Gluten-Free Cranberry-Apple Lattice Pie

 

Pictured with its tasty-friend, the pecan pie.

This pie is a wonder – as in, I wonder if anyone is crazy-enough to make a lattice pie with gluten-free crust. Well, I can be done. And it is crazy-good.

You who have made gf crust before know what I mean; it’s crumbly, sticky, and lacks the glutenous elasticity that is need to make a lattice pattern. And let me also say that I don’t use xantham gum – it’s always seemed too expensive and unnecessary. With the right flours you can do without. But somehow I managed it.

This pie has a complex cranberry-apple flavor that is deepened by the rum, lemon peel, and cinnamon, and its tartness plays well with very rich pies like pecan. And it’s highly recommended for breakfasts.

Also: it’s gluten and dairy-free, of course! You could also easily make it vegan by not using the egg in the glaze.

~*Gluten-Free Cranberry-Apple Lattice Pie*~

Adapted from Taste of Home magazine

Ingredients

For the crust:

– 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour. I used:

  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup millet flour
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour (starch)

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold Earth Balance buttery spread, cubed

1/3 cup cold Earth Balance shortening, cubed

5-7 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

1/2 cup dried currants

2 tbspn dark rum or water (I used spiced rum)

1 cup fresh cranberries, divided

3/4 cup sugar, divided

6 medium baking apples, I used Granny Smiths but whatever kind you like, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices

2 tbsp tapioca flour (starch)

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp grated lemon peel

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the glaze:

2 tsp sugar

Dash ground cinnamon

1 egg

1 tbsp soy milk

400-degree oven

 

Begin with the crust: in a small bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, and salf; cut in butter and shortening until crumbly. gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough holds together. You can also pulse this together with a food processor, but watch the amount of water that’s added. Shape into two disks, chill dough for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine currants and rum; let stand for 20 minutes.

Place 3/4 cup cranberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor; pulse until cranberries are coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the apples, tapioca, lemon juice, lemon peel, cinnamon, remaining sugar, and currant mixture; toss to combine. Let stand for 15 minutes. 

Here’s where it becomes a little trickier with the gf crust. It can be hard to roll out gf dough without it sticking or cracking, and you don’t want to add too much extra flour. I’ve found it’s helpful to roll the crust between two sheets of parchment paper, then flip the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. 

Once the bottom crust is in, add the filling. Roll out the top crust and cut into 1/2-inch strips. Weave over pie in a lattice pattern. If the strips break (which they likely will), press together. Keep your hands floured and lift strips off the parchment with both hands, careful not to pull on either end. Flute edges. Tuck remaining whole cranberries in spaces between lattice stips.

For the glaze, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk egg and milk; brush over pie and sprinkle with sugar mixture.

Bake on the lower rack in a 400-degree oven for 25 minutes (you can cover with foil if the crust is browning too-quickly), then reduce temperature to 325 and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour, serve warm or the next day.

 

Thanksgiving: The (upside) run-down

Yes this looks almost the same as last year, but why mess with what works?

 

Whenever you cook a giant meal, somethings got to give, and depending on what that something is, you either have a giant success, or a giant mess. Before I tell you what this year’s “something” was, I will say, this year was a giant success.

 

Worth every OCD-inducing minute.

 

Here are some things I learned this Thanksgiving:

 

When you have an old oven, you must be prepared to sit there and watch as your oven thermometer goes up and down with no rhyme or reason, or concordance with the actual temperature-dial.  This oven assumes you have nothing better to do.

 

Even if you cook several things beforehand, there will be an hour when you are absolutely nuts, when you can’t stand people coming into the kitchen, and when you are a bit of a terror. It’s the price of a good cook.

 

Gravy – good, from scratch gravy – is a bitch. For those who like to have a complex savory-yet-sweet flavor, it is a long road. Also, gravy never comes out the same every year. You may find yourself putting odd things into it, but it really doesn’t matter – it’s your secret.

 

Getting baked.

 

No matter how many pies you make, they will be gone very quickly – if not that night, the next morning. (We are all animals when it comes to homemade pie. Especially pecan. Damn.

