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Monday, June 22, 2015


                                          Vegan GF Flan Cake with Coconut "Whipped Cream"

Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I often have to adapt recipes to cook for my son, who is a vegan.  Vegans do not use any animal, fish, reptile or insect products or anything that was produced by them. They do not want to take advantage of their fellow creatures in any way (including no animal testing) so they do not use honey from bees, dairy from any creatures, eggs from poultry or reptiles, products made from animals, fish, reptiles or insects such as leather or wool and of course you can not eat any living creatures.  You must carefully read labels and be sure sugar is vegetarian and food is not colored with dyes from insects (some red dye - carmine or carminic acid is made from insects).  Please note that artificial dyes are tested on animals so they are not vegan.
     Be careful to avoid ingredients such as casein, lactose or whey in diary substitutes.  Lactic acid is usually vegan.  Bees wax and lanolin are also not vegan.  Some oil based vitamins such as A, D & E must be checked to see if it was made from fish or lanolin (sheep).  Orange juice (fortified from the store) contains D3 which usually comes from sheep lanolin. Some wine is filtered through charred bones, contains isinglass (animal or fish gelatin), or albumin (egg).  Read labels, look for vegan products and/or contact the manufacturer to check if it is vegan.  
     In gluten free vegan baking it is a little more complicated than with wheat baking because you have to make the recipe taking into consideration not only the delicate balance of GF baking, but also compensating for how the differing reactions that leaving out eggs or dairy will have on your baked goods.    
     Making things dairy free is simple, just replace the dairy item with a dairy free Item of the same sort.  Replace butter with margarine or shortening or vegetable oil; replace cream cheese or sour cream with dairy free cream cheese or sour cream, replace cheeses with dairy free cheeses; replace milk or cream with dairy free milks or creamers, etc., and you are good to go.  
     In some recipes, I find that using DF margarine will change up the texture a bit due to the extra moisture content of the margarine.  Replacing butter with half margarine and half non hydrogenated shortening produces better results than using all margarine.  Some shortenings are ‘butter’ flavored, but still DF and vegetarian.  For pie crusts and other baking I will exchange butter with all of this type of shortening.
     If the recipe calls for melted butter, I just use a mild flavor oil (canola, etc.) instead of butter.  Using oil in cakes makes a nice moist cake.
     In some recipes, like banana bread or other ‘heavier’ cakes, you can replace some of the oil with apple sauce to save some calories without changing up the results.  I’ve seen recipes where other fruits and vegetables are used in the recipe (such as peach sauce, avocados and mashed beans).
     For whipped cream I use a refrigerated can of full fat coconut milk or coconut cream.  I whip the cold and hardened parts of the coconut cream with an electric hand mixer and add some powdered sugar or other sweetener to taste.  To make it more stable (to keep its fluff for many hours), I add some xanthan gum.  

     Replacing milk in a recipe with any non dairy milk usually works without any problems.  If a richer milk is needed to replace cream I use either non dairy creamers such as So Delicious coconut creamer or full fat coconut milk or coconut cream.     
     Making things egg free is where the real fun starts.  Eggs have many uses in baking.  They are used as binders, as leavening and to add moisture to baked goods.  They are also used to brush on top of baked goods to give them a nice shine when they bake or to help seeds, sugar, salt, herbs, etc., to adhere to the top.
     There are many egg replacers that work well in baking when you need a leavening agent.  One egg equals 1/4 cup of liquid.  I usually make an ‘egg‘ by adding, 1 Tbs. cornstarch (or other starch like flour), 1/2 tsp. oil, 1/16 tsp. xanthan gum and 1/8 tsp. baking powder to 1/4 cup of water and mix it up before adding it to a cake.  You can use a store bought egg replacer also, just follow the directions.  
     For cookies, I just add 1/4 cup of water to the recipe and it works well.
     For breads I use chickpea/garbanzo flour: 3 Tbs. water plus 3 Tbs. chickpea flour/per egg.   In some recipes I use flax eggs:  3 Tbs. of water plus 1 Tbs. of flax seeds/per egg.
 Vegan GF Brazilian Cheese Bread using Chickpea flour and water as an egg replacer.
Vegan GF Brazilian Cheese Bread with Chickpea Flour and water as an egg replacer. 
Vegan GF Pizza using flax eggs
     If the egg is being used to add moisture to the recipe you can use water, mashed tofu, applesauce or any commercial egg replacer of choice.
     If the recipe has 1 or 2 eggs it is easy to use one of the many egg replacers. If the recipe uses 3 or more eggs, then you must do some research before using egg replacers in the recipe.  I usually look up a vegan recipe for something like cake or challah bread and then replace the flours with GF flours and add xanthan gum.  See my post on replacing wheat flour with GF flours.
     To make the tops of breads, pretzels or pies shine I use some oil instead of egg whites.  I think you could also brush on some non dairy milk.
    Tofu is very useful for replacing dairy and egg in some recipes.  It works well as a binder in “meat loafs”, matzo balls and other foods. Tofu can be used to make egg like dishes such as quiches and scrambled eggs. I like to use a combination of mashed tofu and non dairy cream cheese to make a replacement for ricotta cheese in lasagna, or “cheese” fillings in blintzes or Danish.  There are different types of tofu - firm, extra firm, silken, etc., that each work differently in dairy replacement.  Silken is good to replace creamy textured dairy items like yogurt or mousse or pudding.  Pureed firm or extra firm tofu will bake into a cheesecake or quiche texture.  

