Pasta photo

Heads up for the next class I am teaching at Intentional Table on Bainbridge Island (which is a short ferry ride away from Seattle)!  You can even do a walk-on onto the ferry and walk up to the class if you don’t want to bother with driving.

Gluten-Free Pasta and Gnocchi

Sunday, October 20, 2013
2-5pm
$65
Intentional Table

Class Description
Author of popular blog Art of Gluten Free Baking, Jeanne Sauvage will be teaching a three part series here at Intentional Table, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Jeanne began experimenting with gluten-free baking when she developed a gluten intolerance in 2000, and has been sharing her successes (and failures!) ever since. This class will focus on delicious pastas that are guaranteed to be just as tender, chewy, and delicious as traditional semolina recipes, as well as light and fluffy potato gnocchi. If you or a loved one have a gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy, or are simply trying to cut down on your gluten consumption, this is the class – and series – for you!
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Baking Classes at Intentional Table

by Jeanne on September 15, 2013

Cream Scones photo

 

Just wanted to let you know that I will be teaching a series of baking classes at the Intentional Table on Bainbridge Island this fall.  The first one is next Sunday!

 

Introduction to Gluten-Free Baking
Sunday, September 22, 2013
2-5pm
$65
International Table

If you have the time, come to the island early and make a day of it–you can even do a walk-on!  The school is a short walk from the ferry.   It’s so charming.  Also, one of my favorite yarn stores, Churchmouse Yarns and Teas is next to the Intentional Table, and one of my favorite ice cream shops (with gluten-free cones!) is Mora, is across the little courtyard.  The Blackbird Bakery, a couple doors down, usually has gluten-free goodies. And Eagle Harbor Books, one of the best independent bookstores around, is across the street.

In this first class we’ll be making scones, baked chocolate buttermilk doughnuts, and gougeres (French cheese puffs).  I will be talking about fundamentals of baking and introducing and discussing basic techniques.  I can guarantee that it will be a fun, informative, and tasty class!  I hope you can join me!!

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Simply Gluten-Free Magazine

by Jeanne on September 10, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite gluten-free magazines, Simply Gluten-Free Magazine. You probably already know about it, but if you don’t I would encourage you to check it out. I’ve had the honor of writing some articles for it since it began last fall (2012). I’m actually a little bit embarrassed that I haven’t written about it here before. Last autumn, I was so wrapped up in my book launch whirlwind that I dropped the ball on other things. I’d like to rectify that now.

It was created and is edited by my pal Carol, of the Simply Gluten-Free blog. Carol and I met several years ago at a food conference and I have come to consider Carol one of my mentors. I have turned to her for advice on various aspects of being a gluten-free writer and flour-mix maker, and she is always open and generous with her time and advice. If you haven’t, I recommend that you check out her blog, as well as her amazing books, Simply…Gluten-Free Quick Meals , Simply…Gluten-Free Desserts, and Simply Gluten-Free Salads.

One of the many things I love about the magazine is that it celebrates the gluten-free lifestyle versus being resigned to it. And it has articles from all sorts of angles (baking with gums vs. baking without gums; conventional gluten-free diet as well as paleo diet, etc.). And it is also other allergen friendly. As we all know, being gluten-free often comes with being intolerant to other foods–and this magazine addresses those issues as well. On top of everything else, the writing is stellar and I see all of my favorite gluten-free pals in there, in addition to “meeting” new folks via their articles.

I have an article in the most recent issue (September/October 2013) on “The Joy of Canning.” As you know, I’m the editor of the website, Canning Across America, and canning is another passion of mine. In the article I explain the basic process of canning, list the basic equipment and procedures for canning, and include one of my very favorite jam canning recipes, Honey Lemon Apple Jam, from the excellent Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round book by my canning pal, Marisa McClellan.  I highly recommend this book if you like to can!  I have been using it all summer.  One of the beauties of her recipes is that they are small-batch oriented.  So you don’t have to commit to canning a ton of stuff at a time.  3 or 4 jars at a time is what she concentrates on–and it’s so fun to have a few jars of many recipes on the shelf.  If you’ve never canned before, I hope my article will inspire you to start!

Check out Simply Gluten-Free Magazine if you already haven’t!  I’ve seen it on the shelves of my favorite grocery stores.  And you can order it from its website.

