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A Recipe by Beth Hillson
Yield: 24 bars

This is my latest go-to dessert.  I take it to pot luck dinners, bake sales, you name it!  It’s easy, delicious and amazingly versatile.  Use whatever fruit is in season.  Vary the sweetness of this recipe by adding more or less sugar depending on your tastebuds and the natural sweetness of the fruit.  The bars freeze well.

I made these using RYZE Blue Flour Blend.  Instead of measuring out a bunch of flours, I use one ingredient.  However, you could certainly make this with any A/P flour blend.  Make sure it contains xanthan gum or add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum to the recipe.

For the Dough
3 cups RYZE Blue Flour Blend or an A/P Gluten-Free Flour Blend that contains xanthan gum
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling
4 cups (2 pints) fresh blueberries of 5 cups peeled, sliced peaches or apples (about 6-7)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup RYZE Blue Flour Blend or an A/P Gluten-Free Flour Blend that contains xanthan gum
½ to ¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and coat with vegetable spray.

Make the Dough: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the knife blade, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse several times to combine.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal (about 10 pulses).  Add the egg and pulse briefly.  Empty contents into a large bowl. With a fork, mix the dough until egg is distributed evenly.  Dough will be crumbly.  Or combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter, and then the egg.

Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan. Place the pan and the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator to stay cold while preparing the filling.

Make the Filling: Place the washed and drained blueberries in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice and vanilla. Mix gently. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the fruit and toss gently with a wooden spoon.

Spread the fruit mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the blueberries.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Pear Coffee Cake

As a baker, I am reluctant to let go of certain sacrosacnt ingredients.  Eggs is one of those precious commodities.  Then a colleague who is gluten and egg-free asked me if I could convert a coffee cake recipe so she could enjoy, too.  I recalled that, back in the days when I owned the Gluten-Free Pantry, I had made many recipes where I replaced eggs with silken tofu,  flax gel (1 tablespoon flax meal with 3 tablespoons of hot water) or even with applesauce.  I dug out my favorite coffee cake recipe, already gluten-free, and went to work. The results were delicious.

This stunning coffee cake uses soy (or coconut) yogurt and pear puree.  The yogurt adds back some of the protein from the eggs and the pear puree, like applesauce, contains pectin which tenderizes the cake.  I added a little bit more baking powder to help it rise, usually another job done by the eggs.   

This is comfort food at its best and begs for a cup of coffee or tea.  I also like to make this with apples and applesauce.

1 cup sugar
1 ½  cups All-purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend
½ cup sorghum flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum*
½ teaspoon salt*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups soy or coconut yogurt (flavored yogurt works well)
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons pureed baby pear puree or unsweetened applesauce
½ cup peeled and chopped ripe Bartlett, Bosc or red pears, or diced canned pears
Crumble Topping (below)

Preheat the oven to 325°F and lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan.

Combine the sugar, flour blend, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.

Combine the yogurt, vegetable oil, and pear puree in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth.  Fold in chopped fruit.

Spoon half the batter over the bottom of the prepared pan and smooth to the edges of the pan.  Cover with half of the crumb mixture. Spoon the remaining batter over the crumb topping and smooth to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining topping over the top.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean and center springs back when gently touched.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Remove the rim of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Serve.

*If your all-purpose blend contains salt and gum, omit the salt and reduce the gum to ½ teaspoon.

Crumble Topping
½ cup rice flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or non-dairy buttery spread, at room temperature

Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the butter and use fingertips or a fork to mix just until crumbly.

This can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

No one has ever mistaken me for a shrinking violet.  I’m not subdued and I’ve never been one to turn my back on a challenge.  You get the picture.

So when a friend who was recently diagnosed with celiac disease asked me if I had done a spritz cookie makeover, I said, “yes.”  Truthfully, I hadn’t made spritz cookies in years.  I wasn’t even sure I could find my cookie press, the one I inherited from my grandmother a while back.  What was I thinking?

But my friend, who I will call Debbie, is still in the pity phase of the gluten-free diet, a place I rarely go.  I don’t recall feeling badly even when I was diagnosed with celiac disease more than thirty years ago.  Frankly, I didn’t know another soul with this disease back then.  So who would have listened, if I did complain?

But Debbie was diagnosed this year.  “I miss pizza.  I can’t find a beer I like.  “And I wish I could bake up a batch of the spritz cookies my family makes for the holidays,” she said.

After thirty-something years of living and baking gluten-free, I have a hard time accepting her glass-nearly-empty outlook.   “Look what you can have,” I countered.  This is when the stubborn in me goes from simmer to full boil.  There is no need to miss out.  Today, we have so many choices.  And after writing my cookbook, Gluten-Free Makeovers, I am convinced that everything can be made over.

So, when Debbie asked if I had a gluten-free spritz cookie recipe, I didn’t tell her I had no idea what I had done with the recipe or if I ever had one.  Nor did I mention that my cookie press had disappeared.  I was out to prove a point – – we can eat everything, just gluten free.  So what if I had no idea what I was doing?  I’d figure it out.  After all, isn’t that part of a no-shrinking-violet philosophy? I went to the basement where I store all the gadgets I rarely use.  I rummaged in storage closets where they are well wrapped and piled in a heap.  Under the back-up coffee maker, the spice grinder, the antique food mill, I found the gold metallic cylinder of a cookie press.  I dug deeper and found the levered top.  Two piles over, were the discs and finally, in with an old food processor, was the ring that holds the discs in place.  I was ready to try my hand at making press cookies.

I did not realize there was more of a challenge ahead.  On the surface, spritz cookies look pretty simple – – flour, butter, eggs and sugar. I could replace the flour and create my own cookie press cookies, I reasoned.  And, at first, that’s exactly what I did.  Little did I realize that these delicate cookies hold their shapes because of the wheat and gluten.  Every shape I pushed through the metal cylinder produced the same non-descript blob of dough.  I was ready to throw in the kitchen towel, give up the whisk, put my grandma’s cookie press in the tag sale box.

A one-for-one conversion was not doing the trick.  How was I going to create a dough that would hold its shape when pressed through the cookie press but still tasted delicate with a pleasant crumb?  Little by little I increased the flour, adjusted the xanthan gum.  And soon I had reached the exact balance, the ratio of butter to flour that produced the right amount of texture but preserved the delicate crumb.  So dust off your cookie press and enjoy!

Spritz Cookies
Makes 60 cookies
These rich, buttery treats are fun to make and decorate.

1 cup white rice flour + 2 tablespoons
¾ cup sorghum flour
½ cup cornstarch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 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 until light yellow.  Add the sugar and beat about 3 minutes or until fluffy.  Add the egg yolks and extracts and beat to combine.  Add the
flour ingredients, a little at a time, beating briefly after each addition.  Chill 30 minutes.  Scoop into a cookie press and press out cookies, one at a time.  If they do not release from the tube, loosen with a dull kitchen knife.  Set 1 ½ inches apart.

Decorate with sprinkles or colored sugar and chill on trays for at least 10 and up to 30 minutes so that cookies hold their shape.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes.  Cool completely before storing.

TIP:  Add food color to the dough and beat or divide dough and color each portion with a different color.
For best luck, use cookie press forms with the widest openings and avoid those with small holes in the designs.