“A Day in the Life of a Be Free Baker”: A Photographic Essay

So what on earth DOES a Be Free Baker actually DO? How are those Be Free Bombs made? Don’t you have a staff, or machines, like everyone else that make your specialty mixes and baked goods?

Nope. It’s just me in the kitchen, for now. And it’s all done by hand, one at a time. No machines except an oven and a hand mixer for frosting cupcakes. Oh yes, I have had phenomenal human help over the years from time to time: Kelly, Barbara, Missy, Mel and Brooke, to give proper and just credit.  I ADORE those women and am eternally grateful to have shared sacred space in my kitchen with each of them.

How does it all work? I employ the philosophy of “mise en place” and prepare my space in advance with everything I will need for the day’s work. Tools and ingredients are gathered to quickly add to recipes on the fly.

Stainless steel bowls are an integral part of any kitchen. These have never touched gluten, dairy, eggs or nuts and are dedicated exclusively to BFB.

Raw Organic Hemp Seeds

Organic, raw, natural hemp seeds – full of protein, magnesium and essential amino acids.

Journeyman Organic Bourbon

Some ingredients have their own unique appeal. We found an organic, handmade bourbon that matches the rest of our fabulous ingredients!

Organic, fair-trade couverture chocolate

Organic, fair-trade, soy-free couverture chocolate – how often do you find couverture in cookies?

DSC_0030 Food, fun, friends. A cupcake eaten alone is just a cupcake. With friends, it’s a moment of happiness.

Sure, once in a while there are setbacks or spills.  Once I dropped an entire 20# container of Cacao Mix resulting in hundreds of dollars lost and many hours of additional work. Tears flowed freely on that particular day.

Organic coconut oil

Another example of a sideways moment. This lovely spill is coconut oil, just getting ready for our coconut oat raisin cookies.

Making of a Be Free Bomb:

Each Be Free Bomb is hand scooped, hand sprinkled and topped by hand with ganache once cooled.

Hand made ganache. Spoon-licking good.

Voila! The venerable Be Free Bomb, exclusively available at Waldo Pizza in Kansas City, MO and by special order.

You can’t get too far in a blog on Be Free Bakers without talking about cookies–in particular, the chocolate chip variety. If you haven’t been lucky enough to taste this incredibly creamy, raw cookie dough made fresh, you might just need to contact me. You might not end up making any actual cookies at all.

Raw, creamy cookie dough. Is there anything on the planet better than this?

But then, hot, gooey chocolate chip cookies are probably our grandmother’s best feel-good invention ever.

And for the finale: cupcakes.  Just because.

Cappuccino Cupcakes, available at Waldo Pizza finished – or in your own kitchen, via a simple and easy mix.

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Silvana’s Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Kitchen: A New Cookbook “Must Own”

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Photos: ©John Kernick  Text: Excerpted from SILVANA’S GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE KITCHEN © 2014 by Silvana Nardone. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


EASY
, entry-level, dairy-free, gluten-free Cinnamon-Swirl Pancakes with Maple Icing, made at HOME?!

Heck, yeah! Bring it ON!

In her gorgeous new cookbook Silvana’s Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed, Silvana Nardone, writer, editor, chef, baker, columnist, cooking instructor, food consultant, mom – to name a few of her awesome attributes, ponders opening a chain of gluten-free IHOP-style restaurants after creating and testing her first perfect pancake mix.

She seems to merely ponder, but I’m fairly serious: The world could benefit from such a place!
WHAT a great book of recipes! Yum, yum, yum!!!

If you are missing that fluffy, white, IHOP-style pancake, drizzled with melted butter and maple syrup, just-like-you-used-to-eat before “gluten-free, dairy-free”, then you’ve come to the right recipe. If you’ve been looking for great ideas on how to feed your newly diagnosed family meals reminiscent of a bygone era – the rest of the book is excellent, too!  You will not regret making this book a new kitchen staple.

