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Recipe from Beth Hillson
Serves 16Fourth of July Cake

Here’s a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July.  Layers are colored red and blue with the help of Jell-O. Fresh strawberries and blueberries are a no-fuss decoration and whipped cream makes the cake look luscious. The cake can be stored, well wrapped, for 3 days in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.

Make this easy, decorative dessert for any celebration by varying the Jell-O flavors and colors to match the holiday.  This works with natural gelatin products, too.  If you can’t find the color you want, use unflavored gelatin and color with natural food dye. Add a few drops of a flavor extract of your choice, if desired.

1 recipe (2 layers) baked Perfect Layer Cake (below)
2 cups boiling water, divided
1 (3-ounce) package Jell-O raspberry or strawberry gelatin
1 (3-ounce) package Jell-O berry blue gelatin
1 (8-ounce) container very cold heavy cream, coconut cream or prepared whipped topping, divided
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

Prepare Perfect Layer Cake.  Cool the 2 baked layers in their pans. Pierce each cake with a fork at ½-inch intervals.

Using 2 medium bowls, add 1 cup boiling water to each Jell-O flavor. Stir well to dissolve. Pour raspberry-flavored Jell-O over 1 cake layer and berry blue over other cake layer. Refrigerate several hours until firm.

Make whipped cream by beating heavy cream on medium speed, then high speed until thick. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat until mixture is very thick. Refrigerate until ready to use. (If using prepared dairy-free whipped topping, skip this step.)

To unmold cake layers, place each pan in a sink with hot water touching just the bottom of the pan for 15 to 30 seconds. Unmold one layer by inverting it onto a cake plate. Spread 1 cup whipped cream on top. Unmold other layer and place on top of whipped cream.

Frost top of cake with more whipped cream. If desired, use extra whipped cream to frost sides of the cake. Decorate with berries. Refrigerate about 1 hour before serving.

Perfect Gluten-Free Layer Cake
Makes 2, 9-inch layers

This makes a great layer cake that can be decorated any way you wish.  For other cakes, you’ll want to dust the layer cake pans with white rice flour. For the Fourth of July Cake, do not dust the pans.

2½ cups Cake & Pastry Flour Blend (follows)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1¼ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup milk of choice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans that are 2 inches deep.  Do not dust with flour if making Fourth of July Cake.

Combine flour blend, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until well blended. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed 2 minutes or until batter is smooth. Mix in dry ingredients. Add milk and beat until smooth.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops. Place in preheated oven and bake 23 to 25 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in the pans. Follow directions above to make Fourth of July Cake or let cool 10 minutes in pans and turn layers out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Baker’s Tip:  Use this recipe to make 24 cupcakes.  To make cupcakes, spoon batter evenly into cups, filling about 2/3 full, and bake in preheated oven 15 to 18 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pans before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Frost when cool.

Cake & Pastry Flour Blend

MAKES 2½ CUPS

1 cup white rice flour
¾ cup sorghum flour
¾ cup cornstarch, tapioca starch/flour or potato starch (not potato flour)

Whisk ingredients together. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.

 

I am grateful for good, gluten-free pizza and this one tops my list.  It’s chewy, thanks to the addition of millet flour, and flavorful, thanks to the use of high protein flours.  You can use any blend that contains one or more of these flours.   (Chickpea, teff, and sorghum are all good.)  Of course, you have to make this yourself, but it’s not difficult and these pizzas (par-baked or fully baked) can be frozen.

Using a pizza stone enhances the texture and fills the crust with a slightly smoky flavor.  It’s yumminess to the 10th power.   But, if you don’t have a stone, don’t fret.  Use a heavy baking sheet or pizza pan and set it on the lowest rack in the oven.

The recipe is versatile, too.  Use the dough to make pizza, pizza pockets, and focaccia.  No need to let the dough rise.  It will puff up nicely in the oven.  However, if you like a thicker crust, let it rise for 10 minutes before adding toppings and bake an addition 3 to 4 minutes.   I’ve suggested some of my favorite toppings.  However, feel free to use whatever suits your fancy.

The Dough
Makes 2, 12-inch pizzas

2 ½ cups high protein blend of choice or my recipe, below
½ cup millet flour
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped dry or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
5 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Place the pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  (Do this 30 to 60 minutes ahead so the stone is very hot.)  If you are not using a stone, it is not necessary to preheat the oven for an extended amount of time.

