April 27th, 2010
A couple of months ago I heard an interview on WNPR’s Faith Middleton show with Elana Amsterdam (you can listen here), the author of the The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook (a great deal — around $10! And has recipes for savory dishes as well. I looked on Amazon and found some of the recipes in the free preview, so we tried the blueberry banana muffins. We have cut wheat out of our diets and I must say I’m not the biggest fan of many of the substitutes. It’s lovely to have an alternative, but I find the flavor on some to be a turn off. So it was with absolute delight that we gobbled down the entire batch of muffins in one sitting! They came out a little dark because I turned them off when the timer went off, but thought they needed more time. At which point I forgot allllll about them. Oops. But they didn’t burn, and were still moist and tasty, just a little browner than necessary.
For Lucia’s birthday this past week, she wanted a vanilla cake with pink frosting, so I turned once again to this book, which I was able to get from the library! I made the vanilla cupcake recipe (I followed the one that has a surprise inside, since it was a little different than the other), using a 6 inch and 8 1/2 inch springform pans. I baked it for about 22 minutes for the 6 inch and almost 30 minutes for the larger pan, covering it after about 18 minutes once the top had browned so that it wouldn’t burn while the center cooked. The texture, while more dense than a white flour wheat cake, was still moist and light and the flavor — absolutely delicious!
I frosted it with the same cashew-based frosting that I used for the raw lemon poppy seed cake, but added a half a bag of defrosted frozen strawberries to it for flavor and color (it was a nice medium pink, the flash bleached it out). This made the frosting a little too runny, but if I’d drained the berries or whizzed the strawberries in ahead of time and let it sit, it would have thickened (I had leftovers in the fridge that did so). After frosting the bottom layer, I put chopped strawberries on before adding the second tier.
I also took some frozen bananas and strawberries and made pink ice cream — a hit with all the kids. I served this cake to my family, who eat a primarily standard American diet, and didn’t have to compost any pieces left on plates, except for the scraps of my nephew’s second piece. An impressive feat for no wheat!
I liked the tanginess of the frosting offseting the sweetness a bit, but Lucia wants round two (cupcakes with friends this week) to not be so lemony. And we’re going to try the chocolate cake AND chocolate frosting recipe from that book for the cupcakes as well. I can’t wait!
We have also made the pancakes, and while it took me a few tries to get the heat right (keep it low low low!) the pancakes themselves were light, fluffy and scrumptious! You should see them puff when you flip them — the kids oohed and ahhed upon viewing this phenomenon.
Using low heat (and I mean 3 or 4 on my stove) means it takes longer to cook them, but I popped the oven on warm and kept the done pancakes in the oven. Or I would have. If my children hadn’t insisted on eating them all and lining up at the stove performing a constant chorus of “Is it done yet?” I also halfway through the process started putting a lid on the frying pan to keep the heat in and make sure the middle cooked, although using the low heat helped with this as well. (Before I figured this out, they were dark brown on the outside and gooey inside.)
And last night we made the chocolate chip cookies. Lucia’s review: “Hey! These taste just like the junky ones!” What more can you ask for? Well, Luke asked for me to add some shredded coconut and chopped almonds next time, or maybe a maple walnut version, or a cranberry pecan version, or… well, you get the idea. We are delighted to have found a delicious way to make baked goods without gluten flours.
- 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 1 Tbs vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate
- Preheat oven to 350, line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, including chocolate.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, agave and vanilla.
- Stir wet into dry until thoroughly combined.
- Regrigerate dough 2o minutes.
- Spoon 1 heaping Tbs at a time onto sheets, pressing down with your palm to flatten.
- Bake 8-10 minutes until lightly golden.
I used maple syrup and honey instead of agave, coconut oil instead of grapeseed and didn’t refrigerate the dough, due to the puss-in-boots eyes on my cookie monsters that demanded cookies asap! We actually baked and cooled them while we ate, and had them for dessert after cleaning the kitchen from dinner. YUM YUM YUM. We imagined dunking them in almond milk, so we’ve got some almond soaking for the next batch tomorrow.We’ve had a long break from baked goods and are making up for lost time!
So now you’re wondering “Where on earth do I get this almond flour?” Well, the Bob’s Red Mill almond flour that you can get at most grocery stores is allegedly too coarse a grind for these recipes, and gives a grittier, less cake-like texture. I bought mine from Lucy’s Kitchen Shop. I called and placed the order — it took less than 2 minutes to do so and I had my flour in 3 days. It’s well worth the price for the occasional baked treat, and keeps well in the fridge or freezer. Elana also recommends some other sources (as well as other inspirational recipes and ideas on her blog Elana’s Pantry.
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