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Thursday, July 30, 2015

GLUTEN FREE STOVETOP MAC AND CHEESE can be made Dairy Free and Vegan too!

Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     It is summer here and quite hot and humid. I will be moving in about a week.  Everything in the house is in a bit of an altered state.  Lots of boxes and many things packed and unpacked all about.  We still have to eat.  I have been making meals from what we have in the freezer and cabinets (less to pack).  This stovetop Mac and Cheese is easy, fast and satisfying, not to mention totally yummy!
     I had a pack of Tinkyada brand spiral pasta on the cupboard.  This brand of rice pasta is my favorite because it tastes great, has a perfect texture and no one knows it is GF.  I prefer the rice pastas to the corn ones.  The corn pasta tastes good, but it is very different from regular pasta in taste and texture.  Sometimes I just want the ‘real’ pasta experience.  
     I have made this recipe many times, but I usually bake it.  The stovetop version is very creamy.  I have also made this recipe using oil for butter and vegan cheese in place of dairy cheese.  It gets rave reviews from my vegan son and dairy free friends.  The vegan parmesian cheese is a key ingredient for making the dairy free version of this dish.


1 lb. package
GF pasta.  Elbows, Small Shells and Spirals work best.
I use Tinkyada brand rice pasta.
1/4 cup
Unsalted Butter 
For Dairy Free or Vegan use Oil such as olive or canola.
1/4 cup
Brown Rice Flour
4 cups
For Dairy Free or Vegan use non dairy milk such as almond, rice, soy or coconut.
2 cups/8 oz.
Grated Cheese - cheddar and or jack work well.
For Dairy Free or Vegan use dairy free or vegan cheese.  I like to use the Daiya mozzarella.
1/4 cup
Parmesian Cheese - grated
For Dairy Free or Vegan use dairy free or vegan parmesian cheese.  I like to us the GoVeggie brand.
1 tsp. (or to taste)
Powdered Dry Mustard
1 Tsp. (or to taste)
Granulated Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. (or to taste)
Himalayan Sea Salt


  1. Add a tablespoon of oil to the pot of boiling water and cook the pasta according to directions on the package, but undercook it by 2-3 minutes so that it is al dente.  The  pasta should be just done: firm, but not crunchy inside.  When the pasta sits in the sauce it will get a bit softer, so be careful not to get the pasta mushy to start with.  Drain.  If the sauce is not ready and the pasta will have to sit in the pot for a while, rinse with water to prevent it from sticking and clumping together. Return the cooked, drained (and rinsed if needed) pasta back to the empty pot. 
  2. Heat butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
    Heating butter in a saucepan.
  3. Add the flour and stir until the mixture thickens and gets fragrant, 4-5 minutes.  Stir frequently and be careful not to burn the mixture (if you burn it, clean the pot and start over).
    Adding flour to the melted butter.

    Cooking the butter and flour mixture for 4-5 minutes until it is fragrant and thickens.
  4. Add the milk and whisk it into the flour mixture.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until it thickens slightly.
    Milk whisked into the butter and flour mixture.

    Milk after cooking and thickening a bit.
  5. Add the salt, pepper, onion powder and mustard powder and mix well.
  6. Add the grated cheeses and whisk and continue cooking until the cheese is melted and starts to simmer.
    Adding the cheeses to the thickened milk mixture.

    Cheese and milk mixture after it cooks and thickens a bit.
  7. Mix the cooked and drained pasta with the sauce and stir together well.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I am moving soon and have been eating out my freezer and cabinets to reduce what I have to pack.  I had two partial boxes of GF and vegan cookies, one chocolate chip and one vanilla animal crackers.  I also had a package of frozen strawberries in the freezer.  When I was at Whole Foods last week I bought a package of Coco Whip. There is True Whip which has dairy, but this is the first time I have seen a dairy free option that is a healthier alternative to Cool Whip.  These few things were perfect for making a no bake strawberry cream pie.  I just made up the recipe.
Vegan GF Coco Whip.
     I used my no bake pie crust recipe for the crust and made my strawberry sauce recipe with the frozen strawberries.  I folded the cold strawberry sauce into the coconut whip and voila, a pie filling!  I think that a recipe of coconut whipped cream in place of Coco Whip would also work to make this pie.
     I froze the pie crust before adding the filling.  Freezing the empty crust prevents the crumbs from mixing in with the soft filling.  Then I froze the entire filled pie until it was firm. I do not know how long it takes for the filled pie to freeze completely, probably overnight.  I actually forgot to serve it when friends came over (moving is very stressful).  It stayed in the freezer for several days before I took it out to try it and take blog photos.  The frozen pie cuts easily and very neatly.  It tastes great right out of the freezer or you can let the slice sit for a while and eat it all soft.  The frozen pie is like an ice cream treat and the soft one is like a cream pie, both ways this is a delicious and refreshing dessert.

