Christmas Baking, Take 2 (this is a long one, grab your coffee)

As you now know, Up North means good food. We can’t help ourselves. Most of our time is spent in the kitchen. (allowing time to hot tub of course) This past weekend was no exception. This time I even had a plan.

My first attempt at Christmas cookies was not so successful. I tried making Spritz cookies without a cookie press, the dough was too wet to deal with. No worries though, Elizabeth Barbone’s newsletter just arrived featuring a recipe for Spritz Cookies. (check back soon, it’s on the agenda for tomorrow) So, for this trip, I stuffed our bags full of baking ingredients. I was on a mission. Last year was my first GF Christmas, and I didn’t do any baking really. Luckily, I was taken care of from Mark’s mom, but I wanted to do more myself this year.

It can be intimidating. Who has heard of sorghum flour? Xanthan gum? Flour blends? It’s all part of the gluten free baking process. I paged through my GF baking books and decided on Easy Gluten Free Baking by Elizabeth Barbone, Jules Gluten Free Flour eCookbook, and my fave lemon bread recipe from Mark’s mom.

Before starting on holiday goodies, I wanted to see if I could pull off homemade gf bread. Just white bread. The recipe even has EASY in the title, how could I go wrong?

Easy Sandwich Bread from Elizabeth Barbone’s Easy Gluten-Free Baking

Wet Ingredients

1 ¾ cups warm water

1 packet active dry yeast

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large eggs

Dry Ingredients

2 ½ cups brown rice flour

2/3 cup cornstarch

2/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk

1 tablespoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

1. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray

2. In a small bowl, combine water and yeast.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add yeast mixture, oil, and eggs. Using an electric mixer, mix dough for 5 minutes on medium-high speed. (If using a stand mixer, use the flat paddle attachment) Your dough should be soft, thick and sticky. The dough will not form a cohesive ball. If you are using a hand mixer the dough will try to climb the beaters; use a rubber spatula to push the dough back into the bowl. If the dough seems tight or dry, add another tablespoon of water and mix for 30 seconds to fully incorporate the additional water. At the right consistency, the dough should swirl delicately around the beaters. It shouldn’t look dry, chunky, or dense; it should not be cake-batter thin, either. If the dough still looks dry, add another tablespoon of water to achieve the correct consistency. ** I had NO issues with this, just made the recipe as stated**

4. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover the loaf lightly with plastic wrap. (If you cover the loaf tightly, the dough will have trouble rising.) Allow dough to rise for 1 hour.

5. At least 15 minutes before bread has finished rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6. Remove plastic wrap and bake for 55 minutes or until internal temp reaches 208-211 degrees. If the crust begins to get too dark before teh internal temp of the bread reaches 208, cover the loaf with a piece of foil.

7. Remove bread from oven and turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature for 2-3 days, or slice and freeze.

Makes one 9×5 inch loaf.

It worked!!!

It came out smelling wonderful. Fresh bread. I had to have some before it was even cool enough to really cut. Perfectly cut pieces did not cross my mind. But grabbing the honey did….

We used the fresh bread later in the evening for skirt steak and cheese sandwiches. And then again Sunday morning for sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches. Homemade bread. Homemade venison/pork sausage.

Ok, back to the baking.

After the regular white bread was a success, I was feeling confident. I got brave and tried out the famous family lemon bread recipe. I just substituted Jules Gluten Free Flour for the flour in the recipe. Another success!

I waited a little longer the cut this one. But only because it was too soft to cut, if the knife had gotten through, I wouldn’t have waited.  I took my first bite and was silent. Lemon bread. Oh how I missed you. I won’t have to go without you on Christmas ever again.

I was tempted to make another loaf using a Jules/sorghum flour mix (after eating some myself and sharing with the recipe owner, she gave it approval!!) but decided to hold off. At least until next week.

I was putting off making the cut outs, from the Jules Gluten Free Flour eCookbook, because cut outs have been one of my favorites for a very long time. I wanted them to be just like they were. A little crispy on the edges, but somewhat soft in the middle. Frosted up. Perfect for any holiday. My expectations were set high.

The dough was harder to work with than I planned. It took forever to get them all cut out, but I did it. They turned out pretty well. I need to make them again and experiment with them more. My co-workers tested them out, good reviews from the “normal” people.

Instead of making a buttercream frosting, or being lazy and grabbing a tub of frosting from the store, I decided to go with more of a glaze this time. Just powdered sugar and warm water. Add a little food coloring and some sprinkles, and you’re all set.

Why stop now? On to pumpkin bread. Another delish recipe from Elizabeth’s book. This one was titled Rosie’s Perfect Pumpkin Bread. Just go buy the cookbook. She’s great. It’s worth it. I’m on a mission to make as many recipes from that book as possible. This bread is my favorite adventure of the weekend. Thank you Elizabeth.

And no holiday baking weekend would be complete without dipped pretzels. I used the sticks this year. Glutino. These are the best gf pretzels. Just trust me. My non-gf friends are fans. You will be too. They were dipped in Nestle Premier White Morsels. Melted in the microwave, dipped one by one. Sprinkled. Big fun!


And in case they aren’t all crowd pleasers, I got a few back-up’s today at Molly’s Gluten Free Bakery. (unless I eat them all tonight) I got a tour, pics, met the nicest people. Made my day. Made my Christmas! Look for a post in the near future all about my visit.



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