Thursday, January 26, 2012

Peasant Boule - Two Variations

This month's Bake Together initiative, hosted by the ever-wonderful Abby Dodge, proved to be a bigger than usual challenge for me.  Her Peasant Boule is fabulous.  But bread is one of the more difficult baked goods to convert to a gluten-free version.

In order to see what the base recipe was SUPPOSED to look like, I baked a regular version of it.  I followed the recipe that Abby provides, adding only 1/2 c. shredded smoked provolone and some cracked black pepper.  I also sprinkled a bit more cheese, pepper, and some pyramid salt on the top before baking:

No problemo.

So then I tried a sweet version for the little ones.  The first time around, I just replaced the flour with a variation on the blend of gluten-free flours I use for sandwich bread and threw in a little xanthan gum.  OK, rather a lot of xanthan gum until I got the right consistency.

I baked them in a muffin pan, layering a scoop of batter with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, then more batter.

They looked pretty good, so I added a simple powdered sugar glaze.  And then... discovered that they were little hockey pucks and more or less inedible.

Back to the ol' drawing board.  I spent a little time reading through some of my gluten-free cookbooks, especially Chef Coppedge's Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America.  And also consulting the various recipes developed by Stella of The Brave Tart.  The difficulty with this recipe is that it's a lean dough - leaving no other ingredients to provide structure and support that comes from gluten in the original recipe.  While a regular lean dough has no eggs or milk, removing the gluten requires a little extra protein.  So I present my version of the plain loaf, gluten free:

1/2 c. sweet white sorghum flour
1 c. white rice flour
3/4 c. soy flour
1/2 c. potato starch
1/2 c. tapioca starch
2 Tbsp. whey powder
2 Tbsp. potato flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast (or one packet)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 c. hot (not boiling) water
3 egg whites

In a bowl, whisk together flours, starches, whey powder, yeast, salt, baking powder, sugar and xanthan gum. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites and hot water.  Beat on medium until foamy.

Switch to paddle attachment.  Check the temperature of mixture - it should be between 105-110 degrees if your eggs were room temperature.  Heat over a pan full of water or allow to cool until this temperature is reached, if needed.  Add half of flour mixture and beat till combined

Add remaining flour mixture and beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and sticky.  Grease a bowl and put batter into it.  (Batter will be stickier than a traditional dough - too sticky to knead)  Brush top with butter, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brush a round pan liberally with melted butter.  Stir down risen dough and move into the round pan.  Shape with a wet spoon, then brush again with melted butter.  Allow to rise, uncovered, until dough fills the pan.

Bake about 40 minutes, until center reaches at least 195 degrees when tested with a probe thermometer.

Variation 1:  If you want to make the cheese version, just add 1/2 c. shredded smoked provolone and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper to the flour mixture before adding to the water.

Variation 2:  Using a 2 oz disher, scantly filled, place a scoop of dough into each well of a 12-well muffin pan.  Brush with melted butter.  In a small bowl mix 1/3 c. brown sugar with 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Sprinkle some of the mixture over each scoop of batter.  Add a second scoop to each cup.  Smooth tops with a wet spoon, and allow to rise until they come 1/2" over tops of cups.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden and done.  Remove from pan and drizzle with powdered sugar glaze.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

7-Up Cake Celebration

For as long as I can remember, my eldest daughter has loved dance.  Princess loves to watch dance, loves TO dance, it doesn't really matter.  Getting her into an actual dance class, however, has been more problematic.  We've had one studio who's treatment of her was questionable, one that refused to have her at all, and one that has had more mixed results - more due to Princess than the studio.  The ins and outs make for a very long story - too long for a "food" blog.  The end result is that I've been looking for someone to take Princess on one-on-one for a while.  I thought I had a willing teacher this fall, but it sort of fell through.  I'd only JUST begun looking again when I lucked across a lady who seems both willing and well-qualified.  So possibly Princess (and also the Empress if she shows willing) will soon be dancing again.