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Blackberry Cobbler, Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on September 1, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi! We are enjoying our last few days of summer freedom this Labor Day weekend before school starts. As you know, I am not a fan of uber-early mornings. It’s not in my constitution. It’s not the way any of us in our family works well. Even when Girlfriend was tiny, she was a sleeper-inner. She was never one of those toddlers who woke up at the crack of dawn (thank goodness!). So the fact that we have to get up at 6 am in order to get Girlfriend to middle school (and into class on time as she works her way through the crowds of kids who are also wandering up and down the stairs trying to get to their classes) just about does us in. We spend the weekends recovering from the weekdays.

I realize that this sounds ridiculous. We do try to get to bed at an early hour. We don’t watch TV. We try not to schedule evening activities for Girlfriend. We try to ease into the bedtime. But, our bodies don’t seem to be easily re-trainable into early morning as one would hope. We do much better if we can go to bed at around 11 or midnight and wake up at around 8 am. Sigh.

Anyway, we are trying to get in all of the sleep we can in these last days. And in between sleeping (heh) we are enjoying the bounty of summer. As I think I’ve mentioned before, the side yard between our house and that of one of our neighbors is lined with wild blackberry bushes. Most of the year these bushes are a scourge. They are pokey and nearly impossible to tame. And they line the path that goes from our driveway to the back garden, so we need to keep them in check. They technically belong to our neighbors, but that house is a rental so the neighbors don’t really care what happens to them.

Instead of complaining about them (unlike my never-ending complaints about early mornings ;) ), I decided years ago to cultivate them for our eating pleasure. When Girlfriend was little, I would send her and her pals over there to pick the blackberries. They would come back with as many berries in their tummies as were in their buckets (if their happy and berry-juice smeared faces were any indication of what they did). And I turn the blackberries they pick into cobbler. It’s one of my summer rituals. It just seems like blackberries and cobblers are the perfect match.

And I realize that I’ve never shared my cobbler recipe with you. It’s so simple and so quick to make, it’s one of those handy and perfect last minute dessert recipes. Of course, we usually eat the leftover cobbler for breakfast and for snacks during the day. But it is spectacular just as it comes out of the oven, with the biscuit topping puffed and golden, dolloped with unsweetened whipped cream. Of course, you can also use the equivalent amount of other berries that you have on hand.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWow, what a glorious summer we have had.  I can’t remember a summer with better weather in the 23 years I’ve lived in Seattle.  It’s been mostly sunny and warm.  Every day.  It’s truly been a gift.  I can’t tell you how much we have been enjoying it.   The past few days have been the exception—we’ve gotten some torrential downpours to make up for all of the rain we missed during the rest of the summer.  But that’s been it—now it is sunny and warm again.  Although there is a hint of fall in the air.   As usual, the summer has gone by very quickly.  It feels like it just started, I blinked, and now it’s nearly time for Girlfriend to go back to school.

This week has been devoted to preparing for school.  I helped Girlfriend shovel out her room (I’m serious when I say “shovel”—the amount of stuff on the floor in there always boggles my mind), find her backpack and big binder, and organize her desk.  We got all of her school supplies as well as a new lunchbox (her old one had gotten so gross, wow).  I’m feeling quite proud of us on this one—usually we wait until the day before school to do this and then everything is sold out.  And we dropped off her Epi-Pen at the school nurse’s office and completed all of the forms for that (Girlfriend has a life-threatening peanut allergy, so this is a yearly ritual for us).

The days are getting shorter, which is always bittersweet for me.  I love summer, but I do enjoy fall as well.  Getting back into the school year routine will be good for us after our lovely summer of freedom.  Girlfriend and I usually take a walk around the neighborhood each evening.  For most of the summer in Seattle, it stays light until about 9:30 pm.  So, we can walk later.  Now, I’ve been noticing that it’s dark by about 8:30—so we need to adjust our schedule to walking a bit earlier.  The park next door, which used to be an orchard and still contains many fruit trees, is full of windfall apples.  We usually pick up several on our way through to give to the chickens.  They love apples!  I have found that chickens are like kids.  They often like the sweeter things like fruit, carrots, and beets.  And, they love leafy greens.  But they turn their beaks up at cauliflower and broccoli.

The farmer’s market is now full of peaches.  I wait all year for the peaches.  I love them.  They are my favorite fruit.  Usually, at the very end of summer I get a box of peaches from the farmer’s market to freeze.  I blanch, peel, slice, and freeze them on cookie sheets and them transfer them to ziplock bags.  This way we have peaches all year round.  I also freeze bags of berries.  Currently the freezer is so full of frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries that not much else fits in there.

