Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gluten Free Plum Slump

Ah, rustic desserts. You are an awesome book. I haven't even had you for a week and I have baked two recipes from your pages. And both were really awesome. In fact, this slump which I made gluten free is already a favorite dessert of all time.

gluten-free plum slump

August 15, 2009
Name of dessert: Gluten Free Plummy Slump
Occasion: A windfall of plums!
Constituents: Plums, stewed, with a gluten free dumpling top

Stewed plums doen't sound very appetizing, but you have no idea.

Slumps are apparently a New England thing, which would explain why a West Coaster like myself has never heard of them. The colonists were trying to replicate their beloved puddings and came up with cooked fruit topped with dumplings, simmered gently on the stove. I am glad they did, because this was delicious.

My roommate came home on Friday with a bag full of plums that he picked from a tree on a vacant lot. The peach and blackberry pandowdy was finished, so it was definitely time to make another rustic fruit dessert. We chose the Stone Fruit Slump and called Annmarie to come over and eat slump and watch Lars and the Real Girl.

gluten-free plum slump
macerating plums

Obviously we had to convert the dumplings recipe to a gluten free one since Annmarie was coming over. That was pretty easy, I am glad to say! The dumplings were a nice, toothy compliment to all the soft and juicy fruit. Not that they were hard or dense--they had proper dumpling texture--I'm just saying that the texture was a nice foil for the soft fruit. It was oddly satisfying, which is why I think I like it better than the pandowdy we made a couple of days ago.

We ate it as soon as I pulled it off the burner with a little bit of cold creamy vanilla ice cream which was wonderful. Each of us had a couple of servings apiece, and I had some for breakfast as well.

Hey, it's mostly fruit so it can't be all that unhealthful, right?

I will post the recipe since I adapted it to make it gluten free, however you're going to need a couple of GF baking mixes. I keep large batches of both of these mixes in my pantry.
Brown Rice GF baking mix: 2 parts fine ground brown rice flour, 2/3 part potato starch, 1/3 part tapioca flour (For a large batch, use 6 cups brown rice flour, 2 cups potato starch flour, and 1 cup tapioca flour.)
White Rice GF baking mix: Pretty much the same formula as the brown rice mix above, but with finely ground white rice flour instead of brown rice flour. Same proportions. I get my white rice flour at any asian market; asian rice flour is ground much finer than many American rice flours.

Why do you need both? Well, to my mind, the brown rice flour mix is a good substitution for all purpose flour, where the white rice flour is comparable to cake flour. This is just to my mind, not based on the protein profiles or any other chemical compositions of any of these mixes. The original dumpling recipe calls for 1 cup of all purpose flour and 1/2 cup of cake flour, presumably to keep the dumplings tender. So I decided to do the same thing, but with brown and white rice flour mixes. Gluten free bakers, it is up to you. I bet you could use all brown rice flour mix. Or whatever flour mix works best for you. This is how I chose to convert it.

Gluten Free Plum Slump
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

Fruit Filling
  • 4 1/2 pounds plums or mixed stone fruit (apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines) fresh or frozen, pitted (8-9 cups or 3 pounds prepped)
  • 1/4 to 1 cup (5 1/4 to 7 ounces) sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
To make the fruit filling, slice the fruit over a bowl so you can collect the juices. Slice each fruit into 10 to 12 pieces, depending on the size of the fruit, and drop the slices into the bowl. Separately, rub the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a small bowl, then add to the fruit and gently toss to coat. Gently stir in the lemon juice, then scrape the fruit and juices into a 10 to 12 inch nonreactive, deep skillet or a wide 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. (Actually, I don't see why you can't just cut and collect the fruit in the pan you're going to cook them in--less to wash in the end.) Whatever pan you choose, it must have a tight fitting lid. Let stand for 15 minutes. During this time, the fruit will release some of its juices and the sugar will begin to dissolve.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings.

Gluten-Free Dumplings
  • 1 cup brown rice GF flour mix
  • 1/2 cup white rice GF flour mix
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold unsalted European-style butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the butter and toss until evenly coated. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the size of peas. (Try your fingers, it's fun!) Add the buttermilk and stir just until the mixture comes together; it will be a slightly sticky and wet dough. Set aside.

