Yesterday morning as I drove home on the back roads after dropping my youngest at his school, I paused to wait while four deer crossed the road just feet in front of me. I always wonder if I will ever cease to find such encounters special. I truly hope not.
I did harbour doubts about Christmas baking this year, it being our first after giving up gluten last March, but it turns out that it’s also something that retains its specialness, even as it changes. It definitely helped to get the better part of a year of mastering gluten-free baking under my belt before embarking on Christmas treats. I also had a little help in the form of a cookbook given to us by a neighbour shortly after she heard about our transition. While I love to dig up great recipes online, I’m still deeply attached to books, and flipping through a cookbook at my leisure is truly a pleasant task. On Sunday it led to me baking four different treats in one evening, surely a new record for me.
In the oven on Sunday evening were:
– gingerbread men and other cut-out biscuits
– walnut/coconut/banana bars
– peppermint brownies
– vanilla drop cookies
In spite of a late start, I agreed to my youngest helping me to cut out the first batch of gingerbread and decorate the items that needed embellishment, including frosting the vanilla drop cookies and adding sprinkles to the brownies and the cookies.
The remaining batches of gingerbread biscuits were rolled, cut out and baked yesterday after school; we made a lot of these for a cookie decorating get together that we’re having here with friends tomorrow.
I had the highest hopes for the gingerbread, as it’s a traditional staple that comes with the freight of high expectations for us. I spent quite a bit of time reviewing recipes before deciding on one from The Baking Beauties, and we’re really pleased with the results. I made some modifications to the flour blend to work with what I had on hand, and note these below in my version of the recipe.
Tonight I prepared a quick batch of mint chocolate fudge, pictured at the top of this post, which is a no-brainer for gluten free baking, and tomorrow we’ll also make popcorn balls with melted marshmallows.
Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies, adapted from The Baking Beauties
1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup almond meal / flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Fancy Molasses
1 large egg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Step 1 – In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, and spices.
Step 2 – In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in the molasses and egg, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the lemon juice.
Step 3 – Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Mix until the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated.
Step 4 – Divide the dough in two, placing each piece of dough on a sheet of plastic wrap. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Step 5 – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
Step 6 – Lightly flour the counter with sweet rice flour or place a sheet of parchment paper down on your work surface. Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thick. Use your favourite cookie cutters. Although the cookies hold their shape pretty well, don’t use anything too detailed, since they do grow a bit.
Step 7 – Place cut out cookies on prepared baking pan, leaving an inch or two between cookies.
Step 8 – Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3-5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Cool completely before using a simple frosting of confectioners’ (icing) sugar and milk.
Step 9 – Repeat until all the dough has been formed. Off-cuts can be re-rolled and used again.
My older boy is promising to make his delicious gluten-free cinnamon buns before Christmas arrives, and I plan to post the recipe here.