My daughter had been requesting proper gluten-free, dairy-free cinnamon rolls for A Very Long Time, so I started with Silvana’s entry-level version: “Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes with Maple Icing”. In a fantastic boon for our entire family, this single, mouth-watering recipe required me to make multiple items in preparation for the “culmination of sweetness” that are these incredible cinnamon roll pancakes: Homemade Almond Milk, Silvana’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour and Silvana’s Gluten-Free Pancake, Waffle and Biscuit Mix.

Was it worth spending the little extra time to prep? Heck yeah! Bonus for additional meals, too!

CHAPTER 9:  Reinvented Dairy-Free Milk, Cheese + More Opener A131110 Silvana's Kitchen 2014
Photos: ©John Kernick  Text: Excerpted from SILVANA’S GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE KITCHEN © 2014 by Silvana Nardone. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


The Homemade Almond Milk is super easy – I first learned how to do this from Tess Masters in The Blender Girl Cookbook – another FAVORITE and must have addition to your kitchen.  This recipe takes so little effort, you’d be amazed!  With two minutes of preparation, an overnight soak and a quick blend/filter, you have an awesome Homemade Almond Milk that tastes insanely fresh, has no additives, definitely no carrageenan, and you can sweeten, flavor, if desired, or leave as is. Perfect!

Silvana’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour rocks. You can use this easy blend to make just about anything, sweet or savory! I’ve made amazing white fluffy pancakes, blueberry pancakes, cinnamon swirl pancakes and have plans for biscuits, waffles, beignets and more. Try it! You won’t regret spending the four and a half minutes it takes to weigh, measure and whisk. In addition, the beauty that is this cookbook is that you can customize your ingredient purchases to be as organic (or not) as you like. She even has an option for making it more “whole grain” – which I love.

CHAPTER 8:  Reinvented Flour, Breadcrumbs + More Opener A131110 Silvana's Kitchen 2014

Photos: ©John Kernick  Text: Excerpted from SILVANA’S GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE KITCHEN © 2014 by Silvana Nardone. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


Silvana’s Pancake, Waffle and Biscuit Mix
is a fantastic blend based on the All-Purpose Mix, above. I had to read and re-read the directions multiple times – I actually emailed Silvana to clarify before blending. “Are you sure you want me to add the shortening to the dry flour mix and store it that way?” YES! Indeed, she’s right: it’s perfect!  Those little bits of shortening are the secret to keeping the pancakes fluffy and full of beautiful AIR with a lovely texture that reminds me of Chicago breakfast joints in my 20s.

If you are looking for that perfect breakfast comfort food that is a fluffy, airy, melt-in-your-mouth pancake experience – this is the closest gluten-free, dairy-free mix I’ve found to achieving that old-fashioned buttermilk pancake experience! For those that are familiar with our line of mixes, yes, we also offer a pancake mix, but our Be Free Bakers Sugar-Free Ancient-Grain Pancake Mix is a completely different product for those serious whole grain, healthy moments. Some days, though, you just crave that old fashioned stack of fluffy cakes, topped with butter and maple syrup and maybe even chocolate chips – and Silvana’s Pancakes fit this bill perfectly!

The penultimate recipe, though, which inspired me to make all the others, was the Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes with Maple Icing.  Holy Sweet Awesomeness!

Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes Beauty A131110 Silvana's Kitchen 2014

Photos: ©John Kernick  Text: Excerpted from SILVANA’S GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE KITCHEN © 2014 by Silvana Nardone. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

While these incredible pancakes were definitively a DESSERT rather than simply breakfast, I have to admit we gobbled them down – at breakfast. In full disclosure, it was a Hobbit-style, second breakfast, after the eggs! What an absolute winner, especially with my daughter who could finally eat a true, gorgeous cinnamon-roll style treat. This pancake, frankly, was superior in flavor, texture and sweetness to a traditional cinnamon roll, as it didn’t have the cloyingly sweet heaviness that so often accompanies traditional cinnamon rolls. Serious gratitude here. I don’t think my daughter, nor my husband, even paused to breathe between stacks!

Thank you, Silvana Nardone, for a gorgeous addition to the world of gluten-free, dairy-free baking and cooking!