 

And finally, some things that are completely wrong come out completely right. Case in point: this year, I cooked the turkey upside-down. I shall explain: My turkey came in a bag that was hard to see through (spices and such) and when I shoved it in the oven at 9 am I must have missed the fact that it was in fact, face-down (breast-down? whatever). I didn’t notice it was thus until, whilst carving, I wondered why there was no breast meat on my turkey.

 

Ha.

 

BUT – as it turns out, this works. Cooking the turkey upside down ensures that the dark meat is done and that the breast meat is very moist – perfectly so. All the juices go to the bottom of the bag and hang out in the white meat. My fellow diners suggested that I should make this mistake next year. Who knew?

 

This year, I am thankful that my mistakes turned out to be blessings, and I had people I love to share them with – even if those people drove me crazy, I am thankful that it’s always a good day.

 

Coming up: a pie you need to make.

Gluten-Free Coffee Cake Muffins

2

Sunday mornings are perfect for muffins. Throw in an afternoon walk and eat 2. Or three. Or watch a run of pseudo chick flicks on cable. It’s that kind of day.

~ Gluten-Free Coffee Cake Muffins ~

Adapted from The Cook Book

Makes 12 small or 8 large muffins

Streusel Topping:

  • 3 tbsp gluten-free flour (1/2 sorghum, 1/2 tapioca flour)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 3 tbsp chopped pecans

Muffin Batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (1/2 sorghum, 1/2 tapioca flour )
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (thinned out slightly) or soy milk

 

1

For topping: In a small bowl, sir together 3 tbsp flour, sugar, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Cut in 2 tbsp butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans, set aside.

For batter: in a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Cut in butter.

In a small bowl combine egg and thinned-out plain yogurt – I used a plain lactose-free variety from Green Valley Organics. (Original recipe calls for buttermilk and plain yogurt adds an extra tang and improves texture.) Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stir until just moistened – battery should be lumpy and slightly thicker than pancake batter. If too thick, thin out with soymilk. Take care not to over-mix.

Spoon half of batter into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Top with half of streusel topping, add remaining half of batter, and top with rest of streusel topping. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes; cool on rack and serve warm.

5-1

Product Review: The Gluten Free Bar

We all know how hard it is to find a protein or meal bar that meets all expectations – I myself usually end up eating a protein bar with dairy because there aren’t other options. The folks at the Gluten Free Bar were kind enough to send me some samples to try – and I’m always happy to try samples!

They sent me three flavors: peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate, and cranberry almond. That stats for these bars are quite impressive: vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, with 12 grams of protein. They’re also a decent size, which is important. Usually bars like this are “raw-” in other words, made mostly of nuts and dried fruit, which makes them very high in calories (sometime upwards of 400 cals/bar).

If I compare them to the bar I normally eat in the morning at work (some form of this) they stack up pretty well, though clearly they don’t have as high amounts of protein and fiber. They do however have less saturated fat, sodium, and carbohydrates.

However, the big difference here is the ingredients: the gf bar is dairy-free. This is huge – it is extremely different to find a protein bar that doesn’t use dairy. I can tolerate small levels of dairy, but there are days when I just can’t add any extra irritants into my system (don’t we all have those days). They’re also quite tasty, with a texture that falls somewhere between a lara bar and a power bar. The bars are chewy and slightly-sweet – the peanut butter chocolate and the peanut butter are the best flavors. What I also liked was that they were rolled out into a large, thin squares which took longer to eat than the typical bar-size. They kept me full till lunch, and no stomach ache!

The only con: they aren’t available in any stores in the bay area yet, so you have to buy them online, and they are a little expensive – about $28 for a box of 12. I imagine if you find them in stores they will cost you more. But if you have the means, definitely check them out.

In all, a strong A.

Buy them here

And Now for Something Completely Frivolous: Gluten-free Marshmallow Cereal Squares

Oh Pinterest, sometimes you are silly (see this for proof), but sometimes you are genius. Because without you, I never would have thought to make a batch of these last Friday.

They are super colorful, not all that good for you, and full of sugar.  (Though they’re pretty low on fat, if I stop to think about it.) In other words, fun.

