Blackberry Farm Griddle Cakes (Gluten-Free Pancakes)

I fortunately don’t have to worry about gluten-free cooking, but I do often find myself looking with interest at gluten-free recipes.  I have quite a collection of flours going and am always curious to find new ways to use them.  But for the dabbler stocking all the ingredients necessary for a gluten-free pantry can seem a bit much.  If you’re going to use it all the time, a home-made mix that requires you to stock up on ingredients ranging from arrowroot powder to sorghum makes perfect sense (and is hopefully more economical than some of the store-bought varieties though I understand that extra expense is par for the course when things must be free of gluten).  But for me, it seems like a lot to buy.

Blackberry Farm Gluten-Free Pancakes (1 of 5)

May 2013’s Bon Appetit cover showcases a beautiful stack of pancakes from the famous Blackberry Farm restaurant.  I was immediately curious, and only when I read through did I realize the recipe was for gluten-free pancakes.  Even better, it “only” required four other varieties–buckwheat (which I have on hand for pancakes anyway); cornmeal (polenta); brown rice flour (which I use for bread proofing) and oat flour (which I bought for the occasion, but which you can make easily from regular oatmeal in the food processor).

Blackberry Farm Gluten-Free Pancakes (3 of 5)

With that, this iteration of Sunday morning pancakes.  I had actually been wanting to try buckwheat pancakes for a while but was a bit nervous about what my picky eaters would say.  So this mix seemed like a good test run, as I knew the oat flour–the largest component–would mellow the buckwheat flavor. A quarter cup of maple syrup didn’t hurt either.  The lack of gluten ensured these pancakes were tender and light (an unprompted observation from my husband).  And happily they puffed up beautifully as they cooked quickly–a virtue when I’m griddling up as fast as I can for 3 hungry boys.

Blackberry Farm Gluten-Free Pancakes (2 of 5)

A few comments.  As I mentioned I used polenta which maybe was a bit too coarse a grind for the purpose–my husband liked the slight crunchy texture they provided, but next time I think a finer grind would work better.  While the recipe doens’t so require, I found that the batter got thicker after the first batch as it absorbed more liquid, so I’d suggest a five minute rest after the initial mixing.

Blackberry Farm Gluten-Free Pancakes (4 of 5)

And one more.  I made yet another change from the original recipe–I didn’t add the quarter cup of melted butter.  For no reason other than that I misread the recipe.  I liked my accidental low-fat version well enough, but as it was not a considered change to the recipe, I also thought it was only right to let you know!

Blackberry Farm Griddle Cakes
Make your own oat flour by whirring up rolled oats in your food processor. You can make this into a “mix”: Triple the dry ingredients and store them in a jar. Use 2 1/4 cups of “mix”; all the other measurements stay the same.
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Butter (for skillet)
Instructions
  1. Whisk egg, buttermilk, and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk oat flour, cornmeal, rice flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients, then allow the batter to sit for five minutes.
  3. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat; lightly brush with butter. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4-cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bottoms are browned and bubbles form on top of griddle cakes, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until griddle cakes are cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.

 Blackberry Farm Gluten-Free Pancakes (5 of 5)

Gluten-Free Lemon Bars for Sarah

One of Sarah’s most missed baked goods is Lemon Bars.  Marie and I have both tried our hand at lemon bars, and there’s always something that isn’t quite right.  There was the time Marie made them, while chatting on the phone, and double the butter but not the sugar.  Not too tasty.  Then there was another unfortunate incident with silicone baking ware and the Brooklyn Fire Department. . .  Those were fun text-updates to receive.  Mine disappointments are nearly as exciting.  They are just ugly.

My friend Sarah vouched for the taste factor, but they were just not aesthetically pleasing to me.  I couldn’t bear to take a picture of the final version.  I only post because she claims they were good enough.  In the future, it would be wise to chill them in the freezer for about 30 minutes or so so they could properly set before cutting and serving.  Also, the original directions suggested using foil to line the pan (probably connected to some online coupon offer), so I tried that rather than my parchment paper.  Never again. Maybe the fault was my generic foil, but it was a disaster because the curd leaked in holes from the foil making it very difficult to cleanly cut.  Oh well.  Live and learn.  At least they tasted good, so I’m told.

I found the recipe here:  Gluten-Free Lemon Bars

Again, I used a gluten-free baking mix that already included the xanatham gum for the binding.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of butter at room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups of  gluten-free baking mix
  • 4 lightly beaten eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 TB cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tb. fresh lemon zest (add a bit more for more tartness if you wish)
  • 1/4-1/2 powdered sugar to sprinkle on top of baked bars

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Prepare a 13×9 inch pan by covering with parchment paper.

2.  Mix the gluten-free flour with the butter, using fork or pastry cutter.  Add 1/2 of powdered sugar and blend well with a fork and press this mixture into the bottom of your pan, covering well.

3.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a LIGHT golden brown color. (Check after 10 minutes to see if there are any large bubbles. Using a fork, push the bubbles down by lightly piercing the dough.)  Remove from oven and set aside and prepare filling.

4.  Place the eggs, granulated sugar and the cornstarch in a bowl and mix with a whip until well-blended. Make sure that there are no lumps from the cornstarch.  Add the lemon juice and lemon zest and stir into batter.  Luscious and Lemony!

5.  Pour this directly over the crust in the pan and return to oven.  Bake for 15 minutes and check the top of the lemon bars.  If the top is white and “dry,” remove from oven.

6.  Let cool for 15 minutes and sprinkle with powdered sugar.   Perhaps “chill it” in the refrigerator to?  Cut into bars/squares and serve.

