Archive for the ‘baking’ Category

Flax Muffins – Revised Half Flax Recipe

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

My husband really likes my flax muffins, but wanted a little less flax in them.  I also like these little breakfast buns and after tweaking a little from my pure flax version I’ve been eating more of them as well.  They are good split in half and toasted.  They are also gluten and rice free.

Travelling is a real problem for people who need gluten free options, and these little numbers are an easily portable gluten free bread substitute. My husband also reacts to rice, and often rice is the main ingredient in GF breads, etc. so these have been a real mainstay when we travel.

I bake them in a muffin top pan, which are hard to find now but available from mail order places.  They also freeze very well. 

Flax Breakfast Muffins

Recipe developed by Shelley Mierle,

Ingredients Method
Dry Ingredients:

100 g golden flax, ground in blender

60 g chick pea flour

60 g Riverlea “No Rice” gluten free flour mix (see recipe in Gluten Free Tips page)

20g chia seeds

1 T sugar (optional)

1 T baking powder

1/8 t xanthum gum (optional)

1 t psyllium husk powder (optional)

Mix together
Seed Step (optional) Grease muffin top pan, then spread mixed seeds on bottom. Save a few for the top as well. I usually used sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, and poppy seeds. I like the srispy contrast of the seeds to the soft muffin.
Wet ingredients:

3 eggs

1/4 c oil (I use avocado or grape for neutral taste)

1/2 c water

Mix wet ingredients together, then dump into dry and stir until well blended batter forms.

Put batter immediately into muffin top or other cups, then let sit 3 minutes before baking.

Bake at 325 on convection for 20 minutes.

These muffin store well at room temperature for a couple days, but freeze very well for a month or more.

Salted Caramel Blondies, a Gluten Free Delight

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

These little squares of peanutty goodness disappear fast!

I have a large and ever growing cookbook library, and try not to buy more now unless they are something really different.  But, browsing through Indigo one day I came across the cookbook Sweet well known Los Angeles baker and confectioner Valerie Gordon.  All the recipes looked very interesting, but in particular I was intrigued by the salted caramel blondie recipe. Sooo…, my library expanded again, and I have to confess this is not the first time I have bought a cookbook for just one recipe!

Despite buying this mainly for the one recipe, there are so many others I want to try, this is a delightful cookbook, well written, beautifully photographed, and with interesting technique and ingredient combinations.

I can't wait to try the Apricot Basil Cream Galettes.

The recipe below is a gluten free adaptation, a little less sweet than the original, and without the chocolate chips because I wanted the peanut flavour to shine through without competition.  I warn you, these are delicious, and I now freeze them so we won’t eat the whole pan at once. Unless someone told you they are GF you would not know; they are as delicious as any wheat flour recipe.

Chewy or a little crunchier, just vary the baking time.

Salted Peanut Blondies GF Recipe

The original recipe used the usual cream the butter, add the sugar, then eggs, etc.  But because my mixer resides under the counter and is heavy, instead I used the Cuisinart method and it worked fine.   So pick the method you prefer, this type of batter is pretty forgiving.

Ingredient Method
2 cups Riverlea GF Flour mix.  (see note below)

1 ½ tsp xanthum gum

2 tsp psyllium husk powder

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp kosher salt

Note: My 2 cups of the mix below weighed 240g

Mix all these dry ingredients in the food processor.

1 ½ sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter Add butter and pulse until the butter is in small pieces, but not so much the mix comes together like pie crust.  Dump this mix into a bowl.
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar Add brown sugar and mix all these dry ingredients until uniform.
2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

Add eggs and vanilla, and mix until this becomes a very thick batter.  It will take muscle power!
¾ cup peanuts (not dry roasted)

Salt for sprinkling

Squish batter into greased 9×13 pan.  I used a pyrex so the size was slightly smaller. Spread peanuts evenly over batter and push them into the batter a little.  Lightly sprinkle salt on top.
Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or longer, but this depends on your oven.  They are done when the edges are starting to brown and a toothpick will test clean.  If you want them really chewy take them out at this stage.  If you want a little firmer wait until the edges are darker brown, but these burn easily so I check the bottom of the glass pan to make sure they are not browning too much on the bottom.

Riverlea “No Rice” Gluten Free Flour Mix

I keep tweaking this mix.  It works well in most recipes where a medium density is the desired result.   I use this blend because my husband can only eat small quantities of rice, the main ingredient in most blends.  This mix is more nutritious than many of the rice based blends.  Lately I have been varying the bean flour part and so far other beans work best if you use two types.  In the mix for these brownies I used ½ garbanzo flour and ½ navy bean flour, but routinely I just use Bob’s Red Mill Garfava flour. I use this for pies, cakes, and cookies, and find that I can substitute it in wheat flour recipes by using the same or slightly more by volume. I do mill most of my own flours, which ensures a fresh taste, but purchasing the less well known flours such as Amaranth at a store that has a good turnover will work fine.

