Gluten free clafoutis with raspberries

Gluten free clafoutis with raspberries

As hoped, we seem to be experiencing a second wave of raspberries on our land – not as abundant as round one, but there is something so perfect about stepping outside after supper and finding just enough berries to make dessert. There isn’t always time for this kind of thing, but tonight the dog was happy to sniff around while we gathered a few hands full of berries for a clafoutis. A gluten free clafoutis, which I promised to share here recently.

I can still remember being unnerved and unsettled at the idea of baking without wheat gluten; I had spent years getting very comfortable with wheat-based baking, and I was afraid to resign myself and my family to a life without delicious baked goods. But that fear was never realized. It turned out that so many years of traditional baking made it remarkably easy to switch to different baking methods, and to question anything that I didn’t like the sound of.  Flours empty of nutritional value are something I really don’t like to use, and I spend time on any new or unfamiliar recipe figuring out how to get the most nutrition and flavour into the flour base before proceeding.

Clafoutis, a traditional French dish from the Limousin region, is essentially a baked custard with fruit (cherries, in fact – the appearance of any other fruit actually transforms it into a ‘Flaugarde’). It is easily made into a gluten free treat, as many versions make use of ground almonds, a very nutrient dense ‘flour’. Almond flour happens to be one of my favourites, along with sorghum, another nutrient rich flour. These two flours form the basis of the simple batter for my take on gluten free clafoutis:

Gluten free clafoutis with raspberries

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups – 2 cups of raspberries (the original Limousin version uses cherries, but it’s possible to make a delicious clafoutis with stone fruits and berries, as well as pears)
75 grams ground almonds / almond ‘flour’
2 tbs sorghum flour
5 tbs golden or brown sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
250 ml table cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
Butter a baking or shallow gratin dish. Scatter with washed fruit. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender or mix rapidly by hand taking care to mix liquid into dry ingredients slowly so as to avoid clumping. Pour batter over fruit and bake in a 375F oven for approx 25-30 minutes or until the clafoutis has risen and browned lightly. Serve warm sprinkled with icing sugar.

There are many recipes for clafoutis that I consulted when putting together my own, but the BBC’s Fruit & Almond Clafoutis most closely resembles the final recipe.

Earlier this summer we had so many raspberries that we managed to freeze some and put them away for future enjoyment. Definitely one of the real gifts of summer.

Raspberries for the freezer
Raspberries for the freezer

Harvest time

Our year in the garden is coming to a close, but there are still treats to be had. Some things that we put a lot of effort into came to nothing (sweet potatoes), while others that we put next to no effort or absolutely no effort into have been late in the season successes (wild raspberries, radicchio). Some old stand-bys did very well (garlic, rhubarb, lettuces), some were decent in their output but far from stellar (carrots), while others never took off (my chard never happened, in spite of repeated sowings, which is downright weird for me). Locally, green tomatoes seemed to be a major trend this summer, and that’s fine by me (we love green tomato chutney as well as just allowing the fruit to continue ripening indoors).
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Celebrating summer

Chocolate roulade with strawberry decoration

School’s out and today we celebrated the start of summer with friends. The younger kids played outside for hours (water play was definitely a major feature), the big kids set up on the kitchen island with several board games, and the adults chatted on the porch. There was loads of fresh fruit, especially strawberries, and a chocolate roulade, courtesy of our teenager.

Chocolate roulade is a tasty treat that just happens to be gluten-free as it doesn’t include flour of any kind in the ingredient list. My fearless teenager, who is always happy to tackle baking that involves a tricky step or two, has been making this particular recipe for several years. Today, he proudly showed me how tidy he has become in separating eggs:

Egg yolks and whites in separate bowls

He loves the old-fashioned hand mixer that I picked up for a few dollars at a flea market years ago.

Teen baking in the kitchen

The chocolate sheet cake before rolling:

Chocolate roulade in the pan

Today we took turns whipping the cream and I spread it on the cake. He took the honours of rolling (it’s actually more like folding):

Teen rolling chocolate roulade

Transferring roulade to a plate

A lovely treat that’s really quite light and a perfect companion for fresh fruit. There are many recipes for chocolate roulade easily available on the internet:

This one, from the BBC, is very close to the one my son makes.
This one, from the UK’s Sam Stern, is a nice variation.

