Gluten Free Sandwich Bread, for soup

So, remember way back, when I shared the recipe for Socca with Roasted Tomatoes, Swiss Chard and Goat Feta? I mentioned then that I sometimes cooked for family members on gluten free diets. Well, I am now one of those family members. So any recipe that I share here from now on will very likely be gluten-free. And I had to share this one – it’s the first GF bread I’ve tasted that really tempted me to have another slice. And what’s more, it tempted my (non-GF) husband – he stole part of my piece, and then got his own.

Along with it, I’ll share a recipe for curried sweet potato Balti soup, which is a variation of a dish I’ve had many times, but never made. We are still working our way through about 20 pounds of sweet potatoes that we received as part of our CSA (community supported agriculture) membership this past season. I was dismayed to find that this had only used about about 1 pound of the haul! Balti Seasoning is a spice mixture from Baltistan in northern Pakistan – I got it from Penzey’s spices. According to Penzey’s, it contains “coriander, garlic, ginger, cumin, dundicut chilies, Ceylon cinnamon, brown mustard seeds, cardamom, clove, fennel, fenugreek, charnushka (kalonji, black onion seed), ajwain, star anise, black cardamom, cilantro, anise seed and bay leaf,” but I would say that the coriander, ginger and cinnamon are the dominant flavors. It also contains kalonji seed, which is one of my favorite spices – great to have on hand to add a subtle onion flavor to curry, and fabulous sprinkled on pita chips when you make them at home (Pita chips, alas, are not gluten-free! Sob!)

Here’s the bread recipe – soup recipe will follow shortly!

GFBread

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread
adapted from Kneadlessly Simple, by Nancy Baggett

Note: This bread can take anywhere from 24-48 hours from start to finish, including 2 rises. So don’t start making it if you want bread right away! Luckily, it requires no kneading, so most of that time is just waiting for the dough to do its thing.

Ingredients:
1 2/3 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup gluten free oats (rolled – not instant)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup flax seed meal (you can grind your own in a food processor if you have whole flax seeds in your cupboard)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast (I used SAF Instant Yeast which is much cheaper than buying it in individual packets)
1/3 cup corn oil or canola oil
1 1/3 cups ice water (I usually use spring water for baking, since our hard water sometimes kills yeast)
3 tbsp honey
1 egg
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used whole milk cream top yogurt)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions

Mix 1 1/3 cup of the rice flour, the rest of the flours, and flax meal thoroughly in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the ice water, oil and honey, and whisk vigorously. Tip: Pour the oil into the tablespoon measure, then pour it into the 1/3 cup measure and top it up. Use the oily tablespoon to measure the honey, and the honey will slide right out! Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly (do not knead). I found this dough quite wet, so I added about another 1/2 cup of rice flour until it didn’t stick to the bowl anymore, but was still moist inside.

Cover the bowl (I used one of the Abeego reusable food wraps that I got for Christmas – thanks twin sister!), and refrigerate for about 3 hours, then take it out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature for about 12 hours. I started making the dough on Friday night at around 8 – exciting nightlife! – put it in the fridge at around 8:30, took it out of the fridge before I went to bed, and did the next step the next morning at around 11. The dough smelled yeasty by that point, but it did not look like it had risen at all. This step is primarily to develop the yeast flavor – the rising effect comes from the baking soda and yogurt.

Next, mix the remaining 1/3 cup of rice flour, egg, yogurt and baking soda thoroughly in a small bowl. Pour this mixture over the dough, and stir vigorously with a fork. Note: the original recipe called for you to keep back 1 tsp of the egg and use it to brush over the top of the loaf, but I thought this was too fussy (nevermind how fussy it is to make bread that takes 48 hours – ha!), so I just brushed the top with milk instead.  Empty the dough into a greased loaf pan. Leave at room temperature for another 5-7 hours until it has risen above the top of the pan. But mine never actually rose above the top of the pan, and it was still fine. I did put the loaf pan next to the heating vent for the last three hours, and I think this helped.

