Tag Archives: baking

Pear Gingerbread

20 Oct

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I didn’t use to like pears. I had a strange prejudice against them. The texture wasn’t quite crisp enough, the flavor perhaps a little too floral. And you can’t deny the slight graininess. I was an apple girl.

But I’ve made a real effort to give foods I didn’t use to like a chance to prove themselves to me again, to show their worth. My parents did a fair job trying to expand my palate as a kid. I grew up eating Thai food and all manor of sea creatures, but some dislikes are hard to get past. Brussels sprouts? I didn’t even try them until I was in my late teens. Squash? In pie form only, thank you. And don’t even get me started on peas and carrots.

Tastes change, however, and now I’m known to buy four different types of squash at the farmers market. I make Brussels sprouts for my boyfriend and I on a weekly basis. I’m still not a fan of carrots, though I’ve had success with an admittedly delicious carrot ginger soup. Peas are still a no go. Sorry peas!

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Pears got their chance as well. It started with perhaps some matchsticks in a salad, or a few pear slices eaten with some stinky bleu cheese. Their merits started to show. That sweet, floral flavor pairs nicely with tangy foods and hearty spices. Hmm…perhaps pears aren’t so bad after all!

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The real star of this Pear Gingerbread, however, is the molasses. It’s dark, smoky, slightly bitter aroma is the perfect counterpoint to the warm spices and sweet pears. Now, before the Paleo Police come knocking on my door, I know that some people might not consider molasses to be on the paleo “yes” foods list. There seems to be an overarching taboo towards all things cane-derived in this community, but in all honesty, why is cane sugar any less natural than coconut sugar? Both have been extracted and refined from a plant. And of all the forms of cane sugar, molasses still contains some vitamins and minerals. Look into it.

Besides, it really wouldn’t taste like gingerbread to me without a little molasses. If you really want to avoid it, substitute with additional honey or maple syrup. It won’t have the same rich flavor, but it will still be delicious.  Or you can live on the edge. I dare you!

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Spiced Dried Fruit Pumpkin Loaf

9 Oct

We are in the midst of an epidemic. Everyone is experiencing Pumpkin Fever right now. It usually hits near the first of October, and it’s a fast-spreading and potent illness whose symptoms only worsen through the remainder of the year. The only cure is to feed the fire. You must start eating as much pumpkin-laden food as you can stuff into your pumpkin-pie-hole. From lattes to muffins to pancakes and waffles. And it’s not restricted to sweet treats either. I’ve even seen recipes for pumpkin enchiladas and pumpkin chili!

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Here’s my first contribution to the pumpkin recipe roundup, and boy is it a winner! I took my first bite of this Spiced Dried Fruit Pumpkin Loaf, took another bite, made my boyfriend take a bite, looked at him expectantly, eyes wide and declared “I nailed this one, didn’t I?” He took another bite. “Oh yeah,” he mumbled with his mouth full.

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I decided to mix in chestnut flour with my usual base of almond flour for this recipe. Ground chestnuts create a very fine flour with a rich brown color and a nutty, sweet aroma that I thought would pair beautifully with the fragrant blend of spices in this loaf. The texture and flavor of this pumpkin loaf are truly divine. You can find chestnut flour in some specialty markets (it’s commonly used in Italian cooking), but you can also order it online. Go buy some– I plan to use it more often in future recipes!

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The mix of dried fruits in this loaf makes it a little more interesting than your typical pumpkin loaf. I went heavy with the spices as well to create an intoxicating flavor experience. A slice of this loaf is a truly decadent treat and will satisfy even the most powerful Pumpkin Fever cravings.

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Harvest Spice Apple Squash Muffins

2 Oct

Fall hit us with full force here in Portland. We were caught off-guard, blissfully sedated by the endless days of hot, cloudless weather we’d had for the past few months. One day it was 90°, our windows were thrown open and we had the fans going, then WHAM, it dropped down to 55°, the clouds barreled in and threw a stormy surprise in our faces. We quickly slammed our windows shut, threw the heavy comforters back on our beds, and put pants on for the first time since July.

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Welcome to fall!

“Don’t you love fall, though?” my hairdresser asked as she colored my locks an autumn-appropriate auburn red. “Yes, I do.” She knows me better than I thought. I love the crisp air, the smell of all the leaves on the ground, the excuse to bake and drink copious amounts of tea and cocoa. I love scarves and cozy sweaters and earth tones. I love boots.

I’ve created a plethora of fall-inspired treats over the years, chock full of pumpkin and pears, apples and cinnamon. But they’re not paleo! This needs to change, and change fast, as fall is most certainly upon us!

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The original version of these Harvest Spice Apple Squash Muffins appeared on my old blog exactly 2 years ago. I loved those spiced muffins so much, I actually developed this paleo version last year, but never shared it with the world. I gifted my mom with the recipe in her birthday card, however, and she adores them (right Mom?). I’m pretty sure she usually substitutes pumpkin for the butternut squash, so that’s definitely an option if pumpkin is what you have on hand. Try to find butternut if you can, though! Give the other squashes a chance!

These little muffins are a perfect taste of fall. Warm spices, tart apple, tender squash. And what a pretty orange hue!

