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Gluten-Free Sourdough Challah Bread

Makes two loaves

Challah (pronounced HAH-lah) is the braided bread traditionally eaten on Jewish holidays and at Shabbat, the weekly Sabbath meal. The taste and texture, as well as symbolism, of this bread are rich and heavenly.

The three strands of the braid can mean truth, peace, and justice; and the twists of the braid can signify our intertwining love for one another. Seeds sprinkled over the loaf are a reminder of the manna – sprinkled down from heaven – during the Israelite’s 40 years of wandering. Two loaves represent the double measure provided in preparation for the Sabbath.

This gluten-free sourdough version is inspired by Sandor Katz’ recipe for Sourdough Challah Bread in his book Wild Fermentation. It’s excellent sopped in extra-virgin olive oil and a balsamic vinegar.

1 cup mature Gluten-Free Natural Levain Starter Culture

1 cup whole coconut milk, at room temperature

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 ½ cups tapioca flour, plus more for rolling out the dough

2 cups arrowroot powder

¼ cup whole cane, date, or palm sugar

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 ½ teaspoons unrefined sea salt, finely ground

¼ cup sunflower oil or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan

1 large egg, lightly beaten (for the glaze)

1 tablespoon poppy seeds or sesame seeds (or a mixture of poppy and sesame seeds)

In a large mixing bowl combine the mature starter, coconut milk, and eggs. Whisk until combined. In a medium bowl combine the tapioca flour, arrowroot powder, sugar, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Add the flour mixture by the cupful to the starter mixture. Use a wooden spoon or the dough hook to mix until each addition of flour is fully incorporated. Continue to mix until a sticky dough forms, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the oil. Continue to mix until all of the oil is incorporated into the dough, about 2 more minutes.

Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Lightly oil the paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into 6 equal pieces.  Using floured hands, gently roll and form each piece of dough into a strand about 14 inches long and slightly tapered at each end.

Place 3 strands onto the lined cookie sheet. Braid the strands of dough by starting in the middle. Braid the first end by gently lifting alternating strands to the center of the braid. Use your entire hand to support the dough. Next, braid the opposite end. Move alternating strands to the center of the braid by braiding in reverse (underhanded). (Pass alternating outside strands under the center strand.) Pinch together and fold under the ends. Repeat with the other 3 strands of dough. Separate the loaves by 2-3 inches on the pan.

The right side of this loaf is braided in reverse (underhanded).

Set in a warm (about 75 degrees F) place to rise until puffed by 1-2 inches, about 2-3 hours.

Center the oven rack. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Brush the tops of the challah with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on the top. Remove from the pan. Cool on a rack. Serve immediately or store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Gluten-Free, Sourdough Pita Bread

Makes 8

I’m truly delighted by these little, gluten-free, sourdough flat breads. They puff-up when baked, they’re perfect for pocket sandwiches, and they’re wonderful with hummus!

2 cups mature Gluten-Free Natural Levain Starter Culture

½ cup warm (about 100 degrees F), well, spring, or filtered water

1 ½ cups tapioca flour, plus more for rolling out the dough

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 ½ cups sorghum flour

1 ½ teaspoons whole, unrefined sea salt

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl combine the mature starter, warm water, honey, chia seeds, and xanthan gum. Whisk until evenly combined, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of the sorghum flour and ½ cup of the tapioca flour at a time. Use a wooden spoon or the dough hook to mix incorporated. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Mix until the oil has been absorbed into the dough, about 1 more minute. Scrape the dough into a ball. Lightly oil the mixing bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat in the oil. Cover tightly. Set to rise in a warm (about 75 degrees F) place for 2 ½-3 hours, until nearly doubled in bulk.

Center the oven rack. Place a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan in the cold oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Use a bench scraper or chef’s knife to cut the dough into eight equal portions. Lightly flour your hands, a work surface, and a rolling pin.  Form the dough into a ball. Flatten and roll into a round that is ¼-inch to 3/8-inch thick and about 6-inches in diameter.