We also eat the peaches fresh and, of course, I bake with them.  This year I found a recipe from Ina Garten’s book Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? that we love!  Of course, you know how much I love her and her recipes, so I knew it would be a winner.  And it is.  This cake is another peach-pecan mix—which is my new favorite combination.  You can substitute walnuts if you’d like, or you can just not use the nuts, if preferred.   I will say that I love the crunch and the flavor that they add, though.  Either way, it’s now on my end-of-summer baking rotation.  Yum!

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Pie, Gluten-FreeHey all!  I’ve updated my Pie Crust post in order to include updated directions.  Pie crust is one of the recipes I get the most questions about and I thought it would be helpful to rewrite it to answer the most common questions.

PS: I seem to have some sort of curse when it comes to this recipe.  Once again, I realized that the gram amount of the flour in the recipe was slightly wrong until today (5/17/14).  The correct weight is 325 g (not 350 g).

PPS: You can roll the crust out between 2 pieces of plastic wrap if you prefer.

Happy baking!

 

 

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Peach-Pecan Pie, Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on August 19, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen Tracy and Jennifer  and Jamie asked if I wanted to be part of the online baby shower for our mutual pal, Amber, the voice behind the amazing blog, Bluebonnet and Brownies and her husband James, I immediately said yes!  I love babies and baby showers and the chance to celebrate them is always welcome.

As I thought about this post, I realized that Tracy and I had met through Amber.   Amber is one of those people who naturally brings people together.  I met Amber on Twitter sometime in 2009.   She was one of the folks I chatted with on weekly (and sometimes, daily) basis.  As you know, I love Twitter and have found it to be very convivial place.  Anyway, one day I heard about something called the Big Summer Potluck (BSP) on Twitter.  It was to be a weekend food blogger gathering put on and hosted in Pennsylvania by Pam Anderson, who has written many terrific cookbooks, and her daughters, Maggy and Sharon.  These three talented women are the voices behind the lovely blog Three Many Cooks.  Their friend, Erika, rounded out the crew who organize the weekend.  Further, I found out that my Seattle pal, Alice, was going to be the keynote speaker.  I was intrigued.  Even though it was going to be held across the country, I realized that I really wanted to go.

As it turns out, Amber’s house is close-ish to the location of the BSP, so when I told her I was thinking of attending, she immediately offered her house to me as a place to stay.  And, she was set to attend—in fact, she was helping to organize some of the stuff—and so she also could drive us to and from the BSP each day.  I was amazed at her generosity and immediately took her up on her offer and I bought my tickets that day.

Several months later, when I arrived on the East Coast, James picked me up and ferried me to their house.  When we walked in, Amber was in the kitchen, making cookies.  She welcomed me and I felt immediately at home.  It felt like we had been friends for years.   Same with James.   Same with their big, fluffy kitties, Connor and Milo.  They are, quite simply, nice and wonderful people (and kitties, who think they are people).  Being with them is like being with family.

We had a lovely weekend together (you can read more about my experience here)–that first BSP was also the place where I met Jennifer.  I ended up attending BSP the next year and staying with Amber and James again.  That was the year that I met Tracy—she also was staying with Amber and James, and we ended up being roommates.  That second BSP they had a full house–Aimée and Shaina, were roomies in Amber’s other guest room, and we all got to know each other and become friends during the time we had together.  What a terrific weekend we all had.

And now Amber and James are expecting a new family member to join their happy crew—a little boy, due in October.  I am thrilled for them.  The arrival of a baby is always a gift, but it is especially welcome when the road to having a baby has been a long and hard one.  Amber and James have been struggling with fertility issues and it was seeming like maybe a homemade baby (as opposed to an adopted baby), was potentially not in the cards.  But, the Fates stepped in and decreed that it was TO BE and all of us in their family and friend community are overjoyed for them!  And we can’t wait to meet baby Evan (that’s his name-to-be).

In honor of the blessed event, I am offering a recipe for Peach-Pecan Pie.  Amber is a Texas native, so the theme for the baby shower is “Texas.”  As I was deciding on what kind of recipe to make, I did some research and found out that peaches are a favorite fruit in Texas.  And, because it’s in the South, I thought pecans would be good, too.   As I flipped through one of my favorite cookbooks, Nancie McDermott’s Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes from Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan, I saw it—the perfect recipe–for peach-pecan pie.  I knew it was the one.  So, I adapted it to gluten-free.  It is out-of-this-world!  Wowee, this is a good pie.  In fact, one of the yummiest I’ve ever had.  It’s got a traditional pie crust, filled with fresh peaches in a sour cream custard and topped with a pecan streusel.

