Category Archives: Baked Goods

Gluten-free, Dairy Free Cranberry Scones

Gluten Free Scones|Spoonwithme-com

I’m having a secret love affair with coconut oil.  At first it started off as an innocent flirtation, a little here, a little there.  It turned a little tawdry when I started using it as one of my main pan frying oils.  I freaked out when it actually worked to make a flaky pie crust.  I knew I had fallen deep when I substituted it for butter in my favorite chocolate chip recipe, and the cookies turned out beautifully, and my father in law tasted and said, “MMMMM!  There must be a lot of butter in these!”.  I may or may not use coconut oil as hand lotion.  My love grows day by day as I find more uses for it.  My most recent coconut oil celebration came when I found a highly reviewed recipe for gluten-free scones on the King Arthur Flour website and decided to give it a mini-makeover.

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Gluten Free Scones|Spoonwithme-com (16)

I know first-hand that it is difficult when trying to cook for people with various dietary needs.  When the lactosally challenged and gluten-freegans are invited to the same brunch, menu planning is like a puzzle.  Do we have enough things that are dairy free?  Gluten-free?  Are there things that we can make that everyone can eat?  Sometimes I feel like Paris Hilton.  So high maintenance.

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When I came across this recipe on King Arthur Flour’s site, it matched all my requirements for a recipe.  Straightforward ingredients, nothing weird or overly processed.  I was intrigued by the idea that in the recipe’s footnotes, the author indicated that the recipe could be made dairy-free with a couple of substitutions.

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Gluten Free Scones|Spoonwithme-com (4)

When I decided to whip up a batch of these scones on a Saturday morning, I was thinking, Don’t fail me now, my tropical jar of love.  I followed the recipe, substituting the coconut oil for butter, using almond milk instead of milk.  When they emerged from the oven, looking and smelling in every way like proper scones, I fed them to my most honest recipe tester, who just happens to eat scones every chance he gets.  His rating involved a full mouth, furrowed brows, an emphatically nodding head, and a garbled mmmmrahllygood.  Mister approved.

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Gluten Free Scones|Spoonwithme-com (12)

These scones are not a half-hearted substitution for the real thing.  They are the real thing. Moist on the inside, biscuity crisp on the outside.  Dotted with cranberries.  Adaptable as far as your imagination will take you, with citrus zest and aromatic spices.  They are everything I would expect from a proper scone.  Even if you’re not lactosally or glutonially challenged, you won’t miss the butter or the flour.

My secret love affair continues.  Who knows where we will go next on our magical voyage?

Readers, have you jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon?  Any favorite uses?

Gluten Free Cranberry Scones

Closely Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Makes 8 Scones

  • 1  3/4 cups King Arthur gluten-free multi-purpose flour (or other multi purpose gf flour mix)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or other dried fruit
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup cold plain almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil or line with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.  Add the coconut oil and work it in with your hands or a pastry cutter until crumbly.  Stir in the dried fruit.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla until frothy.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until completely combined.

Drop the dough by the 1/3 cupful onto the prepared baking sheet.  Allow the scones to rest for 15 minutes.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Walnut Crumble

Crumbly Banana Bread

Nothing makes teachers act like kids more than a snow day. It’s a dirty little secret that teachers hope for snow days with even more fervency than students.  A couple nights ago, Facebook was abuzz with weather-related status updates.  SNOW DAY!  WOOHOO!…Finally got the call!  No school tomorrow!…Very happy camper right now…  And then there was my status:  Saaaaahhhhnnoooooooowwwwww daaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy! Yesssss!  I was the teensiest bit excited.  Now, what does one do in winter conditions with time off and a bowl full of spotty bananas?  Do I even need to say it?

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Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked Up Banana Bread is my go-to recipe.  For years, I actually followed the recipe as written–besides replacing the flour with whole wheat pastry flour, and the bourbon with other various liquors.  I had never thought to drastically change it, because I knew I had found everything I was looking for in banana bread. It was moist.  Sweet, but not too sweet.  Spiced and fragrant, with an underlying boozy hum.  I was completely satisfied with the recipe, and not tempted to change a thing.

