Photo Credit: Jason Wyche
I had the opportunity to meet Carol Fenster a couple of years, shortly before Nate was born. I consider her to be one of the few true matriarchs of the gluten-free movement and honestly, have always been in awe of her achievements. Here I was, newbie to the on-line gluten-free community, talking with Carol Fenster. And, you would have thought we were old friends. Carol was kind, generous, and so down to earth; a true picture of humility. She treated me as an equal.
We have communicated since, and she has always remembered me and details about my life. In fact, at one Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo she and I only had time to chat in the hallway briefly. Carol said apologetically that she’d wished we had more time to talk. Carol is just that lovely.
She’s just come out with a new book – Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking. It arrived last week and there hasn’t been an evening that I’ve not spent at least a few minutes reading through her notes and recipes.
Don’t stop reading if you’ve been at this gluten-free thing for a while. Even though she’s written the book in a way that anyone could pick it up and make a successful gluten-free cake, there is a wealth of information that even the seasoned gluten-free cook should have.
Gluten-Free 101 Highlights
Carol is a teacher at heart, and this book is meant to help you better understand how to use gluten-free flours and even how to troubleshoot when recipes flop. There are tips and tricks throughout that you can use in your everyday cooking. I’ve learned quite a lot by reading her book. I’ve also read through her baking recipes and am especially excited to make her bread. I’ve had it before – when made by her at a GFAF Expo – and am looking forward to whipping up some at home.
Her baking uses one simple blend, and the recipe is included in the book. This blend has been specially developed by Carol over many years of testing. It’s quite neutral in flavor and color so you’ll feel confident serving it to anyone.
The other huge bonus in this book are the simple dinner recipes. I would rather bake than make dinner but my boys have to eat. So, I am excited to dig into her recipes and add some delicious variation to our meal time. She’s got an incredible Six-Layer Casserole (which is baking as I type and, wow, does it smell incredible!) , Swiss Steak, One-Skillet Tortilla Casserole, and One-Pot Penne with Ground Beef along side many others.
You can also take a peek at her on-line book tour for more information and great recipes at Carol Fenster Cooks.
Please note: This recipe has been reprinted in the original form, as Carol wrote it in her book, Gluten-Free 101. Carol uses sugar in this recipe. While I do not use sugar in my cooking, many people do. As a refined sugar-free alternative, I suggest trying powdered coconut palm sugar in place of regular powdered sugar. Simply put 1 cup of coconut palm sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a blender and whirl until powdered. Enjoy!
Recipe and photo reprinted from Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner's Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking courtesy of Carol Fenster and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. The tart lemon flavor of these scrumptious bars is hard to resist. They are especially pretty with their bright yellow color, topped with the snowy powdered sugar. Don’t use butter, margarine, or buttery spread that is labeled diet, low-calorie, whipped, or spreadable because they have extra water, and that makes the dough too wet for this recipe.
- 1 cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend
- 1⁄4 cup cold butter or buttery spread
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1⁄4 cup powdered sugar
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
- 1⁄2 cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend
- 1 whole large egg plus enough yolks to equal 1⁄2 cup (about 5 yolks)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 1⁄2 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- Carol’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend
- 11⁄2 cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour (35%)
- 11⁄2 cups potato starch or cornstarch (35%)
- 1 cup tapioca flour (30%)
- Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square nonstick (gray, not black) baking pan.
- Make the crust: In a food processor, process all of the crust ingredients until the texture resembles large peas. Press the crust firmly into the bottom of the pan, placing plastic wrap over it to make it easier to press evenly. Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack.
- Make the filling: Wipe out the food processor and process all of the filling ingredients until thickened slightly. Spread the filling evenly over the crust. Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the bars in the pan completely on a wire rack. Dust liberally with powdered sugar just before serving, and then cut into 16 bars.