Makes one 9” pie.

8 ounces
GF and Vegan Cookies - finely ground or crushed 
1/4 cup 
Vegetable Oil - I used canola
3 Tbs.
Sugar - I used evaporated cane juice crystals
1/4 tsp.
Xanthan Gum

10 oz. package
Frozen Strawberries (or 1 pint fresh strawberries)
1/4 cup 
1 Tbs.
1/4 cup 
1  9 ounce container 


First make the crust
  1. Grind the cookies finely in a food processor or put the cookies in a sealed plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin until very fine.
  2. Mix the crumbs with the sugar and xanthan gum and then add the oil and mix well.
    Crumbs with oil, sugar and xanthan gum in the pie pan.
  3. Press the crumbs along the bottom and sides of a pie plate.  Put in the freezer while you make the filling.  
    Crumbs pressed along the bottom and sides of pie pan.
Next make the filling:    
  1. Place the 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1 Tbs. of cornstarch into a saucepan and mix well.   Add the 1/4 cup of water and strawberries and stir.
    Frozen berries and all the other ingredients in the saucepan.
    Note that the liquid is cloudy.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid is no longer cloudy (about 8-10 minutes).  Crush the strawberries with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.
    Mixture simmering, note that the liquid is becoming clear.

  3. Allow the strawberry sauce to cool completely.  I put it into the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
    After crushing the strawberries with a wooden spoon.
  4. Fold the Coco Whip into the cold strawberry sauce.
    Folding strawberry sauce into the Coco Whip.
Assemble the pie:
  1. Pour the mixture into the frozen pie crust.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm.  Frozen pie is easy to cut and serve.  It is like an ice cream pie when frozen.  Allow the cut pieces to rest at room temperature if you prefer a creamy texture.
    Add caption

    Pie covered in plastic wrap.
    In retrospect I should have put some toothpicks
    in the pie to keep the plastic wrap off of the pie,
    because the frozen pie had a flat top.
Frozen pie with a plastic wrap flat top.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     My friend had an abundance of black raspberries in her yard and gave me some fresh picked ones.  They were heavenly plain, but there were a lot of berries, so I decided to make something with them.  A photo of a berry buttermilk cake from Smitten Kitchen’s blog caught my attention.  I converted that recipe into a gluten free version.  I was surprised at how delicious the cake was. (I think that with no one watching anyone would eat the whole thing and I really don’t think it is just me, but you tell me.)  This recipe is a keeper that I will be making again and again.
     I made the first one with butter and real milk and the second one with oil and almond milk.  I made buttermilk by adding 1/2 Tbs. of vinegar to the 1/2 cup of milk and to the almond milk.  For the dairy free version I used oil and added a 1/2 tsp. of butter flavored vanilla.  I prefer to use oil in cakes to replace butter, it adds a nice moistness and does not affect the texture or taste.  Both versions of the cake were scrumptious and drew much praise. 
     The original recipe called for lemon zest.  For some odd reason there have been no organic lemons available for a few weeks.  Last year there was an organic lime shortage.  (Something about drug cartels interfering with the shipping or production.) I prefer buying organic fruit when using the zest to avoid a dose of pesticides with my baked goods.  The lime zest gave the cake a subtle and unique flavor that enhanced the whole cake eating experience. 

