Tag Archives: City Arts Centre

Gluten-Free Baking Class? Yes Please! Part 2

Hello, it’s Ally again.

Thank you for all the positive comments on my first posting about the gluten-free baking class that Kelley and I attended at the City Arts Centre last month.

If you remember the last post featured light and fluffy celiac-friendly scones and this post goes to the opposite end of the spectrum and features crisp thin homemade gluten-free crackers!

So, let’s get right to it!

First off, even though you make your own flour, this is probably the simplest recipe I have ever made!

Making the nut flour is possible in a “drinks” blender, if it is built for it.  My blender  is made for crushing ice for slushy drinks and it worked, but for best results use a food processor.  In fact, your standard run-of-the-blender would likely not be powerful enough.

Our instructor, Jody Shenkarek, got this great cracker recipe from the Green Kitchen Stories blog:

Gluten-Free Nut Crackers

2 cups nuts and/or seeds (Kelley, Jean & I chose mostly sunflower seeds with sesame, pumpkin, cashew and almonds)
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sea salt

Toppings: salt, herbs, garlic … whatever you like. We left them plain, but the recipe advises brushing them with Braggs liquid aminos and sprinkling sesame seeds on top.

  • Preheat oven to 360 °F (not 350°F) and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Mix nuts/seeds into a flour in a blender or food processor.
  • Put in a bowl and add egg, water and salt. Stir until a stiff dough is formed.
  • Divide in two and place half on each of the two baking sheets covered in parchment.
  • Roll out into rectangles about 2 to 3 mm thick. If dough is sticky (you bet it is!) put another sheet of parchment on top to keep the rolling pin from sticking.
  • Cut into sticks or squares mist with a little water and sprinkle on toppings.
  • Bake for roughly 10 minutes – you must watch them as they burn easily.
  • Store in jars. Make sure they are perfectly airtight as these have no preservatives and you want them to stay crisp.

These turned out so great in class, in fact out of the two cracker recipes we tried this was by far the best one.  In case you are watching your salt intake you can leave it out; Jean and I thought the added salt was quite unnecessary for our taste, while Kelley thought it was just right.

Since the crackers turned out so great and the recipe left me some latitude to to try different nut and seed combos, I couldn’t wait to experiment with different nut mixes at home.  I finally got around to it towards the end of February which was a very busy day for me.  In hindsight, I would have had much better results if I hadn’t felt rushed….

Here are the proportions of nut and seed mixes that I tried out:

Pecan: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup sliced Almonds, 1 ½ Cups Pecans!

Pistachio: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup Sunflower seeds, 1 Cup Pistachio’s, ¼ Cup Sesame

Pumpkin: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup Sunflower seeds, ¼ Cup Sesame, 1 Cup Pumpkin.

Cashew: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup Sunflower seeds, ¼ Cup sliced Almonds, 1 Cup Cashews

I love to experiment when I’m cooking and rarely stick to the recipe when making a meal, because I like more spices than most recipes call for.  Baking on the other hand is not quite as flexible, but I was fairly certain that I could safely experiment with this recipe.

So for half of the pecan mix I added about an 1/8 cup of defrosted frozen blueberries, and with half of the Pumpkin mix I added 1 tablespoon of fennel candies, which I love.

As I mentioned, I was quite rushed and tried to do too much in too little time (2 ½  hours), so I did not pay enough attention to the thicknesses when I was rolling out the cracker dough.  In addition, I only own two cookie sheets so I was pre- rolling the nut mixtures on parchment, while the first batch was in the oven, and finally, I do not own a rolling pin so I was rolling out with a juice glass.

Sigh.

As you can imagine it was a bit crazy.

To achieve better results each batch should have been split between two baking sheets rather than trying to crowd it all onto one.  Adding the berries and candied fennel certainly made for yummy flavour combos but those turned out to be more biscuit-like than the crispy cracker I was after, and they had to be refrigerated which kept them moist. Although tasty, very “uncracker-like”.

I wanted snack crackers that could be eaten without toppings so I deleted the salt. My personal favourite is the Pumpkin with Candied Fennel, next is Pecan, because they are my favourite nut and I cannot get enough of them. The Cashew was most popular with friends – even those who generally don’t favour cashews. I think it is because they were the most “cracker-like” in flavour, were the best thickness, or rather THIN-ness, and worked with toppings or with dips. I did love the taste of the pistachio sticks but they were much too thick, though I could call them mini-biscotti, and pretend that was on purpose.