Chocolate roulade

Here’s a sneak peek of something we’ll be doing this summer now that we’ve added a zipline from the treehouse platform (normally with a helmet and footwear more appropriate than wellies!).

Kid on zipline

Christmas baking – delicious gluten free gingerbread cookies

mint-chocolate-fudge-swirled

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.

Boy decorating Christmas 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.

Gluten free gingerbread cookies

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.

Gluten free baking on a rack

Gluten free Christmas baking

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

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

Heavenly gluten free bread

Gluten free honey oat bread

When we first considered that we might need to go gluten free as a family in the fall of 2012, I dug my heels in, hard. Well, mentally anyway. In reality, I’m deeply practical, and I knew we had to start switching gears. But it wasn’t fun to consider. Both my husband and I bake frequently – he’s the bread baker, I cover everything else and we both love to experiment – and we had developed a nice list of family favourites that were particularly heavy on spelt, an ancient wheat tolerated well by many of us, though not all. I’m a huge fan of spelt, and I think that turning my back on it is the hardest part of this change.

We’ve only been making the change in earnest for about a month and we are on a steep learning curve, along with anyone who has ever made this kind of dietary change. The whole GF thing is a bit fraught too, what with the fact that people who need to go gluten free often have other food sensitivities, and so there are issues with the gums (xanthan and guar), for example, that I had no clue about until I really starting getting in deep. Having first excitedly made friends with xanthan gum, we’re now parting ways as we look at other options, and so on…

While I have been happy experimenting with new recipes for muffins, cakes and quickbreads, not having a reliable recipe for homemade bread was really getting me down. Buying pre-made gluten free loaves is silly expensive, and just not in keeping with our family tradition of homemade bread. My husband researched GF bread recipes, and not finding anything that made us go ‘wow’, he suggested we buy Peter Reinhart’s new book on gluten-free, sugar-free baking (Reinhart being a guru of gluten-based baking and the source of many of our favourite wheat-based recipes). Still new to that book, we’re not convinced its approach is entirely right for us, although some of the reliance on nut-based flours appeals to us (we’ve both come down heavily in favour of almond flour and other nut flours, which thankfully we like and can have).

Today, after shelling out for a new spice grinder that could be dedicated to grinding seeds and nuts, my husband came home and hit the internet again. Which is when he found the recipe for the loaf pictured here. Thank you, thank you to Yammie’s Glutenfreedom for this wonderful recipe for a GF bread that actually looks, smells and tastes like real bread. My husband made only very minor changes to the recipe, but a crucial one was substituting chia seeds for the xanthan gum in the original recipe. He also completely forgot the honey, and now wonders if – for him – the loaf would be too sweet with it. Naturally he plans to make another loaf in the next day with honey to see how it compares, but tonight’s result is so good that we had to share.

Gluten-free Honey Oat Bread, ever so slightly adapted from Yammie’s Glutenfreedom Original recipe here

3 1/3 cups oat flour
2 scant tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons honey (what we left out, but plan to try next time)
1/2 cup tapioca flour (or corn starch)
1/2 cup brown rice flour (white or sweet white rice flour is suggested in the original)
2 teaspoons chia seeds (xanthan gum in the original recipe)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
Sesame seeds

If you’re using whole oats, blend them in the food processor until they’re pretty fine (as fine as you can get them). Meanwhile combine the yeast and water and let sit for a few minutes. Add the oil, honey, starch, flour, chia seeds and oats and beat until combined. Add the salt, cinnamon, and eggs. Beat for a few minutes until fluffy. Pour into a well greased 10 inch loaf pan and allow to rise for about 45 minutes until doubled. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Sprinkle the top of the risen loaf with some more oats or sesame seeds and cut a few slits in the top with a serrated knife. Bake for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.

Knowing we can produce a loaf as tasty as this one is a great relief, and now we can continue to experiment without the urgency that we had before. You can be sure that I’ll be posting more gluten free bread recipes at some point. In the meantime, if you’re sitting on a wonderful GF bread recipe and are inclined to share, we’re all ears!

Spice grinder and jar of oats

Our Delfino coffee/spice grinder, which we’re using to make small batches of nut and seed-based flours, was a great purchase.