The Weirdest Bread

My mother finds all these things on Facebook and tags me in them. I am always tempted to keep them open in tabs until I realise just how slowly they make my computer run. I’ve only recently started using bookmarks; my thinking has been that I’ll never actually go back and click on them. So far, I’m kind of right.

One post was intriguing enough that I didn’t have to keep it open for long. Here is the original post, though I should warn you that it’s confusing. I’ll fill you in on the details.

So, basically, “oopsie breads” start as meringues and ends as airy breads. I don’t know how it works. I put my scientist-analyst head on my shoulders (In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t have a scientist-analyst head anywhere in my bag of tricks.), and I still didn’t really get it. When I tried it, I think I might have overwhipped the eggs whites, if that’s possible. The recipe suggests that you could make 6 large breads or 8 medium ones. I had 8 really big breads that, as I later learned, were probably a bit too tall.  You might want to smooth them down with the back of a spoon to make them shorter.  I probably could have made 10 of the right size had I known.  They are really light and airy and kind of felt like foam.  I did NOT have high hopes.

I’m happy and surprised to say that they were really nice. CB liked them, though I only let him have one and half. They work really well as hamburger buns. I even sprinkled sesame seeds on a few of them to harken back to childhood barbeques.

Oopsie Bread

Yes, one has a bite taken out of it already.  How else was I to know it was done?!

Yes, one has a bite taken out of it already. How else was I to know it was done?!

Ingredients:
3 eggs
100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cream cheese
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon psyllium husk powder

Hardware:
Stand mixer
Spatula
Spoon
Small bowl
Baking pan
Oven

Directions:
Separate eggs.  Place the whites in the bowl of the stand mixer with the salt and whip together until you achieve stiff peaks.

While the egg whites mix, place the egg yolks, cream cheese, baking powder, and psyllium husk powder in the small bowl and mix until combined.  When your whites are whipped, slowly spoon the yolk mixture into it and stir together with the spatula.  Try to do it with as few motions as possible to keep in all the air you have created.

Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet in dollops depending on your desired size.  Like I said, the recipe says that it will make 6 large or 8 small breads, but I had 8 large ones.  It’s possible that my eggs expanded in the mixer more than expected.  I imagine you could top them with any spice or herb you want; I only tried the sesame seeds on a few.

You can see they didn't expand much in the oven.

You can see they didn’t expand much in the oven.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.  I thought they looked like they would be done much faster, as they had a real shape after about 10 minutes, but they needed the entire time.  If they stick to the pan, use a metal spatula to pry away.

It doesn't feel like bread to the touch, but my mouth was fooled!

It doesn’t feel like bread to the touch, but my mouth was fooled!

Back in Business and on a Roll

I’m back on the internet and back in the kitchen.  I feel like Freddie Mercury dancing around, singing, “Don’t stop me now!”

First of all, check out this awesome present I got from my sweet husband:

28 pieces of Pyrexy goodness

28 pieces of Pyrexy goodness

He ordered it online, and it arrived at my parents’ house the same day I did.  One of the pieces shattered in delivery, but it appears it was faulty packaging.  I didn’t want to take the chance of sending the whole thing back and getting another broken piece, so I opted for a partial refund.  Now I have a 27 piece set! I used nine of the pieces last night, on a whim, to make something I’ve been craving for weeks. I found a recipe online that looked good, but it was vegan.  I’m still not vegan.  I have no interest in going vegan ever again.  Once I started changing the vegan items for others, I started playing around more and more with the ingredients until it barely resembled where it started.  I think I must have said “Well, it’s an experiment anyway!” and “Oh, I hope this turns out well!” about 50 times as I was making it!

While they’re not the same as cinnamon rolls, these guys acted as my main inspiration:

And, yes, I do mean the ones that come in the plastic.

And, yes, I do mean the ones that come in the plastic.

