A gluten-free baking book touting itself as “simple” incurs a degree of skepticism. Traditional baking seems finicky enough. Gluten-free? Downright daunting.
Seattle-based food author and photographer Aran Goyoaga, known for her blog “Cannelle et Vanille,” has flouted the norms and gifted us with a book of simple gluten-free treats — including bread. “Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple: A New Way to Bake Gluten Free” isn’t quick and easy but rather, not overly complicated — yes, even the bagels and baguettes.
Anyone who’s watched “The Great British Bake Off” knows that baking is an art, often a failure — even when you’re good at it — and a horrible idea in a sweltering tent. Paul Hollywood’s stare accompanied me on these recipes, followed by imagined critique and eventually (spoiler alert), a handshake.
Goyoaga is a bit of a rock star at flavor, something that any “Bake Off” watcher will tell you receives top marks from Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. Pies, cakes, cookies and breads all embrace their gluten-free flours and build on them with complimentary fruits, herbs and spices. Plum and toasted miso are partnered with almond and light buckwheat flour in an upside-down cake and quince with chamomile in crumbly oat bars.
About a quarter of the recipes are bread, the quickest of which is Goyoaga’s fig and caramelized onion soda bread made with oat and buckwheat flour. I ended up making this four times. Twice with her vegan recommendations (we have an egg allergy in the family), once with my own adaptation attempts and once by her original method. The egg substitutions weren’t a good fit here. With the hearty quality of the oat and buckwheat flour, extra lift was wanted. Her original method yielded a rustic sort of soda loaf that reminded me of rye or seeded bread — dense in the best of ways and satiating.
Keeping with the egg-free theme, I baked up a batch of Goyoaga’s peanut butter-banana cookies. Now, these were simple and quick. Easy to whip up and quick to bake, my only hangup was that I forgot to consider the salt in my peanut butter. I remade the recipe, pulling the salt, and all was well.
Lastly, I tackled a beautiful glazed lemon, yogurt and olive oil pound cake. This was not too sweet (Prue would have been proud), nice and tart, superbly moist and, again, was best made including the eggs. If I were to make the eggless version again, I’d switch to mini-loaf tins and reduce the cook time.
Tweaking to make something gluten free is a skill I’ve honed. Switching something to eggless is another story. It may sound antithetical, but using “Bakes Simple” as the base to make an already gluten-free recipe also eggless is a testament to the quality of Goyoaga’s recipes.
Given baking science and leavening agent differentials, swapping principal ingredients out in a baked good is usually a recipe for disaster. “Bakes Simple” lived up to its name, starting me with a sound and basic structure and giving me opportunities to make each item my own — even the soda bread. To me, this is the mark of a well-considered cookbook. This is also the mark of a talented chef and delicious multi-bake-worthy recipes.
Paul Hollywood handshakes all-round.
Who should get this? Frustrated bakers working to make healthier gluten-free bakes. Anyone who’s had to cut gluten out and misses dessert, bread and all the tasty carbs.
Fig and caramelized onion soda bread
Goyoaga instructs not to overmix the dough in order to get that rough exterior texture. “Do not let the dough sit on the counter for long” she says, “make sure your oven is preheated so you can bake the bread as soon as it comes together.” I would also add: Make sure your oven temp is correct by using an oven thermometer. Bob’s Red Mill or Arrowhead Mills make a darker buckwheat that Goyoaga says works, but will impart a more intense buckwheat flavor.
3 ounces dried figs (about 8) or currants (no soaking required)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon whole caraway seeds (optional)
1½ cups light buckwheat flour or sorghum flour
1 cup gluten-free oat flour, plus more for dusting
½ cup potato starch
½ cup tapioca starch
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons psyllium husk powder
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1¼ cups oat milk
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust it with oat flour.
Put the figs in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, and soak for 15 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop them.
Meanwhile, heat a small saute pan over medium heat, then add the olive oil, onion, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the caraway seeds, cook for another 30 seconds, and transfer the mixture to a plate to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, both starches, sugar, psyllium powder, baking powder, baking soda, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Add the chopped figs and caramelized onions and stir.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vinegar. Pour this over the dry ingredients and, using a fork, whisk until it comes together in a lumpy dough. You want to be sure almost all the flour is incorporated, but do not overmix. It’s OK if it’s loose. I don’t touch the dough with my hands or knead it in the bowl.
Invert the bowl over the prepared pan and let the dough fall onto the flour. Dust your hands with more oat flour and bring the dough together, shaping it into a circle about 7 inches wide and 2½ inches thick. Top with a light dusting of flour. Make two ½-inch-deep crisscross cuts on top.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes, until golden brown. Let the bread cool for 15 minutes before cutting. It’s best eaten immediately as it dries out quickly.
Peanut butter-banana cookies
Coconut sugar lends a caramel-brown color to the finished bake, without being overly-sweet. If, like me, your peanut butter is salted, taste the unbaked dough before adding more salt — don’t worry, no raw eggs to worry about here.
½ cup salted roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1 cup unsweetened chunky peanut butter
⅔ cup coconut sugar
¼ cup finely mashed banana (about 1 medium)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Coarsely chop the peanuts. Reserve half of them and continue chopping the remaining half into very small pieces. Put the finely chopped peanuts in a small bowl, add the sugar, and set aside. The sugar adds a bit of crunch to the exterior of the cookie, but it’s not essential.
Stir together the reserved coarsely chopped peanuts, peanut butter, coconut sugar, banana, maple syrup, vanilla, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. The dough will be thick and sticky. Let it sit for 15 minutes. As the baking soda reacts, the dough will thicken a bit.
Scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of dough into the bowl of finely chopped peanuts. Roll the dough around to coat, then roll it into a ball in your hands. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough. Leave 2 inches between cookies as they will spread while baking. Flatten them slightly with your fingers.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies crack and their edges begin to look crispy. Do not overbake as they will continue to dry out while cooling. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. The cookies will be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They will keep for 5 days in an airtight container.
Makes 14 cookies.
Glazed lemon, yogurt and olive oil pound cake
This cake is inspired by Goyoaga’s childhood after-school treat. If you have an almond allergy, she suggests using tiger nut flour. Superfine brown rice flour can be found at specialty food markets, but may be easier to source online — it does make a lot of difference to a bake as traditional brown rice flour is rather coarse. I’ve found that sprouted brown rice flour tends to be softer and finer, should this be a less expensive or easier-to-source option.
For the cake:
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 to 3 medium lemons)
1 cup superfine brown rice flour
1 cup almond flour, any lumps broken up
3 large eggs
½ cup whole-milk yogurt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios, for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the inside of an 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pan with a little bit of olive oil.
To make the cake, in a large bowl, rub together the sugar and lemon zest until fragrant. This helps release the natural lemon oil. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely if you want the glaze to stay thick on top of the cake. If the cake is warm, the glaze will melt and run off.
To make the glaze, in a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth and lump free. As you begin to whisk, it might seem too thick, but as the sugar absorbs the juice, the glaze will thin out. The glaze should be pourable but not too runny.
Put a tray or baking sheet under the wire rack and pour the glaze all over the cake, letting it run over the edges. Wait a few minutes for the glaze to set. Sprinkle the top with the pistachios, then serve. The cake will keep at room temperature for 3 days. If you refrigerate it, the glaze will soften.
— Recipes excerpted from “Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple” by Aran Goyoaga, with permission of Sasquatch Books, October 2021.
“Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple”
By Aran Goyoaga
Sasquatch Books. 320 pages. $35.
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