Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Cinnamon Crunch Bread

Christmas is over but most of us still have one more week of vacation before we go back to school or work. This means lots of lazy mornings to lay around in your pajamas with no where to be. Since I have been making lots of cookies lately I am craving something more dense, rich and warm. A fabulous recipe that fits this description is my Cinnamon Crunch Bread.

¬†My obsession with cinnamon and bread started when I was a child. My mom would make me cinnamon toast when I was sick or just because. That infatuation with cinnamon carried over when I lived on a kibbutz and there was nothing else I wanted to eat in the kibbutz dining hall. They didn’t have much, but they had cinnamon toast! Then in my college days, when I was working and going to school and I didn’t have¬† a lot of extra money to shop for groceries I turned to my old standby again; cinnamon toast. It has been my friend for life.

Now my kids share my deep love and respect for cinnamon toast. And they love this bread too. It tastes jut like cinnamon coffee cake with lots of delectable cinnamon crunchies on top. When I pull the bread out of the oven I tell everyone to backoff for ten minutes (like anything it needs a little time to rest) and then we dig in. Between my four kids and husband, it’s gone within 30 minutes. Hope you enjoy it with your family during these vacation days at home.

CINNAMON CRUNCH BREAD

 

This bread has a delicious layer of cinnamon crunch on top. My family usually devours this loaf soon after it comes out of the oven.

 

¬ľ c. shortening

¬ĺ c. sugar

2 T. water

2 c. flour

¬ĺ tsp. salt

1 T. baking powder

1 ¬Ĺ tsp. cinnamon

1 c. soy or rice milk

 

TOPPING

2 tsp. cinnamon

¬Ĺ c. sugar

2 tsp. melted margarine

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan with dairy free baking spray.

 

Cream shortening and sugar well, add water. Beat until fluffy.

 

Mix flour salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add to shortening mixture alternating with soy milk.

 

Pour into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle top with cinnamon mixture. Bake for 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean and topping is crusty brown. Cool 10 minutes before cutting.

 

Yield: 12 servings

 

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Russian Tea Cakes (aka Mexican Wedding Cakes)

The Russian Tea Cake has always been one of my favorite holiday cookies. Its light and crisp texture is perfectly complimented with the subtle smoothness of powdered sugar. However, the traditional recipe calls for ground nuts mixed into the batter. I thought, how sad that those with severe nut allergies will never be able to taste this delectable little cookie. I had to develop a Nut Free version so my son John could see for himself why his mommy is obsessed with this powdered gem.

The following recipe is a result of that search. The trick to this particular recipe is to roll the cookies while still warm in powdered sugar, then cool completely and roll again. I promise you won’t miss the nuts. When my son tried these cookies for the first time he declared them became his new Favorite Cookie of all time, even over my famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

Enjoy!

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE RUSSIAN TEACAKES

 

1 c. dairy free margarine

¬Ĺ c. powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 ¬ľ c. all purpose flour

¬ľ tsp. salt

1 c. powdered sugar (for rolling)

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine margarine, powdered sugar and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Stir in flour and salt until dough comes together into a pliable ball.

 

Shape dough into one inch balls and place onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. While the cookies are still warm but cool enough to handle roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely and roll in sugar again.

 

It’s Christmas Cookie Time…

Who doesn’t love sugar cookies? They are crisp and delightful, sinfully simple. Coated with colorful icing or sprinkled with with sparkling sugar they never fail to delight children, teachers, grownups and of course, Santa. We make tons of batches of Sugar Cookie dough during the holiday season. My kids love rolling, and rerolling, cutting and decorating. Sometimes we’ll make a sweet frosting, but most of the time I just like sprinkling the cutouts with decorative sugar before going into the oven. I am sure many of you already know this, but always check the label of your sugars…some use shared facilities that may not be safe for you or your food allergic child.

Here is my favorite All Purpose Sugar Cookie recipe, made without dairy, eggs or nuts of course! Enjoy!