I remember eating these bad boys with my dad.  I don’t think I have ever just taken a bite out of one.  I always had to peel it apart, layer by layer, until I got to the softest, most cinnamony part of the center. I don’t even know if pecan swirls actually have pecans in them because that’s sure not in my memory.  All I know is that, as I started to work on my dough in the kitchen last night with my father as my assistant, I couldn’t wait to pull apart some pastry.

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Ooey Gooey

Ooey Gooey

Ingredients

For the filling:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey powder (if you don’t have honey powder, substitute more brown sugar)
3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup pecans, chopped and divided
dash of salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted

For the dough:
2 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour (if you mix your own, go for brown rice, tapioca, and potato starch)
3/4 cup sorghum flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and filled the measuring cup up to 1 1/2 cups with plain milk — I thought the lemon might be too sour in the dough — and let it sit for about 5 minutes), divided
7 tablespoons butter, divided and melted
Spray or extra butter for pan

For the icing:
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup icing sugar
Half of the chopped pecans from the filling mix
3 tablespoons buttermilk (from the dough division)

Hardware
Large mixing bowl
Two small mixing bowls
Three small reserve bowls (milk, flour, butter)
Bowl or pan for melting butter
Pie dish or other round baking dish
Wooden spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Oven
Microwave or stove for melting butter and heating milk
Whisk
Knife, spoon, and fork
Parchment paper, cling film, or Press ‘N Seal Wrap (worked for me!)

Directions:
Depending on how fast or slow you are in the kitchen, you can go ahead and preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C. I waited to start until I was kneading the dough to preheat because I’m slow.

Go ahead and measure out your vinegar and milk, if you don’t use buttermilk, and let it rest to the side.

For the filling, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, honey powder, cinnamon, half of the chopped pecans (1/8 cup or so), and salt in a small mixing bowl.  Stir together with a fork.  When you are sure it is combined, stir in 1 tablespoon melted butter.  When well-combined, it should look like wet sand.  Set aside.

Start on your dough by combining the all purpose flour and sorghum in the large bowl.  Measure out about 1/2 cup and put in a reserve bowl to the side.  Back in the big bowl, add in baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum and stir with the wooden spoon.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the milk mixture in a bowl and set aside.  Heat the remaining milk mixture in the microwave or on the stove.  You DO NOT want it boiling or steaming hot.  You only want it warm.  Slowly mix 3 tablespoons of melted butter into the warm milk.  Because the milk is warm, the butter should not curdle the milk and the milk should not congeal the butter back into solids.  Add the milk/butter mixture into the large mixing bowl, stir a few times, and add 2 1/2 more tablespoons of melted butter into the mix.  Stir with the wooden spoon until you can feel resistance and cannot see any lumps of flour (about 45 seconds for me).

Put down a layer of whatever paper you choose for your work surface. I used Press ‘N Seal wrap because it could “stick” to the surface and was thick enough that I could use it as a tool.  If you do use Press ‘N Seal, just make sure that the adhering side is DOWN; the smoother side should be facing up toward you.

Sprinkle about 3/4 of the reserved flour on the surface and dump your dough on top.  Yes, it is a lot of flour.  Yes, you will need it all. Begin working the dough with your hands and kneading in all the flour.  It will be very sticky, and you will probably think you’ve done something wrong.  Keep going!  Once you have integrated all the flour and you’re starting to notice it looking like a real dough, sprinkle the rest of the flour onto it and knead into the dough.

Once you have it all looking nice and like it might have a promising future as a pastry, spread or roll it out into a 10″x12″ rectangle.  If you want a lot of swirl with thinner sides, spread it a bit further than 10 inches, but maintain the 12 inch side. Take 1 tablespoon melted butter (if you’re doing the math, you should have 1/2 tablespoon left!) and spread it over the middle of the dough, all the way to the edges. Go back and get your filling mixture you made earlier and cover all but the very edges of the dough with it.  There is a lot.  I like it that way.  If you want a higher pastry to cinnamon ratio, use a bit less.  But, then, if you don’t like cinnamon, why are you making cinnamon rolls?

