There is no time of year when I enjoy baking more than in the fall. Of course, the cooler weather makes it easier to be in the kitchen with the oven cranked up, but there is something about autumn that makes me crave home-baked goodies. Maybe it’s the seasonal produce or the approach of so many food-focused holidays; whatever the reason, fall means I’ll be making warm and comforting baked treats. If you bake a lot, you know that baking is a science as well as an art. Vegan baking requires the knowledge to adapt recipes and make the appropriate substitutions for eggs, dairy and honey. Gluten-free baking requires even further adaptations, but once you know the tricks and secrets, it’s really quite easy. Take a look at 7 Tips for Gluten-Free Baking and then join me in savoring the bounty of autumn as we bake the best fall treats – no gluten required.
1. Use Seasonal Produce
Most people think of summer as the time for the best produce, but autumn is the season that gives me all my favorite fruits and vegetables for baking. First of all, fall is apple picking season, and that means lots of muffins, pies, cakes and tarts all filled with sweet and tart apples. In late summer, Bartlett pears arrive, followed by Bosc and Comice pears in the fall and Anjou pears in winter. Other fall fruits would be pomegranates and cranberries, which are healthy, beautiful and festive.
One dessert that I love uses both pears and apples. My Pear and Apple Cobbler is a relatively healthy dessert that uses no sugar, just 2 Tbs. of maple syrup and only 2 Tbs. of vegan butter. Instead of using dough, I use a combination of oatmeal and almonds for a crisp and crunchy topping. The pear and apple filling is soft and sweet with warm spices that are comforting and delicious. It’s the perfect autumn dessert for a romantic evening in front of the fireplace, snuggling with someone you love. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine 2 pears and 2 apples cut into bite-sized pieces, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground allspice, a pinch of kosher salt, 1 Tbs. chickpea (or other gluten-free) flour, 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 Tbs. fresh orange juice. Toss so the fruit is well-covered. Transfer the fruit filling to your baking dish or ramekins. In another bowl, mix 1 cup gluten-free oats, ½ cup sliced almonds, ¼ cup chickpea flour, a pinch of salt, 2 Tbs. maple syrup and 2 Tbs. melted butter or oil. Mix well. The topping mixture should be crumbly and a bit sticky. Taste it to see if it’s sweet enough for your liking. Top the fruit filling with the oat topping. Press it down into an even level. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden-brown and the fruit is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let set for about 10 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or all by itself.
For more baked, gluten-free desserts with fall fruit, try this Gluten-Free Blueberry Apple Pie Cake, Vegan Pear Crumb Cake, and this Delectable Cashew Citrus Cream Cake with Pomegranate.
Of course, everyone knows that when autumn arrives, the whole world seems to go pumpkin-crazy. Pumpkin ends up in almost every recipe, whether it’s drinks, breakfast, pasta or pastries. Besides pumpkin, other winter squash such as butternut and acorn are available for sweet as well as savory recipes. While they are available all year-round, sweet potatoes and carrots make for some delicious autumn treats. Gluten-free goodies made with these seasonal vegetables include these Pumpkin Mousse Tarts, Pumpkin Cornbread Squares, Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate ‘Buttercream’ Icing, and Carrot Cake with Walnuts and Cream Cheese Frosting.
2. Use Fall Spices and Flavors
While I don’t usually think of spices in seasonal terms, there are certainly some spices that are associated with fall recipes. Those spices are warm, nutty, slightly spicy and slightly sweet. They include cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, chai, allspice, mace, star anise, cardamom, coriander, fennel, five-spice and peppercorns. Learn how to make your own pumpkin pie spice blend.
My Chai Spice Cookies are filled with warm and spicy fall spices. They smell and taste like the holidays personified. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a mug or small bowl, combine 1 Tbs. ground flaxseed with 3 Tbs. warm water. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes until it becomes a thick gel. In a medium-sized bowl, combine 1 cup sugar and ½ cup brown sugar. Mix the sugar with all the following spices: 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1 tsp. ground cardamom, ½ tsp. ground allspice, ½ tsp. ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp. ground cloves and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Take 1/3 cup of the sugar/spice mixture and set it aside on a plate for later. In a large bowl, sift 2 cups gluten-free, all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. xanthan or guar gum, 1 tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. baking powder and ½ tsp. kosher salt. Mix well until it’s well-combined. Add 1 cup vegan butter to the bowl with the sugar/spice mixture. Using a hand mixer, mix until the sugar and butter is combined, light and fluffy. Mix in the flax gel, 3 Tbs. non-dairy milk and 1 tsp. vanilla until it is smooth. Slowly add the flour mixture, about 1/3 at a time, to the wet ingredients and mix until it is all just combined into a dough.
