Spring has sprung!

Picnic weather is here!
Does spring make anyone else happy? I love the fresh cut grass, the color of the flowers and seeing all the baby animals around.

Spring is also a good time to start projects. Unfortunately for me, my neighbors are having their drive way redone. Don’t get me wrong, it looks amazing and I’m jealous, however, I could have done without the shaking of my house from the jackhammer and all of the noise pollution. Pair that with having a spring cold and I am not a super happy camper today.

I decided even though I didn’t feel great today, that my favorite springtime dessert might lift the fog. I went into the kitchen and whipped up my favorite lemon bar recipe. There’s something amazing about the texture and the cool lemon curd, topped with powdered sugar, all on a shortbread crust. The best part about this recipe? You can sub out cup for cup for a gluten free baking mix and voila! Gluten free lemon bars!

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Lemony Lemon Bars

For Base
2 cups sifted flour
1⁄2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter

For top
4 large beaten eggs
2 cups white sugar
1⁄3 cup lemon juice
1⁄4 cup flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh lemon rind

Directions

For the base: mix the butter into the flour and sugar.
Mix with hands until it clings together.
Press into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan.
Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

For the filling, beat together eggs, sugar and lemon juice.
Sift together flour and baking powder.
Stir into egg mixture.
Pour over baked, cooled crust.
Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.
Allow to cool in the refrigerator approximately 4 hours.
Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Cut into bars.

These can also be made into citrus bars by mixing lemon, lime and orange juices to equal the
1/3 cup. One of my favorites is also a lime version!

Until next time, Happy Baking!

Christopher

Proceed with Caution

How many of you know someone who needs to eat gluten free? Dairy free? Soy Free? Im sure by now we are all raising our hands. How many of you actually know how to bake for these restrictions? Im sure fewer hands are up this time. Have no fear! I am here today to share some helpful information with you to help you through the process.

A dietary restriction is at its simplest, something that someone cannot eat due to medical or religious reasons.

A short list of some allergies are:
Gluten
Peanuts
Tree Nuts
Certain Dyes
Dairy
Eggs
Shellfish
Fish

Frankly, this list is long and no two people are alike. You could have a dad that is allergic to peanuts and eggs and his daughter may be allergic to tree nuts and dairy. There isn’t a rhyme or reason to the combinations of allergies.

To prepare properly to serve someone with a food allergy is very important. A few of these allergies have an anaphylaxis reaction, meaning they will lose the ability to breathe. Others will result in gastrointestinal discomfort. If someone has an allergy, they will know and be happy to share with you the list of foods they can eat and more importantly, what to avoid. My best suggestion for you is to proceed with caution and do your research. There are several great companies that make products that are commercially available such as Udis, Rudy’s and Bob’s Red Mill. Bob’s is the one that I have had the most luck with. They have cake mixes, pie crust mixes, pancake mixes as well as gluten free flour blend, nut flours, oat flour, etc. They are generally available at your local grocery store in the baking or health market area.

Dietary Restrictions for Religious Reasons

Kosher and Halal are just two of the numerous religious dietary restrictions. These both refer to how food is prepared.

Kosher
“This extremely complex set of guidelines includes restrictions on how meat is slaughtered, which animals/birds/seafood may be eaten (most famously pork and shellfish are not allowed), the part of the animal that can be eaten, who makes certain foods, combinations of foods, avoiding contamination, what can be eaten on religious holidays, and more. Many non-Jewish people prefer foods labeled kosher because they believe them to be cleaner / more strictly prepared.” per chewfo.com.

Halal
Meats should be slaughtered under Halal guidance; pork is not allowed. Generally, foods that are kosher are also accepted under Halal. The major exception is alcohol, which is banned under Halal. For strict observers, this may mean not eating foods cooked with vanilla extract. There are numerous guidelines for fasting, particularly during Ramadan.
Obviously, this is only the tip of the iceberg so to speak. If you have time or curiosity, go ahead and do the research. It’s really fascinating.

Below is a recipe from our friends at Sweetness and Bite. It is a white chocolate mud cake that is gluten free.

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Gluten Free White Chocolate Mud Cake

Makes: One 7 inch round, approximately 4 inch high cake.

If you need a refresher on converting recipes to metric, click here.

A moist, dense cake with delicate white chocolate and vanilla flavors. Suitable for covering in fondant, tiered cakes, lightly carved cakes, and decorating using the three day timeline.
Ingredients

420g gluten free flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder (check that it is gluten free)
1 teaspoon Xanthan gum
350ml milk
350g butter, cut into cubes
180g white chocolate, chopped
400g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
Instructions
Preheat oven to 160° Celsius. Line the base and sides of a 7” round (at least 3” high) cake pan and make a baking strip and foil lid. If your oven gets quite hot from the bottom element, place a heavy baking sheet on the rack below the one the cake will go on.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and xanthan gum. Whisk to combine well.
In a large, heavy based saucepan, heat the milk and butter over a medium low heat, stirring occasionally with a wire whisk until the butter melts. Add in the white chocolate, and stir until the chocolate has melted. Add in the sugar and whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved (this could take several minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
The liquid mixture now needs to cool until you can comfortably hold your finger in it. You can either transfer the mixture to a large heatproof bowl to cool it faster, or you can leave it in the pot and wait a bit longer for it to cool.
When cool, add the dry ingredients in three additions. Mix with the whisk, but use a folding rather than whipping motion to avoid air bubbles.
Whisk the eggs together with a fork and add to the batter, mixing again with the whisk. Leave the batter to sit for a minute to allow bubbles to come to the surface.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bang it on the bench to remove any large air bubbles. Place the foil lid over the top and bake for 2.5 – 3 hours. To test if the cake is done, use a thin skewer. When the skewer comes out clean, insert a thin bladed knife into the middle of the cake. When that comes out clean or with only a few crumbs attached, the cake is done. If you have an instant read probe thermometer, the centre of the cake should be at least 99°C.
Remove the foil lid and allow the cake to cool in the cake pan for half an hour or so, then cover the top with foil (either unfold the edges of the foil lid and use that, or use a fresh piece of foil), securing around the edge of the pan. Leave the cake overnight to cool completely before removing from the pan.
Notes
*I used 200g tapioca flour, 170g brown rice flour and 50g potato starch.
Remember that if you use different flours than I have, your results may vary from mine. Check out my gluten free cake post for more information.
To fill and cover a cake this size with white chocolate ganache (four layers of cake/three layers of ganache filling) you will need 1.6kgs of ganache (1.2kg white chocolate to 400g cream.)
Recipe adapted from Taste

Until next time, Happy AND SAFE Baking!

Christopher