Grandma K’s Banana Bread

My mom has said that I get my baking skills from my grandmother (and that they skipped a generation). I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that I have many fond memories of the delicious baked goods that came from Grandma K’s kitchen. Grandma K didn’t often write a recipe down. Her wrinkled hands knew how the dough should feel. Her nose knew what it should smell like. Her eyes could spot if the dough was too wet or too dry.

But, every once in a while, with enough asking, she’d agree to write down what she did. I only have a few of those recipes, and I cherish them. One of them was for her banana bread. I think I’ve finally come up with a gluten-free banana bread recipe worthy of carrying her name. No special “healthier” sweeteners here. Grandma K used sugar – the white stuff – and for this recipe I’ve followed suit.

I’m using one ingredient Grandma K never would have thought of – agar flakes. Agar is a seaweed, and it is used as a replacement for gelatin in many vegan recipes. I buy it in noodle shapes in the Asian grocery store, and then grind it in a coffee grinder. It’s fairly cheap when purchased and prepared that way. I would guess you could also use gelatin, but I’d reduce the amount by about half. The agar works to bind the flours, much like a gum would. Without it, your bread will probably fall and may not hold together.

Fresh banana bread - the perfect fall treat.

Fresh banana bread – the perfect fall treat.

Grandma K’s Banana Bread – the Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free version

1/2 cup almond milk
1 t. apple cider vinegar
2 very ripe bananas
1/4 cup Earth Balance Soy-Free
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup packed almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1 T. agar flakes

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a standard loaf pan.

In a measuring cup, mix the almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.

In the large mixing bowl, beat the bananas until they are fully mashed and becoming liquidy. Add the Earth Balance and beat until it is fully incorporated. Beat in the sugar and the eggs. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Finally, pour in the sour milk and beat until the batter is smooth.  Scrape into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes*. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before cutting.

*Cover the top of the pan with tin foil at the half way point if it is browning too quickly. (I was out of tin foil on the day I made this, and mine is a little more brown than I’d like.)

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Book Review: The Secret to Gum-Free, Gluten-Free Baking

Have you ever tried to make gluten-free baked goods that don’t contain any gums? No xanthan? No guar? Results can be pretty hit and miss. I’ve found that I can usually get away with making gum-free cookies. But, when it comes to breads and cakes, it’s fairly hard to get a gum-free baked good that doesn’t crumble to bits.

Enter Alta Mantsch, the author of the blog “Tasty Eats at Home.” If you’ve never been to her blog before, you should go. Now. I’ll wait.

You’re back? Good. She has good stuff, right?

Well, now she’s come out with a wonderful e-book, “The Secret to Gum-Free, Gluten-Free Baking: Find out How Simple it is to Make Delicious Breads, Waffles, Cakes and More without Gluten, Dairy or Gums.” As soon as I got my hands on it, I knew it was going to be a hit in my house. Those donuts on the cover? First thing the kiddo requested.

Gum-free Chocolate Donuts

Gum-free Chocolate Donuts

Pretty right? And the kiddo liked them a lot, too. One note on this recipe, it made more than my donut pan could hold. So, I made a small cake, too. It domed nicely, and worked well as cake.

That wasn’t the only thing we made. We also made waffles, snickerdoodles, a loaf of bread, and garlic bread sticks. Oh, the bread sticks! Remember going out to eat at Italian restaurants with all you can eat bread sticks? I really never thought I’d experience that again. But, these bread sticks? Fazoli’s doesn’t have anything on them.

You may be wondering what the secret ingredient is by now. What makes these recipes work without gums? Well, sorry vegetarians. You’re not going to like this. The secret is gelatin. I was kind of shocked at the quantity of gelatin in some of these recipes. But, here’s the thing. Something kind of magical happens when you add all that gelatin. Remember those bread sticks? (Sorry – there’s no picture. We ate them too quickly.) When I first mixed up the recipe I thought, “this is never going to work.” See, I don’t have a stand mixer, and my hand mixer was complaining loudly, long before the dough really came together. But, after a quick whizz in the food processor, it became this sticky, stretchy, kneadable dough. Like gluten-filled dough. (But, of course, better, because it’s gluten-free.) It was fun to play with, fun to shape, and even more fun to eat.