I will definitely and lovingly add your beautiful book to my gluten-free, dairy-free, ever-expanding cookbook repertoire.

Jennifer Ward
Be Free Bakers

 

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“Pumpkin Muffins” by Be Free Bakers

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We couldn’t let yet another October come rushing in without at least one pumpkin recipe, now could we?

Well, as a dear friend of mine would attest, yes, yes, we could indeed avoid all those infernal pumpkin recipes that tend to pop up like toaster pastries on steroids this time of year.

But what fun would that be for the people who only eat pumpkin once a year for a month?  No, not fun at all!  For that soul, though, I feel sorry, because pumpkin is allowed to come and go as the mood pleases in our home.  It’s such a powerhouse of nutrition, why not incorporate it into pancakes, muffins, smoothies and soups year round?

Let me warn you, though:  this is not the typical pumpkin muffin you might have had in the past.  It’s not that sweet, contains lots of healthier ingredients, is lower in sugar, and can be enjoyed simply as it is, without any extra sweet toppings, chocolate chips or, heaven help us, frosting.  That being said, if the mood strikes, go for it!  I won’t tell anyone.

This is a muffin you can feel comfortable eating guilt-less.  Watch out though: they’re tasty!  You might be tempted to have more than one!

“Pumpkin Muffins” by Be Free Bakers

Preheat oven to 350°

Whisk or sift the following dry ingredients in a separate bowl:

1 cup BFB / Jen’s Blend
½ cup organic coconut palm sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Set aside:  2 tablespoons organic evaporated cane juice or fine/castor sugar, for dusting muffins prior to baking

Add the following wet ingredients to your stand mixer, or, if you don’t have one, make sure you incorporate all ingredients very well together before adding dry mix, above.

1/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup pumpkin – canned is fine
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup almond milk, preferably carrageenan-free

Slowly add dry mixture to wet ingredients in stand mixer, incorporating gradually.

Put cupcake liners into muffin pan and fill ¾ full of batter.

Top each muffin with a light layer of sugar to dust/coat top.  This will provide that lovely crunch on top of muffins that we all love!

Bake for 18-20 minutes, turning once.
Makes 12 muffins

If any are left over, store in a tightly sealed container and enjoy within two days.

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Quick Cinnamon Cake: Gluten Free, Vegan, Nut Free, using Jen’s Blend by Be Free Bakers

Last night I was craving cinnamon for some reason, so Cinnamon Cake just had to be made. This is an easy, quick and painless recipe with a great crumb and lovely moist texture. It took 40 minutes conception to plate, from scratch. Of course it’s gluten free and vegan. This version is soy free too, but we used almond milk because that’s what was in the fridge. Our daughter is not allergic to almonds, luckily!  In fact, she asked for “seconds, please, Mommy!”

Whisk or sift dry ingredients together in medium bowl.
1 cup Jen’s Blend
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane juice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1  1/2 Tbs cinnamon (need about half that if using ceylon cinnamon)

In a one cup measurer, add the following wet ingredients:
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs coconut or soy creamer
Fill cup to top with almond or soy milk to equal one cup (we used vanilla almond milk this time)
Allow to curdle.  It’s “kitchen magic”.

Melt 1/2 cup coconut oil just to warm; not hot. We used a metal cup measurer and just placed it in the oven while preheating. One less cup to wash!

Pour oil and milk into dry ingredients and use rubber spatula to gently combine.

Pour dough into a lightly oiled 8 x 8 baking dish.
Dust the top with some cane juice/sugar for a crunchy top.
Bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes, depending on oven.

If it lasts more than a day, cover lightly with cello and leave on counter.

Makes about 12 pieces, depending on who’s cutting them.

Enjoy!

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Gluten Free Vegan Autumn Apple Tart using Jen’s Blend, by Be Free Bakers

Gluten Free Vegan Autumn Apple Tart

This is an incredibly delicious tart – not too sweet, fabulous crumb and much lower in fat and sugar than a traditional apple pie.  Have fun baking!

We picked this apple the day the pie was made!