In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the
high protein blend, millet flour, xanthan gum, salt, and rosemary.  Blend well.  Add the yeast and blend.  Combine water, oil, honey, and vinegar.  Beat at medium high speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until the dough thickens.  Follow preparation instructions below.

Gourmet Toppings For One Pizza
Makes 1, 12-inch pizza

1 to 2 teaspoons good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons good quality pizza sauce (such as Muir Glen)
4 medium tomatoes (red, yellow and orange) thickly sliced
A handful of small, pitted cured black olives such as Nicoise
¼ cup cubed Manchego or other cheese (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh rosemary for garnish

Preparation

Scoop half the dough onto a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper.  Cover with a sheet of lightly oiled plastic wrap.  Use finger tips and palm to lightly press the dough into a 12-inch circle.  Use finger tips to create a rim of dough around the edge that will become a pretty crust.  Drizzle olive oil of the surface and top with a light coating of pizza sauce.  Scatter tomato slices, olives and cheese over the sauce.  Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan.

Slide onto pizza paddle and transfer to the preheated stone, sliding the parchment off the paddle and onto the stone or slide parchment onto a baking sheet and set in the lowest rack of the preheated oven.  Bake 20 to 24 minutes depending on the thickness.  The bottom of the pizza will be brown.  Slide the pizza paddle under the parchment and slide the pizza out of the oven.  Don’t worry if the paper tears a little.  Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and serve.

Note:  Double ingredients and repeat with remaining dough or prepare the crust and par-bake for 12 minutes (without toppings).  Store the crust in the freezer for a later use.  Thaw before adding toppings.

High Protein Blend  (from Gluten-Free Makeovers)
Blend well and scoop out 2 ½ cups for the pizza recipe above.  Reserve the rest for later use.

1¼ cups white or brown rice flour
1¼ cups sweet white sorghum flour
½ cup amaranth flour
¾ cup cornstarch or tapioca starch

My friend Pat sent me her recipe for Fruit Rocks.  It called for all-purpose flour.  That was the easy part.  It also called for a supermarket’s worth of candied fruit, chopped pecans and dates.  The amount seemed like a lot for the quantity of flour.A Miniature Fruitcake Only Better

To my delight, I met Pat and her husband at a cooking class I did in Atlanta in March.  She brought me some of her fruit rock cookies made gluten free.  They were yummy, but very dense.  Chockfull of fruit and nuts, they reminded me of fruitcake.  But they were crumbly, too.  My baker’s instinct told me, indeed, there was too much fruit.

Upon researching this old fashion cookie, I discovered a number of variations.  Some were listed as Russian Rock Cookies.  Others were called Christmas Rock Cookies.  One called for cocoa, another for lemon juice, a third for raisins.

I kept many parts of Pat’s recipe – – the candied cherries, chopped dates, and pecans.  I added cocoa but did not add raisins. Then I created a flour blend – – an enhanced version of my cake and pastry flour from Gluten-Free Makeovers and increased the fat a bit, but not as much as one of the other recipes would have added.  It seemed like the cookies should be delicate, but sturdy enough to keep the chopped fruit suspended.

The results were delicious. These are like “loaded” miniature fruitcakes only better.  The flavor and texture will keep you coming back for more.

One batch makes enough for all your holiday gifts.

Fruit Rock Cookies (makes about 96 cookies)

1 cup white rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup cornstarch (or tapioca starch)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
¾ pound (12 ounces) chopped pecans
1, 4-ounce container red candied cherries, chopped
1, 4-ounce container green candied cherries, chopped
½  pound candied peel and fruit mix
½  pound chopped dates
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative, at room temperature
6 tablespoons Earth Balance organic shortening, at room temperature
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Blend flours, cornstarch, xanthan gum, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and spices.  Whisk until cocoa is evenly dispersed.  Remove ½ cup of flour mixture.

Combine chopped pecans, cherries, peel and fruit mix, and dates.  Toss with reserved ½ cup of flour blend.  Set aside.

Cream sugar with butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until fluffy.  Add the remaining flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Add water and stir until mixture is smooth.

Fold fruit mixture into batter, mixing thoroughly.  Drop by teaspoon onto prepared baking sheet, about one inch apart. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Do not over-brown.

Store cookies in jars for up to a week or freeze for later use.

“I have a friend who is new to the gluten free diet.  She wanted to do these Candy Cane Cookies for her family at Christmas.  Needless to say, these traditional favorites are not the same when you make them gluten free.  If you can help my friend, Charlotte, I would appreciate it.  Thank you,” writes Marie from Maryland.