At this point, my photocopy of this recipe is cut off, so I guessed at the baking directions. Bake at 375F for one hour, until the top is brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you knock it on the top with your knuckles. Let the loaf sit for a few minutes, loosen the loaf from the sides of the pan by drawing a knife around the edges, and turn out on the counter. Dig in!

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Gentle, with jellied salad

Apple Betty and Sloppy Joe cover photo

On a family visit to Olbrich Botanical Gardens this past weekend, I picked up Apple Betty & Sloppy Joe by Susan Sanvidge, Diane Sanvidge Seckar, Jean Sanvidge Wouters, and Julie Sanvidge Florence. Yes, another cookbook.As I told my students today, some people read mystery novels or romances when they’re busy at work; I read cookbooks.

This cookbook, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society is the work of four sisters, who were raised in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in the 1950s. If you can imagine your stereotype of how a Midwestern middle-class family ate in 1955, you will likely imagine some of the dishes the Sandvidge sisters describe: jellied salad appears, as do various preparations for canned vegetables and pot roast. Many of the recipes in the book aren’t recipes at all, rather good-natured self-mockery on the part of the authors. Nobody actually needs to know how to make the disgusting midnight snacks cooked up by the youngest sister, but that is not the point. The point is remembering: the author’s remembering her eating of those concoctions in bed, curled up with a flashlight and a novel, and the reader’s remembering of similar moments connected with special foods and food rituals.

In its focus on these rituals, on regional ingredients and family stories, the book shares some of the goals, if not the tone, of The Homesick Texan. More surprisingly, the two books share concerns for the use of whole unprocessed foods, and for the perpetuation of ethnic cooking heritage (in the Sandvidge’s case, this heritage is German, including grandparents who made their own sauerkraut in their garage). Convenience foods certainly appear – not least breakfast cereal, which the sisters seem to have consumed in truly monumental quantities – but their role is not as prominent as one might expect.

Would I actually cook anything from this book? I was not tempted by many of the main dish recipes, although some of the German specialties made me bemoan my household’s current vegetarianism. But I don’t need another recipe for sauerbraten and potato dumplings, or for baked beans with bacon. The baking section, on the other, hand, does include several recipes that I would like to try, for coffee cakes, donuts, muffins, and cookies that seem like they would be both delicious and quick to make, and introduce me to some new tastes.

On the whole, though, this is not a cookbook for cooking, it’s a cookbook for reading, and I don’t mind that. It introduced me to some of the specialties and traditions of the area in which I now find myself living, and gave me a few good laughs, and a few good grimaces at the authors’ corny humor. And I’ll definitely pull it out at Christmas when I need to find some more ways to use some of the good Wisconsin butter!

Olbrich Gardens - My First Macro

Olbrich Gardens by Tony Heussner via Flickr

Baking Makes Joy: part 2 (adding the fruit to your flan)

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Since this seems to have become, temporarily, a baking blog, here’s what to do with your peach flan once you’ve baked the dough.

Incidentally, this cake has many great features:

  1. you can fill it with any kind of fresh fruit, as long as it’s soft enough – besides peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and redcurrants all work well.
  2. you can make and bake the dough the day before you plan to eat it (the evening before is often convenient) and then fill it later.
  3. you can make the dough and freeze it for up to 3 months before thawing it, rolling it out, etc. and nothing bad happens. So I often make at least a double batch of dough
  4. if you are feeding a lot of people, you can triple the dough recipe, and bake it on a cookie sheet (one with a rim works better), for a big huge cake
  5. the dough gets pleasantly soggy after the fruit has sat in it for a day or so, so you can plan accordingly depending on your preference for crispy or soggy
  6. Anyways, once you’ve got your baked crust, drain the can of peaches over a colander placed over a bowl to catch the juice. Important: save the juice!

    Make up the glaze according to the instructions on the package, using the reserved juice instead of the water called for on the package (or use a combo of water and juice to make up the right volume of liquid). Important: the glaze mix does not itself usually contain sugar, so add about 2-3 tbsp of sugar, depending on whether your peaches were packed in juice or in syrup.

    Arrange the peaches in a pleasing pattern on the crust, and then pour over the hot glaze. Let it set for several hours.

    Enjoy!