We also made the pizza crust. Again, it was so much fun to knead, roll, and stretch a dough again. And, it bakes up crisp and crunchy on the edges, chewy in the middle. (Next time I might try to roll it extra thin – for that almost cracker-like crust you get in some restaurant pizzas.)

Crispy, crunchy pizza crust

Crispy, crunchy pizza crust

Alta gave me permission to share the pizza crust recipe with you. So, try this recipe, and then head on over to Amazon to buy her amazing e-book!

Pizza Crust (courtesy of Alta Mansch)

If you ask my Dad about his favorite dish, his response will undoubtedly be “PIZZA!” Every year, for his birthday, I work to perfect a gluten‐free pizza crust. As the years progress, I get closer and closer. This crust recipe is my favorite. It’s chewy, but a touch soft, and comes out of the oven puffy and lightly browned. In other words, it makes one heck of a pie.
Ingredients:
¾ cup tapioca starch/flour
½ cup sweet white rice flour
2/3 cup superfine brown rice flour
6 tablespoons gelatin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup lukewarm water (110 degrees F)
¼ ounce (1 package) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg white, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for handling dough

Instructions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the tapioca starch, sweet white rice flour, superfine brown rice flour, gelatin and salt. Mix together on low speed.

In a small bowl, whisk together the water, yeast and sugar. Allow to sit and foam up for a minute, and then add this mixture, the eggs, and the olive oil to the flours. Beat at medium‐low speed until dough is smooth and comes together, 3‐4 minutes. Dough should be very thick.

Place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Scrape the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Using hands oiled with olive oil, knead the dough together into a ball and press out into a round on the parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle about 14 inches in diameter (about ¼ inch thick). Use another sheet of parchment paper on top if the dough is sticking to the rolling pin. Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise for about 20 minutes (it won’t rise much).

Transfer the dough, still on the parchment paper, to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the top is puffed and firm and the underside is slightly browned and crisp, about 8‐10 minutes. Carefully remove from oven. (You might want to use a baking peel or baking sheet to assist in moving it.) Top the crust as desired, and return to the center rack in the oven for another 5‐10 minutes, until the toppings are bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven, and slice and serve immediately. Serves 4‐6

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Pie Crust

Since last I blogged, my mom has started eating gluten-free. That means I’ve gotten lots of questions (which is great!) and a few requests for recipes. She’s pretty good at letting Google be her guide. But, being the good mom that she is, she usually checks here to see if I’ve come up with something first.

The last time I visited, she’d made a pie crust that we all agreed was less than spectacular. I realized that while I’ve certainly made a lot of pies, I hadn’t ever blogged a crust recipe. So, without further ado, here’s my basic crust recipe.

Easy As Apple Pie

Easy As Apple Pie

Basic Pie Crust

2/3 cup  shortening
2/3 cup white rice flour (scoop and sweep method)
2/3 cup sweet rice flour (scoop and sweep method)
2/3 cup (packed) almond flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. xanthan gum
1 egg
2 T. ice water

Put the shortening, flours, salt and xanthan in a food processor (or bowl if you don’t have a food processor). Pulse the food processor (or cut with a pastry cutter) until the shortening is well distributed. Add the egg and the 2 T. ice water and pulse until the dough forms a ball. (If doing this by hand, stir until the dough comes together.) The dough will feel just a little too wet/sticky. This is the way it is supposed to be.

Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper and transfer to pie pan. Trim the edges, and then pinch them to make a decorative edge. If you’re blind baking, bake at 350° until lightly browned. If you’re using as part of a pie, continue with the pie recipe as directed.

