Baking with Carmie

I have been reminded during this holiday season when the kitchen is running on overdrive and the coconut flour is flying out the door faster than I can bring it in, to remember and be anchored by my roots. Remember the connection I have to my work, why my work has meaning, and why I am the person to bring it to the world. As I reflect, I think all my baking started with Carmie.

I may have written about her before as she is the one who taught me to bake.  She is my grandmother. I never would have actually called her Carmie, never to her face and never behind her back.  She was grandma… or more likely gramma. Carmie is what Pop called her and what her friends called her.

Carolyn Ruth Nagel Dailey was the best baker I knew.  She knew everything. How much a pinch was. How to brown butter. How to tell when things were done baking.  She and I would pick out recipes of items we wanted to try and then host tea parties with my friends and she would make all the food, with her little helper. She loved coconut, and would laugh when I told her repeatedly that it was worse than eating paper. (I have since changed my mind.) She made me viennese coffee balls when I learned to love coffee and and Pop and I would eat them all ourselves, since we were the only ones that liked coffee.

I only have a few of her favorite recipes these days, but she did give me her Joy of Cooking cookbook from the 1950s that I love to look through. Things were explained so differently back then and I feel closer to her when I read it.  But most of her recipes were snipped from magazines. My mom, my sister and I inherited her love of magazines. She would ALWAYS have a few stacks of the latest country magazines on her coffee table.  They were full of not only recipes, but gardening tips, country home decorating, and the best places to by Amish goods (all things she loved).

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I have been thinking about Carmie a lot recently. My Pop and last living grandparent passed away on November 15th with me by his side.  Pop was definitely overshadowed by grandma.  I come from a line of strong women and Carmie was strong. I felt very early on after her death that Pop was a new man.  He never stopped talking about her and how he loved her and couldn’t wait to meet her again in heaven, but for the first time in my life he was talking.  About everything. I remember picking him up from the airport after Christmas in Iowa the year grandma died and he talked non-stop the whole 45 minute ride back to his house.  Once we dropped him off, I looked over at Nick and asked him, “Who was that man and what did he do with Pop?” But I loved finally getting to know Pop these last two years.

The one thing I could never understand about Pop was his dislike of chocolate.  If there was one thing I definitely inherited from my father, it was the necessity of having chocolate on any item claiming to impersonate a dessert. And while Carmie was alive, Pop never set foot in the kitchen, at her request, except maybe to make himself some coffee or deliver meat from the grill. But after she passed, Pop and I found ourselves comparing recipes for crockpot meals and side dishes. He was even baking his favorites, zucchini bread and  bread pudding.

For better or worse, my family has often defined our time together with food.  It has shaped who I am (at one point it shaped my waistline.) The love and care my grandmother put into food was always evident. My mother is the same way when she entertains.  I try to be that way as well. When I think about this holiday and how much time I have and will spend in the kitchen baking for my family and for my customers… I am happy now to think about the love I put into what I make and how desperately I want you all to feel the love when you eat my food. I also want to educate about food and how it can be healing (and not shape your waistline).  That is the next phase of where I want to take my passion and Baked True North as a company.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for my family, what they have taught me, and the love they have given.  I am also thankful for my customers and how you all have allowed me to be a part of your special times.  I pray your homes are filled with healthy food and love this holiday season!

As always… Have a cookie,

Lauren

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The Flour Series: Coffee Flour

First up on The Flour Series is…. Coffee Flour!

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What is it?

Coffee Flour is a new gluten-free flour option making its way into mainstream grocery stores as we speak.

As the Trader Joe’s package above states, coffee flour is made from dried and then ground coffee cherry husks and skins. One benefit of this is that this part of the coffee plant is usually thrown away and this new use is allowing the coffee industry to produce less waste, #wasteless!

Although I assumed the flour would have that fantastic caffeine-inducing smell to it by which coffee reels me in, it does not. The best way to describe the taste of this flour is somewhere between date and raisin. Not what you would expect.

The caffeine content is definitely present but probably won’t give you as much of a kick as you hoped. Claims are that it has about 60mg of caffeine per tablespoon, which sounds like a lot, but most recipes have you replacing less than a quarter cup of flour with coffee flour (or 10-15% substitution) because of the strong flavor. So spread that 240mg of caffeine over an entire pan of brownies and (unless your intent is to eat the entire pan) you are getting a pretty minimal amount.

