Posts Tagged ‘Tuesdays with Dorie’

TWD: Gluten free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Italian breads seem to be a recurrent theme with the TWD group over the last couple of months. First pizza, now focaccia. Not that we are complaining. Going back to our gluten eating days, we did enjoy focaccia on occasion, in fact, while living in Montana, a local health conscious baker, built his own wood fired oven, in order to do justice making some of the old style, rustic European breads. A lot of his breads were sourdough based, and focaccia was no exception. Usually only available on a weekend, unless you placed a special order, these specialty breads would disappear as soon as they emerged from the oven.  Since not everyone in our household shares our personal love for Italian food, focaccia is generally not at the top of the list, when baking bread. We do love a challenge, and never having tried focaccia gluten free before, we felt we couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

The contributing baker to the original recipe is Craig Kominiak, and he calls for two rising periods, followed by a resting period of 24-36 hours in the refrigerator. Generally, from our own humble experience, gluten free baking is not always amenable to these extra long resting periods. As a result, our own gluten free adaptation differs greatly from the original. When developing any recipe, we always cut the recipe in half, just in case it flops. This was no different.  The changes we made included the preparation of a simple sponge prepared a day ahead, consisting of sorghum flour, brown rice flour and water. The remaining flour blend included brown rice, tapioca, sweet rice and potato starch, along with psyllium seed soaked in coconut milk, one egg and the addition of 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar.  Fresh thyme and rosemary, along with a couple of tablespoons of fresh Parmesan cheese were worked into the dough before rising. The dough was allowed to rise for 1-1/2 hours, during which time it nearly tripled in size. Quite a feat for any gluten free dough.

TWD: Gluten Free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Spreading a dusting of rice flour onto a baking board, we divided the dough in half, and pressed it into rough oval shapes, about 1/2 inch thick. Using a fork we pierced holes throughout the dough, allowing it to bake evenly. We brushed the top with olive oil, sprinkled it with fresh thyme, rosemary and halved cherry tomatoes, along with salt and pepper.

TWD: Gluten Free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

The focaccia baked for about 15 minutes in a pre-heated 450°F oven. The best thing about making this recipe is how the entire house fills with the delicious aroma of fresh herbs and baking bread.

Never having made gluten free focaccia, we consider this recipe to be a great success, in both texture and flavor. We were also quite impressed how easy the dough was to work with, along with the fact that the final result mirrored the description in the Baking with Julia book, as well as our memories of regular focaccia (however faint – it is quite a while back now).

TWD: Gluten Free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

In the future, we will definitely give the “refrigerated resting time for the dough” a try, as well as experiment with a non-savory version.

Please check out all the wonderful contributions by the other TWD bakers at this link, as well as the beautiful contribution by this week’s host Sharmini of Wandering Through.

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It is almost not fair to participate in this particular challenge. Baking bread gluten free is an entirely different ball game, and no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to exactly duplicate whole wheat bread. You can come pretty close, with a lot of tweaking.  It is so easy baking regular gluten rich bread by comparison. We remember – at one point – in what now seems like a long time ago, we baked wheat/spelt bread regularly and loved it. It just didn’t love us back. We are not complaining, however, finding out what you are highly allergic to is definitely a good thing.

Over the past several years, we’ve had many failures and also great successes, in the process of converting our many family recipes into gluten free ones. It is in that spirit, that we decided to give today’s recipe a try. Perhaps, it will encourage others not to give up, and realize that there are often many steps involved in the perfection of a recipe.

Obviously, there is no way we could use any type of wheat or other gluten flour. Hence, the term “mock” above. Since gluten creates the unique ability allowing bread dough to rise and expand, creating that much sought after elastic and malleable quality, and allowing for kneading and multiple risings, we needed to add several ingredients that somewhat mimic what gluten provides in a regular dough.

Since this particular recipe differs somewhat from our own gluten free bread recipes, we chose to cut the recipe in half, in order to not waste any ingredients, should the recipe turn out to be a flop. To create more elasticity in the dough, we took the somewhat unusual step of experimenting with the addition of a small sourdough culture. Keep in mind, that this particular culture had only been allowed to ferment for roughly 24 hours, and consisted of  only one cup each rice flour and water. Naturally, since malt extract contains gluten, we chose to substitute it for molasses. We chose a combination of whole brown rice flour, tapioca flour and sweet rice flour, along with rice bran to give the bread a little extra substance that whole wheat would otherwise provide. This type of dough requires the addition of two eggs to help bind the ingredients.

