Health Food!

…is not what I make. πŸ™‚ However, I have started making granola, not for my health, but because it tastes good. Also it’s the one thing I make that my wife will happily eat regularly, which makes me happy and her healthy.

When I first started setting up my GF baked goods stand at the Saturday market one woman didn’t believe I was the baker, even though it says “CHEF” in big letters on the front of my apron, she said I was too skinny to be a chef. I told her I was trying. I’m sure that eating granola won’t help my chef-lite appearance. πŸ™‚

Granola: GF old-fashioned oats (not quick oats), shredded coconut, olive oil*, maple syrup**, brown sugar, cinnamon, touch of salt. Stir the dry, warm the rest, combine bake for 22 minutes in parchment lined flat pan, let cool, add in the dried fruits of your choice. I don’t really eat nuts anymore so I didn’t add almonds into the dry. For dried fruit I like to go half raisins and cranberries, or half blueberries and raisins.

*You could also use coconut oil, I just didn’t want to make it all about coconut.

**Mmmm…maple syrup. πŸ™‚

(oh look, there’s some sugar cookies sneaking into the health food picture)

Blue Ribbon Aspirations

Last summer I was making a test batch of cookies from a new recipe and they were just…okay. My nephew liked them and joked, “So does everything you serve now have to win a Blue Ribbon?” The short answer is YES.
Many people are pre-disposed to despise GF foods and when it tastes bad then their expectations have been met. Many customers are surprised when the food tastes good. My philosophy is that there are no throw-away foods at my booth. If a customer eats only one thing it had better be good, and not “just okay”.
I reworked the cookie recipe that my nephew had tasted, made it again, had him try them, and he went, “Oh. I get it, that’s really good.” If a customer eats only one thing I want them to have something really good, so everything has to be good.

Getting a Blue Ribbon at the State Fair for my baking always feels great. It’s even more gratifying because I’m putting my gluten-free items into the same categories as regular wheat flour entries, and beating them. I like to think they can taste the love in the food, as I strive for quality in everything I make.
What feels even better than the ribbons is all of the people who have eaten my food and smiled.

Thank you for your patronage. πŸ™‚

State Fair 2019-Round 2

Round 2 of the Alaska State Fair Baking competition has arrived and I’ll be taking my next three entries out tonight. This time I made some slightly fancier items; a Victorian Chocolate Almond Sour Cream Bundt cake, a Carrot Cake Jam Roll cake, and currant scones. All GF of course. For the Carrot Cake Jam Roll cake I had to learn how to make Carrot Cake Jam, which is a wonderful concoction! Here is a link to the recipes I used;

Fair Recipes 2019-2

These things I learned;

-The Chocolate Almond Sour Cream Bundt cake requires a bit of arm strength as it gets pretty goopy/sticky when the flours and hot chocolate/butter mix are combined. Whip those eggs in fast so they don’t cook from the heat. The original recipes I looked at for this one called for twice as much almond extract, the Victorians must have really loved their almonds, I found it overpowering and toned it down for a more balanced dessert.

-I know the bake time for the roll cake says 12 minutes, my oven must run a little hot as 11 minutes was perfect. More than that really dried out the cake. You can actually use the cake recipe for any jelly roll cake, just swap in the yummy jam of your choice. If you use fresh fruit instead of jam you should push the sugar up from 1 Tbsp to 3 Tbsp.

-For the Carrot Cake Jam recipe the nutmeg and cloves can just be strong pinches instead of 1/4 tsp as they can become overpowering in this recipe. Thank you to my wife for teaching me this recipe. πŸ™‚

-Wet hands are a baker’s friend, especially with the scone batter. Get your hands wet so you can shape and smooth the dough.