In celebration, I offer you this remake of a 50's classic:  7-Up Cake

7-Up Pound Cake

1 c. sweet rice flour
1/2 c. millet flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
1 c. tapioca starch
1/2 c. potato starch
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 c. butter
2 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs + 1 egg white
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
7 oz 7-Up

This version uses 7-Up and some real lemon juice.  
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Liberally grease and flour a bundt pan.  (I usually use sweet rice flour for this).
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, and xanthan gum.  Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.  The leavening in this cake is mostly due to the air incorporated in this step, so make sure that you beat it enough.  The butter should lighten notably in both color and texture.
Add the eggs and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Scrape down the bowl and beat again for a moment to incorporate.  With mixer on slowest speed, add lemon juice, lemon zest, and 7-Up.
The mixture will appear curdled.  That's OK - keep going.  Pour in the flour gradually, with the mixer still on low.  Once all the flour is incorporated, turn up the speed a bit and beat until smooth.
Scrape down bowl and beat again until thoroughly combined.  Pour into prepared pan and smooth batter.
Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until surface is golden and a skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto plate.
Often this cake is presented in vintage cookbooks with a cream cheese/pineapple frosting.  That seemed a bit heavy to me, so I wanted to go with a glaze.  When I made this cake, I had a few raspberries left over that the Empress hadn't eaten.  So I decided to incorporate them into the glaze, as well as using some of the remaining soda.

Raspberry Glaze

2 Tbsp raspberry puree (fresh raspberries pressed through a sieve)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

In a small bowl combine raspberry puree and 1/2 c. powdered sugar.  Add remaining sugar alternating with small amounts of 7-Up until all sugar is incorporated and a drizzling consistency is reached.  Pour over cake.
Here is a small lesson, Grasshopper.  See that darker area at the curved surface?  That's what happens if your toothpick is too short to reach the bottom of the pan!  So...  use a nice, long skewer!
And enjoy this lemony alternative to the more usual Coca-Cola Cake.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vintage Banana Cupcakes

If you spend enough time with your nose in vintage cookbooks, aspects of the attitudes contained in them start to rub off.  I now hate to dump out bacon grease.  I ponder whether to use sugar or corn syrup in cakes - and it's not like sugar is rationed these days, thank goodness!  And now and then I make an effort to bake something that sort of "uses up" ingredients that would otherwise go to waste.  Which is where these little cupcakes came from.

The original recipe came from a vintage cookbook from 1951 entitled "250 Classic Cake Recipes," by Ruth Berolzheimer.  I started with her Banana Layer Cake recipe and downsized the volume, then made some substitutions.  After all, I had a banana, some yogurt, and some leftover frosting to use!

1-1/4 c. Fancy Flour Blend OR
1/4 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp white rice flour
2 Tbsp potato starch
1/4 c. tapioca starch
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 banana, mashed
3 Tbsp banana-honey Greek yogurt (plain would work fine, too)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
Sift together flours, baking powder, soda, salt, and xanthan gum.  Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in egg.
Stir together mashed banana and yogurt.  Add to sugar mixture along with vanilla and beat together.

Add dry ingredients and beat on medium until just smooth.  Portion out into liners.  Since I made mini cupcakes, I used my small cookie dough disher.  This batter made 24 mini cupcakes, and would likely make 12 regular cupcakes if you'd rather.
Bake for 10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes (plan on 18-20 for regular cupcakes) or until a toothpick inserted into one comes out clean.

Cool completely.
Now, I had some leftover Nutella Buttercream in the fridge that I decided would go good with this.  I'd made it to fill some macarons and had QUITE a bit left.  It's absolutely decadent and pretty easy to make.  I started with a half-recipe of The Brave Tart's German Buttercream and added two heaping spoonfuls (probably at least 1/2 c. if not a little more) of chocolate hazelnut spread.  I say "Nutella" but what I actually had on-hand was a Dutch brand that's very similar.  Use what ya got!  Once the buttercream was fluffy I just dumped in the spread and turned the mixer back up to high for a minute.  Fabulous!  For these little guys, I got the leftovers out of the fridge and placed the bowl over a double boiler.  Once it had warmed up, with some stirring, I beat it for a couple minutes and it came right back to fluffy perfection.
I was feeling lazy, so I tried just spreading it on the cupcakes with a knife.  This turned out to be MORE work, so I grabbed a piping bag and piped the rest:

So there you have it.  Cute, bite-sized banana cupcakes.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake

We finally got our first substantial snowfall of the season.  For this area, it has come really late.  Normally we've been shoveling for weeks.  Winter, in my world, brings comfort food.  Somewhat conversely, from my perspective (being in the Great White North), it also is apparently the season for citrus fruit.  Who am I to argue?

I found the original recipe for this homey dessert in an old Carnation Milk cookbook from 1942 entitled "Growing up with Milk.  Eating and Drinking the Carnation Way."  I tweaked it a little, and I really like the result. (Though I'll share a secret - don't turn your back on the egg whites and allow them to over whip, and you won't get the brown spots in your pudding cakes!)

