Welcome To My Gluten Free Website!

Welcome To My Website!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cinnamon-Sugar Crusted 

Berry Muffins

I find myself at a culinary crossroads. I am "now"gluten intolerant. Actually we, (the Doctor and I) think this is probably at the root of lifelong issues with my stomach. This does not sit well with me as I could live on bread! Not anymore. I love baking breads, cakes, cookies... you name it, I can bake it! So now I'm faced with the challenge of changing everything possible to gluten-free. And, pass it off to my family without a lot of hub-bub. My husband Greg and my son Christopher are doing a very good job of excepting these changes, but occasionally the request for "regular stuff" comes in and I do it for them out of love.

This challenge started sometime about May of this year. And it is definitely a challenge. To have to read everything, educate myself even more about food terms. Terms that "hide" gluten in the most ridiculous things, like medication capsule covers.

Iv'e had a lot of success on my own in these conversions, and then found some really wonderful websites pertaining to cooking GF. Three of my favs are tartletteblog.com, artofglutenfreebaking.com, and thebakingbeauties.com.

My range of food preferences is pretty extended probably due to having been born and bred in Southern California where you can find every type of food available. My family has always been pretty easy about trying new foods. Well, easy may not be the exact term. My Mom's adage all my brother's and my growing up was, "Try it. How are you going to know if you like it or not if you don't try it." It wasn't a question really, but a ultimatum. Unfortunately the trial portion was a full serving! So we tried it. Some things certainly surprised us that we found we did like. Great! Give us some more! Of course there's the other inevitable side-"Yuk! Gag! I don't like this! I can't stand it! I don't want any of it ever again!" My Mom's reply? "Tough, eat it anyway. There are starving people everywhere!" There was a lot of deadpan staring at that remark, and many times tears. I was known for sitting at the table until the end of times pushing it around and around on my plate.

My change for that scenario was to ask my children how old they were, then the trial bites were pretty appropriate for their age. By the time they were 10 or so I let them start to choose how many bites to try of a new food. This action morphed into their expressive choices of whether or not they wished to ever eat said food again. In other words, I served broiled cheesy zucchini at dinner one night and my oldest daughter Candice exclaimed that she was old enough to make her own food choices. I asked, (knowing full well what she going to say), what type of choice was she choosing, to which she declared that she never wanted to eat squash again. Ever. That it was slimy, and nasty and it didn't matter how it was prepared, she just wasn't going to eat it, (this was reminiscent of my having declared a similar outburst at having to eat my grandmother's horrid, boiled, flavorless okra, that I was sure could be used as glue!). I said okay. She just sat there and deadpan stared at me. It was hard not to smirk.

I have a delicious green bean casserole with sour cream and swiss cheese that Candice, Christopher and I absolutely love. It's baked bubbly hot, then the cheese is put all over the top and broiled until a lovely, bubbly golden brown. It's fabulous and to us a comfort food. Unless you're my youngest child Chelsea. She was about 10 years old, and truly loves green beans. But not these green beans. "Really Mom? Really? How can you stand this stuff!? I hate it and I'm not going to eat it ever again!" Well...wow, okay. We all settled back to concentrating on our own plates, the conversation seemed to lag.....

Now Chris? He'll eat everything. In fact he'd eat the plate too, if it wasn't removed quick enough!

I have one beautiful grand-daughter-Lela who just turned 6 this past week. Her Mama-Candice, morphed the food trial into: "Just take a tasting bite" It works wonderfully! We've all adapted this into our food rituals. I even use it on my husband Greg! When we first met and had been dating a couple of months, I offered him a home-baked blueberry muffin. He declined stating that he hates blueberries. Who in their right mind refuses blueberries or a blueberry muffin? I'm sure there's a law somewhere that all Americans must eat blueberry muffins. If nothing else at least to retain one's citizenship! Of course I'm joking. Not too long after that , he declared that he hates raspberries and blackberries, boysenberries he couldn't remember eating so we left that one alone for the time being.
He had witnessed the "tasting bite" ritual for Lela many times by now. So guess who got caught in it in front of Lela. Yesseree! I served a beautiful fruit salad with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and boysenberries mixed with melons, peaches, grapes, plums and pineapple. He said he really didn't want any. Really? The man is a fruit-a holic! I said out loud, "Lela's eating it, she's only 3." And just looked at him expectantly. So did Lela. He reluctantly took a bite with berries and didn't perish. I made comment of this, of course. And yes, he finished every bite.
The next day he was foraging around in the fridge looking for a snack and chose the fruit salad! He served himself a good sized bowl of it and demolished it toot-sweet! A little while later he said to me, "You know, those berries really are pretty good."
Now when I buy berries, quite often I have to buy an extra basket or two and write his name on them with a sharpie pen, while explaining that the unmarked boxes are for a cooking project I'm working on, or for the whole family. He eats his right away and thinks I don't know if he's been foraging in the unmarked boxes! Right!

