Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Peach-Pear Muffins with Salted Caramel Glaze

For the first time in a long while it was finally cool enough to bake today.  Yay!!  I was a good girl, and made bread, first.  Then sat down for a moment with the new drink I got today.  Target had a new flavor of La Croix water (carbonated, but no sugar and no sweeteners of any kind).

Peach-Pear?  I'm all about that.  I sipped on my frosty beverage for a little while, and then got inspired to make these muffins, which are both gluten AND dairy free:

Peach-Pear Muffins

If you can't find La Croix water where you are, it's not a big deal.  Just replace it with more almond milk, some club soda, or even some peach nectar if you like.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.  This recipe makes about 18 muffins.

2 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour blend, or
1/2 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 c. almond milk
1/2 c. La Croix Peach/Pear water
2/3 c. grated pear
2/3 c. coarsely chopped peach
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, sugar, and set aside.
Peel one medium pear and grate on a box grater.  Measure out and add 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice.

Peel and chop one medium peach.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbsp of lemon juice over the chopped peach and set aside as well.
Whisk egg and add canola oil. Then add the almond milk.  Finally, gently stir in the La Croix water.  I find that if I combine the wet ingredients in the right order, everything gets emulsified properly and there are no gobs of egg or an oil slick floating on top.

Add the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.

Stir in the fruit, then portion into the cupcake liners.  (I used my 2 1/2 oz. disher this time, anticipating that the fruit would cook down, some)
Bake 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Drizzle with glaze.

Salted Caramel Glaze

2 Tbsp dairy-free margarine
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp almond milk
1 tsp vanilla

In a bowl, melt the maragarine and stir in brown sugar and salt.  Add the vanilla and stir thoroughly.  Begin adding the powdered sugar 1/4 c. at a time, alternating with small amounts of almond milk until glaze is a drizzling consistency.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bake Together - Nothing Shy About These Shortcakes

I'm still here.  It's just been too hot to bake.  Wicked hot.  Butter melting off the butter dish hot.  So hot that the highway buckled and scrambled my commute home Friday night.  Now, judging by all the posts I've seen this past week about the wonderful foods and crafts other people have been working on - I'm clearly the last person left in the US without central air.  But it is what it is.
The heat finally broke on Saturday, and I got to hit the Farmer's Market.  I scored one of the few quarts of fresh tart cherries to be found and also picked up some early peaches.  Then I slept on it.  My submission for Bake Together?  Gluten Free Chocolate Shortcakes with Cherry-Peach compote and Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream.

My husband's only complaint - I gave it to him in a dish he couldn't lick out.  Apparently we have another hit, courtesy of the Master Mind of Bake Together, the lovely and talented Abby Dodge.  Each month, she posts a recipe and then allows the rest of us (her loyal groupies) to do a riff on that recipe. At the end of the month, she includes us all in a round-up of all the variations.  So, head over to her blog and get the original recipe.

For clarity's sake, I'm going to start with my variation on the shortcakes, and then give the recipes for the compote and the ice cream.  In practice, it works better to start the ice cream first.  That way, the custard can chill while you bake.  And then the shortcakes can cool while you make the compote AND the cherry ripple for the ice cream - which kind of happens in one step.


Gluten Free Chocolate Shortcakes

I followed Abby's recipe pretty faithfully for the shortcakes.  I used 2 cups of gluten-free AP flour.  I use my own blend, but King Arthur or Thomas Keller's C4C would also work well.  Now, my shortcakes spread a little too much.  If I were to do it over again, I'd cut both the butter and the sugar back by about 2 Tbsp.  Even so, I did follow the directions this time and use the food processor.  (Only for you, Abby!)  I also added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper.

\I had Ghiradelli chocolate chips, so I chopped some of those up for the chopped chocolate.  My favorite vintage pyrex bowl came out for this, too.

I used 3/4 c. +2 Tbsp of buttermilk.  Now, if may seem counter-intuitive to raise BOTH the flour and the milk.  But I was trying to counteract the fact the gluten free flours have a little less structure than regular AP - which is why mine spread too much, anyway.  So it really does make sense, I promise.
The dough, in gluten free format is a little soft, even once all the flour is incorporated.

Don't try and knead it.  You'll only frustrate yourself.  I cheated and used my 2-1/2 oz disher and just made drop biscuits.  If you're addicted to the idea of squares, you could shape them with your hands a little.  Just dust them with tapioca starch or sweet rice flour, first.  Bake and cool as directed in the original recipe

Cherry-Peach Compote and Cherry Swirl for Ice Cream

Now, you may not have easy access to fresh tart cherries in your neck of the woods.  Frozen will work fine, too.  I opted to cook the cherries both for the fruit filling AND the ripple in the ice cream.  You'll find that cherries that are frozen and then thawed tend to have a "skunky" flavor if left raw.  It's not noticeable when you cook them.  And even in Michigan, the tart cherry season is as fleeting as the cool breeze off the lake.  I'll be making this again, too, so I wanted that to be an option.  If you DO get fresh cherries, you'll need to pit them.  My favorite pitter:

You place the cherry in the little hollow, press down the spring loaded plunger, and the pit gets pushed into the jar.  Slick!  I've worn one out, this is my second.

1 qt fresh (or frozen) tart cherries, pitted
4 medium peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped
3/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tsbp lemon juice, divided
1/2 tsp cinnamon.

Pit the cherries.  They're such a fragile fruit, that after discarding the bruised fruit, I had about 3 1/2 c. of pitted cherries.

