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.

Always Forward, Just Sometimes with Cheesecake

Sydney likes breathing!  My surgery has come and gone, and I’m definitely on the path to recovering well.  I had the last of the things intruding into my face removed on Monday, and now I just have to let it do what it’s meant to do.  In the meantime, I’m learning about breathing through my nose — which should be a reflex but isn’t anymore after years of disuse.

One of the great things about the surgery was that my mother was able to come and look after me.  I didn’t know in what way she would be helpful, but she definitely was.  She did the majority of the cooking and cleaning, allowing CB to go to work without guilt.  I used what energy I had to pursue what I felt like was a a very noble goal:

Make Mum feel less crap about living gluten-free

I wanted to show her that, while not always easy — especially not in places like Belfast or rural Georgia — a gluten-free life doesn’t have to be completely depressing. A couple of months ago, Mum had to undergo a battery of allergy tests, completely changing the way she lives her life.  Unfortunately, but, I’m sure, not coincidentally, many of the things she’s been told to remove from her diet are the very things I’ve removed after years of trial and error.  The biggies: gluten and beef.

Since I wasn’t quite up to my standard, I instructed her on making those pumpkin cupcakes I do so adore.  Before she arrived, I also whipped up a favourite I perfected last year: pumpkin cheesecake.  (Can you tell it’s autumn, and I’ve gotten a pumpkin from the market?)

My mother was quite like me about pumpkin before I’d tried it.  I remember thinking I hated pumpkin because I didn’t care for a lot of other squashes. I’d never even carved a pumpkin until I was 16.  I got the flu when I was in college, and a friend sent over muffins to cheer me up.  I had no idea what they were.  From a box, she said, and frosting from a can.  Yeah, but what flavour?  It absolutely blew my mind to discover they were pumpkin.

It wasn’t until I moved to Northern Ireland that I started craving pumpkin.  I think it was a response to knowing I wasn’t in America but REALLY starting to feel it.  Unfortunately, pumpkins are only available in the month of October here, so I missed out the first time around for not recognizing my craving soon enough.  Last year, after having lost another piece of my Americanness by marrying a Northern Irish man, I grabbed hold to as many pumpkins as I could, and the pumpkin cheesecake is one of the results.

I didn’t get any beautiful pictures because it was gone that fast.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients:

24 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups pureed pumpkin
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (separated into 2 halves)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups gluten-free graham cracker or digestive biscuit crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 stick salted butter, melted

Hardware:
oven
springform pan
flexible spatula
Ruby (or mixer, or strong arms)
mixing bowl (2 if you don’t use a mixer)
wooden spoon
measuring cups and spoons
egg separator (not necessary, but I just got a new one that I adore)

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350°F/175°C.

In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, melted butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon.  Press the mixture into the bottom of your springform pan.

Using a mixer or your wooden spoon, whip the cream cheese by itself until it gets shinier.  There’s not really a perfect thing to say to look for.  You want it smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar, remaining cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix together until combined.  Add in the flour and vanilla extract.  Make sure everything looks uniform.

Lumps aren’t a good idea.  I made one where I found there was a bit of unmixed cream cheese at the bottom of the bowl; I threw it on the top of the cheesecake, thinking it would all melt in together.  WRONG.  I had white lumps of no flavour in the finished product.  Though, I will admit that I like to leave some of the pumpkin a little chunky, sometimes.  This gives you a cheese with a little extra texture and bit of a fruity bite.  If you don’t like that, don’t do that.  If you’re using canned pumpkin, you don’t have much choice there.

Pour the mixture over the crumb base. Gently tap it on the countertop to remove any big air bubbles.  If you don’t, they will find their ways to the top and create big, burnt, air-filled lumps on the surface.  Bake for 55-60 minutes.  When it is completed, leave it to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes before covering with cling film (or a large plate if it’s more handy) and moving it to the refrigerator for 4 hours.  At this point, remove the sides of the springform and either leave it on the base or put it on a cake stand or plate or whatever you have around.  I don’t like to leave it on the base because, when I slice through the cheesecake, I don’t want to knick the coating of the pan.

When serving, I like to make it look fancy with a light dusting of icing sugar (powdered sugar) or cinnamon . . . or an icing sugar/cinnamon mix! . . . and a dollop of whipped cream on the top.

Give it to someone who doesn’t like pumpkin.

A Tale of Two Jars

I love glass jars.  They are perfect for storing the tons and tons of gluten-free flours necessary to be a real gluten-free baker.  I also keep things like pine nuts, chocolate chips, oats, lavender, and various rice pastas among their ranks.  Because there is such a range, my most important tool is my label maker.

CB thought I was crazy when I said I needed a label maker when I bought my first jars.  It soon became obvious just how necessary it really was.  I even have two jars which are not Celiac-friendly — regular oats and wheat flour.  Labeling has become more and more important as my kitchen and my skills grow.

