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Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear
     I admit that I was very skeptical about mug cakes.  Recently, I wanted some cake and did not feel like turning on the oven and taking the time to do a whole cake.  To assuage my craving I decided to try a mug cake.  I looked at recipes that were gluten free and not gluten free.  All the recipes had similar amounts of flour, cocoa and sugar.  The GF recipes did not have any xanthan gum.  I made a cake as written in one recipe (except for changing up the flours, I can’t help myself).  I was a bit disappointed, not enough flavor, but the texture was fine considering that it was a microwaved cake.  
     I decided to punch up the flavor by adding a pinch of salt, more vanilla extract, some chocolate chips and a tad more sugar.  The changes I made created a much tastier cake that will be my go to when I need to make a cake in less than five minutes.
     I used a large mug (14 0z.), and it was a good thing I did.  A regular sized mug would have overflowed and required me to clean the microwave (too much work, would prefer to use that time to just bake a traditional cake).  The recipe did not specify the mug size and the mug in the photo looked like a regular mug, but, evidently, it was not.  
     Cooking time will vary according to your microwave size and wattage.  My oven is 1000 watts and it took 90 seconds and then another 60 seconds.  The cake was firm and very hot when done, but stayed moist even after completely cooled.  I liked it best slightly warm.  The really hot cake is gummy, so let it cool a bit.  This will also keep you from burning your tongue.
      Another advantage to mug cakes is only one cup to clean. You can just add all the ingredients to the cup, mix it with a small whisk or fork and cook it in the microwave.  The cake did not stick to the cup, even without greasing the mug first.
     I made the cake again for two of us who could not eat a birthday cake being served at a party.  My friend is dairy free.  The dairy free GF mug cake was just as good as the dairy one.  Plenty of cake for two or more.  It is about the size of 2 1/2 cupcakes and its denseness makes you feel full very fast.
     Do not expect it to be the same as a baked cake, it is not as light, but perfect for a fast fix when you are craving cake; or for when you need some cake fast; or for when you only have to make cake for one or two people.
     I was on a roll, so I went on to experiment with other mug recipes including coffee cake and bread.  I will post these other mug experiments over the next few weeks.  I have now embraced mug cakes and I will definitely make one again.


2 Tbs. Sorghum Flour
1 Tbs. Chickpea Flour
1 Tbs. Tapioca Flour
4 Tbs. Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
4 Tbs. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/8 tsp. Sea Salt
2 Tbs. Chocolate Chips (optional)

1 large Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Tbs.  Oil or melted Butter or Margarine
3 Tbs.  Milk (dairy or non dairy)

EASY FROSTING (optional)
1-2 Tbs. Chocolate Chips

  1. Gather ingredients, one 14 oz. mug, a fork or small whisk and measuring spoons.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to the cup and stir with a mini whisk or fork until well mixed.
    All the dry ingredients in the cup.

    Dry ingredients well mixed.
  3. If adding chocolate chips add them to the dry ingredients and stir.  When covered with the flour mixture the chips will not all fall to the bottom of the cake while cooking.
    Chocolate chips added to the well mixed dry ingredients.

  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together with the whisk or fork.
    Wet ingredients added to the dry ones.

    Wet and dry ingredients well mixed.
  5. Place in the microwave, uncovered, and cook for 90 seconds.
    Cake after 90 seconds in a 1000 watt microwave.

  6. If the top is still wet return the cake to the microwave and cook another 60 seconds.  The timing will vary according to the wattage of your microwave.  Mine is 1000 watts.
    Better view of a wet top.
  7. Optional: (You can make an easy frosting for the cake by covering the top of the cake with a tablespoon or so of chocolate chips after the first 90 seconds of cooking. Then cook the cake another minute.  When you take the mug out of the microwave, use a knife to spread the melted chocolate chips over the top of the cake.)
    Chips on top of the cake after the first 90 seconds of cooking.

    Melted chips after an additional 60 seconds of cooking.

