16 oz. box (approx. 4 cups)
Tapioca Flour
3 ounces (approx. ½ cup plus 3 tsp.)
Sweet Rice Flour
3 ounces (approx. ½ cup plus 3 tsp.)
Chickpea Flour
2 tsp.
Xanthan or Guar Gum
2 Tbs.

Melted Butter (use Olive Oil for Vegan or Dairy-Free Pretzels)
Dipping Solution
2 cups
Warm Water
2 Tbs.
Baking Soda
Egg, beaten with a tsp. of water
Vegans use Olive Oil
Coarse Salt for top of pretzels

My ingredients.  I use all natural products.

     In the bowl of a stand mixer combine warm water, sugar, salt and yeast.  Let this sit for 10 minutes until the mixture foams.  (If this mixture does not foam there is a problem with the yeast and you must start over.  Check that the yeast did not expire, and be careful with the water temperature.  If the water is too hot it can kill the yeast.  Without yeast the dough will never rise and you will have very dense dough and tough to chew pretzels.)
     Make a proofing box (see about proofing boxes on my Challah Bread blog post) by putting two cups of water into the microwave and turning the microwave on for 15 minutes while you make the pretzel dough.  Or, if no microwave, boil water and place it in a bowl and cover with a box large enough to cover both the bowl of water and the bowl of dough.  A clean plastic storage box is good for this.  Or, when dough is done, cover and let rise in a warm place.             
     In a medium sized bowl mix flours and xanthan gum until well combined.  Add this mixture to the bowl with the foaming yeast mixture and also add the butter or oil.  Using the paddle attachment, turn on the mixer to the lowest setting. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together until the flour is not going to fly out of the bowl when you turn the speed up to medium.  Mix the dough for five minutes on medium speed.
Dough will be slightly sticky, but easy to gather into a ball. 
  Clean and dry the bowl that the flour was mixed in and add about a Tbs. of oil to the bottom.  When the dough finishes mixing.  Gather the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl with the oil on the bottom.  Turn the dough ball over until all sides of the ball are coated with the oil.   Place the bowl with the dough into the proofing box (in microwave: do not cover bowl, do NOT turn on microwave) (in box, do not cover bowl with dough in it, make sure box covers both the bowl of dough and the bowl of boiled water). If no proofing box, cover bowl with dough and place in a warm place.  Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 
Dough covered in oil.
Dough after rising.
    Turn dough out onto a cutting board or counter top.  Divide dough into 12 equal pieces.  Take one piece and cover the remaining dough with cloth or plastic wrap to keep it from drying out while working with each piece. 
Dough cut into pieces with a knife. 
Roll each piece of dough into a rope about 12 inches long and form each rope into a pretzel.  First make a “U” with the rope then bring the ends of each rope down to opposite side crossing the dough.  twist the dough at the point where the dough crosses and then tap down on the bottom of the pretzel to form the traditional pretzel shape.
Roll each piece into a rope about 12" long.
Rolling dough.
First make a "U".
Bring one end of rope towards bottom of pretzel.
Both rope ends towards bottom of pretzel.
Lifting up rope ends in preparation for the twist.
Twist the rope where they cross.
Lightly press down the ends of each rope after twisting.
     Once all the pretzels are shaped.  Dip each one in the baking soda and water mixture and then place them on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Place them back in proofing box and let rise again.
 While they are rising, preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Pretzels rising on silpat lined baking sheet, before
I realized that they should be twisted in the center.
     When pretzels have risen, brush with egg or oil wash and, if you like salt, sprinkle with coarse salt.  You can also sprinkle the pretzels with sesame seeds if you like.
     Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool slightly and then eat.   At this point you can dip them in butter and/or other toppings such as sugar and cinnamon or into garlic butter and then into Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley.  Vegans and Dairy-Free can dip them in oil or melted Earth Balance Spread and then into cinnamon sugar.  Vegans or Dairy-Free can also dip them in garlic oil and then in Vegan grated cheese and fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!