Benefits of coffee flour include 3x more iron than spinach, 5x more fiber than whole grain wheat flour, 38% more antioxidants than pomegranate, 2x more potassium than bananas, 3x more protein than kale and 84% less fat than coconut flour.       Dude.

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One thing to be aware of is that none of the coffee flours I have seen claim to be organic. Coffee is one of the most chemically-treated crops in the world. So regardless of whether you are a strict organic consumer or not, this is a potential concern and you might not want to add this to every dish your making until more research is available.

What do you do with it?

Because of the harsh, somewhat bitter taste of the flour, most recipes you find on-line are for brownies or something with a lot of chcolate and sugar to help balance the flavor. Check out the photo above and see the coffee flour package has a brownie recipe on the back.

For the sheer irony of it, I am looking for a good coffee cake recipe to try using the coffee flour. Epicurious.com has some good options I’m considering since I don’t have a tried and true coffee cake recipe of my own yet.

Some resources say you can add this flour to other things like smoothies and sauces, but I haven’t tested that personally.

What does BTN do with it?

Well… I’ve tried a number of recipes, some better than others. Apparently the first round of coffee flour cookies I tried only got published in my Instastories on Instagram… Meaning those photos are gone from posterity. But my initial reaction was that they were very date-y and bitter and I did not want to double up the sugar to make then taste like a cookie.

So my next experiment was using the flour to make a morning bar, something you would expect to be more earthy, like trail mix. I did a number of trials trying to get a good bar that people would like… And still the reaction I got from what I consider my “mainstream feedback” was that they were still too earthy.

With that said, Nick and I really enjoyed them based on our palate. And even though I won’t be adding them to my order forms, look for a follow up post with the recipe coming soon!

One option I did really like was the Mocha Protein Cookies! The addition of a stevia-sweetened protein powder actually made the cookie quite delicious! I will be adding that to my offerings this month! It is packed with protein,  low on sugar, includes all the coffee flour benefits, and pretty good for a morning snack!

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I hope this helps to answer your questions and assumptions on coffee flour! I had a blast testing it this last month and I’ll keep you all in the loop as I continue to understand it’s benefits.

Have a cookie,

Lauren

Time Off and Cakes

Hi friends! I took a bit of time off in December from my usual blogs to get some things in order and really focus on my business… but I’m back! Consistency is key and so you’ll be hearing from me a lot more if you want to.

December marked a first of a kind for Baked True North as I did my first 3 cakes for various Christmas events.  I am convinced that I am good at cookies.  I know I am good at doughnuts.  Now I am pretty sure I am going to be good at cakes.  But I have to turn my weakness of attention to detail around in the decorating area.

Here is the first cake I made for Revelation Health‘s Christmas party:

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I took my Spiced Red Wine Yum-Bread and turned it into a chocolate red wine cake with red wine frosting.

I also did 2 cakes for Redeemer North Borough‘s Christmas Eve service.

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The first was a chocolate cake with peanut butter cream frosting and the second was a white cake with buttercream frosting, dyed red and green between each layer. I have to say… my white cake with buttercream was awesome.  I begrudgingly make “desserts” that do not contain chocolate. I think I get this disdain from my dad who is known to get the chocolate syrup out and smother cakes, ice creams, pies, and anything trying to pass as a dessert that doesn’t already contain chocolate.  Don’t even get him started on carrot “cake!”

With all that said, I actually PREFERRED the white cake because it was so good. But the peanut butter cream frosting was a hit and that cake disappeared immediately.

Another recent adventure was the first week in January we spent in Arizona with Nick’s mom. Arizona in winter … meets vacationing while everyone else goes back to work … equals AMAZING. And of course I took the opportunity to bake for my mother-in-law.  I made her a batch of my signature chocolate chip cookies and as a special request for her birthday I made my first full cheesecake!

I wanted to make something elaborate like salted caramel chocolate chip cheesecake or red velvet cheesecake (ya know, something with CHOCOLATE), but seeing as it was my first ever… I decided to honor the cheesecake and go original. I think I know how to make it better next time, but it was GOOD, if you ask me.  No added chocolate either.

And we just overall had a great time in the desert, goofing off, finding cactus species and I ended the week as a red headed trail runner…

LAST, but certainly not least tomorrow (Wednesday, January 11th), Baked True North will have cookies on the shelves of Good L’Oven Cookies new shop! It’s their grand opening and the shop is gorgeous! So check it out… and support your favorite local gluten-free baker (psst, that’s me).

Stay Delicious,

Lauren