2 Bigs + 4 Littles under 1 Midsize Roof = Life As We Know It
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Edible Endeavors (One Fruitful, One Frustrating but Fixable)

When the weekend rolled around and found me with several large containers full of organic Bing cherries that needed to be consumed before they became compost, I devoted part of my Saturday to destemming and pitting all that were in good shape. (I actually only had to part with about a dozen or so cherries that were mushy or starting to mold.) The firmest and prettiest I served at dinner that night (they didn’t last long!) And the remaining ones became the basis for a batch of Cherry Juice, inspired by a recipe in Missy Chase Lapine’s book, The Sneaky Chef. I knew we’d be having Sunday Pancakes the next morning (our traditional, pre-church breakfast), so my idea was to use the Cherry Juice to make Cherry Syrup to top them off. It worked wonderfully and became an instant family favorite. We even had enough Cherry Juice left over to add a fun flavor (not to mention extra fiber and antioxidants) to our applesauce the next day.

My other food foray this week was an attempt to make my friend Wardeh Harmon’s Easy Sprouted Spelt Artisan Bread. She developed her recipe and method from the techniques laid out in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. Wardeh uses sprouted spelt flour for much of her baking these days, motivated by her research (much of it gleaned from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon) into its nutritional benefits and ease of digestibility—even for the gluten-intolerant members of her family. After seeing what she was up to on her blog, www.gnowfglins.com, (and following up with my own reading of both Nourishing Traditions and Artisan Bread), I was eager to try her recipe for our family—and especially for our oldest son, Kellen, whose food allergies have meant that he has eaten gluten-free for much of his 9 years.

Unfortunately, my results weren’t what I’d hoped they’d be on my first attempt. The dough was supposed to be pretty wet—as indicated by both Wardeh’s recipe and the Artisan Bread methodology. But mine was initially way too dry and stiff, so I tried to compensate for it by adding more water to get it to the right consistency. The resulting loaves had a nice crisp exterior crust, but they didn’t rise well and the interior was too moist—almost a bit gummy. Kellen and I couldn’t resist tasting the bread with a little Earth Balance spread, though, and it actually wasn’t bad. (And although Kellen had some mild stomach discomfort about an hour afterward, it didn’t seem to bother him too much at all. We’re still not sure whether sprouted spelt is going to be something he can tolerate on a regular basis, but I’m so proud of him for overcoming his anxiety and giving it a try!)

Meanwhile, I had these two loaves of bread that I wasn’t sure what to do with, so I drew inspiration from yet another friend with whom I have done a lot of collaborative gluten-free baking. Her solution for loaves that don’t turn out quite right? Make French toast! And that’s exactly what I did this morning. Kellen opted out (which is probably a good thing, as I haven’t figured out how to make egg-free French toast to accommodate his allergy), but the rest of us tried it—topped, of course, with more Cherry Syrup. I liked it a lot, but I think it will take some time for the others to get used to the bread’s taste and texture. They did eat it and say they liked it, but the fact that I have a few pieces left over means they aren’t big fans—yet. 🙂

French toast fix: Not-quite-right sprouted spelt bread—topped with Cherry Syrup— gets a makeover.

French toast fix: Not-quite-right sprouted spelt bread—topped with Cherry Syrup— gets a makeover.

My blog is new and I don’t have a recipe index set up yet, so I’ve posted the Cherry Juice and Cherry Syrup ones here and will move them to the right place later—along with our recipe for Sunday Pancakes.

Cherry Juice (adapted from The Sneaky Chef, by Missy Chase Lapine)

2 1/2 cups pitted organic cherries (I used fresh, but frozen is OK, too)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Rapadura (unrefined and unbleached whole cane sugar)

Bring cherries, water, and Rapadura to a boil in a medium pot. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Occasionally mash the cherries with the back of a spoon (or a potato masher) to release their juices. The original recipe suggests pouring this mixture into a fine mesh strainer over a container or bowl, pressing the cherry “pulp” with the back of a spoon until all the liquid is released. And if you want a clear juice, that’s the way to go. I didn’t mind a little more texture, though, so I simply poured the mixture into my Vita-Mix (any other blender should work, too) and blended it until it was fairly smooth. The recipe yields 2 to 2 1/2 cups of juice, which can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for later use. For cherry applesauce, simply stir the desired amount of Cherry Juice into applesauce until the desired color and flavor are attained.

Cherry Syrup (adapted from “Homemade Berry Syrup” in The Sneaky Chef, by Missy Chase Lapine)

Combine Cherry Juice and pure maple syrup in equal proportions (I used 1/2 cup of each). Serve warm over pancakes or French toast.

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

August 4, 2009   6 Comments