For those of you that have never before baked bread gluten free, you can completely eliminate any thoughts of handling the dough, kneading the dough or attempting multiple risings. Gluten free bread dough looks and acts more like cake batter. You blend the ingredients with a mixer and then pour the batter into the loaf pan, rather than knead and shape it. It should, however, not be too liquid, but nevertheless pourable. The loaf pan should be filled no more than half full, to allow for the dough to double in height.


Our gluten free bread took exactly 50 minutes to rise, the dough reaching just above the top of the loaf pan. We then baked it for 35 minutes at 375°F, removed it from the pan, and placed it back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Since we were only able to make this bread later in the day, we could only let it cool for about 40 minutes, before cutting and photographing it. Generally, we allow for a much longer cooling period, especially with gluten free bread.


The bread was still a little too warm and not quite ready to be cut, causing to crumble just slightly. The bread was chewy and flavorful, with just a slight hint of molasses, giving it a unique flavor. Overall, we are happy with the recipe as a first attempt to a gluten free conversion, but strongly feel it needs additional tweaking down the line.


If you want to see the original recipe in Baking with Julia, check out the exceptional contributions from this week’s hosts, Teresa of The Family that Bakes Together, and Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Also do check out the many fantastic submissions by the rest of the TWD participants on TWD’s site.


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We definitely have not made popovers very often, since living gluten free. Baking anything gluten free, presents enough challenges, but baking without the use of baking powder, or other leavening agents, seems daunting – to say the least – if not downright impossible.  Since Julia’s recipe does not call for any sugar, we were doubly encouraged to give this a try. Popovers actually reminded me of a dish I grew up with in Germany, called ‘Pfitzauf.’ It is a Swabian Southern German recipe prepared with a little sugar, and mostly served with a hot fruit compote. Many times my mother would make this  on a Friday for lunch, after coming home from school – a perfect finish to the end of a school week. When setting aside the ingredients for this recipe and looking for an appropriate baking pan, I also recalled that my mother used some kind of an oven proof earthenware dish, looking somewhat like this image, courtesy wikipedia.

It would have been kind of fun baking this recipe using her baking pan, but the thousands of miles that separate us from my home town make that very difficult. We didn’t want to use our trusted old muffin pan, and, instead, went to our local Target store and found a popover pan by Nordic Ware, which is manufactured here in the USA.

By the way, today’s recipe is being hosted by two very talented bloggers: Paula of Vintage Kitchen Notes, who hails from Buenos Aires and Amy of Bake with Amy. Both also feature the original recipe by Julia and Marion Cunningham.  If you already own the book “Baking with Julia,” by Dorie Greenspan, the recipe is on page 213.

As suggested in the recipe, all ingredients were at room temperature. We substituted the gluten flour for our own gluten free blend of tapioca and rice flour. Not knowing how this particular recipe would turn out gluten free, we decided to make two different batches, following the original recipe completely with the first batch (minus the gluten), and tweaking it slightly on the second go around, by adding a little bit of sweet rice flour, rice bran, baking powder, cheese and chives. In both batches, we substituted regular milk with coconut milk.

Given the depth of the popover pan, we were a little worried whether the batter would rise enough to even reach the top of the pan, but were pleasantly surprised when we discovered small little domes above each cup. For all of you gluten bakers, this seemingly tiny event may seem insignificant, but remember our recipe is completely devoid of all the usual gluten helpers that allow all  baked goods to expand. We are trying  hard not to be discouraged by all the other TWD participants’ magnificent ‘pillowy’, almost high rise like creations. While our primary goal when converting a recipe is always to recreate the flavor, texture and overall familiarity of a gluten recipe, we have learned to accept a certain amount of diminished height in the rising of  certain specialty cakes and bread. Still overall, we were pretty impressed with how this recipe turned out. Having only prepared it two times, definitely warrants further tweaking and testing in the future. With our second batch, we already noticed, that the addition of a little baking powder allowed the batter to rise noticeably  faster and higher than the first one. But we still need to experiment to see whether it was just due to the baking powder, or had something to do with the additional of the cheese. We’ll keep you posted.

