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Decadent Gluten-Free V E G A N Baking by Cara Reed

Cara Reed Garden Eats Christine Dionese Gluten Free Flour Blend

Cara Reed Garden Eats Food Colorings

Cara Reed Garden Eats Gingerbread Cookies

I bake, but I can’t say I’m a baker. I tend to not follow recipes, cook from scratch with what I gathered from the market throughout the week and improvise a lot. But, not this time. I actually followed not one, but three of Reed’s recipes from her latest book, Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking!

I’ve spent some time, early in the mornings before anyone else is up in my house reading through Cara’s recipes, bc when I think of baking, I think of the morning and coffee and tea, turns out she does too ;).

And, while I’m not vegan, many of my patients and clients here at Garden Eats are, so the effort Cara took to create her resource guide and the tips she sprinkled about are well-appreciated, because… wheat flour is predictable, and, so are eggs and butter- their proteins and fats are easy to work with and you’ll mess up a lot less with butter and eggs and gluten filled flour that naturally binds! This is not the case with gluten and animal free products. I’ve spent years coming to understand the food science behind these ingredients and it’s no easy task to find the exact flour blend or whether or not to choose 1 or 2 tablespoons of chia or hemp or whatever alt ingredient you’re trying to perfect.

This is why I tried three of Cara’s recipes- to understand how versatile her flour blend might be, and friends, I have to say, it is on point! I always eyeball my flour blends depending on the texture I’m going for, but Cara’s is precisely measured and delivers consistency every time.

My standards for “on point”? One of the biggest complaints with gluten-free desserts is texture- oh it tastes like cardboard or it was too soft, my pie shell was dry, the tarte crust cracked. Nope, none of this here. I made Cara’s Chocolate Chip cookies twice, once I used less flour to get a soft-baked version, then the exact amount for a nice crisp cookie. One of my favorites was Cara’s chocolate frosted donuts- ever so slight crispness on the outside {they’re baked} and a moist, cakey middle. Barring one other vegan donut recipe I’ve tried, Cara’s donut variations are legit, bakery worthy- you’d pay over a dollar for them with your weekend coffee for sure.

This was not meant to be a dissertation on gluten-free flour blends, but a darn good reason to pick up Cara’s book, because anyone who wants to dive right into vegan, gluten-free baking and expects the recipes to turn out E V E R Y time, rest assured if you can follow a recipe, it’s going to happen.

Oh! Because I’m a no faux or synthetic ingredient gal, I love Cara’s easy, plant-based food coloring recipes too. I made ombre pink and blue coconut cream cupcakes- the natural dyes blended seamlessly without over-powering the frosting with plant-flavor. Check out the vibrancy of color pictured above.

Cara’s recipes are printed with permission from Page Street Publishing.

Cara Reed’s Gingerbread Men

Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

What You’ll Need

  • 1/2 c vegan butter
  • 2 1/2 c Cara’s all purpose flour blend {recipe below}1 tap baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar {I used blonde coconut}
  • 1/2 c unsulphured molasses
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp warm water
  • Frosting optional

Putting It All Together

1. In a large bowl, beat vegan butter with an electric mixer on med- high speed about 30 seconds or until softened.

2. Whisk together flour blend, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Beat half of this flour mix, sugar, molasses and flaxseed soaked in water into the butter. Stir in remaining flour.
{keep water with flax, do not drain}

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper into 1/8 inch thickness. Create shapes into the dough using the cookie cutter of your choice {I used a small canning jar lid}.

5. Bake for 7-10 min until edges are lightly browned and firm {9 min worked for me, set for 7 min, check n go from there}. Cool on baking sheet for 1 min before transferring cookies to a wire rack.

Notes: Cara suggests refrigerating dough not in use to prevent stickiness and retain workability. I agree!

Cara’s All-Purpose Flour Blend

What You’ll Need

Makes 9 cups flour blend total

  • 1 cup superfine brown rice flour
  • 3 c superfine sorghum flour
  • 1 1/2 c potato starch, not flour
  • 1 1/2 c arrowroot powder

Putting It All Together

1. With a spoon, scoop the flours into a measuring cup.

2. Level with a knife and throw everything into a gallon-sized plastic baggie, seal tightly and shake vigorously until well combined {or if you’re like me and you don’t use plastic in your kitchen, a glass dish like this works great}.

3. Keep stored in an airtight container.

C A R A  R E E D is the creator of the popular Fork and Beans, an all things vegan and gluten-free recipe blog. Grab her book and get your gf, vegan bake on. DO follow the directions and get excited about a book that’s more than just cashews and dates ;).

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