Ingredient By Volume By Weight
Garfava Flour (or other mix using two bean flours) 1 cup 120g
Arrowroot Flour 1 ½ cups 160g
Corn Starch 1 cup 125g
Buckwheat Flour ½ cup 60g
Amaranth Flour ¼ cup 25g  Note: you can mix the proportions of quinoa and amaranth as needed.
Quinoa Flour ¼ cup 25g

I love old plates. This is by Johnson Brothers,

Gluten Free Flax Muffin Tops

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Some mornings I get up and my dear hubbie has left me a surprise…an empty cookie tin with crumbs in it from my flax muffin tops.  This is to signal that I should make more of them asap so he does not suffer without them even one day. When I go travelling alone without him (he does not like to make porcelain dolls, speak French, or play recorder…most of which are connected to  my travel quests!)I have to ensure that a supply is on hand in the freezer.

There were a lot of flax recipes on the internet, so I tried a few and tinkered a lot, and I have what I think is a very nutritious, gluten free, tasty breakfast bread that can be toasted, can be a vehicle for jam or peanut butter, or my hubbie’s favourite, liver pate (go figure!). They also freeze very well, and easily keep a month, but I can’t proove this because the empty can usually shows up in a few days here at Riverlea.

Flax Muffin Tops

Dry ingredients:

200 g  (2  cups) ground golden flaxseed, (I grind it in dry container of vitamix)

2 TBL chia seeds

2 TBL hemp hearts

1 TBL baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

3 eggs

3 TBL olive oil

1/2 cup water

Mix this all up in a bowl. Spoon batter into medium muffin greased muffin top pan. If you really want to get fancy put sesame or poppy seeds in the bottom of the wells first.   Let sit at least 3 minutes for the flaxseed to soak up the liquids before baking.  Bake 20 minutes at 350.

Remove from muffin top pan or at least push them up so they dont get sweaty.

Cool and eat or freeze.  If you dont have a muffin top pan this also works equally well as a flat bread, just spread out on a cookie sheet so the batter is about scant 1/2 inch think.

I’m posting this for a friend, pictures to come later.

Raspberry Sour Cream Pie

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Raspberry Pie.....mmmmmm

In April while at my parents house on PEI we had a delicious meal at the Sidewalk Cafe on Main Street in Alberton.  The whole meal was delicious PEI style fare, scallops, mashed potatoes, and canned peas, a PEI holdover from before freezers.  The hostess, who said she was from Ontario, said they learned quickly that the canned peas were a local favourite.  Anyway, my mother told me the raspberry pie was wonderful, so we started sharing a piece.  It was so good I ordered a piece of my own right away.   It was just heavenly, creamy, and just a little sweetness so that the flavour of the raspberries reigned supreme.

I liked the pie so much that I ended up back there two more times in just the week I was there, wanting to savour the raspberry pie while it was available.  I tried a few recipes after returning home to Ontario, but none seemed quite right.

Well this week my patch of raspberries was the best ever, so I looked again and found the perfect recipe, in fact I think it is the recipe of the restaurant.  It is on the Canadian Living website, and is called “Crosswinds Raspberry Pie”.

Although I loved the pie, I don’t really like regular pie crust that much, so I adapted the recipe for a shortbread type crust.  I also didnt have breadcrumbs, so I made an almond topping that turned out to be a great compliment.  Here is my recipe.  It is divine.  The only tricky part is to get the crust cooked, so pay attention when it is in the oven.

Raspberry Sour Cream Cake

By Shelley at

This recipe is adapted from “Crosswinds Raspberry Pie” at Canadian




1 ½ cups flour

¼ cup sugar

½ cup unsalted butter

½ tsp salt

  • Mix dry ingredients.  Add butter and whirl in food processor until small crumbs evolve.  If no processor, then mix as for shortbread with a pastry cutter until small grains occur.
  • Pat into 9” spring form pan.  You can try to bring it up the edges a little, or just make it the bottom, depending on the size of your pan.
  • Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, but stop baking as soon as it browns very slightly

3 cups raspberries

¾ cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

2 cups sour cream

½ tsp vanilla

½ tsp almond flavouring

  • Spread raspberries over the partially baked crust
  • Mix remaining ingredients and pour / spread over berries

½ cup almonds

2 or 3 TBL brown sugar

1 TBL melted butter

Pinch of salt

  • Combine and spread over the sour cream mixture
  • Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until cooked.
  • (The original recipe bakes the pie at 400, but this just results in burning for me)
Cool pie and then refrigerate as soon as possible.  The pie is best after the filling has cooled and set firmly.  If you leave it out too long after baking the bottom can get soggy, so try to time this well.

