I’m becoming obsessed with Costco. I find grass fed beef there, as well as extra virgin coconut oil, avocado oil, Himalayan pink salt, Manchego cheese, and all sorts of inexpensive but high quality food items. Costco now sells Honeyville blanched, super fine grind almond flour, in 3lb bags, for about $18. For about $6 a pound, one can get some pretty nice quality almond flour. I honestly, truly love Costco. I love almond flour, too. It’s so nice to use for baking. Blanched almond flour is made from almonds, the skins of which have been removed by quick immersion in boiling water. The skins of almonds taste bitter; almond flour made with blanched almonds has a milder, sweeter flavor than flour made from almonds with the skins intact. Finely ground blanched almonds make the best quality almond flour one can find. Baked items made with finely ground, blanched almond flour are tender and rich in texture. What’s more is that almond flour is a healthy flour, high in protein. I use almond flour as the main flour in just about everything I bake these days – which brings me to the point of this blog post. I have a new bag of Honeyville blanched, finely ground almond flour (purchased from Costco, naturally) just begging to be opened and used. This past week I tasted some Gaia’s Light S A original flavor gluten-free granola for the first time. The granola packaging doesn’t mention what specific spices are in the granola, but whatever they are, they taste like Christmas. As I was eating the granola, I thought that mixed into almond flour, it would make a delicious, warmly spiced flavored breakfast quickbread.
Any gluten-free granola can be used to make this quick bread, of course, but Gaia’s Light S A gluten-free granola is the only granola I’ve ever tried that tastes like Christmas, breakfast, and dessert all at once. The flavor it adds to the quick bread is amazingly comfortable and cozy. This granola is actually manufactured (hand-packed, in fact) in small batches in San Antonio. It’s available in a couple of retail outlets, online, and at various farmer’s markets on weekends. I spoke with Margie, the creative mind and hands of the company; she told me she plans to expand the physical locations where her granola (and granola bars) is sold. It may be available in some places in Austin, soon. I feel comfortable eating Gaia’s Light S A, especially after having met Margie. She’s cognizant of the dangers Celiacs and gluten-intolerant people face from cross-contamination, and is dedicated to ensuring her products never come into contact with gluten.
As I set about the task of bringing my granola quick bread idea to fruition, I turned to the my culinary bible Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind Every Day Cooking (Ruhlman, 2009) for a quick bread formula. This book, perhaps more than any other, has helped me create successful gluten-free dishes. The beauty of using the ratio method is that since gluten-free flours vary in density and texture, cooking by weight is the most accurate way of measuring for gluten-free cooking (as well as for gluten-cooking). Eight ounces of flour is eight ounces of flour, whether that flour be wheat, rice, almond, or flax. I bought a digital kitchen scale years ago to help me with ratio cooking. I can’t imagine cooking or baking without it, now. Even as I point out the accuracy of the weight of ingredients achieved by ratio cooking, however, I have to add a qualifier. Certain adjustments have to be made, even in ratio cooking and baking, to allow for the diverse behaviors of gluten-free flours. Below I list the ingredients and amounts for quick bread from Ruhman’s book.
Basic Quick Bread Batter (Ruhman 71)
8 ounces flour
4 ounces sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
8 ounces milk
4 ounces egg (2 large eggs)
4 ounces butter
To bake my quick bread, I used this formula, but tweaked it to suit the nature of the gluten-free flour (it’s character and it’s lack of gluten). I reduced the amount of oil by half, to allow for the oil that naturally occurs in the almond flour. Also, to aid the bread in rising I increased the amount of baking soda and egg. I added the extra egg, too, because I used a small amount of coconut flour. Coconut flour always requires more egg and more liquid. It’s a thirsty flour, for sure.
This recipe makes a really rich, moist, delicious quick bread with a delicate crumb. The granola adds a pleasing, nutty texture. The subtle but very present warm flavor of spices in the granola makes the bread taste of autumn or early winter, of cold nights warming one’s self before a fire or sitting under a comforter reading a book – I think it will make an excellent gluten-free French toast! I believe I will try that for breakfast tomorrow!
2 ounces coconut flour
6 ounces of blanched, finely ground almond flour
4 ounces organic raw sugar
6 ounces Gaia’s Light S A original granola
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 tbls aluminum-free baking powder
8 ounces + 1 tablespoons Organic Valley Whole Grass Milk (with cream on top)
3 eggs, beaten
2 ounces of coconut oil
1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
1 tbls organic raw sugar
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
– Oil or butter a standard loaf pan
-Combine dry ingredients, except for the tsp cinnamon and tablespoon raw sugar, in a medium bowl.
-In another bowl, whisk together the beaten eggs, milk, and coconut oil.
-Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth.
-Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan.
-Let the batter rest about fifteen minutes (to give the gluten-free flours a chance to absorb the
-Mix together the teaspoon cinnamon and the tablespoon raw sugar. Sprinkle the mixture evenly across
the top of the batter.
-Place pan in the oven and bake until a cake tester or tooth pick inserted into the middle of the bread
comes out clean (about 30 to 45 minutes).
-Let the bread cool in the pan 15 – 20 minutes before removing.