My gift to you, gluten free baking tips to make Santa proud
I have a solemn promise to keep with you, my dear readers, before the year has drained out. The time has come to share with you some of my magical gluten free baking knowledge to bake delights that will make Santa Claus rub his tummy with glee. (Particularly if he is gluten intolerant)
Gluten free is the buzz word these days and it essentially means baking without gluten which is present in wheat, rye, spelt, barley, bulgur, and oats. (Oats themselves do not have gluten but are usually processed with wheat and are consequently gluten covered. You can get gluten free oats now from Bob’s red mill.) Gluten, as it turns out, is quite the fiend in our caveman digestive tracts and causing quite the commotion.
It is estimated that one in seven people are now gluten sensitive on some level and 1 in a 100 are downright gluten intolerant. I gave up gluten and all grains about 3 years ago because I wanted to reduce my inflammation that I was constantly battling. I will confess, I went kicking and screaming but I was simply amazed at what happened; I lost weight, feel great, and all my allergies went away! (When I am staying true to the path) I’m a believer.
Now, it is important to qualify that there are many different types of gluten free baking. There is the group that uses anything that doesn’t have gluten in it to bake with like rice, tapioca, and garbanzo bean flours. These recipes tend to use processed sugar too. Then you have the other far spectrum that is grain-free and processed sugar free baked goods. And of course, there is everything in between. I tend to lean towards the grain-free side of the fence so that is where my knowledge is.
There are two primary types of gluten free, grain free flour; nut flour (almond being the most popular) and coconut flour. Almond flour is “nutrient dense” aka lots of calories and expensive but delicious, fiber rich and low carb. The best almond flour for cooking is finely ground and blanched. (Do not get almond “meal” as it is not a baking flour) Bob’s Red Mill, finely ground, is my personal favorite and it is made by a semi-local company. Everyone raves about “Honeyville” almond flour but I have never tried it. Honeyville is a bit cheaper than other brands too if you buy in bulk online.
An important tip to remember when baking with nut flours is that they burn VERY easily. It is super imperative to take your baked goods out of the oven earlier that later or you will have burnt buns. Almond flour can be subbed for wheat flour but it is such a different absorption rate that the recipes usually don’t turn out so I suggest baking with proven recipes unless you are adventurous and don’t mind baking failures.
Coconut flour is a whole nuther beast. It is a thirsty flour and you need a fraction of the amount as you expect and needs a lot of eggs to make it work. Coconut flour is high in fiber, low in carbs and calories. It is also inexpensive. It doesn’t burn as easy as almond flour but is more tricky to work with so use already tested recipes when you first start out. There are many recipes out there these days that are combining both of the almond and coconut flours to make very delectable baked goods. Make sure and store all nut and coconut flours in the freezer and let them thaw for an hour before using.
This recipe I am sharing with you today is a great recipe that highlights almond flour. It also uses coconut palm sugar which is much lower in the glycemic index than most sugars. These bars are seriously addicting! I made them for Thanksgiving and they were GONE before dinner. They can be made with any raw nuts that you have on hand and are completely transportable. (Which is great for Santa) Have a very wonderful holiday season.
Perfect Pecan Bars (Gluten and grain free)
The coconut palm sugar and arrowroot powder are available at your local health food store.
1 3/4 cups of almond flour
1/4 cup of arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon of coconut palm sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 Tablespoons of melted coconut oil or butter
Heat up your oven to 350 degrees. Blend all your dry ingredients together with a mixer (or with a whisk) and then slowly add the melted oil/butter and the egg as the mixer is going. Press the crust into a well-greased 9×11 or 9×13 baking dish (it will be spread thin. If you want the bars thicker, use an 8X8 baking dish) and then pop in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Prepare your filling to pour into this.
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup of coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup of maple syrup
2 Tablespoon of coconut milk or heavy cream
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2.5 cups of pecans
While the crust is baking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add all the ingredients but the pecans and stir until well mixed. Let this lovely mess come to a simmer while stirring occasionally then simmer for 1-2 minutes stirring all the while to keep it from burning. Pour the pecans into the sauce pan and stir them in then remove from heat.
When you remove your crust from the oven, pour all this yumminess onto the crust. Spread the filling evenly over the crust with a rubber spatula, then return to the oven to bake for 20-25 more minutes. The bars should be bubbly and the crust getting brownish when done. Let the bars cool for a while before cutting as this recipe needs to cool before they sit up. Then cut into small pieces and remove from the pan with a flexible rubber spatula. Should serve 16, but could serve just one, particularly if it is Santa. They are addicting!