Carrot Cake, Not too sweet and also gluten free!

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Carrot cakes are ubiquitous, and I find many of them to be cloyingly sweet and too full of stuff like raisins and pineapple.  I especially hate it with cocoanut for some reason.  This carrot cake was supposed to keep the overall feel and spicing, but to be pure carrot cake and only a little sweet.

Picture to come after I bake this again and before it gets eaten!

I have been experimenting with adding nut and seed mixtures to baked goods after reading Peter Reinhart’s latest gluten free cookbook.  He uses all artificial sweeteners, which I generally avoid, so I am sticking with mostly sugar on the premise that you shouldn’t eat too much cake anyway.  I have found his cakes a little too fragile, so I have used his approach of the nut / seed mixtures and modified my flour to incorporate more nuts and seeds.  Because nuts and seed are higher in fats than other flour ingredients, I have found that reducing fat makes a better outcome.  I have made this cake several times now to rave reviews and requests for the recipe, so here it is.  I am also trying a few more modifications so I may update this later.  Also, don’t be alarmed that after a few hours the carrots oxidize and they look like little green specks.  I have usually added buttercream icing on just the top, but the cake is delicious without this as a less sweet nibble with coffee or tea.

Carrot Cake – Gluten Free

Developed by Shelley at

Ingredients Method
1 ¼ cup Family Mix gluten Free Flour

¼ cup sunflower meal

2 Tbl ground flax seeds

6 TBL sesame meal

¼ cup ground almonds

1 ½  tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 ½ tsp soda

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp guar gum

Note:  all the meal ingredients were ground in my little spice blender.

Mix all dry ingredients and set aside.

1/3 cup butter

½  cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup buttermilk

2 cups grated carrots

Cream eggs and sugar  until fluffy as you would for any cake.  Add eggs and blend until incorporated.  Add buttermilk and flour mixture in stages.

Add carrots to batter.  The batter will be firm and sticky.

Place in cake pan, 9” springform or medium rectangular (one size smaller than 9 x 13).  If needed wet fingers and press the batter down in the pan.

Bake at 350 until it looks well done.  The nut mixtures tend to need a little more baking time or they can end up undercooked and soggy.

Ice with any buttercream frosting just on the top.  I used 1 cup icing sugar to ½ cup butter. The overall effect of this cake should be just slightly sweet.

Family Mix Flour

1cup garfava flour (i use Bob’s Red Mill)

1 1/2 cup arrowroot flour

1 1/2 cup cornstarch (or sometimes I use  1 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup buckwheat)

1/4 cup amaranth flour

1/4 cup quinoa flour

(you can use just quinoa or just amaranth and then use a 1/2 cup)

Chewy Ginger Cookies – Gluten Free

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

These cookies are adapted from a recipe in the  LCBO Food and Drink magazine. As usual in
gluten free baking, I found that reducing the fat content was important. I also reduced
the sugar slightly, and they are still very sweet.  These are chewy if baked until just slightly turning brown, and crispier
if cooked a little longer. They freeze very well.

A note on ingredients, I have been experimenting with using psyllium husk as a binder.  What I have found so far is that it really does seem to help with liquid absorbtion and texture.  I have been using small quantities so far.  I did try a bread recipe with more, and it turned out well.

Chewy Ginger Cookies Recipe

Developed by Shelley at

Ingredients Method
2 cups family mix flour

1 Tbl psyllium husk

1 tsp guar gum

1/2 tsp xanthum gum

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbl dried ginger powder

1/2 tsp grounf cardamom

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 or slightly less chopped crystallized ginger

Mix dry indredients.
3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup molasses fancy type like Grandma’s

1 egg

Mix wet ingredients, then add to dry.

The dough should

be soft but hold it’s shape. Make small balls a little larger than walnuts. The larger

cookies will be chewier.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes depending on your oven.

The cookies will puff up very high at the beginning, then collapse into a crackled

looking flat cookie just before they are done. Let sit a few minutes before removing

from pan, they are very delicate when hot but firm up when cooled.