Sarah’s Gluten-Free Birthday Cheesecake

As noted in previous posts, my friend Sarah has a love/hate relationship with gluten.  While she loves the sweets that are made with regular flour, she hates the side effects on her body from processing it.  She explains it, “I feel like I’ve been drinking the next day.  I can’t think straight.”  That was only one of the side effects.  Sarah has an infectious laugh, always in good humor and a blessing as a friend.  She needed a birthday cake to be proud of and one she could enjoy.   After making the cake and carting it from one pub to another (we were kicked out of the first, ahem), the huge crew of Sarah-lovers sang to her and we dished out the deliciousness.

In exploring gluten-free recipes, I learned that gluten-free flours are generally a mixture of rice and almond flours (very difficult to be allergic to gluten AND nuts!).  There is normally the additive of “xanatham gum” which is an additive for the binding effect.  Most baking mixes have this included, but if you are using your own “gluten-free” flour, you may have to add a teaspoon or two to achieve the same effect.

Also, the original recipe called for flour which I substituted with corn starch.  Per the corn starch can, it’s a 1 to 2 ratio — for every 2 TB of flour, I used 1 TB of corn starch.  It seemed to do the trick.

DAY   1 The Crust (adapted from Gluten Free Nut Crust Supreme)

  • 2 cups gluten free baking mix
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (I used the food processor)

Line cheesecake pan with parchment paper.  In a food processor, chop pecans.  Add dry ingredients and combine.

Add the butter gradually, pulsing to combine.   The crust will be a little “crumbly” but will hold together once pressed into the pan.  Because I’m too lazy to do it all in one night, I refrigerated the dough for the evening.

DAY 2 For the actual cheesecake, I adapted from a Better Homes and Garden recipe.

  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 4 8-ounce packages reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 -2 tablespoons of corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel or orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk

1. In a heavy small saucepan melt the white chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, sugar, the corn starch, the lemon or orange peel, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until combined. With the mixer running, slowly add the melted white chocolate, beating until combined. Add eggs all at once, beating on low speed just until combined (do not overbeat). Stir in milk.

3. Pour filling into prepared springform pan. Place springform pan on a shallow baking pan. Bake about 55 minutes or until center appears nearly set when shaken gently. Cool cheesecake in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Use a small metal spatula to loosen cheesecake from sides of pan; cool 30 minutes. Remove sides of pan; cool cheesecake completely. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.  ** to remove from the pan, I placed the whole cheesecake in the freezer for an hour. Then it was much easier to “pop” it off the springform pan and wrap till the next day and stage of topping.

DAY 3  The Topping

  • 1/3 cup strawberry jelly
  • Fresh strawberries

In a small saucepan heat and stir strawberry jelly over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the jelly over top of the cheesecake. Arrange berries on cheesecake. Cover with plastic wrap; chill up to 4 hours before serving. Makes 16 to 20 servings.

And, a piece to grow on:

Gluten-Free Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

Some very special people in my life have some very special diet restrictions. Fortunately for all of us, there are products (and recipes!) to make life easier (in that I can still bake/cook/craft for them). I didn’t do much over the holidays as my mom took care of that – tackling several new and tasty diabetes-friendly desserts, from pumpkin and chocolate swirl cheesecakes to a few varieties of cookies. I think the Cleverings just might be moving away from the sugar shock that is traditionally a part of the holidays. Of course, this means we still devour sweets, but it might be at a more normal level in comparison to other families now.

Ah the irony of having a father as a dentist…

When I made it back to Medford, I decided to try my hand at a gluten-free chocolate cupcake recipe. I’ve obviously tackled the chocolate cupcake before, but for whatever reason, the new challenge intrigued me. After a quick google search I found a recipe on allrecipes.com that used pretty basic ingredients. I wanted to avoid going out to buy 1 lb bag of xanatham gum when I only need 1 TB or some other bizarre food product like tapioca rice flour. The recipe I chose had one of my favorite ingredients – garbanzo beans! Not kidding.  After perusing a few of the comments, I tailored it to my own liking.

Cupcake Ingredients

1 &  1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips (apparently Ghiradelli chips are one of the few “confirmed” to be gluten-free)

4 Tbsp of butter 2 cups of garbanzo beans, drained

4 eggs

3/4 c of sugar

1 tsp of vanilla

1 tsp of baking powder

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

1/2 cup of cream (or 1/2 & 1/2)

1/2 cup of sugar

2 Tbsp of butter

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Optional small fresh berries for garnish

Cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake trays. This makes approximately 20 cupcakes.

2. Melt on low heat 4 Tbsp of butter with 1 & 1/2 cups of chocolate

3. Blend garbanzo beans and eggs in food processor till smooth. Add sugar, vanilla, and baking powder, and continue to blend.

4. Gradually add melted chocolate into the food processor, blending as you go to reach a smooth consistency.

5. Pour batter into lined cupcake trays and bake for approximately 25 minutes.  It’s okay to fill them nearly to the top because unlike traditional cupcakes, they don’t rise that much — just a little, thanks to the baking powder.

Ganache

I’m not exactly sure what ganache is, but I recall Ina Garten making it at some point on Barefoot Contessa. I was too lazy on Sunday morning to pull up the directions on the computer, so I decided to have a go at it myself, sans-instructions. It turned out fairly well, but with 1 cup of chocolate chips, is that any surprise?

1. Bring cream, sugar, and butter to a gentle simmer/boil.

2. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Generously spoon the chocolate over the cupcakes immediately as it tends to harden.  I found some blackberries on sale at Safeway, so they were a helpful, pretty garnish (and no gluten-obviously).