To Make Tart Filling:

7 small to medium green apples – we used local apples from our friend’s tree picked that day
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon orange peel, dehydrated
1 heavy tablespoon corn starch, potato starch or arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon high quality cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples.  Place in bowl with all above ingredients. Stir to fully coat apples in seasonings.

Allow apples to soak while you make the crust, stirring occasionally.

This is what the crust looks like before you press it into the pan for the pie. Don’t forget to save some for the streusel topping.

Crust:

2 cups Be Free Bakers Jen’s Blend All Purpose GF Flour Mix
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon high quality cinnamon
½ teaspoon orange peel, dehydrated
1 stick Earth Balance Buttery Stick or Butter, cut into pieces, plus ½ stick cut into dots for topping just prior to putting in the oven
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ cup soy or coconut creamer

Mix together all dry ingredients with whisk in medium bowl.

Add apple cider vinegar to creamer in a small bowl and allow to rest for a few moments.  It might curdle.  This is good.

Drop butter pieces into dry ingredients and smash dough.  I enjoy the feel of the dough, so I used clean hands to blend, but a hand mixer on slow will work well also.

Add the creamer mixture slowly, blending as necessary to a somewhat crumbly texture that sticks together when squished.

Put a piece of parchment paper into a 9” or 10” tart pan, round or square, and drop about 2/3 of the dough into the pan.

While you can use a rolling pin to flatten the dough between two sheets of parchment paper, transferring it to the pan later, we have found it far easier to simply press the dough into the pan with our hands, allowing about an inch to come up the sides.

If you want to get fancy, feel free to create a pretty edge.  As you can see, I did the rustic edge look.

IMPORTANT NEXT STEP:

Once you have pressed the crust into the desired thickness and shape, put it in an oven at 350°F and pre-bake for 8-9 minutes.  Do not allow to brown.

After removing crust from oven, let cool slightly, and spoon DRAINED apples into pre-cooked crust, reserving liquid.

Top with remaining crumbled dough pieces throughout top to make a streusel topping.

Drizzle remaining liquid over top of streusel, and dot top with very small pieces of Earth Balance or butter – approximately ½ stick.

Place in oven for first 20 minutes at 350°F.  Then lower temperature to 325°F and cook for remaining 35 minutes.

Check periodically to ensure it doesn’t brown.

This apple tart actually tastes better the next day after flavors have had time to meld.

The perfect end of summer dessert that can be made on a weekend and enjoyed throughout the week – if it lasts that long!

Enjoy!

Jennifer, Be Free Bakers

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“You Say Tomato” Fried Chicken Recipe Using Jen’s Blend, by Be Free Bakers

This is a fabulous recipe for fried chicken or veggies! The crust is crispy, tender and chock full of flavor. You can make this completely vegan with gorgeous veggies and unsweetened non-dairy milk. You’re in for a gluten free treat most folks wouldn’t know was gluten free!

Home-Made Fried Chicken or Veggies: Eggplant, Zucchini, Squash, Carrots, and/or Parsnips
Recipe courtesy of “You Say Tomato” – our wonderful local Kansas City Restaurant at 2801 Holmes, KCMO

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus overnight soak if making chicken
Cooking time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS
1 free-range organic chicken cut up into serving pieces, skin removed – or –
3-4 cups veggies, sliced in chunks
1 – 2 quarts buttermilk*, divided, for marinating chicken and preparing soaking slurry
*non-dairy/vegan buttermilk is easily made with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for each cup soy/rice/almond milk

1 Tbs of poultry seasoning (herbes de provence work well for veggies)
5 bay leaves
1 1⁄2 cups Be Free Bakers Jen’s Blend Flour Mix
1 Tbs fine ground pepper
2 tsp granulated garlic (not powder); fresh is beautiful – use 2 cloves
3/4 cup kosher salt
2 cups dehydrated potato flakes

Peanut oil for frying
*Other monounsaturated frying oil options (with high smoke points) include almond, avocado or canola oil.

DIRECTIONS:

For chicken:

Put chicken pieces in marinating container. Use adequate buttermilk to cover. Let sit overnight in fridge. If you cannot soak overnight, 4-5 hours works great too.