Family Mix Flour

1cup garfava flour (i use Bob’s Red Mill)

1 1/2 cup arrowroot flour

1 1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup amaranth flour

1/4 cup quinoa flour

(you can use just quinoa or just amaranth and then use a 1/2 cup)

Apple Quark Streusel Cake

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Over the holidays while grocery shopping I spied some quark, and decided I better buy it while the store had it.  Exotic groceries are not as plentiful here in the winter.  I like summer for many reasons, but one of them is that the deluge of tourists and cottagers to this area also brings better grocery shopping.

Why quark?  Well long ago in Bracebridge there was a really scrumptious German bakery.  My favourite item at this bakery was the cheese danish.  They were made with a quark filling, very tart and lemony.  On top of the filling was streusel.  The bakery closed many years ago, and I have never found such wonderful danish anywhere else.  So, I though maybe I could make something like that.  After searching around on the internet I found a recipe for a quark streusel cake on the About German cooking blog  So, I made the recipe, then had to adapt it by making the dough work with a lot more liquid, and adding apple to the layers.

The taste of the quark layer was very similar to my memory from the bakery danish.  The rest of the cake was quite good as well.  Overall this is a make again cake.  Although there are several steps, making the dough the night before using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method of just mixing the dough and letting is sit worked well and is very easy.  The  is not very sweet, and even though I like cakes that are only a little sweet, I might add some brown sugar to the apple layer next time.  A slice of this is great for breakfast when you cant stand cottage cheese one more day (I try to eat a high protein and nutritious breakfast, but occasionally I fall off the wagon and have something like this instead).

Here is my adapted recipe.  The quantities are pretty forgiving, so feel free to adapt or to use another fruit or no fruit at all, and enjoy the “quarky” goodness of the filling.

Apple Quark Cheesecake

(Adapted from recipe on germanfood)

Ingredients Method

2 c flour

1  tsp yeast (dry type)

½ cup milk

2 Tbl butter

1 egg

2 T sugar

½ tsp salt

Enough additional water to make a dough (around a ½ cup, but depends on your flour)

Melt the butter in the milk.  Add the yeast and proof this until the yeast develops a foam.

Put the flour in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, add the milk, egg,  and mix until this turns into a soft dough. You will probably need to add a little water, depends on the size of the egg and your flour.

Let the dough rise at room temp for about an hour or until it has risen and started to fall, then put it in the   fridge or a cool place.  (Basically this follows the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method)

The next day push the lump of dough into a greased pan, I used a pyrex pan just one size smaller than 9 x 13.  You could also use a 10” springform pan.

Let the dough rise until it is doubled again (about 1 hour).

Quark Filling

1 ½ cups (about 1 container) of quark

1 tsp lemon zest

1 egg

2 Tbl cornstarch

Mix this all together as for cheesecake.  Spread over the dough.

Peel, core, and slice about 4 apples.  Granny Smith are good, needs to be a tart apple.

Layer the slices over the quark filling so they overlap each other and completely cover the filling.
Streusel Topping

1 ½ cup flour

2/3 cup sugar (use some brown and some white)

½ cup butter

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp cinnamon

Note:  This was the original recipe.  I ended up only needing about 2/3 of this, so I saved the rest and froze it for another apple concoction, but if you are using a larger pan you might need all of it)

Mix the incredients like pie dough so you have lumps of butter remaining.

Spread this over the apples evenly.

Bake at 350 for about an hour, watching that the crust gets slightly brown and the apples and streusel are cooked. This cake freezes well.

A Few Pics of the Real Ice Cream Challenge

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

We did finally eat the large size Ice Cream Challenge on the weekend when my newlywed nice and her hubby were here.  It got rave reviews, and if you are ever crazy enough to spend this much time making a dessert, one saving grace of the time spent is that it can rest happily in the freezer until about 15 minutes before you are ready to serve it.  The leftovers can also just be put back in the freezer (save that bowl that you molded it in!) and we finished them off last night. I confess I thought it needed a little something, so I made more of the the hot fudge sauce (with some tweaking to make it richer) and poured some over it last night…..peanut butter heaven, but I will have to go more miles on my new bike today to pay for the calories!  Recipes in  previous post.

A Couple Practical Ideas

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

I know I use a lot of flours in gluten free recipes compared to some of the popular cookbooks, but I do find I get the best results this way.  My goal is not only the taste, but also to make the flour mixes as nutritional as possible. I avoid the use of rice flour as it is not only nutritionally inferior, but in my opinions creates dry and tasteless baked goods.  Anyway, after trying all sorts of organizations, I have come up with this method using zipper bags, and it not only keeps the flours organized, it is really easy to scoop out amounts and just leave them in their organized row.  I just pack this all up in its box and keep the flours in the freezer until the next time I bake.  I use almost all flours I grind myself in a nutrimill, and freezing them is not necessary but does keep the flavour top notch.