Marie sent me the original recipe from a Gold Medal Flour cookbook.  Initially I thought the gluten-free version of the cookies would not be sturdy enough to maintain its shape without crumbling.  Isn’t that always the challenge when making gluten-free baked goods?  Then I remembered a recipe I made over last year for Spritz cookies.  I remembered the challenge was finding a blend and a balance of ingredients that created structure but still tasted delicious and was not crumbly.  The problem is that Cut Out cookies, Spritz cookies and Candy Cane cookies spread and lose their shape if you make them following a one-to-one substitution.  I needed a special blend, a delicate balance.

So what I did it.  I added a little more flour blend than the original recipe calls for (about 2 tablespoons more) just as I had for the Spritz cookies.  And I added ¼ cup additional confectioners’ sugar.  It not only adds more sweetness but also, the added cornstarch helps add structure.

The result was these light, rich, cookies that are both sturdy and delicate.  They are fun to make so invite extras into the kitchen to help form the canes.    Enjoy!

Candy Cane Cookies
Makes 40 to 48 cookies

1 cup white rice flour
¾ cup sorghum flour
½ cup cornstarch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (or dairy-free substitute)
½ cup (1 stick) Earth Balance or other organic shortening
1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon red food coloring*
½ cup crushed candy cane candy
½ cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 3 to 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine rice flour, sorghum flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk to combine. Sift and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, shortening, confectioners’ sugar, and egg until fluffy.  Add flavorings and beat briefly to combine.  Add the flour mixture and beat briefly to combine.  Divide dough in half.  Blend food coloring into one half.

Roll a 4-inch strip (using 1 teaspoon of dough) from each color.  Roll the strips back and forth to smooth the surface then place strips side by side and press together lightly.  Twist like a rope by rolling together or twisting like a rope.  Experiment to see which method works best for you.  Just be careful not to blend the two strands or the candy cane cookies will look more marbled than twisted.

Place on prepared cookie sheets.  Curve the top down to form the handle of the cane.  Bake 9 minutes, until lightly browned.  While still warm, sprinkle with candy-sugar mixture.   Cool completely before storing.

*Natural food coloring is available through IndiaTree.com

TIP:  Instead of crushed peppermint candy and granulated sugar, dust with red or green sanding sugar when the cookies come out of the oven.

Christine from New Zealand wrote to say, “I haven’t had a Crumpet for years and wondered if you had a recipe for gluten free crumpets?”

She piqued my interest as I had never had one.  So I did a bit of research.  Crumpets are made with a rather thin yeast batter and are cooked on a bake stone or griddle in crumpet or English muffin rings.  The distinguishing feature of real crumpets is their pliable texture and the characteristic holes into which butter deliciously melts and oozes.

After reading a mainstream formula, I developed this recipe makeover.  These crumpets are soft,  light in texture and quite tasty.  You will not be disappointed.  Add your favorite jam or slather with butter.  I like both.  If you are not able to get one of the all-purpose flour blends I mentioned here, you can use any flour blend you have available.

Crumpets  by Beth Hillson 
This recipe makes 8 to 10 crumpets.

1 ½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend such as Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour or King Arthur Multi-Purpose Flour
½ cup sorghum flour
2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast
1 teaspoon of sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup warm milk  (about 110 degrees)
½ cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon melted butter

TIP:  If using a blend that does not contain gum and salt, add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum and ½ teaspoon salt.

1) Combine flours, yeast, sugar, cream of tartar and blend.  Add warm milk and water and beat for 3 minutes.   Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for about 20 minutes. The thick batter should double in size.

2) Add baking powder, baking soda and butter and beat for 1 minute or until well mixed.  Cover and let stand 10 minutes.

3) Preheat a griddle to 350 degrees.  Coat 8 to 10, 3 ½ inch English muffin rings well with vegetable spray.   Set on griddle, bake stone or large skillet (see note below).

4) Place enough mixture into the center of each ring to come halfway to the top of the ring.  Cook for 4-6 minutes over medium heat, until bubbles appear over the entire surface, and the dough appears ‘dry’.

5) Use tongs to remove the ring.  Turn the crumpet over and cook an additional 2 to 4 minutes to brown the top. Remove from the pan and cool on a baking rack. Split and enjoy.  Or, if thin enough, do not split before eating.

Notes:  Alternatively, make thinner crumpets by filling only one-third of the way up the rings.  These do not need to be cooked on the second side.  If you don’t have a griddle, heat a heavy cast iron skillet and line it with as many rings as possible.  You’ll need to make these in more than one batch.