Makes one 9” round cake

1/2 cup
Sorghum Flour
1/4 cup
Chickpea Flour
1/4 cup
Tapioca Flour
1/2 tsp.
Xanthan Gum
1/4 tsp.
Himalayan Sea Salt
1 tsp.
Baking Powder
1 tsp.
Baking Soda
4 Tbs.
Butter or Canola Oil (or other mild flavored vegetable oil)
2/3 cup
Sugar (I used evaporated cane juice crystals)
1/2 tsp.
Vanilla extract (for dairy free add 1/2 tsp. of butter vanilla or an extra 1/2 tsp. vanilla)
1/2 tsp.
Lime Zest - finely grated
1 large 
1/2 cup
Milk or for dairy free Non Dairy Milk
1/2 Tbs.
Apple Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs.
Sugar - for sprinkling on top of cake before baking.
1 cup
Fresh or Frozen Berries - blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and black raspberries would work best, but you can use strawberries cut up into smaller pieces also.

  1. Preheat oven to 400℉.  Prepare a 9” round baking pan by greasing and flouring it.  I lined the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper, which I greased and floured, to make it easier to take out of the pan.
    Parchment lined pan that is greased and floured.
  2. Make “buttermilk” by measuring out 1/2 cup of milk or non dairy milk into a bowl or large glass measuring cup and adding the 1/2 Tbs. of vinegar.  Stir and allow it to rest for 10-15minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl add the flours, salt, xanthan gum, baking powder and baking powder.  Mix well.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl add the 2/3 cup of sugar and the butter, beat until light and fluffy.  If using oil, just stir the sugar and oil together.
  5. Add the egg, lime zest and vanilla and mix well.
  6. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and then 1/2 of the milk mixture and blend in.    Repeat.  Then add the last 1/3 of the flour mixture and combine well.
    The batter all mixed.
    Can you see the small strands of lime zest?
  7. Put the batter into the prepared pan.  Arrange the berries evenly over the top of the batter.  Sprinkle with the 1 1/2 Tbs. of sugar.  My berries sank to the bottom and I enjoyed the texture with all the berries on the bottom.  To keep the berries suspended in the cake coat them with some flour before putting them on the cake.
    Spreading the batter in the pan.

    Raw batter with berries and sugar over the top.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the center springs back when lightly pressed or when a cake tester or wooden toothpick comes out clean after being inserted into the center of the cake. 
    Cake still in the pan, all baked.
  9. Cool in the pan 10 minutes then invert onto a wire rack to cool.  I took a second wire rack and turned the cake right side up to prevent the rack from forming impression lines on the top of the cake.
  10. Serve warmed or at room temperature.  This cake is wonderful plain, but a dollop of whipped cream or whipped coconut cream would not be too decadent.
    Having some cake on the deck.
    Everything tastes better outside on a sunny day.
    Photo by Charles Davidson.

Monday, July 6, 2015


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I made Jewish Cinnamon Babka!  This was my fourth attempt and finally got the taste and texture right.  Babka is a yeasted bread like cake, eaten as dessert, with breakfast or as a treat anytime.  In my area there are two main kinds, Jewish and Polish.  Polish Babka is similar to a brioche in texture and is baked in a bundt pan (I love Polish Cheese Babka).  Jewish Babka is similar to challah bread in texture and its’ dough is filled, rolled up, twisted, folded and topped with streusel (a sweet crumb like mixture).  
     There are many types of fillings you can use in the dough, such as cinnamon, chocolate and almond.  I decided on cinnamon this time.  Next time I will make and post the recipe for Chocolate Babka.  
     I tried converting Martha Stewart’s (Polish) Babka recipe first, it was good, but not the type of babka I was yearning for.  Next I converted a traditional babka dough recipe from Tori Avery’s blog into a GF version.  The first one came out too dry.  I adjusted the amount of flour and the second babka was much better, but still not the right texture.  The dough became hard and dry after one day and had to be warm to enjoy.  Then, I was going to adjust it again and try once more, but I woke up with an idea.  If babka dough tastes like challah dough and originated from extra challah dough made into a treat for children, why not start with my challah dough recipe?   This was just the right thing.  The dough is moist and soft for days without reheating it and it tastes great!
     The raw challah dough is very soft and more like a cake batter than a bread dough.  I knew I would have to adjust some things to form it into a loaf.  I decided to lay out a few pieces of plastic wrap to cover the counter.  I then put corn starch over it to keep the dough from sticking.  I put too much and got some thin flour layers between some of the dough.  It did not affect the taste.  Next time I will try to spray the plastic with cooking spray, or oil it well, to keep the dough from sticking. 
Note the flour in the fold in the upper right corner.
I will use cooking spray next time instead of flour to
keep the dough from sticking to the plastic wrap.
     I patted the dough into a large rectangle using wet hands.  Then I, brushed the dough with the filling.  I had followed a recipe and mixed the sugar, cinnamon and melted butter together.  It was really difficult to spread on such soft dough.  It would be better to brush with melted butter first and then sprinkle the dough with cinnamon, sugar, nuts and raisins. 
     I used the plastic to lift the dough and roll it into a log.  The same way you would when making a cinnamon roll. I folded the log in half and, using the plastic to lift the folded log, I put the log into the prepared pan.  I should have used a larger pan, the loaf kept rising while it was baking and some of it fell over the side of the pan and onto a baking sheet, that I had thankfully placed under the bread pan.  I was stunned when I opened the oven door and it looked like a scene from I Love Lucy with the dough pouring out of the pan.  Because the dough was soft, it resealed itself and the finished loaf looked fine.   
     The streusel topping is to die for, definitely use it.  It is really worth the little extra time and effort and adds just the right taste and sweetness to the loaf.  Yum!

