Archive for April, 2009

Gluten Free Pain D’epices

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

After fillling the kitchen with the aroma of my latest 2 pain d’epices, I felt sorry for Greg and had to make him a gluten free version. The problem with many gluten free recipes is that they rely on rice flour, which in my opinion doesn’t have great taste or texture, and unfortunately Greg is also sensitive to rice, so I have learned to improvise. I have been trying to increase the protein and fiber content, and to improve the flavour in terms of picking flours.

The recipe I have developed here uses several flours, but I’m sure you could just stick to gluten free mix that works for you and your allergy requirements. This came out wonderfully cakey and delicious, and I think anyone eating it would not necessarily know it was gluten free (that is the gold standard of gluten free baking in my mind). Chestnut flour can be found in some Italian grocery stores, I found it in little Italy at a small store nesr Bathurst and College. It has a slightly sweet nutty taste and works well in cake.

Re xanthum and guar gum – I find guar gum makes a cake texture, and xanthum makes a more breadlike texture. I wanted cake texture, but also wanted it to be well bound, which xanthum does best. Use what you want, either will work here.

Gluten Free Pain D’epices
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour mix (I used 1 cup light bean flour (1/3 cup bean flour, 1/3 cup tapioca flour, 1/3 c. arrowroot flour); for the 3/4 I used 1/4 cup amaranth flour, 1/4 cup chestnut flour, 1/4 cup buckwheat flour)
1/2 tsp xanthum gum powder
1 tsp guar gum flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger (dried powder)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground fresh if possible
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp whole anise seeds
1 T soft butter
1 egg
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1 T brown sugar

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet stuff (you can just melt the butter if you want). Combine and bake at 350 for….depends, about a 1/2 hour – depends on the size loaf pan you use. I now have a convection oven, so I baked it at 325 on convection and it came out light and fluffy.

How Healthy Can You Get?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009


This little salad is about as healthy as you can get. It is a combo that was not the usual, but it is really delicious. The other bonus is that the apples did not turn brown, the picture is the salad the next day after I made it. I got the idea from a magazine recipe, but of course I changed it. I have made this twice already and love it!! I hope this recipe is specific enough, I feel salad recipes are pretty fluid depending on what the state of your larder and proximity to a grocery store. Enjoy, and this is my first recipe post, I hope to have others. Please comment, I need to know maybe someone is reading my blog!!!

Fennel Salad Inspired by Waldorf
Quantities are approximate, and not really critical anyway!
1 Apple (I used Granny Smith) peeled and chopped up
1 cup fennel (ie, finocchio) sliced thinly (I used a Bereiner slicer, they work great)
1 cup celery
1/2 cup grapes
2 T walnuts, chopped (make sure they are fresh!)
2 T yoghourt (heaping ones) (plain, I used Astro, my favourite)
1 T lemon juice (maybe a little more, taste to see)
1 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp honey
a few fennel fronds to make it look pretty

This made enough for 2 large servings pour moi.

Playing with Pain D’epices

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I started playing around with pain d’epices recipes after reading a recent post on David Lebovitz’s blog (see sidebar for link), one of my favourite food blogs for inspiration, and hey, he lives in Paris!
After reading David’s recipe, I also checked my ever growing cookbook library, and decided to try the one in Nick Malgieri’s A Baker’s Tour first. I will call this the “lean” version – it has no fat or eggs, and fewer spices than other recipes. The sweetener is honey and sugar. It is very easy to make, you melt the sugar in water first, then just dump in the dry ingredients. It rose up beautifully, and made two delightful petite loaves in my little half size loaf pans. I cut it the next day after resting. It was a little chewy, but the flavour was very mellow and a little different from other gingerbreaddy stuff we are all used to.

It rose up more than double in the petite loaf pans. After again resting (ok, not as long, I had to taste it before going to bed!) it is very good, sweetened only with honey, and would be good as a sweet, or also with cheese.

My next try was the recipe from Flo Braker adapted by David Lebovitz and the recipe is on his blog. It has more spices, .It had more spices and is more like the flavour of typical gingerbread type of spicing. It also has a softer texture because it has a little butter and an egg. I made 1/2 the recipe, but just used a whole egg because if I try to use half it is impossible, it always manages to slither into the batter anyway! This version, maybe I can call it the “soft” type, turned out great, and was fairly tender.

The smell of this was so good, I had to make a gluten free version, I will post the results.

Fabulous Fondant

Friday, April 17th, 2009

My daughter was here this weekend, and she wants to learn more about cake decorating. Both of us thought fondant looked smooth and an open canvas, so we finally tried some.
We made regular cupcakes, and also used a small “muffin top” pan. The muffin tops worked out to be a really nice petite shape, a little mouthful of sumptious sweet cake (See above pic).
Here are our little kitty’s!

And some florals.

We were lazy and used premade fondant that I got at McCall’s in Toronto – they have everything for cake decorating! It worked perfectly. It comes in a tub that you can just take out what you need and save the rest. Surprisingly, the fondant tastes fairly good, a little chewy and sweet, slightly vanilla flavoured. I was not expecting good taste, let’s face it royal icing is just for looks, but this is not bad at all, in fact it might be even be better with a little flavouring added.
Next time we will coordinate the colours more, and will try to make the fondant (maybe, opening the tub is really fast and easy, and McCall’s is a long drive from here!)
So, for our first batch, it won’t rival the Hello Cupcake book, but we had a blast.

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