I highly encourage you to try out this recipe as it is very simple and quick for a single batch, then you could comment back to Kelley about your successes, experiments and tasty mistakes!

Click to print recipe

Gluten-Free Baking Class? Yes Please!

Hi Everyone, Ally here, I am excited make a guest appearance on Kelley’s fantastic food blog!

As you know from Kelley’s recent post she and EPC have had a very busy month or so thanks to Coco, the new adorable addition to their family. In the midst of her hectic month Kelley did make time to attend a Gluten-Free Baking Class, with me, at the City Arts Centre. It was her idea, because she loves baking, and I am the lucky Celiac friend who often benefits from her passion for new foods.

There were 11 of us in the class, all ladies, about a 50/50 split between “there for their own health or interest” and “there for their husband’s gluten intolerance.”

“Where are all the husbands?” Kelley wondered aloud.

After brief introductions and a short overview by our instructor, Jody Shenkarek (former co-owner of the fabulous Cafe Mosaics), we split up into groups of 2 or 3 and headed into the large kitchen to test our baking skills. Each group had chosen two of the recipes in the handout provided so that by the end of the evening we would be able to sample a bit of everything.

Kelley and I were joined by a lovely older lady named Jean and the three of us set to work mixing up a batch of  Basic Gluten Free Flour Mix.  We made a double batch to provide the basic ingredients for most of the groups. Rather than sifting we mixed the Basic Flour ingredients with a whisk which certainly did the trick.
Our group’s first recipe was for Basic Scones, which was very exciting! Both Kelley and I  love scones!

Baking by committee in a crowded kitchen had its challenges but we managed to gather all the ingredients measure them properly and keep track. In the recipe it says to flour a surface and your hands when splitting the dough into two batches. Well, the GF flour mix doesn’t behave like regular wheat flour so Jody, our instructor, took over – simply plopping the halved dough right onto the parchment and using slightly floured hands to shape it. It provided a good “teachable moment” for her.

Our scones turned out perfect and all three of us were quite pleased.

I have since made these scones at home adding an eighth of a cup (1/8 C) defrosted frozen blueberries to one half, and sprinkling chopped pistachios and mission figs on top of the second half. They turned out delicious! However the berries added a lot of moisture so the scones needed an extra
3 to 5 minutes to fully cook and brown nicely. Personally I think you should experiment with the options – I used to love Berry and White Chocolate, or Cheese and Spinach scones – from Good Earth Café in Calgary. The Basic Scone recipe is straightforward and easy to experiment with, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Once our scones were in line for the oven, we set to work on the Nut Crackers. I will continue with this recipe in Part 2 of Gluten-Free Baking Class!

Stay tuned.

Basic Gluten Free Flour Mix (makes 6 cups of basic mix)

4 Cups Superfine Brown Rice Flour
1 & 1/3 Cups Potato Starch (NOT potato flour)
2/3 Cup Tapioca flour (which is a.k.a. tapioca starch)

  • Sift in bowl or put into an extra-large Ziplock bag and shake to mix – keep remainder refrigerated!

Caution: when measuring, pour into measuring cup rather than scooping it – Then level off the top with a knife.
This will avoid packing it too densely and mixing  up the proportions.

Basic Scones (makes 1 dozen)

3/4 cup of plain yogurt (I used plain dessert tofu with no problems!)
3/4 cup milk (substitute rice or soy milk to make them dairy-free)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cups Basic Gluten Free Flour mix (see above)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoon baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (NOT wax paper)
  • In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon & milk – set aside
  • In a large bowl whisk together all other (dry) ingredients.
  • Once it is well mixed add the wet ingredients and the oil, using a wooden spoon until it is well combined but still clumpy.
  • Divide the dough in half and plop onto cookie sheet – flour your hands and the top of the dough shape into two (6 inch diameter) discs (add optional ingredients to the top at this point if not added already)
  • Cut each disc into 6 “pie” slices and then bake in the centre of the oven for 15 to 17 minutes – transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm.

Optional ingredients: berries – 1 cup, chocolate chips ¾ cup

Recipes adapted from The Allergen Free Bakers Handbook by Cybele Pascal.

Click to print