~ Gluten-Free Marshmallow Cereal Squares ~

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegan (if made with vegan marshmallows)

I used Trix, but you can use any gluten-free cereal you like. I was THISCLOSE to using Reece’s Puffs (for obvious reasons – they are puffs of Reece’s), but opted for the Trix because it had 1.5 grams less fat per serving, because that matters when you’re making something that is 85% sugar.  (Ssssh. It does.) Also, the squares come out looking like something straight out of a Lisa Frank-themed party, which makes this very sneezy-itchy-allergy time of year seem a little better.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups gluten-free cereal of choice
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1 bag marshmallows

Melt Earth Balance over low heat in a non-stick skillet, add marshmallows. Stir occasionally until marshmallows are completely melted (a silicone spatula works wonders here), mix half of the cereal into mixture while pan is still over very low heat.

Once incorporated, add remaining cereal and smooth out into a lightly-greased pan (a few sprays of Pam will do). A baking pan about 10 x 10 will work. Let sit till cooled, cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

A Note: If you make these with a gf rice cereal, there is a certain one that many health food stores sell in bulk that doesn’t work as well in this recipe. They look like Rice Crispies (without the malt) but they’re much harder and crunchier, and don’t soften up as well after being combined with the marshmallow – they come out more crunchy than chewy. Last summer we were promised a GF version of Rice Crispies, but I have yet to see them on shelves. In the end I think you’re better off with a fun cereal. Kix would be good too!

Gluten-Free Rum Balls (or Easter Eggs!)

These rum balls, while traditionally made around the holidays, are a perfect “adult” treat for Easter – if you’re feeling particularly grown-up you could even dip them in dark chocolate. This recipe is easily adaptable if rum isn’t your thing, though coconut rum sounds perfect for Easter!

 ~* Gluten-Free Rum Balls *~

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan

A food processor is the quick way to go here, but if you don’t have one you could try crushing the  cookies/nuts with a mallet.

Best made a couple days in advance

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gluten-free wafers (or other crisp gf cookie)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup powdered  sugar, plus sugar for coating
  • 1/3 cup rum (spiced, coconut, etc.)

I doubled the recipe, hence 2 cups of crumbs

Begin by pulsing cookies (I used GF animal crackers in a pinch, though I think there are better alternatives out there) into large crumbs – make sure you do not crush them too finely! I made this mistake initially and it made for a very gooey rum ball that wouldn’t firm up until I added extra powdered sugar. You want large crumbs, not flour. Same goes for the walnuts – if you even just chop them with a knife that works too.

Once your cookies and walnuts are ready, assemble them in a separate bowl (again, if you process everything together it’s quicker but you run the risk of chopping everything too finely); add powdered sugar.

Pour in corn syrup, and slowly mix in rum, taking care that the mixture does not become too wet or sticky. (Conversely, if it’s too dry you can add more rum.) Using a teaspoon or small ice cream scoop, form the batter into small balls and roll in powdered sugar. Let sit on parchment paper to set. If you’re having trouble working with the dough, set it in the fridge until if firms up a bit.

Place rum balls in a parchment-lined cookie tin or container and – here’s the hard part – let sit for a few days for the best flavor. If you like a very firm rum ball, you can keep them in the fridge, though honestly they get better with time if they sit out on the counter.

How many is too many? Up to you!

If you’re making Easter eggs, roll balls into egg-shapes and decorate with chocolate. You can also add cocoa powder for extra chocolate flavor!


Yes I’m still alive, and here’s a recipe! (Gluten-free lemon layer cake)

Oh my, how the weeks fly by when you are busy. Sometimes it’s a blessing, other times… not so much. I haven’t had a day with nothing to do in quite awhile. But on a happier note, good things are going around and it’s nice to be employed and living in a beautiful place. And since I moved last weekend, I now have a new kitchen to play with – if I ever have the time! For now, here’s a recipe from a month or so ago…

~* Gluten-Free Lemon Layer Cake *~

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

 This recipe has a lot of steps, but it’s completely worth it. It works best if you make the cake and lemon curd the night before so everything has time to cool. Freezing the cakes overnight will help keep them from crumbling or falling apart during assembly (as some gf cakes tend to do). You don’t have to use greek yogurt here, but it adds tangy moisture to the cake. The lemon curd is absolutely fantastic- use it in any recipe for lemon tarts or with fresh scones! (put in link)

For the filling:

  • Zest from two lemons
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 6 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 large egg yolks (reserve whites for the cake)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen

For the cake:

  • 1 cup sorghum flour, plus more for dusting cake pans
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 1 cup 2% Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter substitute) cut into tablespoons, softened

For the icing (“seven-minute” recipe):

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Tip: when working with lemons, always use non-reactive cookware and utensils!