Vegan GF Cheese Blinzes with extra firm tofu and vegan cream cheese filling.

     Being a Gemini, I prefer charts or lists to reading info in paragraph form.  So, here is all the above information in an easy to read chart.  

Non Dairy Milk such as almonds, soy, coconut, etc.
Canned Coconut Cream, Full Fat Canned Coconut Milk, Non Dairy Creamer (such as So Delicious Coconut or Soy Creamers.)
Whipped Cream
Refrigerate a can of coconut milk or coconut cream for several hours or overnight.  Whip the hardened parts with an electric mixer, reserve the liquid for other uses. Some xanthan gum can be added to thicken and stabilize the “whipped cream”.  Add vanilla and/or some sweetener to taste, if desired.
Vegan Margarine, Vegan Shortening (non hydrogenated), or a combination of the two.  In some recipes using all margarine changes the texture due to the higher moisture content of  margarine (pies, biscuits, cookies, etc.) so I prefer to use half margarine and half shortening or all shortening.
Melted Butter
Liquid Vegetable Oil.  You can replace some oil with Apple Sauce to reduce calories in cakes. 
Use vegan yogurt. 
Or puree silken tofu in a food processor.
Sour Cream
Use vegan sour cream or plain vegan yogurt.
Or puree silken tofu in a food processor.
Cream Cheese
Use vegan cream cheese.
Ricotta Cheese
Use mashed firm tofu + vegan cream cheese, this makes a creamier ‘cheese’ than tofu alone.
1 Egg - in cakes
Can replace 2 eggs safely in your favorite recipe.
If 3 or more eggs are needed it is better to find a recipe that is already vegan. 
1/4 cup water+1 tsp. oil+1/16 tsp. xanthan gum+1/8 tsp. baking powder+1 Tbs. cornstarch.  Mix together and add to recipe where the egg is added.
Or flax eggs: 1 Tbs. ground flax seeds+3Tbs. water
Or any store bought egg replacer-follow directions.
1 Egg - in bread
3 Tbs. of chickpea flour and 3 Tbs. of water
Or 1 Tbs. ground flax seed and 3 Tbs. water
1 Egg - in cookies
1/4 cup water
Egg - to make the top of bread, pretzels, pie crust, etc. shinny.
Use vegetable oil to brush the top.
Eggs - to make quiche or scrambles eggs
Tofu - firm
Eggs - as a binder
Mashed tofu or corn starch or bread crumbs in ‘meat loaf’, ‘burgers’ ‘meat balls’, etc.
Or water - in cookies.
Maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup, corn syrup (Non GMO), etc.
Red Dye
Juice from beets, cherries, raspberries or pomegranates. Achiote seeds. Natural food color store bought.
Yellow Dye
Turmeric. Natural food color store bought.
Purple Dye
Juice from grapes, acai or blueberry.  Natural food color store bought.
Green Dye
Juice from kale, spinach, parsley or other greens. Use sparingly as some of these juices have a strong flavor that you may not want a lot of in frosting or cake. Natural food color, store bought.
Blue Dye
Red Cabbage juice.  Natural food color, store bought.
Brown Dye
Golden Beet Juice. Coffee or Tea. Natural food color, store bought.
A combination of all the colors or Swiss chard juice. Use with care the flavor is very strong.  Natural food color, store bought.
Carrot juice. Mix red and yellow substitutes. Natural food color, store bought.
Make sure it is vegetarian sugar (not whitened by passing it through animal bones).  Organic sugar, evaporated cane juice crystals, sucanat, maple sugar etc. are vegetarian.  Jack Frost brand is vegetarian, Dominos is NOT.  Check with manufacturer to see how they process the sugar or choose one from the above list. Some sugar says vegetarian on the package.
Sugar in pre-made products such as chocolate chips, cookies, mixes, etc. that you use in a recipe.
Read labels and choose products labeled vegan.
Agar, carrageenan.

