Get Your Gluten Free Baked Goods!

My kids’ school hold a big fundraiser each year for the school garden.  This year was no exception.  We all had a great time enjoying old fashioned games (bobbing for apples, scavenger hunts), arts and crafts (sewing potpourri sachets, creating art from recycled materials), a pie eating contest, raffle and bake off.   In addition there’s a large bake sale.  This alone raises over $1,000.  I was asked this year to make gluten free desserts for the sale.  I took the challenge especially since I had recently done some gluten free baking while reviewing the book, Quinoa Cuisine (see review) and I had just received another helpful cookbook entitled 150 Best Gluten Free Muffin Recipes by Camilla Saulsbury.

I was baking and testing recipe for weeks.  Not only did I test the recipes as written usuing my own mix of flours, but I also decided to try Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all pupose baking flour.  They make a great variety of gf offerings for baking.  Herein lies all the expense and trouble when people think about gluten free baking.  If you don’t have to eat gluten free it is more expensive to properly stock your pantry.  For instance the Bob’s Red Mill was $8 for a 2 pound bag.  However it was even costlier for me to buy the quinoa, teff and rice flours and mix them myself.  Plus there is the worry if you’re buying the flours bulk that can may be contaiminated by a gluten product.

I narrowed down my two favorites and baked multiple batches for the big day.

From the 150 Best Gluten Free Muffin Recipes cookbook I made Double Chocolate Banana Muffins and Cinnamon Sugar Muffins.  The double chocolate were a huge hit.  The banana gave them the right amount of moisture and the chocolate, well there was both whole and cocoa (what’s not to like?).  My son liked the Cinnamon Sugar however my daughter and her friend did not.  I think it was a texture issue, as gluten free baked goods are denser and the flour is a bit heartier tasting.  This book has helpful information about gluten and alternative ingredients.  Each recipe also has tips to make it casein-free (which can be a connection for some with other health issues).

My other choice was the Lemon Glazed Pound Cake from Quinoa Cuisine.  I made the pound cake as directed with the quinoa flour, but made it again with the Bob’s Red  Mill GF Flour and everyone preferred that one.  I would make this any occassion – for gluten free needs or not.  It was very tangy and had a good dense pound cake consistency.  We enjoyed it at home with a bit of vanilla bean ice cream on top during our taste testing.

Once I made all the muffins and pound cake for the bake sale, I decided to wrap each individually so someone who needed to stay away from wheat wouldn’t have to worry about cross contamination from the rest of the baked goods at the sale.  My daughter and I cut and wrapped each piece of pound cake and individual muffin and then tucked them in baskets with ingredient cards on top.  They looked great.  However when I went over the baked goods table during the event I realized the gluten free items weren’t selling.  The moms said not as many were requesting gluten free items, plus maybe it was too hard to see the items in the wrappers.  I quickly unwrapped them and luckily they sold.  That was an error on my part.  A child who’s checking out the baked good options needs to see it and want it, for mom to buy it.  Most don’t care if it’s gluten free or not.  I went a little overboard with my food safety.  Next time unwrap most and wrap only a few for those with celieac and gluten issues.

I took those items that didn’t sell home with me.  Yes, I could’ve given them away but not with all the time and money that went into them.  (Selfish mommy, I know).  I froze them and served them to my son’s baseball team a few days later.  It saved me some time and they loved them.

 

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Quinoa Cuisine – Book Review and Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

My family is not new to eating quinoa, however I had no idea how diverse it really is.  We use it in pilafs, salads and frittata crusts.  But quinoa is a healthy ingredient not only in it’s whole stage, but as flakes and flours and with various colors and properties.  I received the Quinoa book by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser.  Reading the introduction there is lots to learn.  For instance quinoa is not a grain, it’s actually in the goosefoot family related to beets, spinach, and chard.  Nutritionists refer to quinoa as a “pseudograin”, like buckwheat and amarynth because it has a similar nutritional profile to true gains and prepared in similar ways.

 

My family wanted to try the baked goods from the book, so I bought quinoa flakes and flour for my pantry (actually needs to be refrigerated ounce opened).  The first thing we made was the Rich Chocolate Zucchini Bread (see recipe below).  The quinoa flour is more grassy smelling and tasting, so it makes sense to pair the baked items with maybe more sugar or spice or chocolate than you’d (actually I’d) usually use.  I went with the recipe and was glad I didn’t cut back on any chocolate chips, after tasting the dough – which is not as yummy as other zucchini breads I’ve made with all purpose or wheat flours.  However once baked this was delicious and satisfied everyone’s palate.  (While combining these ingredients in photo, I wasn’t so sure).  This is also glutten free, so a great recipe to have on hand for potlucks or occassions where gluten free baking may be needed.  Unfortunately I cut the bread when it was still warm (yes, I was impatient) and it crumbled.  I wrapped the slices in plastic to hold their shape better and store, which worked well.

Next we made the Ginger Biscotti.  These too were delicious and wheat free too.  However I cheated and used half wheat flour and half quinoa.  Both because I wanted to try it (they suggest if not baking for a wheat free audience) and because I didn’t want to go to the store for more quinoa flour.  These are heavy on the ginger, so be prepared.  My son loves candied ginger and thuse these were a big hit as he shared them on a playdate.  They get very hard – a true biscotti.  So are best enjoyed dipped in coffee, tea or milk.  These are great for packaging and gift giving (prettier than my bread above) as they travel well.

Book Review

Overall:  I like this book and feel like it is a valuable resource for adding this healthy ingredient to more dishes for my family.  I look forward to trying some of the savory options such as the Tabouleh Salad, Bacon Wraped Dates, and Thai Summer Rolls.

Pros: I enjoyed learning about quinoa and all the various uses.  Also great to know for wheat and gluten free recipes for potlucks and gatherings.   Easy to identify icons for gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, freezes well, healthy choice, etc (yes, if you have my books I’m a sucker for icons).

Cons:  Wish there were photos.  Some recipes have more sugars and fats than I’d like to overcompensate for bitter quinoa flake or flours.  Some quinoa products may be more expensive and harder to find than traditional grains.

 

Rich Chocolate Zucchini Bread

You’d never know that this dense, fudgy bread is (sort of) healthy! It was inspired by a favorite recipe from Cooking Light magazine that I make every year in the late summer when zucchini are bountiful. But luckily, you don’t have to limit this bread to a summertime treat, since most supermarkets stock zucchini year-round.—JH

Serves 8 to 10 (Makes 1 Loaf)

Freezes Well, Gluten-Free, Healthy Choice, Vegetarian

 

⅔ cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 large eggs

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 cups quinoa flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1½ cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with butter, shortening, or cooking spray. Place the brown sugar, canola oil, and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at low speed until well combined. Add the applesauce and mix on low speed until combined.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the quinoa flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the mixer bowl and beat, beginning at the lowest speed and gradually increasing speed, until the ingredients are smooth and well combined. Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, fold in the zucchini and the chocolate chips.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the bread comes out with only a few crumbs clinging to it, about 1 hour. Let cool completely in the baking pan on a wire rack before removing and slicing.

 

Packaging Tips: To give it a professional look, bake this bread in a disposable paper baker (look for them in kitchenware or baking supply stores or online, such as at www.kingarthurflour.com). Or wrap it tightly in foodsafe cellophane or plastic wrap and tie with a ribbon. For a chocolate-lover’s gift, package the bread with a few packets of hot chocolate mix.

 

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