    Spreading the melted chips over the cake to make an easy frosting.
  8. You can eat the cake in the mug or put the cake on a dish.  The cake will come out of the mug easily even without greasing it.
  9. Allow the cake to cool a little while before eating.  Warm cake is OK, but hot cake will be very gummy.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I made a cake for my son’s birthday.  He is vegan and wanted a flan cake that I usually make with dairy and eggs.  I have made my recipe replacing eggs and diary with the usual substitutes.  When replacing just dairy the cake is fine, but when I replace the eggs it is too dense and heavy.  I decided to look for a vegan recipe for vanilla cake.  On  It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken’s blog I found a wonderful vegan vanilla cake recipe.  To make the recipe gluten free I replaced the flour with gluten free flours and some xanthan gum.  I am delighted with how the cake came out.  Light and delicious with a great texture.  I would never think it was vegan and all the guests didn’t think it tasted gluten free either.  My son loved it.  Success!
     Flan cake is a vanilla, lemon or almond flavored cake made in a special tiara pan that has a shallow bowl-like indent in the center.  After the cake is baked the center is filled with custard or whipped cream and then topped with fresh fruit.  It looks very pretty.  I forgot to take a picture of the whole cake before we cut and ate most of it.  So there are only photos of a large piece of cake, but you can get an idea of how nice it looks with all the fresh fruit on it from the photo of my other Flan Cake below. 
A Tiara Pan.
A photo of a regular GF Flan Cake to give you
 an idea of how it might look before it is cut.

     For a vegan or dairy free cake you can fill the cake with coconut whipped cream or a vegan or dairy free pudding-like filling.  My son chose the whipped cream option.  I used the whipped cream recipe from my Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie post.  You can use all different fruits or just one kind to top the cake.  I used strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and kiwi on this one.  Other fruits that work well are sliced grapes, bananas (tossed in some lemon or lime juice first to prevent discoloring), very ripe sliced and peeled pears, mangos, etc.  

Makes one flan cake or 12 cupcakes


3/4 cup/96 g Sorghum Flour
1/4 cup/32 g Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup/22 g Chickpea Flour
3/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum
3/4 cup Sugar (I use evaporated cane juice crystals)
1 tsp.
½ tsp.
Baking Soda
Sea Salt

2/3 cup Non dairy milk of choice
1/3 cup Canola Oil or other light flavored vegetable oil
2 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Almond Extract (or another tsp. of vanilla extract)

1 14oz. can Coconut Cream Chilled in the fridge for several hours or overnight - (you can also use 1-2 cans of full fat coconut milk that has been chilled, use only the solid part and reserve the liquid for another purpose)
2 Tbs. Confectioners Sugar
1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Use one kind of fruit or several different ones together.  Berries, mango, ripe peeled pears, bananas sliced and mixed with lemon or lime juice to prevent browning, kiwi, sliced grapes, etc., can be used according to what is available and to your taste. 


  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.  Prepare a tiara pan by lining it with foil and greasing and flouring the pan with some gluten free flour. (see my post for Flan Cake for details and photos) I used sorghum flour.  Set aside.  For cupcakes put paper liners in a 12-muffin tin.  Warning: the cupcakes stuck to the paper.  Next time I might try greasing and flouring the liners first or using greased and floured aluminum cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk.  Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl add all the wet ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula or spoon until just combined.  To ensure a light cake do not over mix.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until done.  The cake is done when it springs back when pressed gently with your finger or when a cake tester comes out clean.  If you decide to make cupcakes with this recipe bake them 18-20 minutes.
  6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert the pan onto a wire rack and remove the foil.  Turn the cake right side up and allow to cool completely on the wire rack before filling.  If making cupcakes, allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then take them out of the tin to cool completely on a wire rack.
    Flan cake cooking on a wire rack.

  1. Open the can of coconut cream or milk. Scrape out the solid part and reserve the liquid for another use.
  2. Add the solid part of the coconut to a bowl with the sugar, vanilla and xanthan gum. 
  3. Mix on the highest speed of an electric mixer until it becomes thick and soft peaks form.
    Vegan Whipped Cream

  1. Place the cooled cake on a serving dish or platter.
  2. Fill the center of the cake with the vegan whipped cream.
  3. Decorate the cake by placing the sliced fruit on the whipped cream.