Bring a heavy pot of water to a boil. Add chicken, poultry seasoning and bay leaves. Poach chicken until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees (approximately 10-15 minutes). Remove and let dry on mesh cooling rack.

For both chicken and/or veggies:

Prepare slurry with buttermilk, gluten-free flour, pepper, garlic and salt (add herbs at this time for veggies – skip bay leaves). Add buttermilk last, a little at a time to ensure proper consistency – slurry should have texture of heavy cream.

Heat 1⁄2 inch of oil in frying pan (preferably cast iron) to 325 degrees. Coat chicken/veggie pieces with slurry, then dredge through potato flakes. Carefully place in frying pan and adjust heat to maintain temperature. Cook until brown and crunchy – or slightly lighter for al dente veggies.

Remove and place on paper towels to drain.

Enjoy! ☺

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Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Gluten Free, Vegan, Nut-Free Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Oh my… These cupcakes just begged me to make them. I was enjoying a sip (or two…) of a beautiful chocolate stout on the back deck when suddenly I had this craving for cupcakes. Bingo! Into the kitchen I trod, bottle in hand, ready to tackle the world.

The first time I made these, I did it completely from scratch with Jen’s Blend and the ever-gorgeous Rogue Chocolate Stout. (Recipe below.)  This batch was made as a present for our awesome neighbors who aren’t gluten free. They were delivered at nearly 11 p.m., immediately consumed and declared “Heavenly!”

Then we made them again the following week with Green’s Duppel Dark Ale and our Be Free Bakers Cocoa Bean Cupcake Mix. Both beers and both batches were amazing. We even used the beer in the frosting!  The small amount of stout in the frosting takes the frosting to a whole new level.  It’s quite subtle, but lends a great flavor undertone to the sweetness of the frosting.

Here’s the recipe for you to try. If you prefer making things from scratch, use the Jen’s Blend. If you would prefer a mix, our Cocoa Bean Cupcake Mix is super easy and requires no extra dry ingredients – just use 2 cups of the Cupcake Mix instead of all the dry ingredients.  Let us know how you like them!

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1/3 cup oil
1 1/4 cup Green’s Dubbel Dark Ale
1 tsp chocolate extract (if you don’t have this, add 1 tsp instant coffee)

1 1/4 cups jens blend
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t xanthan gum

Directions:

Preheat oven to 340° convection or 350° standard.
Line a 12 muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.

In quick succession, add wet ingredients and fold into dry mix using a rubber spatula. Do not allow to sit. With an ice scream scoop, fill the cupcake liners 1/2 to 2/3 full and sprinkle with a little sugar for a crunchy top.

Place in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, depending on oven and pan.

While cupcakes are cooking, prepare frosting.

We like to make our frosting uncomplicated and simple, using 1 cup non-hydrogenated organic palm shortening, 2.5 cups (+/-) corn-free powdered sugar (Whole Foods generic brand or Wholesome Sweeteners are both corn-free), 2 Tbs non-alkaline cacao powder, 2-3 Tbs gluten free beer, and a teaspoon each of vanilla and chocolate extracts. Very simple and easy.

Using a hand mixer, whip the shortening first, gradually adding the powdered sugar until incorporated fully, adding extracts and beer last. Taste. If you need it, add some more powdered sugar and/or beer until you reach the desired texture and flavor. Try not to finish off the beer before the cupcakes are out of the oven.  Save a glass to accompany your cupcakes – it’s worth it.

To top the cupcakes you can go fancy schmancy with cake decorating skills or simply spread with a knife or pipe using a common ziplock bag with a little bit of the corner cut out. Pipe in a circle, starting at the outside in a semi-circle, working your way to the middle and up to the top.

The best part? Diving in and sharing with friends.  If there are any left over, they freeze beautifully, but who has leftover cupcakes when there’s friends and neighbors around?

Seriously, we’d love to hear from you. Call, write or comment on any one of our media outlets. We love hearing from customers!

Sincerely,

Jennifer, Be Free Bakers

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