1. Gluten Free Sourdough Bread Starter

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    February 5, 2013 by Tamika

    I miss bread. Real bread. Fresh baked bread. The flexibility of throwing a loaf together and knowing it will be, if not perfect, then completely passable as bread. What I miss more is sourdough bread. I tossed my sourdough starter once I had to cut gluten out of my diet. Pfft. I figured I was never doing THAT again.. no great bread. Ever.

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    This has been many months years in the making. My trial and many errors of gluten free bread baking. If you read this you’ll know I don’t consume corn or corn products, that includes the golden child of gluten free baking xanthan gum. Which, as most of us gfr’s know, makes gluten free bread behave like glutened bread, all air pockety, stretchy and chewy. ( Actually it’s the golden child of the corn industry and is in nearly everything these days. I just found frozen sweet potato fries coated with it.. WHY? I won’t address the conspiracy to undermine the health of the general public here). I’ve been working through established gf bread recipes as well as creating my own for 3 years now. I’ve made some pretty good bread and excellent pizza dough ( wood fired in a friend’s outdoor straw bale oven, the best). Unhappy with all the starch needed (tapioca, arrowroot and potato) for gf bread, I’ve been working it down in quantity for months now. When I decided to make a go of sourdough starter with this buckwheat flour, I was hoping to be able to eliminate yeast as well.

    A good sourdough starter takes time and patience. Gluten free sourdough starter takes a little coaxing and a lot of patience. I followed this starter recipe that was featured on Michael Rhulman’s website a few years ago, it comes from Two Sister’s Bakery in Alaska, and is perfect. I chose to use light buckwheat flour because it has a wonderful taste, it’s one of my favorites, you could choose another grain or seed flour (buckwheat is a seed, like quinoa) keeping in mind it will be the bulk flour of what you bake with it, therefore the bulk flavor.

    Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

    In a quart sized jar, or larger, combine 8 ounces flour with 8 ounces water, stir well. Place 2 leaves of ORGANIC red cabbage into the mix. Let this sit at warm room temperature (70-80*) over night, uncovered is fine ( I have cats who I’m positive creep the counters at night when they know I won’t douse them with water) I cover mine with a coffee filter, it is porous enough to let natural yeasts from the environment in to get the starter going and can be changed if it gets crusty.IMG_0672

    Around 12 hours later add another cup of flour and water each, stir again. At this point the red cabbage may be bleeding colour out into the starter, this is normal. The cabbage is fermenting, the same process as sauerkraut, the liquid that it releases will create a natural yeast environment for the flour to begin a slight fermentation process, and attract more natural yeasts from your environment. It will smell sour, even stinky. Continue to keep it warm.

    Depending on the temperature of your starter you may not see any fermentation bubbling action (see top photo) for a few days. It will not bubble up the same way gluten flour does (see photo with Rhulman link), with gluten free flours the process is slower. My initial starter turned a purple grey with an unpleasant smell, I persevered, stirring it and scraping off purplish crust from the sides of my jar, it took 4 days to be just right. When to start feeding the starter is determined by how fermented the initial batch is; if it’s bubbly and sour smelling it’s time. As you feed it the smell will become more mild and pleasant.

    Feeding

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    An important part of keeping a healthy sourdough starter is FEEDING, removing some starter and adding fresh flour and water for the yeasts to feed on. The starter you remove will be the base for your dough, bread, pizza, crackers, even pancakes. For your first feeding, remove the cabbage leaves. If your container is large enough add 4 oz flour and 4 oz water to the starter stirring well, just this once. Again, keep at warm room temp. If your container is maxed out for space, remove 1 cup of starter, mix 4 oz flour and 4 oz water into the remaining starter in the jar. Every feeding following your first will require you to remove at least one cup of starter and replace with same amounts of flour/ water (1 cup starter = 4 oz f/w each. 2 cups starter= 8oz f/w each). I feed my starter once a week, at least. If I want to bake twice in a week with it I make sure to keep it at warm room temp and have at least 2 full days in between removing starter for use (and feeding!).

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    3 months into my starter it is now at a point where I can go with out yeast in my dough, until now I have had to add small amounts of yeast, using the starter as ‘flavour’ more than as leavening. I will be posting some bread and pizza dough recipes in the upcoming month. Until then, go ahead and explore!

    If you want to take a break from maintaining your starter, keep it in the fridge and feed it once a month. It will go dormant, reawakening once you bring it out to room temperature for a few days.