I caved in to the use of spray grease several years ago when I found out that even my mother, a wonderful baker, was using it.  It is so easy to use, and I have always hated greasing pans.  However, I have really been trying to be more environmentally friendly, and the spray grease is not only expensive, it leaves a lot of waste cans polluting the environment.  So, I did remember using a lecithin mix many years ago when I baked copius loaves of bread.  The problem with my previous use of lecithin was that you had to use a brush, which inevitably got very grimy and difficult to clean and store.  On a recent trip to the local bulk store I was thrilled to find a silicone brush that has the little holes that retain liquid better than the plain ones, and a jar of lecithin for only 5.99.  After researching several methods on the internet, I ended up making my own version, and it works perfectly.  The mix is 2 tsp lecithin, dissolved in 1/4 cup of vodka.  Lecithin is an emulsifier, so this mix stays together.  Grease the pans with the silicone brush before baking.  I found the mix recipes had less lecithin, and the first batch with one teaspoon worked, but not as well as spray grease.  The additional teaspoon solved this.  The other method is to use oil instead of vodka.  Oil is cheaper, so maybe I will try that when I run out of this.  I remember the oil mixture I had used in the past was pretty gooey, so I wanted to try the vodka.  Works like a charm, and no spray grease cans to worry about.

Here is a close up of the middle of the brush. This one was the good grips brand.  These are easy to wash, you can even put them in the dishwasher.

Split Personality Ice Box Cookies

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

We had a terrific weekend with our daughter and friends from Toronto, newlyweds Bhaskar and Farhanna.  Farhanna and I had a blast cooking Bengali food (that’s another post coming soon) and we ate all weekend! After the weekend, the newlyweds went to a local resort for a couple days, but I asked them to come back for a care package from me before they headed to Toronto.

So, I wanted something special for the care package, and decided that  some unusual butter cookies with different flavourings would fit the bill.  I love lavender and also grow it in my Muskoka garden.  I grow the English type and it flourishes even here in garden zone 4.  The type I really love however is the French type grown in Provence.  There are also lavender farms in Ontario that are experimenting with different types and their hardiness.  My lavender was in full bloom, so thus my inspiration.  Last year I had tried a lavender sable recipe in a Provence Cooking School Cookbook, and they were scrumptionus, with an unusual menthol taste from the lavender.

The ice box method of making cookies is really easy.  The recipe I started with is adapted from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook, one of my favourite and most reliable cookbooks, I highly recommend it as one of the most comprehensive home baking books available.

When you make these, keep the logs very thin, I like about 1 1/2 inches.  I like the cookies sliced very thin so the calories are also small, but I can tell you they taste just as good a little thicker.  I must warn you that these are very addictive and that I have to ration them unless I want to walk several miles a day.  They freeze very well, but like many shortbread cookies they keep a long time (like I have eaten them even a month old when I forgot them in a cookie can!) in a good tin cookie can).  Experiment with other flavour variations.  Another good combination is anise and orange.

Anyway, the newlyweds like the cookies, so Bhaskar and Farhanna this post is dedicated to you and thanks for such an enjoyable weekend.

Split Personality Ice Box Cookies

This recipe is adapted from a  basic butter cookie recipe from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook.  They are very easy to make, and delicious.  Here are two of my own favourite flavor variations, with the lavender being a somewhat different taste for a sweet cookie.  If you don’t want to make two flavours, just double the ingredients and make one flavor for the whole batch.

Ingredients Method
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 ½ cups flour

1 egg

Cream butter and sugar, add salt.

Add  egg, then the flour in batches.

Mix until small crumbly mixture evolves and all the flour is incorporated.

Divide the mixture into two equal size batches.

Flavourings (for ½ recipe)

Lavender Orange:

2 tsp dried cooking grade lavender (ie, don’t use lavender from a bath mix)

1 tsp orange flower water

1 tsp shredded orange rind, avoid a micro grater size, larger such as the type from a little zester is better.

Maple Pecan:

½ tsp vanilla

¼ tsp maple flavouring

½ cup coarsely chopped pecans

Add flavourings to each batch.  Press dough together to form a long log about 1 ½ inched.  Roll in parchment or wax paper and refreigerate (or freeze).

To make cookies, roll log in sanding or coarse sugar to coat surface.  Then slice into rounds ¼ inch think.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.


These freeze beautifully but also keep at room temperature for about 10 days.

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