Cooking the Slump
Being the fruit mixture to a low simmer over medium-low heat. You will need to stir occasionally to prevent the juice from sticking to the bottom of the pan; but do so gently to avoid breaking down the pieces of fruit. Simmer for about 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

gluten-free plum slump
add the dumplings

In 8 portions, place the dough atop the fruit, distributing the dumplings evenly over the surface. Return to the stovetop and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and continue simmering for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the dumplings are puffy and cooked through to the center. Remove the cover and let cool for 15 minutes before serving. (We ignored this and ate it right away. The only difference was that the juices were really soupy instead of thick. Still tasted good.)

gluten-free plum slump
after 22 minutes!

They say that the slump does not keep well so you need to eat it all up. I say, keep it in the pan you cooked it in and refrigerate. It was still good today, after a reheat in the microwave. I also recommend a little vanilla ice cream, or a small drizzle of heavy cream. It goes well to offset the tartness.
gluten-free plum slump
if we had waited 15 minutes the juices would be thicker. we weren't patient enough.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gingered Peach and Blackberry Pandowdy

My roommate and I were in Powell's a while ago and saw this book, Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More.

I turned to my roommate and said, "you're a pandowdy."

He retorted with, "you're a pandowdy."

We've been doing that ever since.

A few days after the pandowdy incident, Julia over at Dozen Flours decided to give away that same book in a little comment contest. So, I decided to enter. And guess what? I won the book!

A couple of days ago the book arrived, and I decided that my first dessert had to be...wait for it...a pandowdy!

pandowdy, right from the oven

August 13, 2009
Name of dessert: My Roommate Is A Pandowdy
Occasion: I want to eat some peaches
Constituents: Peaches, blackberries, a little candied ginger and a pastry top crust.

I laughed a little when I opened the book and discovered that the authors are Portlanders. Cory Schreiber is the founder of Wildwood and Julie Richardson is the founder of Baker and Spice. Baker and Spice! I've been there! I even bought a selection of goodies from their shop last fall in an attempt to do a Opinionated Opinion, which I never wrote (the rhubarb hand pie was my favorite). All of a sudden I knew I was in good hands.

Baker and Spice
I think it is hilarious that the lemon tart is labeled LeMoN

In the introduction, Schreiber takes a moment to explain what the difference is between all these rustic desserts. There were several I didn't know, like the buckle, slump, grunt, and the pandowdy. A buckle is described as halfway between a cake and a crisp. Slumps and grunts are cooked on top of the stove instead of baked, some are even steamed. Pandowdies are deep dish desserts usually with a biscuit topping, but this particular one had a pastry crust.

So you all know I struggle with pastry, mainly because I am new to it and don't practice enough. I took a deep breath and dove into the all butter pastry recipe in the book. Interestingly, Richardson recommends dusting with rice flour when rolling out the dough, as it doesn't stick to the pastry. I have to say, pastry is kind of fun. Well, it will be more fun when I am an experienced pastry maker.

using rice flour to roll out the dough

Although this pandowdy has a several steps (make the pastry, macerate the peaches, reduce the juices, roll out the pastry and...bake!) it still is really easy to put together. And, although this pandowdy has chopped candied ginger as well as a little powdered ginger, it still tastes really good. The ginger gives a bit of heat to the whole juicy, tart, peachy/blackberry goodness.

And my pastry? Well, it isn't perfect. But I'm not giving up!!

Gingered Peach and Blackberry Pandowdy

I am excited to try so many of the recipes in this book. There's the huckleberry buckle (I love how that sounds!), the olive oil citrus cake, the caramel peach grunt, and the sour cherry cobbler. Don't they sound delicious?

Stay tuned, friends.

chester blackberries

Saturday, August 01, 2009

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Zetta's grandma used to bake her a german chocolate cake every year for her birthday, so when we started working together in 2004 she asked me to carry on the tradition. I had never made a german chocolate cake before and after searching the internet for a good recipe I learned 1. This cake isn't from Germany and 2. This cake is actually called German's Chocolate Cake after Mr. German who wanted to sell his chocolate and came up with this cake recipe. That left me feeling free to just use RLB's All-American Chocolate Butter Cake and cover it with the classic coconut-pecan frosting, of which 5 million versions are available online. I tried a couple different recipes to varying degrees of success; Zetta was always very gracious about my attempts at German Chocolate Cake, including the one that fell apart on the way to her house.