 For the filling: Soften gelatin by measuring 1 tbsp lemon juice into small bowl and sprinkling gelatin over top. Heat remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high hear, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolved and mixture is hot but not boiling.

Separate 6 large eggs, saving whites for the cake. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and egg yolks together, temper the mixture by slowly pouring hot lemon-sugar mixture into eggs, and then return the mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heat-proof spatula until mixture reaches 170 degrees. It should be thick enough to leave a trail on the spoon and across the bottom of the saucepan. Watch out for sputters once the curd gets hot!

Quickly remove pan from heat and stir in frozen butter until melted; continue to stir until smooth. Pour filling though a fine-mesh strainer into a non-reactive bowl – definitely don’t skip this step! A smooth curd is especially important when you’re using it as cake filling. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate till its firm enough to spread; at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour two nine-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper (trust me, with a sticky gf cake you do not want to skip this step!)

Whisk together Greek yogurt, egg whites, and vanilla. In the bowl of a standing mixture, mix flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt at low speed with the paddle attachment. With the mixer running at low speed, add butter one chunk at a time, and continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs with no large butter pieces (like a scone or biscuit dough). Add all but ½ cup yogurt mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed till batter is pale and fluffy, about 1 ½ minutes. With mixer running at low speed, add remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture; increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium speed and beat 20 seconds
longer. Divide batter evenly between cake pans, even out tops.

Bake on center rake, rotating cakes halfway through, until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto greased wire rack; peel off parchment. Invert cakes again; cool completely on rack. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze overnight if desired. (Freezing often improves gf texture)


Now, the fun part! To assemble: Mix chilled curd with spoon until spread-able. With a serrated knife, cut each cake into 2 even layers, taking care not to break layers. Brush off crumbs. Place bottom cake on cake plate/cardboard, and spread 1 cup lemon filling evenly on cake, leaving a ½ inch border around the edge. Gently add second layer, spread 1 cup filling on top. Repeat with third layer. Place fourth layer on top, smooth out any filling that has leaked out from the layers. Refrigerate while making icing.

For the icing: Combine all ingredients in bowl of standing mixer or large heatproof bowl and set over medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water (do not let bowl touch water). Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 160 degrees, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and transfer mixture to standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form, 5 minutes longer. Using a spatula, spread frosting on cake, starting with the top layer, working icing down the sides.

Cake can be refrigerated up to one day before serving, and be aware that once the marshmallow-y icing sets, you won’t be able to smooth out any nicks.

A perfect Spring-y birthday cake!

Why We Still Need to Read Labels, An Update!

So After contacting Promax last night, and leaving a message on Twitter about this issue, they wrote me back with this:

” While barley/barley malt  contain  gluten, barley malt extract does not.  Gluten is found in the protein portion of a wheat product.  Barley malt extract contains no protein.  Further more, we have tested this bar several times for gluten and it falls well below not only the FDA proposed limit of 20ppm but also the GFCO’s (Gluten Free Certifying Organization) standard of 10 ppm.  Part of the agreement with the GFCO is that  the bars and the manufacturing facility be audited for the presence of gluten regularly.  We have always tested well below the standards above. “

Ok…But then I read articles like this one, which state:

” Why the confusion over barley malt extract?
It is very tricky to test for barley contamination in food. One of the assays (sandwich omega-gliadin ELISA) severely underestimates gluten contamination from barley; the other (sandwich R5 ELISA) overestimates gluten contamination from barley by a factor of 2. And when it comes to testing for gluten in a hydrolyzed product (a product that has been partially broken down), such as barley malt extract, the test that usually overestimates barley contamination may now underestimate it. It really is a confusing situation! Fortunately, there is an assay available for testing hydrolyzed ingredients. It is called the competitive R5 ELISA.

