GF/CF Raspberry Pecan Streusel Muffins

Christmas has come and gone in a blur of family, feasts, and wine. So many great meals, and such good company. My kitchen was organized chaos, with the welcome help of sure hands in the kitchen. The pots and pans clanged and banged, the mixer whirred, and the flours flew. It was a time I can't remember, but will never forget.

Before the year ends I want to share one last holiday recipe. These simple yet festive muffins were perfect on Christmas morning.

GF/CF Raspberry Pecan Streusel Muffins 
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009
Adapted from “The 250 Best Muffin Recipes” by Esther Brody

Pecan Streusel Topping
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed organic brown sugar
1/4 cup GF flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill GF Pancake mix!)
2 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery stick

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup potato starch (or tapioca starch or cornstarch)
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup vanilla hemp milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup melted Earth Balance Vegan Buttery stick (one stick)
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, unsweetened

Preheat oven to 375°
12-cup muffin tin, greased or lined with paper cups

1. In a bowl combine pecans, brown sugar, and flour mix. Add melted butter; mix until crumbly. Set aside.

2. In a bowl combine flours, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, whisk until thoroughly mixed. Make a well in the center.

3. In another bowl combine hemp milk, butter and egg, mix well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moist. Don’t over-mix.

4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling cups half full. Add four or five raspberries to each cup. Top with remaining batter. Sprinkle with streusel topping.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned. 

Note: If you can’t have soy products, use organic vegetable shortening instead of the Earth Balance sticks.

Another note: A few blueberries added to the raspberries wouldn't hurt.


GF/CF Lemon Blueberry Tea Bread

Lemon Tea Bread always makes an appearance in my oven this time of year. I make lots of it to give away. With the addition of blueberries and pecans, it is my version of fruitcake. On rare occasions, when I still have huckleberries in the freezer from my August harvest, the bread is studded with those purple jewels. The bread bursts with lemon and berry, a sweet/tart delight.

Converting my old recipe to gluten and dairy free took a little experimenting. I have tweaked the flour blend a few times, and am happy with this one. The butter in the original recipe was first substituted with canola oil, which resulted in a good texture, but lacked in the buttery flavor. I tried coconut oil. The coconut flavor, although quite delicious in most cases, just created a little too much depth in flavors. I still wanted the butter flavor. Earth Balance to the rescue! I am so excited about using Earth Balance Buttery Sticks in baking. They really are an amazing way to get the flavor and baking properties of butter without the dreaded lactose. 

Get baking!

GF/CF Lemon Blueberry Tea Bread
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009 

3/4 cup almond milk or coconut milk
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick (one cube), melted
2 tbsp grated lemon peel

2/3 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cornstarch or potato starch
1/3 cup millet flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/3 cup sugar
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350º.
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, melted buttery stick, and lemon peel. Whisk until well blended.

2. In another mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add to the wet ingredients, beat until just moistened and all the flour is mixed in. Fold in the pecans and blueberries. Pour batter into four buttered small loaf pans. Bake 40 - 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Place hot pan on cooling rack.

3. As the bread is baking, mix the glaze in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the bread is out of the oven and on the cooling rack, spoon the glaze over the loaves, still in the baking pan. (this is messy because the glaze will spill over the edges. Put wax paper down under the cooling rack for easy clean-up. It helps to run a knife around the inside edges of the pan before you spoon the glaze so the glaze can find its way inside the pan instead of outside.)

Let the loaves cool for about 15 minutes in the pan so they can soak up the glaze, then take them out to cool on the wire rack.


GF/CF Sugar Cookies

Who says Christmas cookies have to be fancy.

Here is one of my favorite Christmas cookies. It is a simple sugar cookie. No glam. No glitter. Just a humble drop cookie. The taste? Absolutely delicious. The texture? Delicate crunch on the outside, soft on the inside.

No need to chill the dough, roll it, or cut it into seasonal shapes. No fuss over frosting and decorating. In other words, fast and easy. Perfect.

I have been making this cookie for years, gluten-free for a year. The flour mixture in this dough includes almond flour, which adds richness and flavor. I usually use organic shortening in cookies, but for these I used half shortening and half Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (soy based), which results a more buttery taste. 

These probably won't be around long enough to think about freezing them, but just so you know, they freeze well.

GF/CF Drop Sugar Cookies
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup almond flour (not almond meal)
1/2 cup corn starch or tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
dash salt

1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (one stick)*
1/2 cup organic shortening
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp organic cane sugar for rolling

Heat oven to 350º.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the nine dry ingredients. Sift the mixture into another small mixing bowl, set aside. 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine buttery stick with shortening, and cream in the sugar with a hand mixer. Stir in egg and vanilla. Add the sifted flour mixture in three stages, stirring well to combine.