So, here’s to you, Amber and James (and Evan-to-be)!  I raise a fork of delicious pie to all of you and cannot wait to meet the newest family member in person!

Link List for the Rest of the Baby Shower Participants (pie recipe after list)

Sugarcrafter | Breakfast Tostadas
My Kitchen Addiction | Baby Texan Cookies
My Baking Addiction | Texas Sheet Cake
Simple Bites | Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Charred Corn Salsa
Stetted | Queso Mac
Food for My Family | Texas Pepper Barbecue Sauce
Dessert For Two | Frito Chocolate Chip Cookies
Confessions of a Cookbook Queen | Coconut Tres Leches Layer Cake
TidyMom | Pizza Bread Sticks
Miss in the Kitchen | Blackberry Milkshakes
Bon Appetit Hon | Cheddar Ranch Crackers
Food Babbles | Southern Pecan Pie
Jelly Toast | Peach Iced Tea
Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle | Decorated Elephant Cookies
i am baker | Texas Brownie Cake
The Kitchen Trials | Coca-Cola Cake
Cookies & Cups | Sticky Toffee Pudding Cookies
A Farmgirl’s Dabbles | Peanut Butter Bonbons the Size of Texas
Steph Chows | Fiesta Dip

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We’ve been having a lovely summer!  I can’t remember another summer where it was mostly sunny and warm.  Usually we have stretches of sunny and warm mixed with stretches of cold and rainy.  But it’s been just heavenly.  It’s been a gift for me–I, like many people, do so much better emotionally when it’s sunny.

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I love gardenias and they hold a special place in my heart because they were my mom’s favorite flower.  Of course, when I went to my high school prom, my corsage was a gardenia, much to my mom’s delight.  And when dAhub and I got married, I we ordered a corsage or boutonniere of their favorite flower for each of our family members.  It was so fun to see everyone wearing their their favorites.  Of course, my mom had a gardenia.  The florist said she got such a kick out of designing each corsage/boutonniere from of all of the different flowers.  Our wedding theme was “English Country Garden” mixed with Alice in Wonderland, so the idea worked really well.  Anyway, I bought the plant–it has been blooming like crazy all summer.  New blooms open each day.  It’s like magic.  And I put the pot on our front porch so we can smell them as we enter the house.  Girlfriend and I sit out on the porch in the later afternoons and evenings and read, and we can’t get enough of the scent.  It’s perfect.

I made a promise to myself this summer that I would spend at least a little time each day out in our garden.  The past few years I have been busy with book stuff and I kind of ignored the garden.  This has been mostly OK for the several fruit trees and berry bushes that do their thing without much input from me.  In fact, our dwarf apple trees are covered with apples.  They are only about 3 feet tall (they are truly dwarf trees), but they are so covered with apples that they are bent over to the ground.  And my pear tree, which has four different types of pears finally produced a pear.  Just one, but it’s a start.  And the golden and red raspberries are going crazy–they are just about the easiest plants to grow here.  My blueberry bushes produced quite well but, as usual, the wild birds got all of the berries.  I need to covered them with netting or something.  I am reluctant to do this because the one year I did covered them, a baby bird got stuck in the netting and it took forever to get him out.  It was quite traumatic for me and for the bird.  Ack.  And the fig tree is covered with baby figs–maybe we will be able to get some before the squirrels help themselves.

But, I used to keep a vegetable garden each year.  dAhub helped me plan it years and years ago.  It is in a separate section of our garden and is surrounded by a chicken wire fence that I train vines on.  We put in a picket fence gate with an arbor over it.  It’s quite charming. For the first few years, I concentrated on it and veggies grew really well.   But, apparently word got out in the animal and bug world that yummy things were in there, so it turned into be a private restaurant for the squirrels and the slugs. It got to the point where the squirrels took a bite out of every zucchini and pumpkin I grew.  Something else ate all of the onions under the ground.  And, I got demoralized by the endless fights with the slugs–who mow down the baby carrot tops and the lettuces.  I used copper tape to deter the slugs, but then I lost all the tape (I’m kind of a space cadet when it comes to where I put things for storage).  So, I kind of let everything go and instead we grew seeds for plants that were good for the chickens–dAhub got into that for awhile.  That worked well for a few years.  The veggie garden area kind of went to seed (literally) and just stayed mostly bare with various weeds and volunteer raspberry plants for a few years.

