One of the items on my culinary bucket list was granary bread. I wanted to create my own version of a seed-loaded hearth bread I used to get from a local bakery. Their bread was dense without being heavy -- something you could sink your...
Last week I was in Banff, Alberta, surrounded by the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. It was unseasonably warm and the cloudless sky was the shade of cerulean blue you find only in a paint box. It was mid-afternoon and I'd had nothing but airplane coffee and a packet of the biscuits you can only get at 35,000 feet. A local suggested my friend and I grab a bite at a nearby café. Being obedient tourists, we did as we were told.
Hungry, but not wanting to spoil dinner, I went for soup. I expected to be taken by the homemade tomato and acho pepper soup and ordered the basil and cheddar scone merely to fill my stomach. I usually find bakery scones disappointing. They've sat on the counter too long. They're too dry, too bland, too expensive. I'm not bragging, but no bakery scone stands a chance against my fresh-from-the-oven ones. The ones I'm making in the photo on my about page. The ones I make every Christmas morning. The ones I want served at my wake.
In this age of pre-made artisanal everything, some foods remain defiant. While you can buy decent heat-and-eat naan in the grocery store, flaky croissants at any good bakery and to-die-for bagels at delis, crumpets remain elusive. The store-bought versions are rubbery and taste like they're sprinkled with vinegar. The real ones? Slightly chewy but light, with only a hint of a sourness. The trademark holes harness a sea of melted butter on which honey or homemade jam buoy with delight. Yup, I wrote that sentence high -- on the memory of my homemade crumpets.
Although crumpets can be mass produced, their prime is too short to make them mass marketable. Within a couple of hours they morph from golden brown butter sponges into wan, pockmarked hockey pucks. And because crumpets are best only fresh-from-the-griddle, I'm breaking several of my unwritten culinary rules to share this recipe. To make these I:
I love wheat. I love chewy cookies, moist cake and bread with great big air bubbles in it. And let's not forget flaky pastry, decadent squares and booze soaked trifle. With the exception of carob loaf, I don't think I've met a baked good I didn't like. And I'm fortunate. The only side effect I get from indulging in wheat is bigger sides. A friend isn't so lucky. He has Celiac Disease, so gluten-loaded food can be painful. While he's happy with his main courses, he misses baking. So I thought I'd help him out.
But finding good recipes isn't that simple. More than once I've politely choked down chalky gluten-free brownies and struggled to produce enough saliva to swallow dry-as-dust gluten-free breads. So, I experimented with Wendy Turnbull's approach to gluten-free baking. Having spent 30 plus years with Celiac Disease, she's figured out a way to deliver light, moist baking without the gluten. The key? Her special GEMS flour. You can't buy it in stores. You make it yourself from a blend of various flours, each selected for what it brings to the dish -- versatility, lightness, texture, tenderness and moisture. Yes, it takes a trip to the health food store. But I figure, if you're on a gluten-free diet, you're likely going there anyway for your pre-baked gluten bread fix. And this is a less expensive, more versatile option. Turnbull even provides a formula that allows you to turn your favourite wheat-based recipes into gluten-free ones.
Although I was initially intimidated, there was no need. Here's what I found:
Someone restrain me. I'm about to go to the year's biggest knitting fair and spend all my life's savings on ridiculously expensive wool and patterns I'll never have time to knit. Even if I started right now, gave up sleep and did nothing else 24...