It would have been nice to serve this with a freshly made cherry compote, the way my mother used to prepare it, but cherries are not currently available locally. Instead, we tested our first batch by serving it still warm with a little mango jam. The second batch, being savory, will be an accompaniment to our dinner tonight. Naturally, we taste tested one and it was delicious, with a perfect blending of the herbs and the cheese.

This is such a classic and simple recipe that we are sure many of you will want to try it out for yourselves.

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This week’s participation in TWD called for a Berry Galette. We have been looking forward to making this recipe, since galettes can be easily converted into gluten free and offer a variety of options, both savory and sweet. In the past, we  created our own gluten free recipe, inspired by visiting Paris back in 2002, with its abundance of delicious food and patisseries around every corner. Of course, way back then, we did not yet realize the negative impact gluten had on our health (wow, this seems like a lifetime ago now?!). In Paris, we noticed that galettes are not just favorite desserts, but are acutally, more commonly, eaten as a lunch on the go. Many Parisiennes stop by their neighborhood patisserie/boulangerie to not only purchase their daily baguettes, but also purchase a favorite savory galette for lunch. We enjoyed versions made with spinach and cheese, tomatoes, herbs and cheese as well as some containing small amounts of meat. They are usually made in small individual sizes, serving just one person. These delicious treats are very clear in our memories as we recall our visit, but, sadly, we lack the pictures to share with you, since most of our film footage didn’t fair so well going through the airport security in place back then. X-rays do have a strong impact on even developed images, as we unfortunately found out the hard way.

Still, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to experiment with Julia’s/Flo Braker’s galette recipe to see how it compared to our own. If you would like to watch a demonstration of how to prepare these galettes, you can enjoy an episode of Baking with Julia, at this link. The original recipe can be found on the sites of this week’s hosts: Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness who outdid herself in this week’s TWD challenge, including beautiful photos of her picnic. Likewise, Lisa of Tomato Thymes in the Kitchen, is not to be missed, offering another beautiful take on her version of the recipe.

As we mentioned earlier, this recipe is fairly easily converted into gluten free. However, it is important to note, that you cannot use ice water in the preparation of the crust.  Even in leaving this out, the dough is very soft and malleable, perfect as it turns out, after watching the above video. We did use 1 tablespoon of coconut milk, so it is not entirely devoid of liquid, and we replaced the sour cream with Greek-style yoghurt, which lends it a beautiful flavor and enhances the consistency of the dough. Due to our other allergy to corn, instead of corn meal, we used and equal blend of rice bran and almond meal. This choice also allowed us to leave out any of the usual gums (xanthum or guar gum) used in gluten free baking, which is very welcome, and we are going to explore this combination and potential replacement of gums some more in the future. Outside of the obvious gluten free flour replacement, we pretty much stuck to the recipe, except for the choice of fruit.  Having an abundance of fresh plums and apples in the house, we chose to use them instead of the berries (which is offered as an option in the recipe itself).

Alongside this dessert recipe, we also made a savory galette for dinner, which we will be posting tomorrow, including our recipe. So if you are new to galettes, and need a recipe to follow, check back with us tomorrow.

Gluten free dough, as is many times the case, is a little bit more finicky, and  needs to be carefully folded to make sure it contains the juices from the baking fruit. Unlike making a pie, the filling in this recipe is a little bit more on the dry side, but, refreshingly, not very sweet – but sweet enough. Please remember, we never use white sugar and also did not use honey, an optional ingredient, in this recipe.

We were very happy with the outcome and will continue to make this in the future. The great aspect of galettes, is  the sheer unlimited number of ingredients you can add to a filling, and create surprising new flavors every time. You may be only limited by the Seasons, or the choices in your freezer.

Happy baking!

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As some of you already know, we are in the midst of our final revisions to the new editions of our books. When we started out back in 2009, we lacked access to great cameras, only possessing basic point and shoots. Not to mention that neither of us had ever written a book or a blog.

Our early focus was primarily on improving our own health, that of our family and on perfecting the quality of our recipes and getting them, as quickly as possible, into the hands of those people we most cared about. We have grown as individuals and learned so much in these past three years, not only about gluten free living and our own journey towards greater health, but also about the process of  writing and the art of photography.  Now, having access to DSLRs, the art of staging our recipes has become almost as important as the recipes themselves.  Our desire to reflect this growth process, made it necessary to redo all of the early photography of our first book. The timing of this process could not have been worse, given that we find ourselves in the midst of the most intense heat of the summer, coupled with a prolonged, severe drought. Turning on the oven is not a particularly appealing thought, even with the swamp cooler running.