Makes one loaf.

1 Tbs/10 gm
1 Tbs/13 gm
Sugar (I used evaporated cane juice crystals)
¾ cup/180 ml
Water - 115℉
1 ¼ cup/175 gm
Corn Starch
1 cup/163 gm
Sweet Rice Flour
¼ cup/30 gm
Tapioca Flour
¼ cup/27 gm
Chickpea Flour
1 Tbs/9 gm
Xanthan Gum
1 tsp/6 gm
Himalayan Sea Salt
¼ cup/57 gm
 Melted Butter or for Dairy Free: Canola Oil 
2 Tbs/43 gm
3 Tbs/40 gm
4 large
Yolk  (reserve the white to brush the top of the loaf)
⅛ tsp/0.5 ml
Vanilla Extract

4 Tbs/57 gm
Melted Butter or for Dairy Free: Melted Margarine or Canola Oil
2 Tbs/12 gm 
½ cup/86 gm
Brown Sugar
½ cup/60 gm
Chopped Walnuts or Pecans
½ cup/78 gm
Raisins - soaked in hot water for 15 minutes to plump them.

¼ cup/43 gm
Brown Sugar
¼ cup/37 gm-corn starch OR 30 gm tapioca flour
Corn Starch or Tapioca Flour
⅛ tsp/.5 gm
Xanthan Gum
¼ tsp/1.5 gm
Himalayan Sea Salt
2 Tbs/28.5 gm
Cold Butter or for Dairy Free: Margarine or Non Hydrogenated Shortening

  1. Prepare a warm place for the bread to rise.  I like to use a proofing box or make a proofing box out of the microwave.  To use the microwave, fill a microwave proof bowl with water and place in the microwave and turn the microwave on.  Allow it to heat for at least 10 minutes.  I let it run until the dough is prepared.  When the bread is ready to rise I turn off the microwave and place the bread pan inside the microwave with the bowl of hot water, shut the door and leave it to rise, do not turn on the microwave when the loaf is in the microwave.
  2. Prepare a loaf pan by greasing it and lining it with parchment paper, two pieces, one each direction.  Then grease the parchment paper.  Set aside.  I used 9"x5" pans, a larger 10"x5" pan may have been better and prevented the overflow of dough during baking.
    Loaf pan lined with parchment paper and greased.
  3. Next Prepare the Filling:
  4. Melt the butter or margarine, set aside.  Soak the raisins in hot water for about 15 minutes.  Drain well and set aside.  Chop nuts and set aside.  Measure out the cinnamon and sugar, mix together and set aside. 
  5. Next Prepare the Streusel Topping:
  6. In a bowl mix the sugar, tapioca flour or corn starch, xanthan gum and salt, mix well.  Add the butter or margarine to the bowl and pinch the flour mixture and butter between your thumb and index fingers until you get a mixture with all sizes of lumps and some sand like mixture as well.  Put in the fridge until ready to put on top of the loaf. 
    Pinching the flour and butter together to mix the streusel topping.