This recipe makes enough for 1 single-crust deep dish 9″ pie, or enough for an 8″ pie with a streusel topping (like the photo). To make the streusel, put the scraps from the bottom crust back in the food processor and pulse with 1/4 cup coconut sugar and 1/2 cup sliced almonds.

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April Unprocessed: Banana Walnut Bites

So, it’s April, and it still doesn’t really feel like spring outside. But, I’ve got the urge to do spring cleaning. And what better way to do spring cleaning than to clean up my diet.

Now, this isn’t some crazy cleanse. I’m done with those. This is just a mild adjustment to the slacker snacking I’ve been doing this winter. One too many bowls of chips has passed my lips.

So, for April, I’m doing a month of unprocessed food. I can eat as much as I want of good, wholesome food, including baked goods (as long as they’re not full of white sugar and refined starches and such).

We all know I have a sweet tooth. So, I’d better start things off with something sweet, yes? These grain-free, lightly sweetened, protein powerhouse cookies are just what spring cleaning is all about.

Banana, Walnuts and Maple make these cookies sing.

Banana, Walnuts and Maple make these cookies sing.

Banana Walnut Bites

1 very ripe banana
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup (scoop and sweep method) walnut meal
1 cup (scoop and sweep method) almond flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

In a medium bowl, beat the banana until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until you have a soft dough. Drop dough by scoops onto the parchment paper. Wet your hand, and gently press each cookie down to about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake for about 17 minutes, or until edges are browning. Cookies will be soft.

Posted in cinnamon, cookies, grain-free, nuts, vegan | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

March Muffin Madness!

March Muffin Madness!

You’ve heard of March Madness right? It’s something to do with balls and hoops and colleges and brackets. Or something. I don’t really give a hoot about that kind of madness. But, muffins? Now, that I give a hoot about!

The wonderful Shirley over at Gluten Free Easily is hosting a March Muffin Madness event. Every day a new muffin recipe by a gluten-free blogger is posted, all month long. And, guess what? Mine just went up!

And not only are there recipes, there are giveaways, too! Just comment on the posts for a chance to enter for wonderful prizes like a mini 24-cupsteel 12-cup, or cast iron 6-cup), an immersion blendera spiral vegetable sliceran electric pressure cooker, and a 12-cup food processor. Wow!

So, if the idea of sweet and soft corn muffins tickles your fancy, hop on over to check it out, and be sure to check out all the other muffin recipes, too!

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Waffles!

The kiddo has a huge fascination with waffles. Me? Not so much, mostly because I’d never found a recipe that was reliably stick-free. And, seriously, cleaning a stuck waffle off a waffle-iron is one of the least fun kitchen chores.

But, I finally found a stick-proof recipe that is crisp and crunchy (just the way he likes them).

Crispy, Crunchy, Never-Fail Waffles

Crispy, Crunchy, Never-Fail Waffles

Fail-Free Waffles

2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup (48 g) palm shortening, melted
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
80 g (1/2 cup, packed) almond flour
60 g (1/2 cup, approximately) tapioca starch
60 g (6 T., approximately) white rice flour

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Beat the rest of the ingredients together. Fold in the egg whites. Bake on greased waffle iron according to manufacturers instructions.

 

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Banana Peanut Butter Bites

“Mom! These melt in your mouth!” cried the swooning kiddo.

I’ll take that as a sign.

If you want a vegan version, check out my Almost Elvis cookies.

Combine banana, peanut butter, and chocolate and what do you get? Yum.

Combine banana, peanut butter, and chocolate and what do you get? Yum.

Banana Peanut Butter Bites

1 very ripe banana
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 packed cup almond flour
1/2 cup (spooned and leveled) tapioca starch
1/2 cup (spooned and leveled) white rice flour
1/2 cup (or so) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, beat the banana until smooth. Add the peanut butter and sugar. Beat until smooth. Add the egg. Beat until fluffy. Add everything else except the chocolate chips and beat until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for about 14 minutes, until just beginning to brown.

Posted in bananas, chocolate, cookies, peanut butter | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments