Tasty and mostly simple food for the whole family.

Tasty, healthy, simple, verstile, practical, seasonal, fun food for all to enjoy. I will endeavour to make things gluten-free, dairy-free (cow's milk only here, I'm not super-human), and low sugar as able. I hope others feel motivated to add their recipes to this collection so we can all try them. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gingerbread Cut-outs (Wheat-free/Dairy-Free)

Gingerbread cookies are my absolute favorite.  I have never made them before this year because I am almost blinded with resentment of the refrigeration step.  This process is so ridiculous, so heinous, that I simply have never made them.  There is just something about thinking "mmm, I'm going to make some cookies" and "Oh, wait, let's not even think about eating them until tomorrow" that is ... well, you get it.  Anyway, this year I have had an attitude adjustment called 'raising a toddler'.  In this complicated step of life, one reevaluates what one defines as fun and thinks "hey, that might be fun to make them at night and then we can cut them out tomorrow!" in addition to many other redefining moments, of course.  Plus, I clearly under use my Kitchen Aid mixer, as this machine basically makes cookies on its own with a bit of coaching.  All of these years.  Anyway, I was right.  It was totally fun to cut them out and play with Mia doing the cookies once I got through the rolling out process which nearly broke me- but only because I skipped that silly step of rolling it out before refrigerating it.  Incidentally, I don't recommend you skip that step.

So this recipe was adapted from a recipe in The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (yes, I adapted a perfectly good GF recipe and added gluten), so you could easily replace the spelt flours with your favorite GF flour and 1tsp xanthan gum if you like.  These cookies have great flavor, are super soft with a just-right chew and were exactly what I wanted, especially since this was  my first foray into baking with spelt.  Good stuff.  Low sugar, much lower in fat than typical cookies and great ingredients with the whole grain flour and molasses make them right good mama/toddler snacks.

Spelt Gingerbread Cut-out Cookies
  • 3-3/4c Spelt flour (I used 2c reg and 1.75c white spelt)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbls ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbls ground ginger
  • 1 Tbls ground cloves
  • 1/2 c vegetable shortening, cut into about 8 pieces
  • 1/2 unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 light agave nectar
  • 1/4c plus 2Tbls molasses
1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  Mix on low speed until combined, about 30 sec.  Stop the mixer and add the bits of shortening and the applesauce, then mix on low speed for about 1-1/2 minutes or until consistency of fine meal.

2.  With the mixer still running, add the agave and molasses, mixing until thoroughly combined, about 20 more seconds.  (if you use a food processor instead, add ingredients in order mentioned, process for about 10 seconds per step)

3.  Lay out two large sheets of parchment paper on your work surface.  Using spatula, divide the dough evenly between the two sheets.  Cover each with another large parchment sheet and roll out with rolling pin until ~1/4" thick.
4.  Wrap in plastic and transfer the dough in the parchment paper to the fridge until completely chilled, preferably overnight or at least a few hours. 

5.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

6.  Remove one dough from the fridge and peel back one sheet of parchment paper, then replace it and flip the dough over.   Remove the new top sheet of parchment paper and start cutting shapes!

7.  Transfer cut shapes onto baking sheet about 1" apart and bake on center rack for ~10 minutes.  If you like, you can use raisins and such before baking to decorate.

8.  Save all scraps around your cut-outs and re-roll for more cookies as many times as you like.

9.  Let cookies cool completely if you plan to decorate with your favorite frosting.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies of mixed sizes.  A pretty big batch if you ask me.

This video was made while making some GF snickerdoodles to post another time, but is clearly an excellent alternative mixing method.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

I know, the picture is clearly not a sugar cookie.  It is gingerbread and I will have a recipe for the tasty soft and delightful low sugar spelt gingerbread cookies soon, but really.... Is that maybe the best decorated cookie you have ever seen?  With the spur?  I don't even know how you eat that one.  Anyway, some friends and I got together for a cookie decorating party this weekend.  I was responsible for the Gingerbread variety and The Great Leslie Beck was responsible for the sugar cookies.  Since I am the one with special needs, I made a wheat-ful batch and a spelt batch, but I never expect others to bother.  TGLB, however, is always thinking of the peeps around her.  She made regular sugar cookies and these amazing Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies.  She adapted them from this recipe based on necessity and I will post the recipe as she made it below because they were amazing. I'm sure the original is amazing as well.

I feel like people always want to apologize for things being Gluten-Free.  Really, the only thing that I find typically needs and asterisk is bread.  Other than that, wheat is boring, boring, boring.  Gluten-free grains have way more complexity and flavor.  These cookies are the most delicious sugar cookies I have ever tasted.  Light, delicate and tons of flavor to stand up to delicious butter-cream frosting.

Note:  Leslie used a GF all-purpose mix by Avec Baking that was incredible.  If you are in Seattle, you can find it at PCC.  If you are not in Seattle, please think of this local company for an order. This flour was excellently balanced and xanthan-free.  If you are using your favorite GF mix in this recipe, please make sure it isn't just rice flour and tapioca starch or the flavor of your cookie will be very neutral.  If need be, replace at least 1/2 or 1cup of the flour you are using with either sorghum flour or amaranth flour to boost the personality.  I happen to also love garbanzo flour, but I know that is scandalous.  If you are making your own mix, please use 1.5 cups flours and 1 cup starches, like potato and tapioca.

Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
  • 2 & 1/2 cups Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour mix (please see note above)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch fresh nutmeg

1. Place all the flours in a medium-sized bowl and whisk them together (if not using pre-mixed). Sift them through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl. Add the baking powder, and salt, then whisk together and set aside.

2. Stir the butter (or let the beater attachment of the stand mixer do it for you). Add the sugar and cream them together until they are just combined. Add the two eggs and vanilla extract and beat for a couple of minutes more. Throw in the pinch of nutmeg and stir one last time.

3. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet, one cup at a time until well mixed.  It should be a thick batter, not entirely stick to the touch, but not as stiff as traditional rolled cookie dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 375 and take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Don’t let it reach complete pliability. The dough should still be rather stiff from the refrigeration.

5. Roll out the cookie dough between two pieces of parchment paper. This dough doesn’t go paper thin, so you’ll have cookie with a bite to them. Cut out with your favorite shapes.

Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on your oven and how crisp you like them. Let them cool for 10 minutes before eating them. Let cool completely before using your favorite butter-cream frosting for fancy decorations!

Makes about 15 to 20 cookies, depending on the shapes.