One of the most sought after missed daily additions to my diet is bread items. I bake awesome breads of all types, including fabulous tender cinnamon rolls. Until I had to go gluten free about 6 months ago! Not having any previous need to try anything gluten free meant that I was definitely flying blind.

I even broke down and tried some of the refrigerated "breads" from a couple of  health conscious grocery type stores. They were so horribly dry! One was labeled as a corn-flour bread. I'll swear that it was just camofloghed dried cornstarch possibly mixed with diatomaceous earth powder! (which is ground up seashells, used for pools and gardening).

I've made several different batches of cinnamon rolls from as many different recipes that were  everything from an off flavor that didn't go away, or relax with "maturing" over a couple of days, to hockey pucks.

I love to bake. I bake for everyone and for any excuse. In fact I never need an excuse. I just love cooking! And of course I love to cook for other people as well, and they love it too! Recently I have been referenced as "The Baking Goddess", and it felt really good.

So on to the new challenge, converting everything to gluten free. Since I'm a wife, mom, Nammie (grandma), caterer, and care provider; my life is a bit busy. So I purchased a few books: Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays byJeanne Sauvage, The Everything Guide to Living Gluten Free by Jeanine Fraser, The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods and The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman. I've also been scouring the web where I've found some great sites that I refer to constantly.Three of my favorites are "Art of Gluten Free Baking, Tartlette Blog, The Baking Beauties, and Gluten Free Goddess". These are just a sampling of what's out there. These women have some phenomenally yummy recipes and lots of tips and hints, troubleshooting, etc. They've made this transition much easier, and some of them have been baking and experimenting for quite a few years. So we all have some great GF pioneers to look up to.

It was making me upset to be at a nice restaurant, family homes, In-n-Out, basically anywhere that bread was being served and not being able to have any. Nope, can't have the fried chicken, fish and chips, Italian pasta, Oriental noodles.... You understand I'm sure. So I need to change that. I decided that when we are out to eat, if there are GF choices offered on the menu I really give them a good perusal. Otherwise I choose something "safe" like salad with vinaigrette and maybe a grilled meat. Baked potatoes, steamed rice...it can be done. If there isn't any GF dessert, then I can wait until I get home and have GF "Cloud Cake" with freshly whipped cream, or Choco-PB Brownies, Danish Butter Cookies, Incredibly Fudgy Cookies, Kahlua Fudge, Lemon Pound Cake...Do I have your attention?

After researching the different grains and seeds available for this alternative culinary lifestyle, I have a good grasp on how to use them. Yes, there are goofs, some of them are quite edible and some I can't throw into the garbage fast enough! I've made incredible GF chocolate cakes and cupcakes, Cinnamon -Sugar Crusted Berry Muffins, hocky-puk bagels, horrible tuna and noodles, Easy and Fantastic Tuna and Noodles, Nammie's Comfy Mac n' Cheese, Meat and Veggie Lasagnas, Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce...Do I still have your attention?

Essentially though, what I wish to convey to you is that there's tremendous hope and help out there. Yes some of the flours are a bit pricey, but once you've found that mix that tastes great to you, everything seems to calm way down and fall into place. The panic feelings get replaced with a "can-do" relief.

I do bake with wheat flour for other people, I just use someone else's taste buds now to monitor how it's turning out. My family gets guinea-pigged a lot! And they love it!