I’m hoping this batch of entries does as well as the first batch. πŸ™‚


State Fair 2019-Round 1 Victory lap

Four entries, four ribbons, three of them are blue! πŸ˜€

I think it’s funny how much of the donut cake is missing, the judges had to eat 3/4 of it to make their decision. I know that’s a pretty dense cake, it’s donut batter, and that’s how I like donuts. For round two I’ll make a real cake that has fluff and layers of flavor and looks pretty. Cakes have to look pretty at the Fair, it’s like a prom date for baked goods. πŸ™‚

State Fair 2019-Take 1

This is the third year in a row that I’ve entered the Alaska State Fair Baking Competition, which takes place in two phases. The competition is actually run twice so you can enter the same or different items on the second week of the Fair. I like to enter different items each week, I also like to put my gluten-free items in the regular categories to see how they stack up against other people’s baking skills. πŸ™‚

For this first week I am entering; French Bread, Blueberry Soda Bread, Cinnamon Rolls with cream cheese frosting, and a Doughnut Cake. Here are the recipes I used;

Fair 2019 Recipes


These thing I’ve learned;

1) Don’t let the french bread over-proof. If you let it rise too long the cell structure will get too weak and collapse leaving you with deflated bread. Right about 18 minutes works for a rise time in my house, ymmv.

2) Check the soda bread with a long toothpick or butter knife at 50 minutes, if it’s still soggy in the middle just give it a couple of minutes more. I have found it’s really easy to dry this bread out by just going a few minutes too long.

3) I have a giant donut pan, which is like a small bundt pan, so making ridiculously large donuts is fun and easy. Depending on how your gf flour handles moisture this can take as long as 30 minutes to make, I start poking at it at the 20 minute mark. I like to frost it while it’s still slightly warm so the chocolate ganache flows and drapes nicely.

4) When you first combine the frosting ingredients the color will look odd from the butter and the vanilla, don’t worry, just keep mixing them for 5-10 minutes and you should end up with satiny white fluffy cream cheese frosting. πŸ™‚

See you next week with my entries for round two.


Celiacs’ Delights: The Sweet Lowdown

(For some reason WordPress didn’t publish this when I wrote it last October)

Summer and the Farmer’s Market is over so Celiacs’ Delights is going on a hiatus while I figure out what the next steps for this business will be. One fun thing is that my wife and I are headed to the GF Expo in Portland which happens the first weekend of November. I’m hoping to see some good workshops, sample lots of interesting products, and check out some GF bakery food-trucks. A GF baked foods and pastries truck is one of the possible futures that I’m working towards so I’d love to see how some other people have done this.

These things I learned;

It’s okay to sell out…The booth turned a profit every week, which was very gratifying. It was difficult get data on what was popular and what wasn’t as we sold out of products every week. So the next week we’d make more products, more variety and more in quantity. And we’d sell out. So we’d make even more, and sell out again. Sometimes people would be trying to buy food from us before the market had opened and before we’d even set up our booth. The one time that I didn’t sell out on French Bread, which was a weekly staple, was the weekend after we had skipped a week because we had to go visit our prize ribbons at the State Fair. I was actually very pleased to not sell out for a change as it gave me a differing data-point to reference and showed me the importance of momentum.

Our business is good enough…The first few weeks that we worked at the Market the Anchorage Midtown Rotary was kind enough to give us three feet of table space to test sell our foods for the small price of 50% of our gross sales. We still turned a profit. We worked out of their booth for two weeks before approaching the Market about getting our own little 5′ wide booth, and our profit margins jumped considerably. We outgrew the small booth though and I expanded the operation to a full-sized 10’x10′ booth with a big table, that would start the day crowded and full and be empty at the end. When I told the Rotary, “Thanks for letting us try this experiment, but we’ll be getting our own space from here on out.” The Rotarian looked at me and said very seriously, “We’re going to lose a lot of money.” After that I donated the first $20 of profits each week to the Rotary booth as a thank you.

Free samples sell products…I know it seems obvious, but it was fun to put it in practice and see items sell better when customers were able to sample them. Free samples also served as a tasty introduction to our treats and one of the most oft heard phrases of the summer was, “That’s gluten-free?!?!” (incredulously) The GF French bread sold faster when I would chop up a mini-baguette. It was also truly enjoyable to see the expressions on people’s faces when they would sample the jams, jellies, breads, or cookies that we had that week. So much delight! One woman reluctantly bought a triple-berry hand-pie, then came back an hour later in a greatly agitated state demanding more pies because the one she had purchased was so good! Sadly, for her, we had already sold out.