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Raspberry Swirl Orange Loaf

1 Sep

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This sunny, citrusy loaf is for early mornings. Specifically, it’s for Fridays. You see, it’s hard enough resisting treats at work on a normal day, but on Fridays I’m greeted by at least three or four flavors of sweet rolls waiting to be taste-tested. There’s always a cinnamon roll, a pecan-topped sticky bun, sometimes a chocolate roll, all with a knife sitting by them for cutting and sampling. And then there’s my favorite– a raspberry-jam-filled roll topped with a tangy orange glaze that I find irresistible. It whispers to me, I swear it does!

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Well, this Raspberry Swirl Orange Loaf is my defense and my reward for resisting temptation. It’s a tantalizing indulgence in its own right. Tender and moist, sweet and fragrant, it’s a perfect pick-me-up for long work days. I brought slices of this loaf to work and it was quickly devoured by all. No one you serve this to will ever guess it’s grain free, dairy free and refined sugar free! It’s as good as (if not better than!) any decadent coffeehouse treat. This loaf will get gobbled up without so much as a crumb left behind!

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This recipe is a great foundation for a variety of flavor combinations. Try it with cherry or strawberry jam. Switch up the orange for lemon and pair it with blueberry or black currant. The wonderful thing about using jam is you can enjoy the flavors of summer all year round. I know I’ll be baking up loaves of this in the winter to cut through the gray gloom!

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Blackberry Pecan Crisp

20 Aug

We’ve had a remarkable summer here in Portland this year. Endless days of sunshine, never worrying whether today is going to be a “shorts day” or if the weather is right for a hike. It’s been hot for us Oregonians, sometimes a bit too muggy, but I can’t complain. (Okay, I can complain a little when I have to cook or workout or sleep). These sunny days have made for an early blackberry crop, and if you know me at all, you know I love to tackle those prickly vines for summer’s sweet (and free!) bounty.

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I’m a bit strange about blackberries though. I love them, but I don’t love them raw. I prefer them baked into pies and muffins and sweet breads. And although I have a plethora of blackberry-laden baked good recipes on my old blog, I have yet to make a paleo creation with my favorite berry. The time has come!

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Crisps (or crumbles, as some people call them) are one of my favorite quick and easy dishes for any fresh fruit. My mom used to always make the most delicious apple crisp that we could literally finish between the two of us in one evening– and it was probably the simplest recipe in her repertoire! Just plain apples layered in the bottom of a dish, topped with a sweet and buttery crumble laden with oats and butter.

This paleo version is a little more involved, but still quite simple. Since nuts tend to burn quickly and become bitter, I decided to par-bake the fruit filling before adding the crumble topping. The extra head start the fruit gets in the oven is the perfect time to mix the topping together. In less than an hour, you’ll have a warm, bubbly treat to eat with a scoop of ice cream on a warm summer evening!

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Toasted Sesame Coconut Cookies

29 Jul

Did you read my intro post? Good. Then you know I spend my days working in a bakery, making absolutely scrumptious pastries that I do my best to avoid eating. When a broken cookie or a slightly-smashed cupcake is staring at me from the end of the counter, it’s hard to look it in the eye and say “NO!”, but I’ve spent the last year strengthening my willpower. However, some treats are harder to resist than others. I have my favorites that give me a particularly devilish stare. One of those is the cupcake we recently developed based on those sesame seed balls stuffed with sweetened coconut found at Asian restaurants. Something about the pop and crunch of those little sesame seeds…the buttery nuttiness of toasting them…oh my!

When this delectable sesame cupcake appeared on the menu a couple weeks back, and I didn’t sneak one single bite, I knew I had to reward myself with a sesame-laden paleo treat when I got home.

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These Toasted Sesame Coconut Cookies are wonderfully chewy, delightfully nutty, and perfectly sweet. I brought them along to girls night with my coworkers and this honest group of taste-testers loved them. The leftovers were apparently eaten for breakfast…

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Cherry Vanilla Clafoutis

24 Jul

I didn’t use to like cherries. I can honestly say I’ve never eaten a classic piece of cherry pie. When I was little, I would spend summer days climbing the cherry tree at my best friend Betsy’s house, picking buckets of the shiny red fruits for her mom to make a pie that I didn’t even want to eat. If a piece was ever served to me, I picked away at the crust and the ice cream melting alongside it and strictly avoided the sticky sweet filling.

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It wasn’t until last summer that I realized I actually like cherries now. There was a heaping bowl of freshly-picked local Oregon cherries sitting among the dishes at a friend’s 4th of July party and, to my surprise, I was tempted! They just looked so darn pretty and I figured it was high time to give them another chance. After all, I used to hate squash and rarely ate leafy greens up until a few years ago, and now I eat them all the time. Taste buds change. Don’t keep assuming you’ll still despise something you used to dislike as a kid! You could be missing out on something truly tasty– like this beautiful Cherry Vanilla Clafoutis!

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Of course, you all probably think I’m crazy/weird for hating cherries to begin with. I also don’t care for blueberries. That’s still true.

If you’ve never eaten, made, or even heard of clafoutis before, it’s basically a fancy French word for a baked custardy, pancake-ish dessert that could easily pass for breakfast food. You can really make this with any fruit (I’ve done rhubarb before), but cherries are traditional. Vanilla bean makes this look super sophisticated, but it’s honestly one of the easiest desserts you could whip up for a crowd. Plus, it’s just as good cold or at room temperature as it is warm, which makes it great picnic fare!

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