Smashed Bananas--SpoonWithMe.com

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But then…  My eyes began to wander.  Visions of coffeecake crumble danced in my head, and I just couldn’t shake the thought.  Banana bread and coffeecake in one?!?  Do you think?  Nawwwww!  Deb’s recipe is perfection.  You can’t!  But you must!

Mixed Up--SpoonWithMe.com

Walnuts--SpoonWithMe.com

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I started tinkering around, trying to create a nutty crumble to complement, but not over-shadow the banana bread perfection.  I finally arrived at the perfect intersection between coffeecake and banana bread: a fragrant crumble with toasty, wal-nutty clumps on top, and my favorite (almost) original “Jacked Up” banana bread underneath.

Unbaked--SpoonWithMe.com

Banana bread up close--SpoonWithMe.com

You won’t even need to summon the snow gods to make this banana bread.  Just a little bit of time, and few spotty bananas!

Sliced Banana Bread--SpoonWithMe.com

Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Walnut Crumble

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes one loaf

For the Banana Bread:

4 ripe bananas, smashed with a fork

1/3 cup melted salted butter (or earth balance vegan butter)

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon brandy or bourbon (optional)

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

1 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour

For the Walnut Crumble:

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup walnuts

3 1/2 tablespoons cold butter (or Earth Balance vegan butter)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Process:

  1. Spread the walnuts on a cutting board and smash them using the bottom of a measuring cup or jar. Combine all walnut crumble ingredients in a medium bowl. Using clean hands, blend the ingredients together until the butter is completely incorporated.  Squeeze handfuls of the crumble in your hands, then break apart the bigger clumps to form pieces resembling a coffeecake topping.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Lightly grease a loaf pan with butter.
  3. Put the bananas in a large bowl, and use a fork to mash them.  Mix in the melted butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, brandy, and the spices.  Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the top and mix it in.  Add the flour, and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Pour into the buttered loaf pan.  Spread the crumble topping evenly over top.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool before slicing and serving.

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Cranberry-Orange Cinnamon Rolls (Vegan)

Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Christmas and the art of procrastination

I’ve tried to be organized and efficient.  Believe me, I would love to muster up just a drop of the left-brained efficiency required to tackle tasks in advance, in a calm and serene manner.  Gifts purchased or homemade, wrapped and placed under the tree. Strings of cranberries draped around the perfect tree.  Mulled cider wafting through the clean house.  Stockings all hung by the chimney with care, and nothing left to do to but settle down for a long winter’s nap.  Unfortunately, try as I may, Christmas Eve is always a whirlwind.  It’s the deadline for tying up all the loose ends of holiday to-dos.

Roll the Dough

Christmas preparations happened extra late this year.  Who am I kidding, with me, Christmas preparations always happen in a somewhat frenzied manner.  Take, for example, the Mister and I’s foolproof method for procuring the perfect tree.  Let fate choose your tree for you.  To do this one must make sure to wait long enough that most tree lots are empty.  When you find a tree lot that has a few mis-shapen trees left, you’ll know you’ve struck gold.  This year, we were thrilled to find a tree, flouncy and filled out on one side, and relatively flat on the other, a perfect fit against the living room wall.

Zest and Sugar

Zesty Sugar

Now, this next one takes a bit of advance planning.  When purchasing a house, be sure to move next to neighbors that use more than their fair share of electricity around Christmas time with a gaudy holiday display.  When lit, the reindeer on their roof will cast a pleasant holiday glow on yours until you can put up a couple strings of lights.

Filling the Rolls

Risen Rolls

The thing I love about Christmas morning is that the frenzy comes to an end.  Even if you have to rotate from house to house like the mister and I, making the rounds, there is nothing left to buy, and whatever is, just is.  I’m finally tying up preparations, and thought I’d throw out one more last-minute idea to all of my fellow procrastinators who haven’t yet thought about Christmas breakfast.  For all the organized people out there, who already have plans, these rolls would be great for any breakfast or brunch.  They are scented with cinnamon and orange, tender and gooey inside, their sweetness punctuated with tart cranberry.

Baked Golden Brown

Gooey Baked Rolls

However you celebrate, I hope you enjoy the people around you and some delicious food.  And most of all, fellow procrastinators, enjoy the calm after such a whirlwind of holiday preparations.  Merry Christmas!

