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. 🙂


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. 🙂

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.

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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. 😀




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.

The list of Goodness

  I have list of items I want to learn how to make, eat, and share, all gluten free of course. Tonight I made Mini-Victoria sandwiches with Lynne’s raspberry jelly in the center and a stiffened whip cream around it. The sandwich and the stiffened whip cream are now checked off of my list. They were also quite yummy, reminded me of twinkies actually.

Mini-Victoria sandwich

I really enjoy playing with meringues, I think they’re kind of magically fun actually. For the July 4th BBQ I made Pavlova’s; a baked meringue disk with whip cream and fruit on top. I macerated the fruit while the Pavlova base was cooking and cooling so the textures would be similar, and fruit in Alaskan stores is usually not sweet anyways so a little sugar bath does them a world of good. The one thing I found for the next time I make them, they were very tasty too, is to make sure that the whipped cream covers the meringue base as the meringue by itself was crazy sweet and the cream really helped to balance it out.


Other things on my list are; Red velvet cake, carrot cake, souffles, mousses, cinnamon-roll bundt cake, hand-pies, and a croquembouche. I’ll start making mini-cream puffs/profiteroles in big batches this week to practice. This weekend I’ll start trying to make hot sugar molds to decorate the bouche tower. The State Fair is right around the corner so I need to get a move on. 🙂

Celiacs’ Delights!

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I finally opened a food stand with gluten-free food that I like to eat! Okay, it was half of a table that the Anchorage Midtown Rotary allowed me to use at the Muldoon Farmer’s Market, but it was a start. 🙂 I wanted to know if I could make food that I like, not lose money selling it, hopefully make some money, and still enjoy the whole process. It was successful on all points and I intend to continue this experimental endeavor in gluten-free baking.

For the first week I made french bread, cinnamon rolls, and peanut butter cookies. We sold out of the bread, had a few small bags of cookies left, and I made waaayyy too many cinnamon rolls. But it still worked out and I was able to give my son a half dozen rolls to take into work to share. My plan is to keep shifting the menu around each week to keep it fresh and see what sells. This next week I’ll be making the sticky buns, more french bread, toffee, and maybe marshmallows. Home made marshmallows are the best!

I am hopeful that this continues to be successful and if it is I plan to get my own stall and table for this summers outdoor markets. When I retire, which is still some years away, I’d like to own a bakery, or a bakery food truck, and this is the first step in training and planning towards that goal.


Here is my new Facebook page, if you’d like to follow along, and a link to the very nice and helpful people of the Muldoon Farmers Market;

Celiacs’ Delights

Bang the table Sticky Buns

sticky bun

It’s been a while since I posted about my progress as a gluten-free baker, but I have been making and eating many experiments since I last posted. I’ve made a list of GF baked items that I need to make, many of which are very basic, and top of the list was one of my wife’s favorites: Sticky Buns! I’ve never had sticky buns before so she was my official taster, and I made her a very happy taster. The recipe was based on this one from Gemma Stafford;

I substituted Namaste GF 1-for-1 flour (3 cups) and also added a little almond flour (1/2 cup) for better texture and moisture, instead of regular wheat flour. My wife is also allergic to Pecans so those are sliced almonds on top. It only makes a small batch and didn’t rise very much so I only had eight sticky buns for my test group (family & friends) to eat. Three of those testers banged the table in delight, so I assumed this to be a winner of a recipe.

Here are the ingredients with my substitution in place;

  • 1 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 3 cups GF 1-to-1 flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • Caramel Topping and filling
  • ¾ cup butter, melted, plus more for sides of the pan
  • 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
  • cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups chopped almonds

I highly recommend perusing Gemma’s site and watching her videos as they are quite entertaining and educational.