Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies, the gluten-free, corn-free, dairy-free edition

Converting this old favorite to gluten-free wasn’t too difficult (it doesn’t contain much flour).  Getting rid of dairy and corn is a bit trickier . . . Baking without butter really isn’t the same, but today I tried palm oil shortening.  [In case you didn’t know, Crisco, which used to be just soybean and cottonseed oils, now contains citric acid from corn and a chemical preservative derived from butane!]  Corn also hides in vanilla extract and (possibly) xanthan gum; guar gum is a non-corn substitute thickener for the xanthan gum.  So technically, I haven’t yet made this entirely corn-free, because the Penzey’s Vanilla, which I LOVE, is made with corn-based alcohol.  I’ll be trying out homemade vanilla recipes soon!  Please let me know if you know of a source for reasonably-priced guaranteed corn-free vanilla.

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies

redux:the gluten-free, corn-free, dairy-free edition

I learned of this recipe in Laurie Colwin’s lovely literary cookbook More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen and have used and adapted it for years. Now that I’ve tried a version without gluten, corn, or dairy products, I figure I’ve altered it enough to post here. BTW, technically there’s a bit of corn in the alcohol & sugar in the vanilla extract (but I’m already researching recipes for homemade vanilla to get around that in the future!).

Ingredients

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or shortening [I used Spectrum’s Organic Shortening which is made from palm oil]
  • 2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract [corn-free if you can find it or make it]
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour or gluten-free substitute [I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour]
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum or xanthan gum [if using GF flour]
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional) [I left these out]

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Grease and flour the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan. [For easier brownie removal, especially when making gluten-free brownies, grease the pan and then line with parchment paper wide enough to cover the bottom of the pan and long enough to come up above two sides of the pan. Once the brownies are cool, you can just lift by the paper handles and remove the whole thing to a board for cutting.]

In the top of a double-boiler (or over very low heat) melt together the butter/shortening and the chocolate. Once both are completely melted, remove the pan from the heat.

Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Mix well.

Stir in the eggs. Mix well.

Stir in the flour and salt. Mix well. [If you are using gluten-free flour add 1/4 tsp of guar gum or xanthan gum.]

Add nuts if using.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing, cutting and eating.

Enjoy!

Copyright © 2011, Lucinda DeWitt

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

After many requests from friends, I finally made my first attempt at Red Velvet Cake.  I intended to make the Dark Chocolate Red Velvet Cake from the All Cakes Considered book by Melissa Gray, but after reading some negative reviews (e.g., http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/food-drink/red-velvet-cake/ ) and noticing that the ACC recipe used much more butter and sugar and many more eggs than any other recipe I could find, I decided to do one of my “recipe-mergers” where I combine the ingredients and techniques from several recipes into one that makes sense to me.  Links to the three recipes I ended up combining are at the end.  The only thing I retained from the All Cakes Considered version was using sour cream instead of buttermilk (because I had already bought sour cream for the cake and didn’t want to waste it).  You can find both the cake and frosting recipes here.

 

Red Velvet Cake

 

Red Velvet Cake sliced

[Yes, I know it is not the blood-red cake some of you are expecting.  For that, you need to reduce/leave out the chocolate/cocoa.  A full explanation of the cocoa/food coloring balance is contained in the recipe.]

Enjoy!

 

Not at all for summer

I’ve been culling through my recipe files. Found some old favorites in the cookies, cakes, and pies sections.

Apple Crisp complete on one little handwritten 3×5 card:

apple crisp recipe

(translation found at: Apple Crisp)

Also, Peppermint Pattie Brownies (sure, you could just add the candies to a boxed mix of brownies, but once you make these you won’t want to . . .)

and Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. I’m not much on baking cakes, but this one, courtesy of my grad school friend Janet Davidson, has remained a favorite. Similar to carrot cake, but without the vegetables 🙂

None of these are very appropriate on a day when it’s supposed to reach 90°F, but keep them in mind for autumn.

Moving On

I’m sure Mudpie would understand that I must displace the news about her with a great baseball announcement:

Cubs recall Murton from Triple-A

Yippee! The red-head is back.

In other news, I’ve been doing lots of bread baking in the past week. Three recipes from Rose’s Bread Bible. First I tried making the Semolina Torpedo, but the Semolina I have is the type for pasta and, despite what you might read on the internet, trying to grind it into a fine flour using a food processor does not work. So that loaf shrunk up. Edible, but not very good. Then I made both Cracked Wheat Bread and Flaxseed Bread. Both turned out great! Excellent sandwich breads.

Interested cooks will also notice that I’ve added a few other recipes to the Recipe Index and Pages lists. If you try them out, let me know how they turn out. Tomorrow I’m testing out my Pad Thai recipe. I finally wrote up my consolidation of about eight different pad thai recipes. Once I give it the kitchen test (and make any necessary changes), I’ll post that here as well.

Enjoy!