Cranberry-Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Makes about 24 rolls

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

For the dough:

2 packages of yeast, dissolved in 1 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons vegan butter, such as Earth Balance (or use real butter), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
7 1/4  cups all purpose flour (plus more if dough is still sticky)
2 cups hot water
1 tablespoon salt
grated zest from 1 medium orange, about 1 tablespoon

For the Filling:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Zest of 2 large oranges
3/4 cup granulated sugar

For the orange sugar topping:

Zest of 1 large orange
1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the frosting:

4 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1  tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Dough:

1. Add the yeast to 1 cup of lukewarm water. Stir and set aside for about five minutes, or until proofed (the top layer should look foamy and bubbly)

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the coconut oil, 3 tablespoons butter, sugar, and salt to hot water and beat for about a minute, or until the butter and coconut oil are melted.  Allow to cool to lukewarm. Stir in 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth.  Stir in the yeast mixture and the 1 tablespoon orange zest and mix until well combined.

3. Gradually stir in the remaining flour and mix with the dough hook for about 2 minutes. Remove dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured counter. Knead by hand for about 8-10 minutes, adding flour as needed if the dough is sticky,  until satiny and smooth.

4. Put the dough in a floured bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size.

5. Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured counter. Divide dough in half. With a rolling pin, roll one half of the dough into a rectangular shape.

6.  Add the filling: spread dough evenly with 4 tablespoons of softened butter. Sprinkle the dough with 1/2 cup  and 3/4 cup dried cranberries. Rub the orange zest, cinnamon, brown sugar and granulated sugar together in small bowl. Sprinkle half of the mixture over the dough.

7. Gently roll up dough into one long roll. Cut rolls, using a piece of dental floss or thread, about two inches thick (after cutting with the floss, you may need to finish cutting it with a sharp knife). Rub the zest of one orange and half cup of sugar together in a small bowl. Dip and twist the rolls into the orange sugar mixture. Place rolls in greased 9X13 baking pans.Now follow the exact same steps with the other half of the dough.

8. Place the rolls in a warm spot and cover with a towel. Let rolls rise until double in bulk, about an hour. Bake  425 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 5-7 more minutes or until golden brown. Remove pans from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

8. To make the frosting-in a medium bowl combine, butter, powdered sugar, almond milk, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Frost rolls generously with frosting. Serve warm.

*Rolls may be re-heated in a 300˚ oven if needed

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Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

Once upon a time, a mere 24 years ago, I was a Girl Scout.  My similarly-dressed companions and I met weekly to construct picture frames out of popsicle sticks and paste, act out skits about leaving things better than found, and to sing songs about friendship.  We even camped out in the park, with three shrieking gap-toothed girls and a mom in each tent.  Every Girl Scout had a sash, and donned varying degrees of flair, earned for such tasks as being crafty, selling cookies, swimming and what not.

Serious stuff this girl scouting was, and such extreme sporting called for an extreme snack.  We called it gorp.  The moms gathered ingredients from far and wide; pretzel sticks, colored mini marshmallows, M&Ms, peanuts, raisins, and any number of kid-friendly cereals, all to be expertly shaken up in a big paper grocery bag and distributed by the handful into little ziploc bags.

As fantastic as gorp was, I’ve moved on to less processed snack options.  Like gorp, however, this is a recipe is perfect for when you’re feeling like getting your snack on.  It’s like a granola bar and a cookie all wrapped into one, and reminds me of carrot cake.  The dark chocolate chunks may fool you into thinking you’re eating something completely indulgent.  Go ahead and tell yourself that, but your body will know that this ain’t no white-flour-no-nutrition-at-all indulgence.  It’s filled with whole grains, oats, carrots, and just a few little sweet extras to make it into a little treat.

In the spirit of gorp, feel free to toss in whatever dried fruits or nuts you have on hand–as long as you keep the ratio of liquids to solids the same, you’ll be golden.  I can imagine a salted pistachio honey sweetened cookie as a future improvisation.  If you do a little experimenting, I’d love to hear what variations you come up with!  We may not be girl scouts anymore, and we may not sing songs of friendship (at least not in public), but we’re still bound together as sisters (and brothers) in the spirit of gorp by the universal need to snack!

Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

Adapted from Hope 360, a publication I picked up at the health food store check-out stand

Makes about 30 cookies

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour*

1 cup shredded carrot

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut (shredded or finely chopped)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted

1 cup dried cranberries or cherries

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.   Mix the flour, oats, sugars, carrot, coconut, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together water, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Add wet mixture to dry. Stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips, pecans, and cranberries.

Scoop the batter by two rounded tablespoons each onto a baking sheet, pushing in any stray pieces. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool for 2 minutes on the pan, and then remove to a rack to cool completely.  Once cooled, the cookies can be stored in an air-tight container for three or four days (that is, if they are not eaten first!).

*If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, substitute 3/4 cups all purpose flour and 3/4 cups whole wheat flour.

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Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I’m sure you’ve met the notorious online grump, spreading bad will to message boards, blogs, and food sites all over the internet.  I imagine his creased forehead connected to his furrowed brows, and lips shaped into the start of a dis-satisfied “harrumph.”  He wears oscar-the-grouch-colored trousers, to match his stinky attitude and unpleasant demeanor.  If there were an online dating site for bad commenters, I could totally see Mr. “Shame on you for posting such a recipe” getting along with Ms. “I substituted this for that, and I changed the cooking method, and I’m so disappointed that it didn’t turn out!”.  Thoughtful, constructive criticism is one thing, but Mr. Grump’s comment almost made me miss out on one of my favorite new ways to make chocolate chip cookies!

First, he chastized Food and Wine for tagging these cookie bars a staff favorite:  “Did anyone on your staff even try these?”  Then, he moved on to describe the dry texture. I half expected them to taste like sawdust.  He ended with “Usually I try to figure out how to improve a recipe but in this case, I wouldn’t be bothered.”  Sometimes, I heed the caution of others, not making a recipe that seems flawed.  This time, I was just too tempted by the prospect of a cookie made with whole wheat pastry flour, and plenty of chocolate and toasted pecans.  I chuckled at the passion at which the reviewer opposed an innocent pan of chocolate chip pecan cookie bars, then broke out the Kitchen Aid mixer.

These were easy to put together, and pretty darn tasty right out of the oven.  The pecans turned sweet and almost buttery when toasted.  I would have expected a denser texture from a cookie bar made using whole wheat flour, but the only telltale sign that the bars were made with whole wheat pastry flour was a more nutty aroma and flavor.  I enjoyed the texture on the day that I baked them–crisp around the edges, and tender on the inside, with pools of dark chocolate wrapped around the toasted pecans.  I thought that I had proved Mr. Grump completely wrong.  To be fair, they were a little drier than I would have liked on the second day. I would make them again exactly as written if I wanted a more crisp cookie, say, to dip into coffee, but for an after dinner chewy cookie treat, I’d have to make a couple changes.  So…the reviewer was neither wrong nor right, but still snarky and disagreeable.

I spent a Sunday afternoon on a mission to add a little more moisture to the dough, because I like my cookie bars to stay chewy for at least long enough for me to eat them all (and share with others!).  On my first try, I added a banana for moisture, and a little extra flour (because I thought the dough was too wet).  Not bad–kind of like a cake-y chocolate chip banana bread cookie, but not quite what I was after.  I added two extra tablespoons of butter to the original recipe on my second try.  When I brought a stack of them to my friends in the teachers’ lounge two days later, they were still nutty, moist and chewy in the center.  Just what I look for in a chocolate chip cookie.

I’m sorry I was so hard on you Mr. Grump.  Would you like a cookie bar?

Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Makes 16 cookie bars

Adapted from Food and Wine

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, (plus extra for greasing sides of pan)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or chunks)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line the bottom of a 8-by-11-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides of the pan to prevent sticking.
  2. Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool slightly, then chop and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the butter and oil with the granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt; beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients gradually on low speed. Add the chocolate chips and pecans.  Mix just until incorporated.
  4. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool completely, then run a knife around the edges.  Cut and serve.

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