Monday, April 22, 2013

Pumpkin Applesauce Bread (Gluten and Dairy Free)

          I’ve been meaning to share my recipe for for Pumpkin Applesauce Bread for some time, as it’s a staple here, is fairly foolproof, and is often requested. After three kind requests today when the bread was shared in Sunday school, I'll get moving and type it up now.

          It’s a variation on another old family favorite, with changes made to accommodate both gluten free and more healthy eating in general. The sugar called for in the original recipe has been decreased by half – feel free to add more, but I can’t imagine wanting it any sweeter. The oil content has also been halved, with applesauce taking up the slack there, adding a moistness that is welcomed in gluten free baking. Millet flour steps in as well, to contribute to a delicate, cake-like texture and take away some of the graininess that can occur with gluten free baking.

          All this, by the way, is one of the lovely things that begins to happen after you’ve been baking and cooking GF for a while. You will start to realize which of your old recipes might be nicely adapted, by substituting gluten free flours, and adding ½ t. of xanthan gum per cup of flour. Breads and cakes with fruits and vegetables adapt very nicely to GF baking, as they keep the end product nicely moist. You might decide that you don’t need things so sweet after all, and start to decrease the quantity of the sugar. You may taste generously as you go, deciding you really did need a bit more sugar, or another dash of some spice. Once you enter that realm, the new world of GF baking stops being so scary, and starts to actually seem like a lot of fun.

          I give a generous range in possible baking times for this recipe – from 45-60 minutes – because GF baking can vary based on the oven, the humidity, or the mood of either the baked good or the cook, it seems. I start checking at the beginning of the time range, and add minutes as I deem necessary. If you know what a finished bread or cake should look like, you can often tell just from “eyeballing” it in the oven whether it’s going to need at least 5 more minutes before you check it again. You’ll know it’s done when a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.
        And as a footnote, if you're still reeling from last week's events, may I suggest you turn off the news now? You likely have enough difficult images in your brain, and can catch up quickly through newspaper or other, less constant media. A friend reminds me that with todays media, we relive traumatic events over and over, as we see the images time after time, and the world can feel quite out of control. My favorite therapy for times that are too heavy? Spend some time mixing and baking, with favorite praise or classical music in the background. Walk every day, if even around the block. The cardinals and goldfinch have returned here, along with the noisy pileated woodpecker; who has returned to your neck of the woods? Light a candle as you prepare dinner in the quiet, and make your work a prayer as lips offer both intercession for the hurting, and praise to our King, who is still in control. Sing with your children, snuggle and read a story.
"Lord you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." Psalm 90:1-2
Giving thanks, and trusting in Him,

Pumpkin Applesauce Bread, gluten and dairy free

2 ½ c. GF flour mix (made using either white or brown rice flour)
½ c. millet flour
3 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
½ t. allspice
½ t. nutmeg
¼ t. cloves
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients
4 large eggs
½ c. canola oil
½ c. applesauce (unsweetened) ***
½ c. orange juice
1 ½ c. granulated sugar
1(15-oz) can pure pumpkin
          Grease and flour (with GF mix) two 9x5 loaf pans or one Bundt pan. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine eggs, oil, applesauce, orange juice, sugar and pumpkin and mix well. Stir in dry ingredients and blend until thoroughly combined. Turn into prepared pan(s) and bake 45 minutes-1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack, and then remove from pans to fully cool. Bundt should be inverted directly from pan onto large plate and to finish cooling there. You may store the bread well wrapped or covered on the countertop for a few days, and if there is any left over at that point, pop it into the refrigerator to keep longer.

***I find homemade, slightly chunky applesauce works beautifully in this recipe. I often chop a few apples (1/2” chunks) into a bowl, add a tablespoon of water, and microwave, covered, for several minutes, or until the apple bits can be mashed down with a fork and blended into applesauce.