Now for the fun part.  It’s where I found the Press ‘N Seal saved the day.  I literally lifted the front and used it to roll the dough over on to itself.  If you are using a different surface, it may do the same thing. If your dough wants to stick, you might need a metal spatula to pry it up.  Once you have the first roll, lightly press down — you don’t want to mash it into the other side, but you do want it to know where it belongs.  Continuing rolling until you have a log.  If the dough splits open at the end, patch it up.  If it’s in the middle, it probably won’t matter.  Cut the log into eight 1 1/2″ slices — I actually cut some of mine thinner and thicker to make some crispy and some smooshy.  It’s up to you.  Arrange them in a circle around the pie dish, and then squish some in the middle, too.  Press down with your palm to spread them out enough to touch.  Brush with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter.

Bake for 24-25 minutes, but, as always, check on them before the timer goes.  You don’t want your hard work to burn because your oven is different than mine!

While they bake, mix up the icing. Whisk together the cream cheese, cinnamon, icing sugar, and buttermilk until it is combined.  I never remember to sift the icing sugar, so it took a little elbow grease to get the lumps out.  Stir in the chopped pecans.

When the rolls are done, let them sit for five minutes before icing them.  Use a spoon to drizzle as much or as little icing as you want. Do not, however, let your mother dunk her finger into the icing bowl. I would pour the whole bowl of icing over her cinnamon roll before I would let that happen!

Oh, and these guys are great the next day.  Store them in the fridge and pop one in the microwave for about 25 seconds to get it soft and warm again.  They are almost just as good.  Trust me, I just did it.

You can let your mother scrape up some of the cinnamon meltinessat the bottom of the pan.  She'll probably do it whether you allow it or not.

You can let your mother scrape up some of the cinnamon meltiness
at the bottom of the pan. She’ll probably do it whether you allow it or not.

Thanksgiving 2012 & Feeding the Stuffing Addiction

apron brooch

CB thinks it’s hilarious when I wear his apron because I can’t eat pork.

I have to admit, Thanksgiving went down better than I ever anticipated.  I made the entire meal gluten-free rather than having things I couldn’t eat after I slaved over it for two days.

Here was our menu:

Turkey (cheated and bought a Marks and Spencers ready-to-roast job)
Gravy
Cornbread and bacon stuffing
Sweet potato casserole
Green bean casserole
Pecan-crusted spinach and artichoke dip (with homemade creamed spinach, no less!)
Baked macaroni and cheese
Sour cream mashed potatoes
Pao de queijo (not traditional Thanksgiving by far, but I wanted rolls, and this is what I got)
Pumpkin cheesecake
Pumpkin cupcakes

I was going to make oven-roasted root vegetables but decided at the last minute that we had more than enough food already.

Clockwise from top left: Cornbread and bacon stuffing, sour cream mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin cupcakes, pecan-crusted spinach and artichoke dip, pao de queijo, turkey breast, green bean casserole (left), sweet potato casserole (right), and the shining sun in the center is the baked macaroni and cheese. Pumpkin cheesecake not pictured.  And, yes, we have a terrible tablecloth.  We know.

Clockwise from top left: Cornbread and bacon stuffing, sour cream mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin cupcakes, pecan-crusted spinach and artichoke dip, pao de queijo, turkey breast, green bean casserole (left), sweet potato casserole (right), and the shining sun in the center is the baked macaroni and cheese. Pumpkin cheesecake not pictured. And, yes, we have a terrible tablecloth. We know.

When I was young, I became fascinated with stuffing.  It was my favourite part of Thanksgiving, and I remember being so excited when I found out you could eat it other times of the year.  I begged for it until my mother finally showed me a box and told me I could make it myself.  No, it’s not good for you, and it’s especially not good for you from a box!