    Quick Crackers: What to do with the starter you took out during feeding, when you have nothing else to make: 2 cups starter, 1 cup other flour (amaranth, rice, ect) 1/4 cup water, 2 tsp salt and 1tsp pepper: knead into a ball, let rest 20 minutes. Divide ball in half. Roll out on a rice floured surface as thin as you can, cut into squares and bake in a 400* oven until brown and crisp.

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    Of course, this could be a flat bread covered with olive oil and zatar or smoked paprika, onions, olives, anchovies.. or a cracker like pizza dough.

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  2. gluten free Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake, a meditation.

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    January 14, 2013 by Tamika

    A new year. A new gluten-free cake.

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    Much of the world right now is starting a-new, focusing on fasting, juicing, internally cleansing all that accumulated over the last year, if that can be done. We did not buy ourselves a juicer or vita-mix, (we chose entertainment!) and while I have healthy intentions (more exercise, less grains consumed weekly) my cleansing this year is in my WORDS. I find myself saying ‘we need’ too often, and feeling it. We NEED a vita-mix. We NEED a juicer, an espresso machine (maybe). We Need a new toaster oven, coffee maker, sewing machine, dang OOMPA LOOMPA for goodness sakes (would that I had a thousand bucks just to buy all the new ‘necessities’, I NEED the Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs). Early in the morn, when I go out to take care of our chickens, if I take a few minutes to meditate on the beauty of our little homestead I can find the grounding point, the center in me which strives to not be entangled in this suburban, sub-rural culture just shy of NYC. ‘Oh yes, You want to be a farmer, an activist, an educator, a nurturer.’ I remember, my intentions become important, my words clean.

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    This has everything to do with baking a cake. Baking is tradition, history, scientific, mathematical, skill oriented, hands-on work that is satisfying on emotional, physical and spiritual levels. The skills our fore-fathers and mothers grew our CULTURE and our Countries on. We get back to basics when we bake, like planting seeds that will become food. Sure we’re using a stand mixer, great ovens (compared to wood burning and fireplaces) technology that has developed over many years, due, in part, to our homesteading, farming, industrious relatives. Baking, and cooking, for me, are as grounding as tending my chickens and garden.
    It’s no surprise then that I should bake a NEW cake right after the intense holiday order-filling baking blast. Having nothing to do with sugar and fat cravings (I don’t), I just needed grounding. I also found my December issue of Food and Wine, which somehow made it’s way to my mother-in-law instead of me.

    Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

    (adapted from Food and Wine: Reverse Marble Bundt Cake recipe)

    2 tsp cocoa powder (plus more for dusting)

    10 oz dark chocolate, chopped

    3 1/4 cups ap basic gf flour blend

    1 tbsp psyllium husk powder

    1 1/2 tsp baking soda

    2 tsp baking powder

    1 tsp cinnamon

    1 tsp salt

    8 oz unsalted butter at room temp (not warm), cut into pieces

    2 cups organic sugar

    1/2 cup dark brown sugar

    4 large eggs

    12- 16 oz yoghurt (if yoghurt is very thick, such as Greek, you’ll need 16 oz)

    1 tsp vanilla

     

    Preheat oven to 350*

    Coat 10 inch bundt pan with spray oil or butter, then sprinkle with cocoa powder or ap gf flour to coat. Set aside.

    Melt chopped chocolate either in microwave at 30 second increments or in a stainless bowl over an inch of simmering water. With both methods heat chocolate almost to melted, remove from heat and stir to combine chunks still remaining. Whisk in 2 tsp of cocoa.

    Sift gf flour blend with remaining dry ingredients into a bowl.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl with a hand mixer), beat butter at medium speed until very smooth. Add both sugars, beating until fluffy, scraping down the sides of bowl once. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scrape bowl, add 12 oz yoghurt.

    At low speed blend in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, scraping sides of bowl in between. If the cake batter seems too stiff add remaining yoghurt.

    Scrape out 1/3 of the batter to a separate bowl. Add melted slightly cooled chocolate to remaining 2/3 of batter, beat to incorporate. IMG_0440

    Coat your bundt pan with gf flour or cocoa.

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    Spoon 1/2 the chocolate batter into the bundt pan, spreading it into the shape of your pan (remember, the bottom is the top).