Refrigerate the cake until half an hour before serving to allow the cake to get to room temperature.
Refrigerate any leftovers.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear
     I decided to try to make some English Muffins.  They are so expensive in the stores, about $6-7 for six muffins.  I looked for a wheat recipe that stated it was like Thomas’s English Muffins and converted it into a gluten free version.  I was happy with the homemade results.  The muffins were lighter and softer than any gluten free ones that I have bought in a store.  They had the nooks and crannies when fork split and were pretty easy to make.  The GF English Muffins taste really good and very much like a “real” one.  All in all, a better than store bought experience that I will be repeating.
     **You need rings to make the muffins.  Years ago the tuna cans opened with a can opener on both the bottom and top of the cans.  Now only the top is opened with an opener and the bottom needs some work to get off.  My friend took off the bottoms of some empty tuna cans for me, to use as rings.  He used a sanding machine to file off the bottoms of the cans.  Even after sanding the edges are sharp and need to be handled carefully to avoid cutting yourself on them.  You can make rings with pieces of aluminum foil folded over several times into strips and then tape or fold the ends together into circles.  The rings should be at least 1 1/4 inches high and form a circle 10 1/2 inches in circumference and 3 1/4 in diameter. They sell rings in kitchen supply stores too, but that involves spending money before you know if you will ever make the muffins again.  I made several batches of muffins with tuna can rings and one with homemade foil rings.  The foil rings stuck a bit and were more difficult to get off than using the empty tuna cans. I think that the tuna cans are coated with some non stick coating.  The muffins made with the foil rings had rough edges due to the sticking, but tasted great.  I may not have greased the foil enough, perhaps more grease would allow the muffins to come out easier.  Also greasing with shortening or margarine may work better than the vegetable oil that I used.
My friend Eddie filing off the bottoms of the tuna cans for me.

Eddie smiling for the camera.

     I cooked the muffins on a flat stovetop grill.  You can also use a large frying pan or electric griddle.  It only takes 5 minutes a side to cook.  Take care with the heat.  My second batch got browned much faster than the first and I had to lower the flame before cooking the second side.  The idea is to cook the muffins for five minutes a side and get the bottoms lightly browned while the centers cook completely.  A medium to medium low flame is best.  I used a baking pan to cover the muffins while they cooked so that the centers would cook thoroughly.
     I don’t know how wheat batter is supposed to come out, the recipe seemed to indicate that it poured like a pancake batter.  The GF batter was slightly thicker than pancake batter and required using wet fingers to smooth out the tops.   The batter rose quickly, then fell a bit when I moved the muffin to the grill (with a spatula).  To my relief the batter rose to the top of the rings again by the time the first side was cooked and the muffin stayed nice and light and fluffy.  
     I also tried to make the recipe with an extra 1/2 cup of sweet rice flour.  This thicker dough was easier to work with and handle.  The muffins did not rise to the tops as with the thinner batter.  The extra flour made the English Muffins denser and not as light and fluffy as the ones with only 2 cups of flour, but still way better than any store bought ones and these were eaten up and thoroughly enjoyed.  I am only mentioning using the extra flour in case anyone finds it too difficult to work with the thinner batter they can try using the extra flour.
Dough with extra flour is easier to work with,
but the results are a denser (but still very good) muffin.

The English Muffin made with extra flour.
These are denser and did not rise as much.
Still yummy!

     I used almond milk in the recipe instead of dairy milk to keep it dairy free for my son.  Many bread recipes call for the milk to be scalded.  I looked up why.  It seems that the boiling kills any bacteria (not really an issue these days with pasteurized milk) and enzymes in the milk.  The enzymes in the milk (that can remain after pasteurization) can inhibit the gluten in the bread from working.  Since there is no gluten in gluten free bread I deduced that scalding milk in GF bread recipes is not necessary.  I just heated the milk to 110, a good temperature to proof the yeast.  
     I tried several flour combinations.  I like the combo I am posting the best for texture and taste.  I also made a whole grain type muffin by using teff in place of half of the sorghum flour and millet in place of half of the rice flour and added a tablespoon of flax and sunflower seeds. It was very tasty and I enjoyed the whole grain type bread for a change.  The whole grain muffins were just as soft and pliable as the “white” ones.
      I fork split the muffins after they cooled and then wrapped and froze the extra muffins to use later.  I toasted the frozen muffins on the defrost cycle of my toaster, but had to toast them again to get them browned (could be my toaster).  I am delighted to report that the toasted frozen English Muffins kept their soft fluffy texture.  Now I plan to keep making double batches and freeze them so that I can have them whenever I like.  So much better than store bought ones and you save money too.  My wheat eating spouse was raving about them.  This was a successful bread baking experience.

Makes 6-7.
Prep time 20-30 minutes.
Rise time 40-60 minutes.
Cook time 10-15 minutes depending upon your stove.  
1 1/3 cup Milk (use whatever type you like dairy or dairy free)
1 Tbs. + 1/8 tsp. Sugar - Divided (I used evaporated cane juice crystals.)
2 1/4 tsp./1 envelope Yeast (I used Saf-instant yeast.)
1 Tbs.  Shortening (non hydrogenated) or oil or melted margarine or butter
3/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour (extra fine ground)
1/2 cup Tapioca Flour
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1/2 cup Corn Starch
2 Tbs. Fine ground Corn Meal for dusting the pan.