How much gluten does barley malt extract contain?
When 3 barley malt extracts were tested for gluten using the competitive R5 ELISA, they contained approximately 320, 960, and 1300 parts per million (ppm) gluten. Taking into account the fact that the R5 ELISA may overestimate barley contamination by a factor of 2, the extracts more likely contained approximately 160, 480, and 650 ppm gluten.

Obviously, when barley malt extract is an ingredient in a food product, such as breakfast cereals, waffles, and pancakes, the ppm gluten content of the final food product will be far less than the ppm gluten content of the extract. In one study that assessed the gluten content from barley in two breakfast cereals containing barley malt extract, one product contained 795 ppm gluten; the other 171 ppm gluten. “

And then I see advice from medical sources, like this:

 “In the FDA’s proposed rule for labeling of food as gluten free, malt ingredients are included among those ingredients that can not be included in labeled gluten-free foods. It doesn’t matter if the final food product contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten.”

So I suppose I can see why this Promax’s party line on the issue, however all research I’ve done says that barley malt/barley malt extract still has gluten, although it may not be in high amounts. Even the FDA is having a problem with this!

And I’ve found that the smallest amount of things – like oat bran, for instance – can make me sick. For people with Celiacs, the only way to live is by eliminating all possible sources of gluten, even those which are declared “safe” despite their name; we know that sometimes what our bodies tell us is ahead of the current information. I’ve also read that less than 1/8 tsp of an ingredient can kick off your symptoms, and I have no idea how that corresponds with the 20ppm standard. And since other companies have chosen to remove barley malt extract because of the Celiac issue, it seems like there is in fact a problem for some consumers.

So again, I shall be returning them.

I don’t blame the Promax company, and I don’t think they’re trying to “fool” people into eating traces of wheat. However I do think it’s difficult that there are all these extracts and flavorings out there that are mysterious in origin or content, and it’s nearly impossible to cut them out of your diet. So I guess that means you have to be proactive when you can!

Every Celiac for Herself? Why we still need to read labels.

Don’t get fooled by the familiar packaging!

Sometimes it’s very easy to not read the whole label. Sometimes it’s long, you’re in a rush, and you’re so grateful to find something with “certified GF” image on it that you skim over the ingredients.

Here’s the sticky: we still have to read labels. Even though the FDA is trying to help us out, they aren’t really our friend. Their requirements don’t require an absence of gluten, only for products to be below a certain level of gluten-contamination. This means that if you see a GF label on a product that you know has a gluten ingredient listed, you shouldn’t trust it. Trust yourself and your own knowledge, because you’re the one putting your health (and your digestive system) at risk.

Why am I writing this now, you may wonder? I’ve been eating Promax protein bars for breakfast every morning at work, and I dig them; they have 20g protein and actually keep my full till lunch. I buy them in boxes from Amazon, so they’re cheaper, and today a couple boxes arrived at my house, one of them the nutty butter crisp variety. Upon examination, I looked past the GF label and saw that barley malt was listed in the ingredients list.

For a moment, I thought I might be mistaken, perhaps barley was not always gluten? Alas, I was right, though with barley I seemed to have stumbled into a bit of a controversy. There have been other products with this ingredient labeled GF, and consumers made a (deserved) fuss. Vans (the waffle folks), for one, decided to remove the ingredient completely. Removing barley malt was the step Chex took before labeling their cereals GF.

Apparently barley malt can sneak under the FDA radar, though any web search or Celiac site will set you straight that people with gluten intolerance should not eat any barley or malt-type flavorings. This only adds to my upset – one would think that a health and fitness company would be a little more vigilant in their ingredient use.

I will still be eating these bars, but only the varieties I know are safe. And I hope that in the future, the FDA will get its act together and make sure that foods labeled GF are actually gluten-free.

So the moral is: Sometimes we don’t get labels, so we have to trust. But when there is one, always read it!

UPDATE: Read more here!

Holiday Photo Overload!

qGluten-Free Rum Balls

photo4 Gluten-Free Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

1 Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

7The Before

m Gluten-Free Lemon Meringue Pie

photo 2    Gluten-Free Checkerboard Cookies

Recipes coming soon!

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