However, today being the final TWD Challenge for the month of July, and having looked forward to giving this recipe a try since it was announced several weeks ago, we decided to make an exception.  Blueberries and nectarines – who can resist this unique and delicious combination.

Quintessential summer fruits, they are both in season right now and easy to find locally. But what about winter?  After tasting this pie, everyone loved it so much, we will have to plan on freezing some nectarines  so we have them readily available during the cooler months of the year.

As far as the recipe goes, we naturally had to adapt the crust to fit our gluten free needs and decided the easiest way to do this would be to swap out our own gluten free pie crust recipe.

If you are looking for Julia’s original recipe, please check out the blogs of today’s hosts, Hilary of Manchego’s Kitchen, and Liz of That Skinny Chick can Bake. You can also check out other participants’ contributions to this challenge over at TWD.

The other changes we made to the recipe, included reducing the amount of sugar (we used organic evaporated cane juice), and using arrowroot starch in place of flour to thicken the cooked part of the filling.

One of the unique elements of this recipe is the addition of lemon zest to the fruit filling. The amalgam of flavors, combining the sweet summer fruits with the tart citrus, is unexpected and brings a surprising and welcome depth to this dessert. We unhesitatingly encourage you to give this recipe a try. Pies are always a welcome dessert in our house, and this unique filling certainly stands out from the rest.

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Today is Tuesday and yes, we are ready for another challenge; our own  TWD gluten free challenge. This week’s hosts are Jodi of Home Made and Wholesome, and Katrina of Baking and Boys. Check out their websites for the original recipe, which can also be found on page 315 of Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan.  Just for the fun of it, we looked up a video on YouTube from the PBS Baking with Julia series. It features Julia with Alice Medrich, making the Hazelnut Biscotti and you can watch it here.

First of all, we should mention that aside from the obvious (gluten free flour – our brown rice/tapioca flour blend), we did make two other changes to Julia’s recipe. Hazelnuts were difficult to locate in our area, but we did find roasted unsalted pistachios, which made a delicious alternative.

The advantage of using pistachios, apart from their great flavor, is the ease of removing the shells as well as any remaining skins, allowing us to completely skip the initial step of boiling the nuts in hot water with baking soda.

As a rule, we never use white sugar,  ever, or brown, raw, or whatever. We also never use any artificial substitutes, so readily found today. In general, we are very fond of coconut sugar as an alternative, and since some of us will actually be eating this dessert :-o , that was a definite must. In case you are not familiar with it, coconut sugar has a very low glycemic index, and is generally well tolerated  by most. Please be aware, that this will darken any recipe considerably. No ‘anemic looking’ batters here. With our own addition of one quarter cup of dark chocolate chips (suggested by Julia in her book), it didn’t really matter.

The quantities suggested in the original recipe  remained the same. We did need to add  two extra tablespoons of flour. Gluten free baking does require slight alterations in either liquids, or the flour used, but since we live at high altitude this could have played a role as well.

As mentioned in the recipe, this dough is very sticky, stiff and little challenging to work with.  The gluten free bakers amongst us can certainly relate to this.  Since many GF creations tend to spread outward, instead of rising upward, we lined a 9×7 baking pan with parchment paper, creating a raised edge in the center with the paper, to separate the two loaves, just in case. An additional 3 tablespoons of sweet rice flour were necessary for flouring our hands, in order to shape the loaves.

Defying our initial expectations, the loaves rose beautifully.

After baking for exactly 35 minutes, we let the loaves cool for about 20 minutes, before slicing them, and baking them again for an additional 12 minutes. After the second baking cycle we let them cool completely.

We actually baked this recipe last night, and lacked optimal lighting for photographing, which put us in somewhat of a quandary.  The house filled with the delicious aroma of the baking biscottis, yet, we had to wait another day to actually taste them. Well, not quite, we did sample a tiny end piece in all of its crunchy deliciousness ;-) .

Aside from our own unique gluten free challenges, we found this recipe to be extremely easy to make for even the most novice baker. This recipe would lend itself for easy gift giving. When it comes to this recipe, allow your own creativity free reign for any fun and tasty substitutions you can think of. Perhaps some dried fruit, goji berries anyone? Chocolate drizzles for decorating after baking, the sky is the limit.