Bake 3-4 breads per batch on the hot cookie sheet. After 3 minutes remove from the oven. Flip each bread. Use the flat side of a metal spatula to press down all of the bubbles in the pita (this actually helps the bubbles to expand). Return to the oven. Bake until puffy and barely browned, about 3-4 more minutes. Stack hot pita breads and wrap in a kitchen towel. This will keep them moist and warm for up to one hour. Serve while still warm. Store cooled pita tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Sprouted Gluten-Free Bread

Makes 1 loaf

The extra efforts of sprouting are rewarded by crunchy, tender, sandwich-friendly slices. Once you are familiar with the simple process for sprouting grains and legumes, this bread is rather easy to make. Using a food-processor the sprouts are pureed, then mixed into a gum-free, cane sugar-free, egg-free, dairy-free batter.

1 cup organic brown rice

1/3 cup organic green lentils

clean water (well, spring, or filtered)

sunflower oil

1 ½ cups Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Mix

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 ½ teaspoons unrefined sea salt, finely ground

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup

To Make Sprouts:

In a one-quart mason jar combine the rice and lentils. Add water until the rice and lentils are covered by about 3 inches. Tightly cover the mouth of the jar with a mesh screen. Store at room temperature (about 68-72 degrees F).

After 12-24 hours pour off and discard the soaking water. Add enough water to cover and rinse the rice and lentils. Pour off and discard the water. Allow the jar to drain, upside down, for several minutes.

Rinse and drain the sprouts 2-3 times every day.  After 2-3 days visible sprouts will emerge. The lentil sprout is unmistakable, but the rice sprout is a tiny speck on one end of the end of the grain.  When the rice and lentils have sprouted, they’re ready to be made into bread (or they can be stored for up to four days in the refrigerator (rinse stored sprouts every other day)).

To Make Bread:

Generously oil a standard (4 ½-inch x 8 ½-inch x 3-inch) loaf pan. Assemble a food processor with the metal blade. Add the sprouts and 1/3 cup of water to the bowl. Pulse until the sprouts resemble chunky nut butter, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, chia seeds, yeast, and salt. Process until well combined. Add the sunflower oil and maple syrup. Process until a smooth batter forms, about 2 more minutes. Scoop into the oiled pan.

Sprouted Gluten-Free Bread, ready to bake

Set in a warm (about 75 degrees F) place until puffed by about two-inches, about 25-30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until browned on top, about 60-65 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Use a sharp knife to loosen the edges from the pan. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack. Serve thinly sliced.

This pst was shared at Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday,  Simply Sugar & Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday,  Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday, and The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday.

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Flower Power Kombucha

Makes 2 ½  quarts

This combination of fragrant, uplifting, and naturally sweet flowers is the perfect tonic for spring. Rose petals soothe and relax; St. John’s Wort is detoxifies the liver; red clover purifies the blood; and chrysanthemum is anti-inflammatory and aids digestion. (See cooks notes for contraindications for these herbs.)

Before you make herbal kombucha set aside a mother mushroom that has not been in contact with herbal brew. The addition of herbs may change the composition of bacteria and yeast in the s.c.o.b.y.. Discard any mother or daughter mushrooms that have been in herbal teas or use them to culture future batches of herbal brews (but not regular brews (see cooks note)). If you are making kombucha to maximize the specific health benefits that are associated with the tea please follow the recipe for 5-Step Kombucha.

3 quarts clean water (well, spring, or filtered)

1 cup evaporated cane juice (preferably organic and fairly traded)

3 tablespoons organic rose petals

1 tablespoon St. John’s Wort blossoms and leaves

1 tablespoon red clover blossoms, about 3 large

1 tablespoon chrysanthemum blossoms, about 3 large

1 tablespoon organic green tea

½ cup finished kombucha or ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 kombucha mushroom (s.c.o.b.y.)

1.            Bring one quart of the water to a boil. Pour the water into a one-gallon heat safe glass bowl or jar. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the herbs and tea to a muslin spice bag, or oversized tea bag. Steep the mixture for as little as 15 minutes, or until the tea is cool. Remove the tea bag. Add the remaining 2 quarts of water.