Monday, June 8, 2015


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I tried a new recipe for shortcakes.  It is surprisingly easy to make with excellent results.   Shortcakes are really a sweet biscuit usually eaten with whipped cream and strawberries.  Strawberry shortcake can also be made with a yellow cake, but a biscuit dough is traditional.
     I wanted to make a fruit dessert with what I had in the house, no trip to the store.  I had no strawberries, just some frozen peaches so I thought I’d make peach shortcakes using custard instead of whipped cream.  
     Always looking for a better recipe, I searched on-line and found a wheat recipe that piqued my curiosity.  No cutting in butter.  In fact, no butter in the shortcake at all, only cream.  These shortcake biscuits get their buttery taste from the outside not the inside, because you dip the raw biscuits in melted butter before baking.  
     I was a bit skeptical about getting a biscuit without any shortening cut in, but the comments on the post convinced me to give it a try.  It worked.  Who knew?  You really can make light biscuits with very little effort.  I may never use any another biscuit recipe again.  (I wonder if it will work with non diary creamer instead of cream?  Will try that at another time.)
     I cooked the peaches on the stove top until soft and whipped up a batch of my favorite custard that is really a pastry cream recipe that is used for banana cream pie or eclair filling.  It was absolutely delicious with the shortcake biscuits.  I brought it to a barbecue at a friend’s house and it was a big hit.

Makes 8-10 shortcakes

3/4 cup
Sorghum Flour
1/2 cup
Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup
1/4 cup
Chickpea/Garbanzo Flour
1/2 tsp.
Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp.
Himalayan Sea Salt
1 Tbs.
Baking Powder
2 tsp.
1 - 1 1/4 cups
Heavy Cream (The amount of cream will vary according to the weather and flours.)
2 Tbs.
Melted Butter (for dipping the shortcakes)

10 oz. bag
Frozen Peaches
1/2 cup
3 Tbs.
1 Tbs.
Corn Starch
3/8 tsp.
1/16 tsp.

3 large
Egg Yolks
2 cups
Whole Milk - divided
1/2 cup
Sugar - divided
5 Tbs.
Corn Starch
3 Tbs.
Unsalted Butter
1/2 tsp.
Vanilla Extract

First make the peaches:
  1. Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
    All the ingredients in the saucepan.
  2. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the peaches are soft and the cornstarch has turned clear.  The cooking time will vary according to the firmness of the peaches.
    Peaches not fully cooked yet.
     I cut the peaches into smaller pieces in the pot,
     because they were taking along time to get soft.
  3. Stir frequently while cooking to prevent scorching and burning.
    Peaches all cooked.
    Note that the liquid is now clear.

While the peaches are simmering make the custard:
  1. In a heatproof bowl mix together the egg yolk, 1/2 cup of the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar and all the cornstarch.  Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, put the remaining sugar first, then the rest of the milk.  Bring to a boil over moderate heat.  Stir well.
  3. To temper the egg mixture, add about a third of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture 1/4 of a cup at a time.  Whisk together well after each addition of the hot milk.
  4. Lower the heat under the milk to medium low.  All at once add the tempered egg mixture to the hot milk in the saucepan and stir with the whisk until the mixture thickens and begins to boil.  Remove from the heat.
  5. Stir in the butter and vanilla.
  6. To cool the custard, put it into onto a rimmed baking sheet  and spread it out.  Press plastic wrap over the top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.  Place in the refrigerator to cool.  If you make the custard ahead you can leave it in the pan or transfer the custard to a bowl, then press the plastic on top of the custard in the pan or bowl before chilling. The custard should be completely cooled before using.  Stir the custard before serving.

Next make the shortcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425℉.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat pad.
  2. In a large bowl add the flours, sugar, salt, xanthan gum and baking powder, stir together well with a whisk.
    Dry ingredients mixed well.
  3. Add 1 cup of the cream to the flour mixture and stir.  Add more cream, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture holds together, without dry pieces falling off, when you gather it up into a ball. 
    Add the cream.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll or pat the dough out into a 3/4” thick circle.
    Dough on a floured surface.

    Dough rolled out.
    I used a San J cutting mat, a giveaway at a GF Expo.
    It is great for working with dough since it doesn't stick much.
  5. Using a floured and sharp biscuit cutter, cut out the dough.  Reroll and reshape scraps to cut out more shortcakes until the dough is used up. I used a 2” biscuit cutter and it made about 10 shortcakes.  If you use a 2 1/2” cutter it will make about 8.
    Cutting out the shortcake biscuits with a 2" cutter.
  6. Dip each shortcake into the melted butter and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Space them about 2” apart.
    Shortcake dipped into melted butter.

    Shortcakes on the baking sheet.
    There are 10 plus a smaller 'runt' that I used as a taste tester.
  7. If you would like, you can sprinkle sugar on top of each shortcake before baking.
  8. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
    Baked Shortcakes.
  9. These are best served warm.

To Assemble the Peach Shortcakes:
  1. Cut each shortcake in half lengthwise and place on a plate with the insides up. 
  2. Put custard on top of each side.
  3. Top the custard with some peaches.  Enjoy!
  4. You can make a fancier presentation by only putting the custard on the bottom half of each shortcake, topping with peaches and finally caping off the dessert with the top of the shortcake (like a hat).  I prefer a higher custard to biscuit ratio so I serve it open faced.
  5. To be totally decadent, serve with some whipped cream on top.