This year, though, I decided to try again.  I have been experimenting with growing our veggies in big pots to raise them up and out of the way of the slugs and the under-the-ground bugs (or rats or gophers or whatever eats stuff under there) and also maybe make them a bit less enticing for the squirrels.  Since I have been home this summer and have the time to water and keep an eye on things, this has worked well.  We have several pots of cucumber plants that I am training up an older metal arbor that wasn’t being used.  And I have a couple of zucchini plants growing up a stepladder I set up in a big pot.  I am also growing multi-colored carrots in another big pot.  Everything seems to be doing well and I’ve even made pickles out of some of our cucumbers!

As you know, we have a park at the end of our little block.  And for the past few years, the neighborhood farmer’s market has been held there.  It’s one of the highlights of my week, especially since I don’t really grow enough to sustain us over the entire summer.  It’s held on Wednesdays and I make sure to clear time in the calendar to go over there each week.  There’s always music being played by someone, which creates a festive atmosphere.  Last week, someone was playing a saw(!)  There are folks selling all sorts of things from edibles to things like soaps and jewelry.  Of course, there are veggies and fruits in season. I have my usual round of farmers that I go to each week.  There is a flower person that I buy a bouquet from each week.  There is a grass fed beef guy that I buy our once-a-week beef from (I started to eat beef again after 30 years because my iron continues to be so low).  There’s also an egg person (who also has duck eggs!) and a farm that carries dried beans in addition to fresh produce  They are so fresh that you don’t even have to soak them before you cook them.  I stock up on dried beans for the year.

One of my very favorite booths is the berry booth.  They have a succession of berries in season.  In the beginning of the summer they had strawberries.  And then blueberries and raspberries.  And now blueberries and blackberries.  I buy a half flat of mixed berries from them each week.  This gives us enough to get our fill of fresh berries, as well as some for me to bake with and some to can and freeze.  I also go over to the stone fruit guy and get peaches, apricots, and cherries to eat, can, and freeze.  I love that the same people come each week and we can chat and catch up on the week’s activities.  It’s so convivial and it is just perfect.

I’ve been getting blueberries for the past few weeks.  It’s really hard to choose, but I think blueberries are my favorite berries.  I’m not saying that I don’t like the other berries, but my heart skips a beat every time I have access to really good fresh berries.  As you know, I have something called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) that makes it difficult to eat raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  I have found that my ability to eat raw blueberries has dwindled to being able to each just a few at a time.  But thank goodness I can bake with them!  I also freeze and can them to save them for the times of the year they’re not fresh.

So, today’s recipe is a blueberry crumb bar recipe that is so easy and so good.  It’s a adaptable bar and we’ve been munching on it as a snack in the afternoons, as a dessert after dinner, and as a go-to treat when we traipse over to the nearby lake to swim.  It’s a winner!  I adapted it from a recipe I found on the fabulous Smitten Kitchen website.  And she apparently adapted it from a recipe she found on the AllRecipes site.  And who knows where that person got it.  It doesn’t matter–it’s a great recipe and Girlfriend says it’s now one of her favorites.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve had a lovely summer in Seattle so far.  For the most part, it has been sunny and warm almost every day.  And even if the day starts out overcast, it ends with sun.  This is a miracle—usually we don’t get any sunny or warm days until after July 4th (it’s a joke around here that our summer doesn’t start until July 5th). But this year has been different.

Girlfriend and I have been taking full advantage of the weather.  We have been going to one of our local lakes (we live near 3!) each week. The closest lake to us has a diving platform with 2 diving boards—a high dive and a low dive. When Girlfriend was younger, she would spend hours at the high dive, jumping off, swimming to the platform, and waiting in line to jump off again. We haven’t been to the lake for swimming for a couple of years (although I do walk around it during the winter for exercise), but this year we’ve been going regularly. This summer, since Girlfriend has been taking gymnastics during the school year, she has been doing “front tucks” off of the high dive. A front tuck is a somersault/flip in the air. It’s something that I’ve only seen done on sports shows or by crazy teen age boys. And now Girlfriend is one of those crazy teens. She’s amazing. It’s stunning to watch her use a skill she learned in one context and transfer it to another context.

While she does her flips off of the diving board, I set myself up on the tiny beach with all of the other parents.  We always travel with folding chairs during the summer, so, I sit in my folding chair, in the dappled shade of one of the many trees that line the lake, and read and knit. I look up every so often to make sure Girlfriend is still happily doing her thing. The beach has 4 or 5 lifeguards (the Parks and Rec department makes as sure as possible that the swimmers are as safe as possible), so she is well looked after.  It’s a very nice way to spend a summer afternoon.