2.            Add ½ cup kombucha from a previous batch or ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (this acidifies the tea and prevents contamination from other microorganisms). Place the mushroom dark side down in the liquid.

3.            If you are using a bowl cross several strips of masking tape over the top (to keep the cover from falling into the liquid). Cover with a cloth or paper towel. Secure the cover tightly with a string or rubber band (insects may be attracted and must be kept out!). Label with the date made. Store in a warm, well-ventilated place, out of direct sunlight.

4.            Depending upon the room temperature, the kombucha will be ready after 6-12 days. Kombucha is ready to drink when it looks relatively translucent and a ‘baby’ kombucha mushroom has formed above the mother. It will cease tasting of tea. Most people prefer kombucha sweet to pleasingly tart. After it has fermented about one week taste it daily. When the flavor suits your taste, bottle the tea.

5.            To bottle kombucha, remove the mother and the baby mushroom from the brew. Use a funnel and glass jars or bottles with tightly fitting lids (or flip-top bottles). Fill the jars to the top. Place a sheet of wax paper underneath the lid. (The paper prevents the acidic kombucha from contacting the lid.) Store in the refrigerator.

To restore effervescence to chilled kombucha, remove from the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Strain the tea just before serving.

Cooks note:

The mother and baby mushroom can be separated and used to make additional batches of flower power or other herbal kombuchas. Don’t use them for regular kombucha because the balance of bacteria and yeast within the s.c.o.b.y. may be altered.

Don’t use rose petals if you are pregnant. Don’t use chrysanthemum if you have a known allergy to ragweed. Don’t use St. John’s Wort if you are pregnant or nursing, or if you take any of the following medications: cyclosporine, tacrolimus, irinotecan, and imatinib mesylate, protease inhibitors, or nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Don’t use red clover if you are pregnant or nursing, taking oral contraception, estrogen or progesterone therapies.

This post was shared at Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday, and Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise platter Thursday blog hop.

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Fabulously Frugal, Sprouted Lentils

Makes 4 cups

Dried lentils, soaked and cooked form the basis of many richly flavored but inexpensive dishes throughout the world.  Organic dried lentils cost about $1.30 per pound (one pound is over 2 cups) and soaked lentils roughly triple in quantity once cooked. When lentils are sprouted they triple in volume even before being cooked! Thus, 1 cup of organic dried lentils (less than 65 cents worth) could yield up to 6 cups of sprouted lentil soup. That’s a fabulously frugal!

Use sprouted lentils in any dish where you would normally use dried lentils. When substituting sprouts in a recipe start by reducing the amount of dried lentils called for by 1/4. Some of my favorite lentil dishes are Dal (Indian lentil soup), Lentil Salad from Nourishing Traditions, and Lentil Pecan Patties from the Moosewood Cookbook.

1 cup whole, organic lentils

clean (well, spring, or filtered) water

Add the lentils to a wide mouth mason jar. Cover with 2 inches of water. Cover tightly with the lid. Store in a warm (about 72-75 degrees F) place. Twelve to 24 hours later replace the mason lid with a sprouting screen. Drain the soaking water from the lentils. Add more water to cover the lentils. Swirl the jar to thoroughly rinse the soaked lentils. Drain and discard all of the water from the jar. Invert the jar over a small bowl for 5-10 minutes to allow any remaining water to drain out. Thoroughly rinse and drain the lentils 2-3 times each day until you see a small sprout emerge, about 2-3 days.

When the sprout emerges the lentils can be cooked immediately or refrigerated for future use. To use immediately, cook the lentils according to your recipe. Be sure to skim any film that accumulates on top of the cooking water. To store sprouted lentils replace the sprouting screen with a mason lid. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Rinse the refrigerated sprouts every other day using the sprouting screen. Remember to let the sprouts drain over a small bowl for 5-10 minutes, then cap tightly and return to the refrigerator.

This post was shared on Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday , Simply Sugar & Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday, Mind, Body, and Sole’s  Wildcrafting Wednesday  and Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday blog hops.