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    Add the vanilla batter, spreading just in the center of the chocolate, swirling the batters together a bit with a knife. Add the remaining chocolate batter on top, spreading evenly, then swirl a few more times. Tap pan on your counter firmly a few times to settle the batter (and release air bubbles). Bake in the center of your preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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    It’s perfectly normal for the cake to crack. Let cool for an hour before inverting on a serving plate.

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    Mix a spoonful of powdered sugar, pinch of cinnamon and pure chili powder (if you like!) into a small mesh strainer (I use a tea strainer), with a spoon gently tap the sides sprinkling the blend over the cake .

    LET THEM EAT CAKE in this new year! Hand made, labour of love CAKE.

     

     

  3. gluten free Biscotti

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    December 2, 2012 by Tamika

    I’m not sure why I’ve avoided baking biscotti all these gluten free years. I used to have a small, local, cookie company focusing on biscotti, the gluten version (Bodhi Biscotti). They were so popular I was baking biscotti all the time, I limited myself and became bored. With the holiday season upon us, and one of my busiest baking-to-order times, I decided to try a small batch yesterday, what did I have to loose? I used the same old tried and true base recipe, added some dried cranberries, pistachio and cocoa nibs. Perfect. Exactly how they used to be gluten!Biscotti

    Now if I could just let go and be brave in the rest of my life.

    I offer you a base recipe for gluten free biscotti. This is based on an old traditional recipe handed down to me from someone (I forgot!), devoid of any added fats, though a tablespoon of good olive oil can be used as a lovely flavouring. Be totally creative with this recipe, but avoid too much added liquid, it makes the dough very soft and sticky and will spread like a cookie in the oven instead of holding it’s shape.

    Gluten Free Biscotti

    2 1/2 cups apothecary basics all purpose flour mix (recipe found on this page) *

    2 tsp. psyllium husk powder

    1/2 tsp apple pectin powder (optional, adds a bit of structure)

    1 tsp salt

    1 cup organic sugar or other dry sweetener (maple sugar, madura, palm sugar)

    3 or 4 large eggs (if you want to add a tbsp of olive oil do so after the 3rd egg)

    1 tsp vanilla or almond extract

    1 cup raw pistachios

    1 cup dried cranberries, soaked in very hot water for 15 minutes then blotted dry

    1/2 cup cocoa nibs

    Egg for egg wash

    coarse sugar to top

    Preheat oven to 350* line baking sheet with parchment or silicone (silpat)

    In the bowl of a stand mixer combine all the dry ingredients (through sugar), turn mixer on low a minute to blend. Add eggs one at a time with the paddle blade on medium, after three eggs let the dough mix thoroughly, if it doesn’t come together into a ball add a little olive oil or another egg. Add extract, pistachios, cranberries and cocoa nibs. IMG_0315

    Scoop the dough out on to a (gf ) floured surface, with floured hands need it into a log shape, if the dough is too loose to hold it’s shape need in a little flour at a time, it will be sticky, but should stay in place.

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    Make an egg wash by whisking an egg with a little water. Spread a thin layer on top of biscotti log, sprinkle with coarse natural sugar.

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    Gently place biscotti log onto prepared baking sheet, put on a rack in the middle of your oven, bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden on top and a little hollow sounding when thumped. Remove from oven and let cool to warm or room temp.

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    With a bread knife, cut log into 1/2 inch slices, either on a diagonal or straight across (diagonal will give you longer pieces).

    Lay these bake on your baking sheet cut side up and bake for another 20-30 minutes, turning once halfway through, until golden. If you like biscotti drier, bake another 10 minutes.

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    (sorry about the blurry picture.. only one I had. It’s really annoying)

    Some variations to consider:

    chopped crystallized ginger and dark chocolate!

    dried cherry with pine nuts (or almonds, or pecans, or chocolate!)

    chopped candied orange peel and chopped dates, with a 1/2 tsp cinnamon and cardamom!

    Cocoa nibs with dried chili powders, cinnamon and chopped candied orange peel!

    lemon zest with chopped toasted almond and almond extract!

    chopped dried apricot with pine nuts and dried lavender!

    Oh MY, the list can go on.. you get the idea!

    *Keep in mind I only ever use my tried and true flour blends, if you should choose to use a commercial blend I can’t be held responsible for your biscotti (or anything) not working. that said, King Arthur brand GF flour mix is basically rice, tapioca, potato starch and should be a good substitute. It’s considerably less expensive to mix your own.