The original recipe (unsurprisingly) used equal parts Carnation evaporated milk and water. I've used plain milk here, but you can go back to the diluted evaporated milk if you'd like.  You can also use plain ol' regular lemons.  And replace the vanilla bean with a teaspoon of extract, added when you add the milk.  It's a pretty flexible recipe.  But the Meyer lemons and Tahitian vanilla DO play really well together.  Call it a little bit of a modern twist to an old favorite.

1 Tbsp Butter
1 c. sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (Tahitian for preference, but any kind is fine)
zest of one Meyer Lemon
juice of one Meyer Lemon (about 1/4 c.)
3/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour
1 Tbsp white rice flour
1 Tbsp Tapioca starch
1 3/4 c. milk
2 eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat some water in a kettle on the stove. Butter 8 8-oz ramekins or one 2 qt casserole.
Place vanilla bean scrapings in a bowl with sugar. Cream together butter and sugar. Add lemon zest and juice and beat smooth. Beat egg yolks and add to sugar mixture, beating until combined.

In another small bowl, combine flours, tapioca starch, and salt. Add this to sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in milk.

In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into lemon-sugar mixture.

Place 1 c. of mixture into each ramekin, or the entire mixture into the casserole dish. Place the dish or ramekins in a baking dish large enough to accommodate them on the middle rack of your oven. Take the kettle and pour hot water into the baking dish until it comes about 1" up the sides of the ramkeins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes for ramekins, 35 minutes for casserole dish, or until set.  

Serve warm, with whipped cream. No, not that kind of whipped cream. Put that can down. What would your Grandmother say?

1 c. heavy cream
1 scant Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat on high speed until it can hold it's shape. Be careful if you use a stand mixer to do this - modern ultra-pasteurized cream goes from "whipped" to "butter" in a few blinks. Watch it closely.  Or just use a hand mixer or even a whisk.
And, no, I didn't get a picture with the whipped cream.  They didn't last that long.  Enjoy!

January is #citruslove month! The twitter hashtag is #citruslove :).
 Visit Junia, our erstwhile hostess with the mostess to learn more!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

No, I did NOT stay up to ring in the new year last night.  I took advantage of the whole "day off" concept and slept in.  However, the whole "party weekend" atmosphere did have my reflecting back on the get-togethers and happenings I remember attending as a kid.  For whatever reason, any "event" that was larger than just family (read here: involving folding tables borrowed from the church and paper tablecloths) for whatever reason seemed to require small bowls of buttermints and peanuts on the tables.  I have no idea why.  It might even just be a Midwestern thing, I'm not sure.  It did provide something to nibble on until whoever was in charge of the food got things going.

However, cupcakes sounded better.  The base recipe for these cupcakes is from a 1927 booklet published by the Airy Fairy Flour Company.  They aren't soft and cloud-like cupcakes, but rather more substantial in texture - almost closer to muffins.

Make the Peanut Butter cupcakes.  Make the Buttermint cupcakes.  Make both!

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

2 Tbsp butter
1/4 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 c. millet flour
1/2 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
3 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 Tbsp potato starch
1/4 tsp salt
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c. milk
1 Tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.

Mix flours, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugar.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Stop and scrape down the bowl.  Add vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Add flour mixture and milk alternately in several additions, beating until smooth.  Use a 2 oz. disher to portion the batter into the cupcake liners.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely.

Peanut Butter Frosting

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. peanut butter
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2-4 Tbsp milk

Cream together butter, salt and peanut butter.  Add about a cup of the sugar and cream together.

Beat in vanilla and 1 Tbsp of milk.  Alternate adding sugar and milk until all sugar is incorporated.  Beat in enough milk to reach a soft, piping consistency.

Place in a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip.  This frosting is quite sweet.  If you prefer a more "peanut buttery" frosting, use 1/2 c. of peanut butter and less milk.

Buttermint Cupcakes

6 Tbsp butter
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 c. millet flour
1/2 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
3 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 c. + 3 Tbsp milk
2 tsp. butter extract
3/4 tsp. peppermint extract

Prepare the Buttermint Cupcakes in the same manner as the Peanut Butter cupcakes.

Buttermint Frosting

6 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb. powdered sugar
1-1/2 tsp butter extract
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
2-4 Tbsp milk

Prepare as for the peanut butter frosting.  Divide into thirds.  Tint one third pink, one third pale aqua, and one third light yellow.  Load a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip with all three colors, piping out a small amount until all colors are flowing together.

Enjoy my take on "buttermints and peanuts."  And have a Happy New Year!