Last year RLB posted her recipe for the coconut-pecan goop on her blog*; it will be in her new book. I excitedly bookmarked that recipe as I knew I would need to try it out for Zetta and get her opinion.

McStaceh's  Cupcakes

July 9, 2009
Name of cupcakes:Experiments for Zetta
Occasion: Zetta's Birthday!
Constituents: Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake* (as cupcakes) frosted with Rose Levy Beranbaum's Classic German Chocolate Cake filling (aka The Goop)

*Links to recipes at end of post.

I am currently working with a couple as their doula and the lady is an avid baker, blogger, and overall amazing crafty artist. Somehow we got on the topic of cakes and she told me that she was on the quest for a scratch cake that was similar in texture to what most people are familiar with: box cake (you know, the kind that you add water, oil, and an egg or two before mixing together and baking). I mean, most scratch butter cakes adhere to the light, tender, falls apart in your mouth type of cake, and I guess box cake is more dense, moist, a little spongy, kind of chewy, ridiculously sweet, and full of chemicals. And that's what most Americans are raised on and think is Normal Cake!

Ahem. I am finished with my tirade.

Anyway, she was telling me that she found a recipe that was pretty good at mimicking the box cake experience, and that I should try it too. So since I was already going to experiment with a new frosting recipe, why not experiment with a new cake recipe too?

The cake recipe comes from the lovely Ina Garten, whose show, Barefoot Contessa, I loved watching when I had cable. It is a very simple and quick recipe--I mean, even accounting for the fact the I split her recipe in half, I was a little surprised how quickly I finished mixing the batter. I thought I must have forgotten something! Being an oil-based recipe the batter was thin and runny; I transferred the batter to a big measuring cup in order to more easily pour into the cupcake cups.

Oh yeah--the cupcake cups. I thought that since the cupcakes were getting The Goop it might be fun to try that crazy Martha Stewart idea of lining the cupcake cups with fancy squares of parchment. (Martha got the idea from Sweet Revenge Bakery.)

McStaceh's  Cupcakes

Of course, my parchment squares were huge and out of control, but I was too lazy to bother cutting them down to a perfect size. So I was glad the batter was pourable. There was extra batter so I made a little cakelette for Joelf and I to sample.

The cupcakes baked up nicely and easily. The cake was everything people love about box cake (spongy, light, chocolaty, moist, open crumb) except in my opinion it tasted much better. And no chemicals! Hooray!

Rose's recipe for The Goop is much, much easier than all the others I have tried. Another hooray!! It requires simmering a few egg yolks with sweetened condensed milk and butter until thick enough to pool slightly on the surface. Then you add chopped toasted pecans, coconut flakes, and vanilla and cook for a little longer and, finished! I was also surprised how quickly this version comes together, and it was really tasty. I am not a big fan of The Goop but this stuff I could get used to.

I didn't really wait for The Goop to cool down as I was frosting cupcakes that were encased in parchment; I didn't think the frosting had anywhere to go if it were so inclined.

McStaceh's  Cupcakes

I brought them to work the next day and presented them to the lovely Zetta. She seemed happy to be getting her traditional birthday cake, even if it was a little untraditional, and she really liked The Goop. She said it was buttery in a way the others weren't. I thought so, too. I was glad she liked my experimental birthday cupcakes.

PS: Zetta, when I went to see if you still had a blog, I re-read the posts that are up on the front page and I wanted to publicly tell you that I know that you haven't been feeling bloggy lately but I hope someday you will, 'cause you're a beautiful writer.

McStaceh's  Cupcakes

Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake
Rose Levy Beranbaum's German Chocolate Cake Filling

Past adventures making The Goop:
its peanut butter zetta time (2007): no photos but I made the realization that The Goop is kind of like dulche de leche.
Giving Zetta What She Deserves (2006): This includes my irreverant take on recipe writing, a not very carmelized Goop, as well as a tiny little comment fight!
The Cake That Fell Apart (2004): The post is in preparation of my attempt at making ice cream cakes for my birthday. I threw a huge tantrum when Zetta's cake fell apart on the way to her house. Lucky you weren't there. (Regenia, sorry that you were.)