January 15, 2012

Gingerbread People and Houses


Yield: about 6 dozen cookies or 2 small houses and 2 dozen cookies

  • 5 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups molasses
  • rice flour for rolling

Cream butter and sugar until well-combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses. With mixer on low speed, add gluten-free flour mix, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and beat until combined. Divide dough into 3 discs, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a generously floured piece of parchment, roll dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Brush off excess flour. Slide dough and parchment onto baking sheets, and freeze for 15 minutes.
Cut out desired shapes. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, and freeze for 15 minutes.
Bake cookies for 6 minutes. Remove sheets from oven, and tap them firmly on counter to flatten cookies. Return to oven, rotating sheets, and bake until crisp but not darkened, 6 to 8 minutes more. Cool sheets on wire racks.
Spoon icing into a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain round tip or just use a zip-top bag and snip the very tip off for piping. Pipe designs on cookies and use icing as "glue" to hold house pieces together. Let cookies stand at room temperature until set, at least 2 hours (preferably overnight). Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers for up to 1 week. Enjoy!

Royal Icing (for decorating)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 egg whites, beaten or meringue powder equivalent
Combine ingredients in mixer. Beat on high till smooth and holds its shape.

More to come with Love!

January 12, 2012

Vegan Sprouted Grain Bread

From soaking to sprouting to grinding to mixing to baking, sprouted bread is a labor of love. While you can find many kinds of gluten-free bread at your local supermarket, I have not yet seen a gluten-free sprouted bread. Its well worth every step as the result is a hearty, toothsome bread with a very complex flavor profile. Its dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan. I couldn't make enough of it for the Farmers Market and sold out every week. For tips on sprouting the various grains and where to obtain them check out my Adventures in Sprouting post.

Note: I began using a 3.75"x6.375" bread pan last year for my breads because it was a more comparable size to what you can find in the store, and the smaller pan helped me achieve a more consistent final product. You can certainly use the standard 9"x5" loaf pan if you prefer a larger loaf. If you would like to try a smaller pan, here is where I buy mine: http://cooksdream.com/store/fdbp5641.html

Yield: 1 large loaf, or 2 smaller loaves

  • 2/3 cup ground, sprouted gluten-free oats
  • 1/2 cup ground, sprouted millet
  • 1/2 cup ground, sprouted buckwheat
  • 1/3cup ground, sprouted teff
  • 1/3 cup ground, sprouted amaranth
  • 1/3 cup ground, sprouted quinoa
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca four
  • 1 Tbsp potato flour
  • 1 Tbsp xanthan gum
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp ground flax meal
  • 9 Tbsp warm water
  • Olive oil spray for bread pans

Note: I use the wet ground sprouts in this recipe. You can use equal amounts of ground dried sprouts, but will need to add approximately 3/4 to 1 cup of water to the recipe.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray bread pans with olive oil spray and set aside.
Combine flax meal and water in a small bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sprouted oats, millet, buckwheat, teff, amaranth, and quinoa on low speed. Add sorghum flour, tapioca flour, potato flour, xanghan gum, yeast and salt. Mix on low until all ingredients are incorporated. Add olive oil, agave nectar, vinegar and flax meal/water mixture. Continue mixing on low until ingredients are well incorporated, then increase mixer speed to high and mix for 3 minutes longer, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.
Transfer dough to one large or two small prepared bread pans. Spray top of dough with olive oil and use plastic wrap to form the top of the dough into a gentle mound shape. Lift plastic wrap so it is not resting on top of dough and allow bread to rise in a warm place until about double in volume.
Bake for 45 minutes. Remove bread from pans and allow to cool on a wire rack under a clean tea towel. Enjoy!

More to come with Love!

Adventures in Sprouting

Sprouted Gluten-Free Oats

We have all seen the sprouted bread in the grocery store- its usually right next to the gluten-free bread in the freezer section. But did you know that nutritious sprouted breads and baked goods are not only for non-celiacs? Yes, you too can sprout your own gluten-free grains and have a toothsome and nourishing gluten-free bread.