Roll the dough by hand into one-inch balls. Roll the balls in sugar, and place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until just barely starting to turn color around the edges. The center will look doughy, but they will continue to bake as they cool. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*If you can't have soy, just use one cup of shortening. They will still be fantastic. 

Check out my recipe for GF/CF Rolled Sugar Cookies.


Buckwheat and Huckleberries

This morning, hot cereal sounded good. Winter has arrived. The fallen leaves carpeting my lawn are edged and iced with a beautiful sparkling frost. The birdbath is an ice rink. Creamy hot buckwheat cereal sounded just right.

Buckwheat sure was stuck with a bum name. There is nothing wheaty about it. It is not a grain. It is not a grass. It is actually in the fruit family, related to rhubarb. So of course it is gluten-free. The nutritional benefits are huge. Buckwheat has one of the highest sources of protein found in plants. It is rich in lysine and fiber. Read more about the nutritional benefits of buckwheat here.

Buckwheat flour is an interesting addition to gluten-free four blends, adding an earthy flavor. The groats make a delicious hot cereal, which is what I made this morning. I use Bob's Red Mill Creamy Buckwheat Cereal, and more brands are out there. Following package directions, it cooks quickly in just about 10 minutes. I always add nuts and fruit to it after it cooks, sometimes as it is cooking. Today, after it was cooked and dished up, I poured a little vanilla hemp milk and a touch of maple agave syrup over it, then sprinkled huckleberries and toasted slivered almonds on top. The finishing touch was a dusting of cinnamon. How easy and nutritious is that! All the good stuff in the buckwheat, plus the protein and the omega fatty acids in the hemp milk, the antioxidants in the huckleberries, the protein in the almonds, and the heart-healthy attributes of the cinnamon.

Buckwheat and huckleberries. What a delicious way to start the day.


Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Snickerdoodles

What a great name for a cookie. If there is such a thing as a retro cookie, this is it.  

This recipe goes way way back, to a little spiral bound cookbook put together by some moms in the early '60s as a PTA fundraiser. These old cookbooks are real gems. The greatest recipes lay hidden among the jello concoctions and mystery meat casseroles.  

This was one of them. It is a classic. Snickerdoodles has always been my family's favorite cookie. I have made thousands of them. My kids have made thousands of them. Now I make them with different flours, and they are still just as good.

Gluten-Free Snickerdoodles 
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009 

1 cup shortening (I use Spectrum Organic) 
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar 
2 eggs 
1 cup millet flour 
1 cup sorghum flour  
3/4 cup corn starch 
2 tsp xanthan gum 
3 tsp cream of tarter 
1 1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt 

Rolling mixture:  2 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves 

Heat oven to 350º.

Mix the shortening and sugar with an electric blender until creamy. Add eggs, and mix until incorporated.  

Combine all the dry ingredients (except the rolling mixture) in a bowl, and stir with a whisk until thoroughly combined. Sift dry mixture into shortening mixture in 3 stages, blending each time until dry is incorporated. The last stage will have to be stirred by hand because the dough will be stiff.  

Roll the dough into one-and-one-half-inch balls, then roll the balls in the sugar/spice mixture. Place 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet, and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. The cookies will flatten out when baking, and they will get their characteristic cracking toward the end. Leave them to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire wrack to cool.

Guide to Gluten-Free Flours

When we began the journey into gluten-free land, the confusing array of flour choices was frustrating. Who knew so many wheat alternatives existed! I, like most, began with a combination of brown rice flour and starch. (We have never used white rice flour because, for reasons that confound us, Annie can't tolerate white rice. No big deal though. White rice is void of nutrients.) I soon found that this combination resulted in a gritty product with a funky taste. When I learned to combine two or three gluten-free flours with one or two starches, things got better.  Along the way we discovered which flours work for us and which don't.  Right now, we like a blend of millet, sorghum, and tapioca or cornstarch.

Successful gluten-free baking and cooking is really just a matter of figuring out which flour combinations work best for you. But it helps to have some sort of map to point you in the right direction. I just found a very helpful guide in the latest issue of Living Without magazine. It lists the properties of each flour, along with how to use it and what to watch out for. It also includes a chart showing nutritional information for 33 different flours. Did you know that almond flour is the highest in calories and fat of all the flours, but the lowest in carbs? Or that green pea flour has 11 grams of protein in just 1/4 cup?

Click here for the gluten-free flour guide. I hope you find it to be helpful!
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