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Grain-Free Raisin Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

Makes one 9-inch square cake

To celebrate the good news of Easter I’m baking this gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and gum-free raisin carrot cake. Like my Black Bean Chocolate Cake, this cake is made from cooked beans rather than from flours. The naturally sweet pinto bean is actually undetectable in this light, moist cake!

sunflower oil

1 cup raisins

1 ½ cups cooked, drained pinto beans

1 cup whole cane, date, or coconut palm sugar

¾ cup extra-virgin coconut oil, at room temperature (about 72 degrees F)

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt, finely ground

1 ½ cups grated carrots, about 2 large

2/3 cup cinnamon glaze

Center the oven rack. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9–inch square baking pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper. Generously oil the sides of the cake pan. Place the raisins in a small bowl. Add enough warm (about 100 degrees F) water to cover them by one inch.

Assemble the bowl of a food processor with the metal blade. Add the cooked beans, sugar, coconut oil, and eggs. Process until a smooth batter forms, about 1 minute. Add the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Process until the powders become fully incorporated into the batter, about 1 more minute. Drain the water from the raisins. Add the drained raisins and the grated carrots to the batter. Pulse just until the raisins and carrots are distributed evenly throughout the batter, about 2-3 times. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Use a knife to loosen the cake from the edges of the pan. Invert a serving platter on top of the cake pan. Quickly flip the cake and pan over onto the serving platter. Lift off the pan. Discard the parchment paper on top of the cake. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake just before serving

Cinnamon Glaze  

Makes 2/3 cup

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4-5 tablespoon coconut milk

In a medium bowl combine confectioners sugar and cinnamon. Use a whisk to mix until the cinnamon is evenly distributed. Add 4 tablespoons of the coconut milk. Whisk until combined. The glaze should be thin enough to spoon over the cake. If necessary, thin the gaze with one additional tablespoon of coconut milk.

This post was shared at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday , at Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, at Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday, and at The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday blog carnivals.

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Gluten-Free Blueberry & Banana Muffins

Nutty and moist, simple and quick – these coconut flour, banana, and blueberry muffins are already a favorite around my house! I like to peel, mash, and freeze ripe bananas in a half-pint mason jar – then they’re always ripe and ready to make bread. Defrost frozen mashed bananas overnight in the refrigerator or on the countertop at room temperature for 1-2 hours before making bread.

Makes 12

¾ cup Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix

¾ cup coconut flour

½ cup whole cane, palm, or date sugar

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt, finely ground

1 large egg,lightly beaten, at room temperature

1 cup whole coconut milk, at room temperature

1 cup mashed bananas, about 2 large

½ cup extra-virgin coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted, or a mixture of the two

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Center the rack in the oven. Pre-heat  the oven to 375 degrees F. Line twelve muffin tins with muffin cups (see cooks note). (Conversely, line 4 mini (3-inch x 5-inch x 2 1/4 -inch) bread pans). In a large mixing bowl combine coconut flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, chia seeds, baking soda, and salt. Use a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment to mix until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Add the egg, coconut milk, bananas, and coconut oil or butter. Mix until a smooth batter forms, about 2 minutes. Slowly fold the blueberries into the batter. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full; use about 1/3 cup of batter in each cup (or fill bread pans 3/4 full by using about 1 cup of batter in each pan).

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes for muffins and 25-30 muffins for mini bread pans.  Cool in the pan or pans on a rack.

Cooks note:

Twelve muffin cups can be made from a piece of parchment paper measuring 12 inches by 16 inches. Fold the 12-inch side of the paper lengthwise into thirds, then fold the 16-inch length of paper into quarters. Unfold the paper. There should be 12, 4-inch squares on the paper. Cut along the fold lines. Use the bottom of a glass or ramekin that has an outside diameter slightly smaller than the inside diameter of the muffin pan. Invert the glass. Center the parchment paper over the bottom of the glass. Use your hands to fold the parchment paper down over the glass, creating a large muffin cup.  Repeat with the remaining papers.

This post was shared at the Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday blog carnival, at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday blog carnival, and at Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday .

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