Square beats Paypal Here…Our first few weeks we didn’t take credit cards, then I got my Paypal Here card reader working and customers were able to make CC purchases of GF foods from “Mayhem in Paper”…which confused a few of them… Mayhem in Paper is my online paper-model business and it’s connected to my Paypal account. I created a Square account for Celiacs’ Delights

GF Expo – Portland

TLDR: I highly recommend this experience.

I already posted this review on Facebook, I’m posting it on WordPress to share my experience with a wider audience.

The GF Expo in Portland has been sooo nice. Portland is cool too, I’m a fan of cheap, fast, light rails for mass transit as I’d rather not rent a car in a strange city if I don’t have to. When you walk into the Expo you are given a large re-usable shopping bag, and a full loaf of bread…that’s before you even get inside. Inside the hall all of the vendors have free samples, and you can even get a free sample of the bread they gave you at the front door. I wandered around for three hours loading up on carbs and sugar and alcohol. Yes, there were hard cider and gf liquer/liquour booths also giving out samples. After I’d had a bunch of cider samples I needed a waffle covered in whip cream and strawberries.
And everyone was so nice. It was crowded, but people were all quite polite and patient. We had some nice chats with food makers trying to market their creations, very few people ship to Alaska, but Lynne encouraged many of them to contact The Natural Pantry so there’s hope that some of these items will make it up here. The Trader Joes was very blunt and said they were not opening any stores in Alaska and wouldn’t ship there.
At the end of the first day we met the creator of The Celiac Project, a podcast and movie project covering stories, news, and personal experiences of living with celiacs. They held a panel discussion at the end of the day where we learned that the recommended wait time to kiss someone who has eaten gluten is 2-3 hours. We also met one of the creators of Gluten Free Portland, much like our Gluten Free Anchorage group, and they had a wonderful list of all of the restaurants and bakeries that were GF and celiac safe.


Just hangin’ with my buddy Bob at the Expo. πŸ™‚

The croquembouche journey (gf)

For those of you who saw and appreciated my pastry creation at the TBA fundraiser I didn’t just casually create it. I actually started working on it in July…

This summer I was approached about making a special dessert for a fundraiser auction and it needed to be spiffier than cake-pops. What to do?

Nick at the 4th of July BBQ: “Hey, have you ever made a croquembouche?” I’d never even heard of them before that, so I googled it, and watched Zumbo’s Just Desserts, and said, “Wow! That looks like fun.”

I’d already been making eclairs from gf choux dough for several years so I thought profiteroles (mini-cream puffs) would be pretty easy. For my first run at it I tried the recipe here; Jasmyne Tea to see what I could learn from her recipe. I learned that her recipe makes about 250 profiteroles, not 100 and her custard is too stiff and a bit bland. I remixed the custard with more milk and vanilla so it would flow a little better and served half of them at a company picnic and sold the rest at the Saturday Market which made one little girl who had been recently diagnosed as celiac very happy.

I decided to go back to my original choux dough recipe and work with that for my profiteroles.


I’d never worked with hot sugar….did a lot of reading, watched a few videos, asked some people with more experience…and made certain to have a bowl of cold water with ice cubes in it near me at all times.I wasn’t sure how strong the sugar would be so I poured it into these molds pretty thickly….

Initially I wanted to build a stepped tower like the contestants on Zumbo’s did, but that didn’t really work out. It was very difficult to get the profiteroles to stack up neatly, small variances in size will work against neatness, and I believe a cold air gun would have been very handy to help the sugar-mortar set up faster.

20180822_161851Everything was kind of slipping around, burning my fingers, and then I tried putting on the first disk level. The weight of the first level was just too much for the un-set hot sugars and profiteroles below it and just slid over to one side. Time to rethink.