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE SUGAR COOKIES

Double the recipe to make a big batch for you and the kids.

¬ĺ c. dairy free shortening

1 c. granulated sugar

¬Ĺ c. unsweetened applesauce

1 ¬Ĺ tsp. vanilla

2 ¬ĺ c. all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

 

In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment combine shortening, sugar, applesauce and vanilla thoroughly. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt with a wire whisk. Add to shortening mixture and mix on low until combined. Chill dough in refrigerator for one hour or more.

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Roll dough to ¬ľ inch thickness on floured board. Dip cookie cutters in flour and cut out desired shapes. Bake 8-10 minutes or until very light golden. Cool completely on baking sheet.

 

The Things A Food Allergy Mama Will Do Continued…

Thanks for all your insight and comments ladies! I¬†thought of all of you when I dropped off¬†those heavy bags of groceries today to my son’s classroom. Upon leaving John’s teacher said, “Oh by the way, can you look at some of the candy that a few other moms wanted to drop off for the activity tomorrow?” I got that sinking familiar feeling again, knowing¬†all too well what was going to come next.

I said sure, but also wondered why some moms still sent in candy when I already said I was going to donate all the items. I suppose there is always one or two who still want to participate and send something in anyway.

He showed me all the bags of red hots, mints, gum drops and other traditional gingerbread house candies. Every single one of them had¬†one or more of the ingredients John is allergic to. Proved my point…if I didn’t send to school all the supplies we would have run into the same situation¬†for the¬†fourth year in a row. As painful¬†as it was forking over the $80 dollars, that moment¬†alone made it worth it. One thing is for sure: I will be in John’s classroom tomorrow¬†to make sure those other bags of candies aren’t opened.

To the average person who doesn’t have to face these food allergy safety issues it must seem like we are the food police. But the reality is we are simply protecting our children, not only physically but emotionally. I’ll never apologize for going to these lengths to make my son safe and feel included. The most meaningful thing to me is that whenever I have baked or brought ingredients to school I always get a warm smile from my son as I leave, his way of thanking me for thinking of him. And that is really all that matters.

The Things A Food Allergy Mama will do…

My son¬†is making Gingerbread Houses at school this Friday. His teacher emailed me to ask if John would be able to participate since it is a food related activity. The protocol is the teacher sends out a mass email to parents asking for ingredients to be sent in. Now, I have to say I’ve been through this scenario several times since John was in preschool. Here’s how it used to go: I’d email his teacher, give a list of safe brands and hope for the best. I also always volunteered that day to make sure everything went OK and John wasn’t left out.

In the past I have¬†tried really hard not to be over the top in my request to have specifc brand names purchased but reiterated it was the only way to make sure John could participate in any food activity. In the early days, he was usually the only one in his class with a severe allergy so oftentimes other parents never understood the importance of my requests, or that it was a safety issue. I used to get snickers and sneers too, but those didn’t bother me as much as the blatant refusal to buy the brand name indicated on the list submitted to them from their child’s teacher. So I’d show up thinking everything would work out and John could participate, only to find out a few key ingredients had allergens in it. This has happened EVERY year.

This year I decided to suck it up and just buy everything and make it my “donation” to the class. John is in first grade now and really gets the fact that at times his allergies exclude him from his peers. I want him to enjoy the activity and not be stressed over whether¬†he can participate. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. But I have to say there are times I am still bothered by the fact that this is still the way it has to be.

So nearly $80 later, I am at least comforted by the fact that I know for sure John will make his house on Friday. And none of the other kids will even know the difference.

Favorite Allergen Safe Baking Products

I love to bake and do so nearly every day. I am obsessed with sweets, treats and everything in between. It is quite possible my own addiction to simple baked goods has propelled me to create lots and lots of tasty recipes that can be shared with everyone. I love sharing what I have learned over the years, the hits and the misses, the trials and the tribulations. I’ve made many mistakes too, but feel that it is in those moments I am one step closer to perfection. Taking risks and making messes is really the only way to learn and grow, right?