What are your favorite biscottis? Have you baked this type of cookie before? Whether you are eating gluten free or not, we would love to hear from you.

So far, we are really enjoying participating in the TWD challenges and are looking forward to the next one.

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Today we are celebrating our first participation in the Tuesdays with Dorie twice monthly recipe challenge. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this unique baking club, it was originally started by Dorie Greenspan, who worked alongside Julia Child, writing her famous cookbook ‘Baking with Julia.’

The rules are really very simple; every month two recipes are selected from the book Baking with Julia, and posted ahead of time on this website. All registered participants agree to make and post the agreed upon dishes on the selected date, which always falls on a Tuesday. Hence, our post today. Each week a couple of bloggers are chosen to host the event, and they are the only ones allowed to actually post the official recipe. Everyone is encouraged to branch out and create their own version, following the original recipe as closely as possible. This week’s hosts are Allison of ‘think love sleep dine,’ and Sophia of ‘Sophia’s Sweets.’ Check out their beautiful websites and locate today’s original recipe, albeit the gluten containing version.

Since we live gluten free, our participation naturally demands that we develop a unique take on each recipe. As all of you gluten free bloggers know, this can present a few challenges.

Today’s recipe offered an opportunity to explore another gluten free take on creating a perfect Génoise (a type of sponge cake). Over the past few years of living and baking gluten free, we developed our own unique take on this dessert, since it is also very popular in Southern Germany.

However, as part of the TWD challenge, we wanted to stay true to the original recipe, and merely replace the regular flour with our own gluten free flour blend, keeping all other ingredients the same. The end result was not at all to our liking. Julia Child’s Génoise cake is intended to be a triple layer cake. With our first attempt, that would have been impossible. Now please understand, that we are in no way blame casting the original recipe, but want to emphasize the great difficulties one encounters when first converting any baking recipe into a gluten free version. The proportions of liquids and fats have to be adjusted, eliminated, or replaced with another option. In order to let you participate in this baking challenge, we wanted to let you see the failures that one encounters along the way. As we already mentioned, the following image depicts our first attempt, in which we followed the original recipe to the letter, replacing only the flour. As you can see, this did not work at all.

Despite our careful attention to folding the flour into the heavily whipped and very fluffy egg/sugar batter, the entire cake fell flat once baking in the oven, completely failing to rise. We immediately went about adjusting the recipe, tweaking it just slightly.

We eliminated the melted butter entirely, but added a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk instead. The other change we made, was in the preparation of the eggs. Three eggs were separated into egg whites and egg yolks, adding the fourth whole egg into the bowl with the egg yolks. We whipped the egg whites first, until stiff peaks formed, and then, in a separate bowl, beat the yolks with the sugar and the vanilla extract, until the batter tripled in size and was very creamy, light and fluffy. The whipped egg whites were then placed on top of the egg/sugar batter, and then carefully topped with the sifted flour blend, consisting of almond, tapioca flour and guar gum. As emphasized in Dorie’s book, the success of a génoise rests on the careful attention one places on gingerly folding the flour into the egg batter. You might enjoy this short little video with Julia Child and Flo Braker, demonstrating the making of  a typical French-style Génoise. In our version, we also added a teaspoon of baking powder to the flour, differing from the original recipe, which doesn’t call for leavening of any kind. As anticipated, this approach was a success.

As you can see, we did manage to create a triple layer cake. Although the process of cutting the layers, takes courage and nerves of steel. ;-)  The génoise, turned out to be moist, light and fluffy. As directed in the recipe, we filled each layer with chopped fresh strawberries and a cream filling. We took another liberty in replacing the recommended sour cream with Greek-style yoghurt, because it is one of our favorites.

Since it is exceptionally hot at the moment, we immediately refrigerated our cake, once the filling and the outer topping were complete. The cake is topped with fresh whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

Once the cake was nice and cool, we made ourselves a cup of coffee and enjoyed the fruit of our labor, albeit just a small piece ;-) . The cake is light, moist and truly exceptional in every way. So good,  it is a foregone conclusion that we will make it again. We encourage you to look up the book, go to page 273, and try it for yourselves. You will not be disappointed.

Feel free to participate in TWD for their next recipe challenge, or just share your version of this recipe with us – no actual sharing of the recipe required. We love hearing from you.


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