And then there was this guy.

mystery jar
I had my mind set last night on a baking project.  It was part “I want to make it!”, part “This is a good excuse to put away some jars and get them out of boxes!”.  I fully admit it.  CB was helping me to get everything together, and he holds up one big, full jar.  “What is it?” he asks.  I suddenly realise that I have no freaking clue.

I do remember how it happened, though.  Several months ago, we were packing away all our earthly belongings for the great move that never transpired.  I saw an empty jar and a bag of flour.  I didn’t want the bag to burst open inside a box (Could you imagine the looks on the customs officers’ faces when they see a box covered in white powder?!), so I dumped it into the jar.  CB says, “But we’ve already packed your label maker?  How will we know what it is?” “Well,” I wisely explain, “We’ll know it’s X FLOUR because it’s the only one without a label.” “Good idea!” he says.

Good idea, my butt.  Months later, I’m sitting here trying to compare the weight, texture, and colour of the flour to fill in the blanks.  What are you?  There is the remnant of a label on the glass.  What did you used to be?  Why aren’t you that anymore?
 
At the end of the day, I am no more knowledgeable on what he is than what he is not (except almond flour.  He is not almond flour.).  It didn’t matter for my project, though.  Ruby and I went about our business and created a masterpiece anyway.

I got this recipe from Gluten-Free Goddess, which is a site I wish I had found ages ago.  I didn’t make my cupcakes vegan because, well, I’m not vegan, and vegan products are pretty expensive around here. I also played it pretty fast and loose with the smaller measurements.  I can’t say exactly why I did it, though.  It doesn’t sound like me.

Pumpkin Cupcakes


Ingredients:
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Hardware:
Ruby (okay, okay, a mixer of some sort)
mixing bowl (if you are using a stand mixer, you can use the bowl from it)
flexible spatula
cupcake liners
muffin tins
measuring cups and spoons
oven
wooden spoon
whisk

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

Dump all the dry ingredients (sorghum flour, brown sugar, tapioca starch, sugar, almond flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg) into your mixing bowl.  Whisk by hand or with whisk attachment on mixer.  I suggest the whisk because, with so many dry ingredients, you want to make sure there aren’t any lumps and everything is well-combined.

Add in (melted! Always measure by melting! I can’t believe I haven’t said it earlier!  You can pop it in the microwave for a short time — watch continuously and stir every 10 seconds.) coconut oil a little at a time.  Switch to your wooden spoon and watch for it to completely combine before adding more.  The texture should be like wet sand when it’s all in the mixture.  Add your pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla extract.

Here’s where having a mixer saves the day.  Your end result is a thick and stretchy batter, so guess how it gets that way.  If you aren’t using a mixer, it gets there with hard work.  I let Ruby at it on Setting 8 (medium high) for about 2-3 minutes.  The original recipe said 1-2, but I found it wasn’t completely combined by then.  A hand mixer will probably take the same amount of time.  I don’t know how long if you’re just using a spoon, but I don’t envy you right now.

Fill your cupcake liners with your batter.  Since my oven broke two of my silicon muffin tins (I don’t know how; please don’t ask.), I’m down to only one muffin tin, so batches were in order.  I didn’t know how much the batter would rise, so, on my first batch, I filled the liners only halfway.  It didn’t rise very much, so the tops of the cupcakes were below the tops of the liners.  On the second batch, I filled them 3/4 to the top, and they were almost there.  Next time, I’m going to fill them nearly to the edge and cross my fingers.  The recipe also says to smooth the tops. I thought my batter looked pretty smooth and figured it would spread out when it got hot, so I didn’t bother.  It doesn’t affect the taste at all, but I wish I had listened because they rose unevenly.

Bake for 22-25 minutes.  Because I don’t yet have a good relationship with my ovens, I checked on them after 15 minutes.  20 minutes.  22 minutes.  I took the first, smaller batch out after 22, and I left the more full second batch in for the full 25. Watch carefully in these last minutes if you fill your liners higher and leave them in longer because I can’t guarantee any results.

Let them cool in the muffin tin until you can touch them without burning yourself. Move them to a wire rack to cool for an hour.

Time for your frosting!  I have to admit that I have never made frosting or used a piping bag.  It’s shameful, I know, and it’s not beautiful.  Again, I used a newly scrubbed Ruby to whip it all together.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, you’ll need to whisk it all together again.

Start with your powdered sugar and give it a good whisk before you add anything to it. Lumps will not be easy to get rid of once you add the other ingredients.  Alternatively, you could sift it into your bowl.  Add the cream cheese and maple syrup and whisk until thoroughly combined.  You can use a piping bag or spread it with a knife.

My icing was a bit too sweet for my tastes and didn’t taste enough like maple, so I will lower the amount of sugar and up the maple syrup next time.  It’s all to your taste. Give it a lick when you finish and you can decide what you need to do for your own.  I think I’ll just eyeball the sugar and go for 4 tablespoons of maple syrup next time.

Oh, there will be a next time.

pumpkin cupcake