Wet your hands a little bit and roll spoonfuls of the dough into little balls. The balls should be about 1-inch in size unless you want larger cookies. Roll each ball in the sugar/spice mixture you set aside before and place them on the baking sheets about one inch apart. Using the back of the spoon or the bottom of a glass, lightly press the balls down into discs. Bake for 16-18 minutes, turning the pans around halfway through. They should be golden brown and just starting to brown on the bottoms. They will still feel somewhat soft on top. They will harden as they cool. When they are done, remove them from the oven. Let them cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Other flavors associated with fall are caramel, maple, pecans, hazelnuts and walnuts. Gluten-free noms with these flavors include Flourless Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies, Oat and Pecan Cake with Vanilla Ginger Frosting, Iced Banana Pecan Cake, The World’s Healthiest Snickerdoodles, Sweet Potato Maple Mousse Pie, Hazelnut Cacao Torte, Spiced Chocolate Cake, and Vegan Cherry Pie with Hemp Seeds and Walnuts.
3. Easy as Pie
I have never understood the term “easy as pie” since I don’t think making pie is that easy. Bakers all seem to have their secrets to making a flaky and tender pie crust. It may seem even more daunting to make a gluten-free pie crust, but don’t be scared; it’s totally doable. There are a few secrets to making a good gluten-free pie crust: (1) make sure your ingredients are cold, (2) let the dough rest, (3) if the dough is fragile, use your fingers instead of a rolling pin to shape it, and (4) add extra moisture especially in the form of butter or oil. Gluten-free pie dough can be crumbly and fragile and can tear easily. That’s because it’s missing the gluten that would give it elasticity. The extra moisture helps make it smooth and strong enough to work with it.
Rather than make a traditional pie, I used my recipe for pie crust to make Mini Apple Galettes. They are so cute and much easier than a regular pie. Best of all, because everyone gets their own little galette, you don’t have to share! To make the dough: combine 3 ½ cups gluten-free, all-purpose flour, ¼ cup sugar, 1 tsp. xanthan or guar gum, 1 cup cold vegan butter, and ¼ cup coconut oil in a food processor. Pulse until you have crumbles of dough. Add 1/3 cup ice cold water and pulse until it comes together as a dough. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Cut it in half and shape each half into a smooth disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
In a large bowl, combine 4 apples sliced thinly, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, 1 Tbs. brown rice flour, 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground nutmeg, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Toss to mix and coat all the apple slices. Add ¼ cup sugar and 3 Tbs. water and mix everything well. Take one half of the dough and divide it into 4 pieces. Using a floured rolling pin, roll each piece into a thin circle that is about 6 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough circles onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Arrange the apple filling in the middle of each dough circle leaving a one-inch border. Fold the edges of the dough up over the filling. Repeat with the second half of the dough until you have 8 mini-galettes. Brush the galettes with non-dairy milk and sprinkle with 2 tsp. sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, turning the pans around halfway through. Allow to cool. Serve at room temperature or warm with vanilla ice cream.
Other gluten-free autumn pies you should try include Vegan Apple of My Eye Pie with Gluten-Free Crust, Pear and Almond Tart, The World’s Healthiest Pumpkin Pie, Simple and Healthy Pecan Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, and No-Bake Vegan Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Pie.
4. Bake Fresh Bread
Does anything smell better than fresh-baked bread? Baking gluten-free bread is easy once you get the hang of it. In fact, there is less kneading in gluten-free baking, so it’s even less work. Adding fall flavors to your baking does double-duty. Not only does it add flavor but ¼ cup of any puree such as pumpkin, sweet potato or squash can replace 1 egg in a recipe. In addition to bread, I love making my own biscuits. Whether you eat them for breakfast with vegan butter and maple syrup or have them at dinner to mop up the gravy from your mashed potatoes, my Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Biscuits with Soy Feta are flaky, tender and delicious. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups gluten-free, all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. xanthan or guar gum, 1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and 1 tsp. kosher salt. Mix well to combine. Add 1 cup non-dairy milk and ½ cup melted vegan butter or olive oil and mix until you have a thick batter. Fold in 4 oz. vegan feta cheese crumbles. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup sprayed with cooking oil, drop dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush milk on the tops of the biscuits. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown.
Do more gluten-free bread baking and make this Vegan Manna Bread, Ooh La La French Bread, Multigrain Rolls, Vegan and Gluten-Free Challah, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Italian Focaccia Flax Bread, and Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread.
5. Try Raw
Okay, maybe raw desserts don’t really count as baking, but if you can end up with cookies or a pie without ever turning the oven on, why not? These desserts have all the delicious fall flavors we have discussed and are gluten-free and healthy. When there are so many mouthwatering possibilities, we certainly can’t let a technicality stand in our way.
Try Pumpkin Cashew Cream Cake with Chocolate Sauce, Raw Pecan Spice Delight Cookies, Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake, Almond Cacao Cookies with Salted Maca Caramel, Totally Wow Raw Brownies with Pecan Nuts, Delectable Cashew Citrus Cream Cake with Pomegranate, Ginger Chocolate Cups with Sesame-Cashew Butter with Caramel, Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting, No Bake Coconut Pumpkin Pie, Raw Pumpkin Pie, Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes, and Pumpkin Cashew Cream Cake with Chocolate Sauce.
Whether you are new to gluten-free baking or are an expert, the fall season gifts us with a bounty of produce, spices, nuts and flavors to make the most incredible baked goods. Try these recipes and have the best fall treats – without the gluten.
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