    Streusel all mixed.
  7. Next Make the Dough:
  8. In a small bowl add the warm water, yeast and 1 Tbs. sugar, mix and set aside.  It should bubble and foam within 10 minutes.  If it does not foam, the yeast is not fresh or active, or the water was too hot and killed the yeast.  Start again with fresh yeast and use a thermometer to check the water temperature. 
    Yeast all foamy.
  9. In the bowl of a stand mixer add all the flours, corn starch, xanthan gum and salt.  Mix well.
    Flours, salt, xanthan gum and corn starch well mixed.
  10. Add the yeast mixture, melted butter or oil, sugar and honey, mix on low until combined.
    Yeast, oil & honey added to flour mixture.

    Batter after mixing the yeast and honey mixture in.
  11. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium until combined.
    Adding the eggs & vanilla.

    Beginning to mix the batter.

    Batter after the eggs are mixed in.
  12. Turn speed up to high and mix about 2-4 minutes until the batter is smooth. 
    Batter after mixing on high for 2-4 minutes.
    Very smooth and no more lumps.
  13. Next Form the Loaf:
  14. Place sheet of plastic wrap to cover the counter top.  The plastic wrap should be about 20 inches long and 16 inches wide.  Cover the plastic well with oil or cooking spray. (no photo here: learn from my mistakes...use cooking spray or oil to keep the dough from sticking to the plastic wrap NOT flour)
  15. Spoon the batter onto the plastic wrap.  Use wet hands to spread the batter out into an 18” x 14” rectangle.  
    Putting dough onto the prepared plastic wrap.
    I used flour (a mistake since there were some layers of flour in the loaf)
    use oil or cooking spray.

    Dough spread out into a 18"x14" rectangle using wet hands.
    Note the filling ingredients ready to be put on the dough.
  16. Spread the melted butter or margarine over the dough with a pastry brush, leaving a 1” border around the edges.
    I mixed the sugar and melted butter - a mistake - 
    it made it harder to spread on such soft dough.  
    Spread the oil or butter first and then 
    sprinkle with the sugar cinnamon mixture.
  17. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the melted butter or margarine.
  18. Scatter the drained raisins and chopped nuts evenly over the sugar mixture.
    Nuts and raisins sprinkled over the cinnamon mixture.
  19. Starting with the long end, use the plastic wrap to roll the dough into a tight log.  If the batter sticks, use wet or greased fingers to scrape it off the plastic as you roll up the dough.
    Beginning to roll up the dough from the long end
    using the plastic wrap to lift and roll the dough.
    Dough all rolled up.
  20. Use the plastic wrap to lift the end of the log and fold the log in half.
    Log folded in half.  This will give the Babka more layers.
  21. Bring the prepared baking pan close.  Lift the rolled and folded dough with the plastic wrap and turn it into the baking pan.
    Loaf in pan, brushed with egg white.
  22. Brush the top of the loaf with egg white.
  23. Allow the loaf to rise for about 45 minutes until it reaches the top of the pan.
  24. Place one oven rack in the center of the oven and one below it with enough room for a baking pan to fit easily on the lower shelf.  
  25. Preheat the oven to 350℉ (after the loaf has been rising for about 20 minutes).
  26. Place a baking pan with some water on the lower shelf in the oven.
  27. When the oven is at the correct temperature and the Babka has risen to the top of the pan prepare to bake the Babka.  
    Babka after rising.  I should have used larger pans,
    since one loaf overflowed during baking.
    One babka is diary free and one has dairy.
  28. Take the streusel out of the fridge and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the risen loaf.
  29. Place the loaf pan on top of a baking sheet and place in center of the center oven rack.
  30. Bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the loaf is between 195 - 210℉.
  31. If the loaf is getting too brown during the last 20 minutes of baking, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  32. When done baking, place the pan on a baking rack to cool for 7-10 minutes, then, using the parchment paper,  lift the Babka out of the pan, to cool on the rack.
    Babka cooling on a rack.
    The streusel melted because I put it on while the loaf rose.
    I think the streusel will stay in clumps if kept chilled and added just before baking.
    The I Love Lucy side of the Babka that over flowed while baking.
  33. You can serve it warm or cold.  Slice with a serrated knife.  Enjoy!