1 1/3 cup Milk (use whatever type you like dairy or dairy free)
1 Tbs. + 1/8 tsp. Sugar - Divided (I used evaporated cane juice crystals.)
2 1/4 tsp./1 envelope Yeast (I used Saf-instant yeast.)
1 Tbs.  Shortening (non hydrogenated) or oil or melted margarine or butter
3/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/4 cup Brown Rice Flour (extra fine ground)
1/4 cup Millet Flour
1/2 cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup Sorghum Flour
1/4 cup Teff Flour
1/2 cup Corn Starch
1 Tbs.  Sunflower or Flax Seeds or any combination of these seeds.
2 Tbs. Fine ground Corn Meal for dusting the pan.

  1. Gather ingredients, set up cooking grill or pan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle the corn meal evenly over the paper. Grease rings**(see notes above) and place on the prepared baking sheet.
    Rings on parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal.
  2. Make a warm place for the dough to rise.  Some people heat the oven to 200, turn the oven off and then place the covered dough into the oven to rise. I like to heat water in a microwave proof bowl in the microwave for 10 to 20 minutes while I make the dough.  Then I place the pan with the dough (uncovered) into the (turned off) microwave to rise. The dough will need a warm place to rise for 40-60 minutes.
  3. Heat the milk to 110 degrees. Place about 1/3 cup of the heated milk in a small bowl.  Add 1/8 tsp. sugar and the yeast.  Stir with a spoon and let it rest.  It should foam up in 10-15 minutes.  Be sure not to make the milk too hot or it will kill the yeast.  If the yeast does not foam up discard and try again or get fresh yeast.  If the yeast is not working the dough will not rise.
    Yeast & sugar in warm milk.

    Yeast after sitting for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the sugar and shortening to the rest of the warm milk and stir until the sugar and shortening are dissolved.
  5. Add all the flours to a bowl, add the salt and xanthan gum and mix well with a whisk.  For whole grain muffins add the seeds to the flour mixture and stir well.
  6. Add the proofed yeast and the milk mixture to the flour mixture.  Mix together with a spoon or rubber spatula.
    Flour, milk and yeast mixtures.

    Yeast and milk mixtures added to the dry ingredients.

    Whole grain batter all mixed.
    The white bread batter will be soft like this also.
  7. Divide the dough evenly between the rings so that the rings are slightly more than half full.  I used 7 rings. Use wet hands to spread the dough into the rings and to smooth the tops.
    Whole grain batter divided evenly between the rings.

    Batter after being spread and smoothed out with wet fingers.
  8. Place the muffins in a warm place to rise for 40-60 minutes or until it reaches the tops of the rings.  My rings are 3 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high with a circumference of 10 1/2 inches.  The batter rose to the top of the rings in about 40 minutes.
    Batter after rising.
  9. Heat the griddle, pan or flat grill top.  Use a medium to medium low flame.  Lightly grease the cooking surface with oil.  Use a spatula to transfer the muffins to the cooking surface.  Don't worry if the muffins deflate a bit when they are transferred, they should rise to the top again while the first side is cooked.
    Muffins in their rings transferred onto the griddle.

  10. Cover the muffins with a baking pan while cooking to help the centers to cook thoroughly.   Set a timer for 5 minutes.  Take a peek after 3 minutes to see if the bottoms are browning and lower the heat if they are already brown.
    Muffins covered with a baking pan
    to help to cook the centers completely.
  11. After 5 minutes lift off the pan that is covering them and take the muffins off of the cooking surface.  Then run a knife around the inside edges of the rings to separate the muffins from the rings. Shake the muffins out of the rings and then place the muffins raw side down onto the cooking surface.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Again check the heat after 3 minutes and lower the heat as needed to prevent burning the outside of the muffins.
    Running a knife around the rings to loosen the muffins.

    One muffin, the bottom cooked, ring removed.
  12. Remove the cooked muffins from the cooking surface and allow to cool on a rack.
    First side cooked is now on top.

    This is what the second cooked side will look like.
  13. When warm or completely cool you can split the muffin in half using a fork.  If you try to split apart a hot muffin it will be too dense and sticky.  Use topping of choice on the English muffin and enjoy.
    One English Muffin split open with a fork.
    Note the nooks and crannies.
  14. Best if eaten within 2 days.  For longer storage fork split, wrap and freeze uneaten muffins.  Just toast them as needed.