So, that all being said I'd love to share my recipes, hint, tips etc. with you all. Since it's fall and cool-ish here in Southern California, let's start with:

Cinnamon-Sugar Crusted Berry Muffins

by Debbie  on November 18, 2013

These are deliciously inspired and adapted from America's Test Kitchen's recipe for Cinnamon-Sugar-Dipped Blueberry Muffins. I made these October 3, 2013 for my youngest daughter Chelsea's wedding morning. I made two batches, one for the Bride's room and one for the Groom's room. They were devoured! I had made these as Non-Gluten Free several months before I was officially diagnosed and gluten intolerant, and they were incredible then. Knocked my tummy for a loop, but delicious none-the-less. So happily I offer them here for you-my Gluten Free Cinnamon-Sugar Crusted Berry Muffins version.
I use the wonderful flour mix by Jeanne Sauvage, recipe below, and I very happily offer it with  Jeanne's permission.

Makes 12 regular sized muffins, or 24 minis.

Special Ingredients:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (artofglutenfreebaking.com)                            (mix together and store in a cool, dark place, or in the fridge for long-term storage).                                                      1 cup of this mix equals 140g. Use this mix cup-for-cup or gram-for-gram in all of your recipes:
1 1/4 cup (170 g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 cup (205 g) white rice flour
1 cup (120 g) tapioca flour
1 cup (165 g) sweet rice flour (also known as “glutinous” rice flour or under the brand name, Mochiko.)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
Muffin Ingredients                                                                                                                                                                                   2 cups Jeanne's GF AP mix                                                                                                                                                                   1 Tablespoon baking powder-sifted to remove any lumps                                                                                                                                                             1/2 teaspoon salt                                                                                                                                                                                            1 large egg                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 cup granulated sugar                                                                                                                                                                           4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly                                                                                                   1 1/4 cups sour cream                                                                                                                                                                             1 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries-unthawed                                                                                                                                   
Topping                                                                                                                                                                                                         3/4 cup granulated sugar                                                                                                                                                                           1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon                                                                                                                                                             4-6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
InstructionsIf not using a stand or hand mixer, be sure to whisk vigorously in step 3, then fold carefully in step 4.
1. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350˚F.  Spray or butter a non-stick muffin pan-regular or mini and, adding about a scant 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to each cup, rotate the pan to sugar coat each cup, or use muffin papers.                                                                                                                                                                 2. Whisk the flour mix, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until combined.                                                         3. Using a wire whisk in another medium bowl, whisk the egg until very light in color, about 30 seconds or so. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous (uniform in structure), about 30 seconds. Add the melted and cooled butter  about a third at a time, whisking to combine after each addition. Add the sour cream in 2 additions, whisking just to combine.                                                                                                                                      4. Add the still-frozen berries to the dry ingredients, gently tossing to lightly coat the berries. (This step keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the baked goods). Add the sour cream mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the batter comes together and the berries are evenly distributed. Small amounts of flour may be slightly streaked, and batter will be thick. Don't over mix!                                                                         5. To bake regular sized muffins-use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to drop the batter into the muffin pan. Rotate the pan from front to back half way through the baking time until lightly browned* and a pick/cake tester comes out with only a few grains stuck to it, about 25-30 minutes. Let muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then using a dinner fork, very gently poke them in the side and gently lift them from the pan and place on a wired rack to cool for another 5 minutes.                                                                                                                                                                To bake mini muffins-use a small portion scoop or a Tablespoon to fill the mini pan half way. Bake mini sized muffins, rotating pan from front to back half way through the baking time until lightly browned* and a pick/cake tester comes out with only a few grains stuck to it, about 15-18 minutes.                                                                                                                                                            6. While the muffins are cooling, mix the topping ingredients of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and melt the butter in a small saucepan. After the muffins have cooled enough to hold one, about 5 minutes on the rack, work with one at a time, dipping the top of the muffin into the butter very briefly, then in the sugar mix. Turn them right side up onto the rack to cool completely, or serve warm.
*GF Baked goods may not "brown" like wheat flour goods. The sweet crust on the top will disguise this problem. 
For baked goods that are not receiving any extra sugar-cinnamon topping, brush with a bit of melted butter during the baking time will give it a nice color, and of course flavor, too!