I went back to the Jasmyne Tea blog post to review how she had built her profiterole tower and she had used an inverted parking cone to hold everything in place. Genius!

I picked up a novelty cone at party supply warehouse and inverted it into a pitcher for stability. I also cleaned it thoroughly. πŸ™‚

Having a frame work like this made it a lot easier to construct, far fewer moving parts. I still needed to work on consistent sizes for my profiteroles, but they were much closer in size to each other. I filled up the interior of the oiled cone with profiteroles and hot sugar…and didn’t wait for it to cool before I dumped it out of the cone.

Croquenbouche entryfacebook_1535745987569

The first picture is of my State Fair entry when I turned it in, it’s schlumping a bit because the foundation was the least set as it was the last parts I added. I also made small sugar stars using silicone molds and dipped forks into the hot sugar and draped sugar threads all around it. Unfortunately much of the thin sugar work dissolved on the drive out to the Fairgrounds. Did you know that sugar work attracts moisture and breaks down quickly in humid environments? I did not. The second picture is from the next day, I’m assuming I received a blue ribbon because the Judge saw it before it disentegrated. The one note the Judge gave was their was not enough vanilla flavoring in the creme filling, easy fix.

The day of the fundraiser arrived, I made the big and little stars the night before so they were ready. GF choux dough doesn’t really keep well so I made the profiterole shells fresh in the morning. While they were cooking I made the vanilla pudding, with extra cornstarch for stiffness, but not too stiff, and doubled up on the vanilla for flavor.

I ended up with 55 good profiteroles for the tower, there were 56 but I had to eat one for quality testing purposes. Melted more sugar, got a bowl of ice water and ice cubes ready, dipped and dropped profiteroles into the tower, only burned my fingers three times, very happy to have the bowl of ice water handy. Owwww! Ahhhh! Filled the tower and waited for everything to cool. And waited. And worried that the cooling sugar would glue itself to the inside of the tower…and dropped the whole tower gently out onto the table.


Ta-da! The plate it’s on looked a bit plain so I added a chocolate moat with white chocolate stars. And that’s it! People enjoyed demolishing and eating it after the banquet and my favorite moment was when it sold during the live auction for the same amount as the Mink stole.

Jillee Bread Good!


This really is the best GF bread recipe ever; but I had to make it a half dozen times to get it to behave consistently. I have also shortened the name from “GF bread that doesn’t suck” to “Jillee sandwich bread” in honor of the woman who developed the recipe.

What worked best for me, in my repeated attempts, was to let the dough rise for an hour, and it barely rises even then, and then bake for one hour. Less than an hours baking time left to much moist dough and the sides would collapse inwards. However, at one hour the top can get pretty brown so I also put a aluminum foil tent on top of the loaves at the 45 minute mark. Also, remember to scrape the bottom of the bowl halfway through mixing and check for clumping, it happens about half the time with this recipe.


Mmm, check out the cell structure on that slice, it looks like, well, like bread. πŸ˜€




It also didn’t work very well in a normal sized bread pan so I picked up a long pan from King Arthur Flour with high sides and that worked really well.

big loaf

I also found that I could split the dough (really more of a batter) into fourths and use a set of mini-loaf pans that I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond to make four small tasty loaves with robust tops. This way I could gift them to other G-Free people more easily. Baking in the smaller tins still needed 55 minutes to be really cooked through.


My wife says it reminds her of Kings Hawaiian bread, that’s probably from the honey. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t had that bread in 30+ years and I don’t remember it having any flavor. She’s my official taste-tester when I’m trying to make things that taste “normal”.

I highly recommend this recipe, just be a little patient with it.

The tooth shall set you free

I had an infected molar removed that’s been chewing away at my jawbone for years. It was feeling like a pair of child safety scissors was inside my skull trying to get out by way of my eye socket. I suspect that tooth has been the source of a lot of my headaches and stress over the years. It’s only been a day since the operation but my head feels so much better than before, despite the aches of recovering from an extraction.

I am hoping that without this nagging ache in my skull to drag me down I can be more productive with all of my creative endeavors.