Why Sprout
Sprouted grains offer a wide variety of benefits over non-sprouted, processed grain flours. Not only does sprouting grains before using them create a living food, it increases vitamin content, neutralizes antinutrients like phytic acid (basically, phytic acid is a substance found in grains that blocks your body's ability to absorb nutrients from food), and allows your body to more efficiently and effectively break down amino acids for better digestion of the whole grain. Plus, they're versatile and delicious!

What to Sprout

Clockwise from top left: Teff, Amaranth, Quinoa, Red Quinoa, Millet, Buckwheat, Gluten-free Oats, Sorghum (center).
There are many types of grains in the world, and believe it or not, more of them are gluten-free than not! Gluten-free grains include:
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat (ok, its not really a grain, but the fruit of a plant in the dock family, nutritious and delicious nonetheless)
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oats (only if they are grown and processed in dedicated fields and facilities)
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (only short-grain brown rice will sprout)
  • Sorghum (DO NOT sprout sorghum! The sprouts contain toxic levels of cyanide that must be removed prior to consumption, which is a very tedious process)
  • Teff (the smallest grain in the world)
Grains that are NOT gluten-free include:
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Farro
  • Triticale
Sprouting Methods
There are basically two methods for sprouting grains (and seeds): The jar method and the tray method. I have had great success with both methods and which method you use just depends on the equipment and amount of space you have to do it. I have used both methods and they work equally well.

Jar Method:
You need one large (quart or half-gallon), wide-mouth glass jars and some plastic mesh and lids. You can also get special sprouting lids from just about any natural food store. Note: For sprouting teff and amaranth you will need an extremely fine mesh. I used squares cut from a tea towel and a jar ring.
This method is pretty simple:
  1. Put the grain/seed in the jar and cover with soaking water. Note: Teff and amaranth will need to stirred or shaken after the water is added because the water tends to "float" on top of these tiny grains.
  2. When the soaking time is over, drain water from the grains/seeds and rinse a second time.
  3. Prop the jars, upside down, at a 45 degree angle in a place where they can drain (I put them in bowls) out of direct sunlight.
  4. Rinse the grains/seeds at least 2 times, but preferably 3 times per day, allowing to drain upside down in between rinses, until you see little sprout "tails" start to form.
  5. When the sprouts are the desired length (this depends entirely on your taste but I let mine go about 24 hours after the sprouts first appear)
  6. Process sprouts according to desired method.
Cloth and Tray Method:
For this you will need a water spray bottle, flat, low sided trays, like half-sheet cookie sheets and clean cotton tea towels or pieces of cotton muslin cut to the appropriate size. I use the trays of my food dehydrator and pieces of muslin. I found that the stacking of the dehydrator trays helps retain the moisture during the process.
  1. Soak grains/seeds for appropriate time(s).
  2. Drain grains/seeds and rinse a second time. Note: An easy way to drain the soaked grains is to line a colander with tea towels or cotton muslin you will use and pour the grains into the cloth. Rinse and squeeze excess moisture from cloth.
  3. Spread cloth with grains inside over cookie sheet or dehydrator tray. Spread grains evenly over the surface of the cloth.
  4. Dampen a second cloth and place on top of grains.
  5. Store out of direct sunlight and keep grains moist using the water spray bottle until sprouts are the desired size. You do not want them to be wet, but moist. I found that just spraying the top cloth with the water bottle several times per day kept them properly moist.
  6. Process according to desired method.
Using Your Sprouts
Now that you have coaxed the little grains or seeds to sprout, you get to eat them! You can steam them or eat them raw in salads. If you want to use them in baking, you can either dry them in the oven and grind the dried sprouts into flour (I have never done it this way) or just throw the fresh sprouts into the food processor and grind them into a kind of paste, which is how I make my Vegan Sprouted Bread. Then you can sprout extra and store the excess sprout paste in the freezer for future use!

Soaking Times
  • Amaranth - 2 to 4 hours
  • Buckwheat - 15 to 20 minutes - if you soak it longer than 20 minutes, it will kill the grain
  • Corn - 12 to 14 hours - I have never sprouted corn but give it a try, you might like it!
  • Millet - 8 to 14 hours
  • Oats - 8 to 14 hours - only use certified gluten-free raw oat groats
  • Quinoa - 2 to 4 hours
  • Rice - 12 to 18 hours
  • Teff - 2 to 4 hours