When I found out I couldn’t eat gluten, stuffing was the first thing that came to mind.  Instantly, I wanted it all the time and for every meal.  Gluten-free stuffing mixes exist here (well, at least one), and, while tasty, they just don’t scratch the itch of this Stove Top purist.  I’m afraid nothing ever will.  However, last year, while visiting my parents for Christmas, I came upon a recipe that I adapted into a satisfying replacement.  Don’t get me wrong — it doesn’t taste like Stove Top — but it is good enough to go back for seconds.  I used a bag of Bob’s Red Mill cornbread mix last year, but I didn’t have one for Thanksgiving.  I immediately went to the Gluten Free Goddess and located something I could make work for me with several adjustments.  So, without further ado, here is my version of what makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving.

Cornbread and Bacon Stuffing

Sweet Cornbread

Ingredients:
1 cup stone ground gluten-free cornmeal
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (optional — not included in dry ingredients list)
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 cup very warm water
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
2 extra tablespoons water, if needed

Hardware:
Cast iron skillet
Oven
2 mixing bowls
2 whisks
Measuring cups and spoons
Spatula (to get the last bits out of the bowl)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C with lightly greased skillet inside.

Combine the dry ingredients — cornmeal, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, fine sea salt, and brown sugar — in a bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined.  Set aside.

Whisk the eggs and olive oil together for about 1 minute.  This is where the original recipe had me confused.  I checked the comments and notes, and it seems like I’m the only person who can’t seem to figure it out.  I don’t see where the warm water and juice is meant to be added.  I choose to add it here, as I thought it might be lumpy if you tried to mix it in later.  So, add the lime juice and the warm water. Mix to combine.

Add the dry bowl to the wet bowl in three or four portions, ensuring to mix thoroughly between each portion.  You are looking for a smooth, cake-like batter; do not beat it past when it looks like cake batter.  If your batter is too thick, add in a little extra warm water, bit by bit, until you get the consistency you want.  Mine came out perfect without extra water.

Remove the skillet from the oven (carefully!) and sprinkle the coarse sea salt into it.  The salt here is optional, but I love the complexity it gives a sweet cornbread.  Pour the batter into the skillet, scraping the bowl with the spatula to make sure you have it all.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Definitely check on it at 25 minutes because mine did not need any longer.  Let the cornbread cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving (or turning it into stuffing).

Stuffing

Ingredients:
3 cups crumbled cornbread
6 slices gluten-free bread, toasted
6 slices bacon (I used 4 slices of turkey bacon [turkey bacon has bigger pieces because there is less fat])
2 eggs
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped (I didn’t bother)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Hardware:
Casserole dish with lid that can go in oven
Oven
Stove
Small bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Frying pan or skillet
Various kitchen utensils (fork, spatula, something to help with frying)
Mixing bowl

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

Cut the toasted bread into small cubes.  Set aside.

Fry the bacon until crispy and remove from the pan.  If you are using veggie or turkey bacon, add some oil to the pan, as there is a lot less fat in them than pork bacon.  Add the onion, celery, sage, and thyme to the pan and fry until the onion is tender and translucent.  Remove from heat.  Crumble cooled bacon back into the pan.

In the small bowl, beat the eggs with the fork.  Add to the mixing bowl with the bacon and onions/celery and all seasonings — salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.  Fold together with the fork.  Add the cornbread crumbles and bread cubes and fold with the spatula.  Try to ensure that all the dry parts are covered.  Pour half of the chicken broth over the mixture and fold with the spatula.  Assess how much more broth you need (I needed the whole cup) to completely moisten the mixture and add it in.  Fold again.

Pour the mixture into the casserole dish (no need for greasing) and cover.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes.  Alternatively, it can be used to stuff a bird instead of baking.  I’m not that adventurous yet.

Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese breads)

When I first became gluten-free, my aunt passed this recipe on to me.  Her boyfriend is from Brazil, and he recommended it as a gluten-free recipe (requiring no substitutions, which I find so useful).  It was so impressive, I tried several combinations of flavours.  Try various types of soft cheeses and throw in your favourite herbs and spices.  It’s quick and easy — especially if you have a blender — and is a tasty snack.

Other additions that have been successful are cayenne; garlic powder and basil; cracked black pepper.  Let me know if you try something new and like it!  Also, if you’d like to make multiple flavours at once (and/or like a bit more rustic appearance), sprinkle your chosen spice/herb directly atop the batter once poured into the muffin tins.  It looks lovely and lets you tell the difference between the different kinds.

The final breads will puff up in the oven and fall once they begin to cool.  The centers will be chewy but should still be light.  If the centers are heavy, let them bake for a few more minutes, watching carefully to prevent burning the thin tops.

Ingredients:
1 egg, room temperature
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups (170 grams) tapioca flour
1/2 cup packed (about 66 grams) grated fresh mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
sunflower oil spray or other greasing oil

Hardware:
medium mixing bowl (or blender)
wooden spoon (if no blender)
measuring cups and spoons
flexible spatula
large spoon or ladle
muffin tins
oven

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

If you have a blender, the directions are incredibly easy.  Add all ingredients, minus the sunflower oil, into the blender in the following order: milk, egg, flour, cheese, salt, paprika, garlic powder, olive oil.  I include this order because it has liquid on top and bottom, encouraging the entire mixture to properly circulate through the blender. Blend until combined, stopping to scrap the sides with the spatula to ensure a proper mix.

Grease muffin tins, and pour the mixture evenly to just above the middle of each cup.  It should make approximately 18 small breads.  Bake for about 18 minutes, until breads have risen and are slightly browned on top.

If you don’t have a blender, I hope you have a strong mixing arm!  Add the ingredients to the mixing bowl in the following order: milk, egg, olive oil, cheese, salt, paprika, garlic powder, flour.  The reason I include this order is because, otherwise, you will likely have a gluey substance in your bowl!  It will still take swift and heavy stirring to thoroughly combine, and the job will be made easier based on how finely your cheese is grated.  Stir until you are sure it is completely combined, scraping the sides with the spatula when necessary.

Grease muffin tins, and spoon/ladle the mixture evenly to just above the middle of each cup.  It should make approximately 18 small breads.  Bake for about 18 minutes, until breads have risen and are slightly browned on top.

Pain Perdu

Pain perdu is one of my favourite dishes because it reminds me of the French toast my mother used to make. It was a special treat that popped up on weekends, and, as I was never much of a breakfast fan, the combination of crunchy crust and soggy centers (not to mention maple syrup and powdered sugar) was enough to make me want a fully morning belly.

Ingredients:
1/2 stick butter
1 cup half and half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons warmed honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 slices of “real” bread (preferably a crusty loaf, like French or Italian), sliced at least 1/2 inch thick

Hardware:
bowl with cover (a plate will work fine)
oven/stove
draining rack
bread rack (or wire)
whisk
refrigerator
skillet
spatula

Day one directions:
Leave bread out overnight to dry. You can buy racks made specifically for this purpose, or you can make your own by twisting wire into a large spiral.

Whisk all ingredients, save bread and butter, together to form a custard. Cover loosely (a plate placed on top of the bowl works perfectly) and leave in refrigerator overnight.

Day two directions:
Pre-heat oven to 375°F/190°C. Place oven rack at middle or just above middle.

Drop bread slices into custard one at a time and allow each to soak for 30 seconds on each side. Allow each slice to rest for two minutes on a draining rack.

Heat skillet to medium low heat. Butter the skillet just enough to cover the bottom. Add each piece of bread to the skillet and brown on both sides. Extra butter may be used to coat pan in between slices.

Return bread to rack and place into the oven for five minutes.

Pain perdu can be enjoyed as is, or can be loaded up with syrups, fruits, sugar, whipped cream, etc.