Place them in a large saucepan.  Combine the sugar and cornstarch, then toss with cherries.  Stir in 1 Tbsp lemon juice.

Cook over medium-high heat until juices are released and become clear and thickened.  Reserve 1/2 of cherry mixture and set aside for later.  To the remaining cherries, add the peaches, cinnamon, and remaining 1 Tbsp of lemon juice.

Continue cooking until peaches are warmed through and slightly softened.

Cherry-Vanilla Swirl Ice Cream

4 egg yolks
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 1/2 c. heav cream, divided
1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp almond extract
Remaining cherry mixture from compote

Whisk egg yolks and sugar together.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, place milk, 1 c. of cream, and vanilla bean, split.  Heat until cream is steaming and small bubbles form at the sides.  Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep for 45 minutes.  

Bring cream back up to steaming.  Temper into the egg yolk mixture gradually.  (In other words, stir small amounts of the milk mixture into the egg mixture until about half is incorporated.  Then add the egg mixture back to the milk mixture.).  Heat and stir until custard thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon.

Strain custard into a bowl.  This will remove both the vanilla bean and any cooked egg bits that remain.  Scrape the seeds out of the bean and add back to the custard.  Press plastic wrap directly down onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight.

Remove custard from the refrigerator and stir in remaining cream and almond extract.  Pour into the chamber of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer directions.

Take the remaining cherry mixture and puree it.  Pass it through a sieve to remove the solids.  Chill it thoroughly.  When the ice cream is done churning, layer the ice cream and the cherry mixture in a freezer-safe bowl.

Run a knife through the nixture to swirl, and return the mixture to the freezer to harden.

To serve, put a shortcake in a bowl, top with compote and a scoop of ice cream. (The ice cream tends to freeze a little hard, so be sure to let it sit out for a few minutes before serving.)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bake Together - Gooseberry Pie with Cardamom Streusel

Late as usual with my Bake Together contribution.  If you're new to Bake Together, it's an effort to encourage baking and creativity sponsored and wrangled by the ever-delightful Abby Dodge.  This month, she presented us with Very Berry Mini Pies.  Go visit her blog and get the original recipe.  I'll go over my modifications in just a minute.

Normally, West Michigan would be awash in fruit at this point in the summer.  But it's been a rough year.  The tart cherry crop was decimated by a late frost.  (If you like tart cherries - stock up on the frozen ones now.  Wholesale prices are expected to quadruple.  Michigan normally makes up 70% of the tart cherry crop, and we're at a fraction of a percent of OUR normal crop).  Peaches and apples were also hit hard.  To make matters worse, it's been dry.  REALLY dry.  The Lake Michigan coast isn't normally subject to brush fires, but even we have had a few.  That, in turn, is hard on the berry crop.  My favorite pick-your-own farm won't have any raspberries ready for another week or two.  The strawberries are gone.  Blueberries are really just starting, and the sweeter varieties are several weeks away.

Here I sat with a great recipe, and no available fruit.  (I'm unfond of the trucked in commercial stuff.  I grew up on homegrown berries, and I'm an inveterate fruit snob.)  The freezer contained a few frozen raspberries - which my youngest would much prefer to eat directly.  Some red and white currants.  Which are a bit seedy for pie and better suited for jelly.  Then it dawned on me - I still had a scant quart of gooseberries in the fridge from last year.  Now, gooseberries are tart.  And maybe a little prone to "war" with the cinnamon called for in the original recipe.  So I decided to get my Scandia on and use the favored spice of the Swedes: cardamom.

Go get the original recipe from Abby's website.  The crust recipe isn't too hard to convert.  In place of the flour, I used 1 cup of my usual AP flour blend and 1/3 c. tapioca starch.  Upping the starch ratio in the flour helps keep the crust pliable.  I also added 1/2 tsp of guar gum, just to help things hold together.  I've made GF pie crusts before, and as a rule they're pretty fragile.  That was my main reason for going with a pie rather than tarts.  I knew the fussing around for multiple tart shells would be problematic.

I do confess, I made my crust by hand instead of in the food processor.  I loathe cleaning the food processor.  And I'm such a dyed-in-the-wool farm cook that it never occurs to me that the instruction will call for a food processor until I have them in a bowl.

I simply cut in the cold shortening with a pastry blender, then tossed the water and lemon juice in with a fork.  From there, I followed Abby's directions for chilling and rolling.  I did find that the pastry softened quickly and had to go back into the refrigerator once to make the transfer into the pie pan.

Have I mentioned how much I love my vintage pink pyrex pie plate?  (say that three times real fast).  I adore it.  I need a couple more - maybe in the light green and aqua.
For the filling, I pinched the stems and blossom ends off the berries and measured them.  I had about 3 1/2 cups of berries.  To these I added 1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp of vanilla and 2 Tbsp tapioca starch.  The lemon juice ups the acid content and will help the abundant pectin in the goosberries contribute to setting the filling.  I let the berries macerate while I made the streusel.

The streusel needed a little "lightening" to not overpower the berries.  I replaced the AP flour with 3 Tbsp of sweet rice flour, 1 Tbsp of potato starch, and 1 Tbsp of tapioca starch.  For the sugar, I used 2 Tbsp each of white and brown sugar.  And I used 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom in place of the cinnamon.  Otherwise I followed Abby's recipe.
The pie baked for about 55 minutes.  Cover with foil after the first 25-30 minutes to prevent overbrowning.

I don't have a picture of it cut yet, because it's still a bit too warm TO cut.
I'm still hoping to try the original berry version - once berries can be had in my neck of the woods!