I’ve read several books this summer that I’ve really enjoyed. One of my favorites has been The Golem and the Jinni, by Helen Wecker. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a fan of golem stories. I’m not entirely sure why. I think part of the appeal is that golems, being part of the Jewish mystic tradition, are created through a combination of magic and spirituality. In The Golem and the Jinni, a female golem, Chava, arrives in 1899 New York City from Poland with no idea where she is or what she is supposed to do. At the same time, a Syrian Jinni is released from a thousand year imprisonment in an old copper flask. They eventually meet and become unlikely friends as life goes on around them. It is a smart, fascinating, fun, and very well-written book.  I wanted it to last longer than it did.

Another book I really enjoyed was The Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter.  This book is amazing. It starts in 1960s, in a tiny port town in Italy. The town is so rocky that it is only accessible by boat. To this town arrives a mysterious American woman who is said to be dying. From here, we are on a ride that takes us back and forth between 1960s Italy, the set of the movie Cleopatra, and then to present day Hollywood, Seattle, and Idaho. All of the characters are slowly woven together in a brilliant story that, again, made me want it to go on longer.

In between lake visits and other activities, I’ve also been baking. One of my favorite things to do is to bake with fresh berries in season. We’ve had a lovely strawberry season here, which is just ending. I’ve been trying to get strawberries each time I go to the farmer’s market next door. I get enough for Girlfriend and dAhub to eat fresh, as well as some for me to bake with. I know I already have a Strawberry Cake up on the site, but I thought I’d share another one to give you options. This is a cake that I’ve adapted from the Martha Stewart website. It is simple and delicious—perfect for summer baking. One thing that is a little odd is that it is baked in a 10 inch pie pan. I happen to have a 10 inch pie pan, so this isn’t a problem for me. If you only have a 9 inch pie pan, I would recommend increasing the baking time by 5-10 minutes (because the cake will be more dense).

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m guessing it’s probably clear by now that I have a fondness for heirloom recipes.  There is nothing I like better than to comb through old cookbooks, pamphlets, and fundraiser cookbooks.  I don’t have than many heirloom recipes from my own family—unfortunately those were thrown out as each generation passed.  But I love reading other people’s family recipes and hearing about their history.   One of the many reasons I enjoyed writing my book is that I had free rein to delve into the provenance of each recipe and find out why it became beloved and designated as special for the holiday season.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my readers, Linda H. wrote and asked if would take a look at a German coffee cake recipe from her grandmother-in-law, Grandma Hartlaub, and give some thoughts on how to convert it to gluten-free.  Linda’s father-in-law, the son of Grandma Hartlaub, is celebrating his 100th birthday this summer (wowee!) and she wants to make it for the celebration.  How could I say no?

I did a little research and, as it turns out, the recipe is a version of a German cake called a “kuchen” which is usually used to designate a yeasted cake.  Indeed, the word kuchen is German for “cake.”  Further, it is a “streuselkuchen” which means a streusel-topped cake.  As you may know, the word streusel is the German word for “something scattered or sprinkled” and it is the term we use for the butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon mix that is often used as a topping or a filling in cakes like this.   I’ve been wanting to develop a kuchen recipe for years and this gave me the perfect opportunity to do so.   The original recipe made three or four cakes, which makes sense since the Grandma Hartlaub had 10 kids (and was the middle child of a family that had 10 kids!).  Since I have a small family, I reduced it to one cake.  Linda also shared with me that Grandma Hartlaub’s husband, Sylvester, made large quantities of donuts.  Since it was the Depression, the kids often sold them in the neighborhood to supplement the family’s income.  With all of this baking, this sounds like a family I would feel right at home in!

Knowing this history explains, at least in part, why many older baking recipes make a lot of whatever the recipe is for.  I’ve always wondered about this.  It makes sense given that families used to have many more children than they do today.   It wouldn’t do, in a big family, to have recipe that only made a small amount, given that there were many mouths to feed.

I understand why this cake is an heirloom in the Hartlaub family.  It is really good!  I’ve now made it several times for my family and it’s turned into a family favorite.  I think it will be on regular rotation for us.   It’s simple and easy to make (don’t let the fact that it is yeasted deter you), and goes well with my morning tea or as an afternoon snack.

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