Baking makes Joy

In honour of Easter Sunday, I thought I’d post a recipe that is traditional in my family for Easter, peach flan, from a classic German cookbook. This recipe is not actually traditional for Easter in Germany: I think my mother just started making it at Easter because it is easy, uses canned fruit available anytime, and sort of looks like a nest of eggs if you use canned peach halves, and put shredded coconut or slivered almonds around the edges:

IMG_1055

I have the recipe copied into my recipe notebook, in English, so I’m not sure if the source is Backen Macht Freude (Baking Makes Joy, literally) , published by Dr. Oetker, or the English translation of the companion volume German Home Cooking. Since my recipe’s in English, and the Amazon image of the English version is way more retro-cool, let’s pretend it’s from there:

Amazon German Home Baking

Dr. Oetker was not a “scientific” name invented to sell high-tech cooking products like baking powder, which he seems to have invented, or, more recently, that slightly spooky instant Dr. Oetker mousse. Nope, he was a real guy, and the cookbooks produced by his company are bestsellers in Germany. My parents have not only the “classics” like Backen Macht Freude, but also the English “Baking is Fun” series, of which by far the most heavily-used volume is Volume 3: the Christmas volume. These books have measurements by weight, not volume, so you will need either a scale or one of these super-handy weight-conversion measuring cups, which lists various ingredients (flour, sugar, raisins, and oddly, tapioca) on the inside, and gives the weight of various volumes:

weight-vol measuring cup

Peach Flan
(makes 1 9-inch flan, although if it’s the first time you’re making it, I would double the recipe just to make sure you have enough for your particular way of rolling out the dough and your particular cake pan)

Equipment: a 9-inch springform pan and a countertop (no bowl! trust me)

Ingredients:
170g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
70g sugar
1 pkg. vanilla sugar (about 2-3 tablespoons, if you have homemade, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 egg
70g butter

1 package Dr. Oetker flan glaze (or another neutral-flavoured flan glaze – they are usually made from arrowroot or tapioca)
1 large can peaches (buy extra – you can’t have too many peaches and you can always eat extras)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Pour the flour onto your clean countertop, and put the baking powder on top. Shape the pile of flour into a circle, about 3 inches high, with a hollow in the middle: there should still be a layer of flour at the bottom of the hollow, ie. you shouldn’t be able to see your countertop at the bottom of the hollow. Add the sugar and vanilla sugar/vanilla to the hollow.

Press down the sugar a little to make another little hollow, and confidently crack in the egg. If it starts spilling over the flour-wall surrounding the hollow, shore up the sides by pushing up the flour-wall a little. Then, take a fork, and beat the egg gently. Use the fork to draw in small amounts of flour from the sides, and keep beating, until you have eventually made a thickish (gluey, really) paste from the egg, sugar and some of the flour. Again, keep shoring up the flour-wall at the sides if necessary. Take a breather, if this process freaked you out and made you wonder at the sanity of generations of German bakers.

Luckily, I took a picture of the next step when I made this the last time, although it’s a bit blurry:

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Next, cut up the butter into 1/2 inch cubes. The butter should be coldish room temperature (if you’re used to making pastry, it should be a little warmer than you would normally use for that). Put the butter cubes on top of the gluey egg paste, and begin kneading the whole mass together, drawing in the flour from the sides, and crushing the butter between your fingers. Keep kneading until you get a smooth, consistent dough. This should take about five minutes. Let the dough cool for about ten minutes in the fridge.

Divide the dough into thirds. Take two thirds, and roll it out with a rolling pin until you get a circle large enough for the base of your springform, about 3/4 inch high. Take the other third, and roll it into a “snake” that is long enough for the circumference of your pan. Pop your springform open, place the base on the rolled out dough to act as a template. Cut the dough to fit the base, and put it on the base. Prick the dough-base with a fork. Then put the ring back on your pan, and place the “snake” of dough around the edge of the base. With your thumb, smush the snake of dough upwards to form a rim for the flan about 1 1/4 inches high.

Bake the dough for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees, until the rim is golden brown, and the middle is just golden.

Next post, adding the peaches.