The Holiday Baking Season is finally upon us. I can hear the sighs now…what do we do when we know we have to¬†make and bake safe treats to bring to winter parties and holiday dinners? By simply rolling up our sleeves, pull out one of my recipes and get baking. This is the perfect time to get your kids in the kitchen. Don’t worry so much about the end result, but rather the fun in doing. My two older kids, 8 and 6 have become quite proficient rolling dough, giving cookie cutters a gentle wiggle upon lifting and using a dough scraper to carefully lift cookie shapes onto parchment lined cookie sheets. The two little guys at ages 3 and 2 are still learning these little tricks, and would rather spend the time eating raw dough dipped in colored sugar. I should post a photo of my kitchen after one of these “baking sessions”!

While we all will be hitting our kitchens a little more often the next few weeks, I thought I’d share a few of my¬† Five Favorite Baking Products. Enjoy and Happy Baking!

1. Parchment Paper or Silicone Baking Mat: Use one of these two items and you’ll never have burnt, too crisp cookies again. There’s something magical about using parchment or the silicone baking mat; you’ll have perfectly shaped and baked cookies every time.

2. Dairy Free Baking Spray:¬† I love the Crisco brand baking spray with flour. It is quick and less messy than the traditional approach of “greasing and flouring” baking pans.

3. Silicone Rubber Spatula:  Every kitchen should have at least ONE, if not more. It is the only utensil I use to scrape down the bowl, stir in ingredients and pour into baking pans. There are so many fun colors now too.

4. Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract: I’m a real stickler about the vanilla I use. There are some ingredients you can’t go cheap; this is one of them. Get the good stuff, and you’ll see a real difference in your baking results.

5: Enjoy Life Allergen Friendly Chocolate Chips:¬† When I was considering my allergen free cookie business I did a ton of research into what were the safest chocolate chips to use. It wasn’t easy, but I can tell you that for the Food Allergic consumer, this product is your best bet for a great tasting and safe chocolate chip that has been extensively tested for allergens and executes strict manufacturing practices. There is one other too, but it isn’t readily availible to the average consumer and you’d have to buy it in bulk at expensive prices.

If you have a Favorite Baking Product you’d like to share, post your comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Warm Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Pancakes

It’s officially winter here in Chicago. The ground is covered in snow and the high today will be 19 degrees (if the sun stays out). I’ve lived in the Midwest my entire life and remember my mom making hearty and warm breakfasts on mornings like today. Let me be clear, I am no June Cleaver with an apron on whipping up fabulous breakfasts for my four kiddos. But sometimes it is just easier to make one hot breakfast for the kids and be done with it. It sticks with them longer, and I don’t get asked the “can I have a snack?” question at 7:45 a.m.

As many of us already know, our children with food allergies are limited to what kind of “hot” breakfasts we make for them because the boxed frozen versions of pancakes and waffles generally have allergens or are produced in a shared facility with allergens. Here is a flawless pancake recipe that you can easily double and whip up for busy mornings. Yes, I said busy mornings. From start to finish, it takes about 15 minutes. The best part is you can freeze the extras for another day. Enjoy!

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE PANCAKES

 

2 c. all purpose flour

4 T. granulated sugar

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 T. water

4 T. vegetable oil

2 c. soy or rice milk

Dairy free cooking spray

 

Preheat a cast iron griddle pan on medium heat until hot preheat oven to 200 degrees. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a wire whisk. In a large liquid measuring cup combine water, oil and milk. Pour water mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a wire whisk until just combined. Do not over mix; lumps are fine.

 

Pour about ¬ľ c. of batter onto heated griddle and cook until small bubbles start to form on top. Flip and cook other side until light brown. Transfer pancakes to a warmed oven and repeat.

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES

Sprinkle 1 T. chocolate chips over the top of the pancakes after pouring batter on hot griddle.

 

BLUEBERRY PANCAKES

Add fresh or frozen berries on top of the pancakes after pouring batter on hot griddle.