Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Getting Ready for the Holidays

So many things are happening today. Today is the last official day of the semester for attending classes. Today is the first official day I start my final paper(s). Today is the day I start setting up the tree and decorating my home. Today is also the Gluten Free Ratio Rally. 

That’s a lot going on in a Wednesday.

Despite the weird weather, the Yuletide spirit has found a place in my heart to stay for the winter months to come. I’ve winterized my blog and am craving hot cocoa (chocolate in general) like it was going out of style. Recipes are dancing around in my head like little sugarplums, as well as Christmas gift ideas and holiday traveling coming up. December is the month of slowing down and keeping warm, either with scarves, in the arms of loved ones, or eating something straight from the oven.

Focaccia on a December morning can be just as satisfying as a gingerbread man with warm milk. As I am partial to flatbreads in general, particularly because they don’t usually need or require yeast, so participating in this month's GFRR seemed like the perfect start to a wonderful winter. 

Like many breads, focaccia is a fairly old concept. Taken from an interesting article titled “A Short History of Focaccia Bread”:
Most historians believe that Focaccia originated with either the Etruscans of North Central Italy prior to the Roman Empire or in Ancient Greece at the beginning of the first millennium BC. Although flat unleavened bread has been made throughout the Middle East extending to Persia for this long as well and identifying a specific culture behind the first focaccia loaves is almost impossible. Focaccia bread is slightly different because the loaf rises slightly so it’s not traditionally unleavened bread and the focaccia recipe is mostly unknown in the Middle East, yet it has a history of being prepared in Turkey, Italy, Greece, Spain and France.
This is why I love learning about foods from other countries: you can find similarities in many cultures yet appreciate the regional differences that make certain dishes unique. This can be seen in the herbs they use, the way they bake it, the way they eat it, and additional ingredients seen nowhere else but there in particular. You’ll never get the same bread twice.

Every time I partake in the GFRR, I’m reminded how creative we get to be once a ratio is established. Instead of worrying how to modify a recipe's basic equation, I get to think of variations, flavors, and techniques. I get to think how I’m going to make it, if I need supplementary ingredients or not, and in what way I’m going to enjoy it. Sure, my focaccia dough was similar in consistency with a thick brownie batter (and looked like it too), but the final product was definitely focaccia. It was chewy yet moist, textured yet smooth, and easily sliced to make a small peanut butter sandwich when put to the “Is this sandwich bread material?” test.   

The ratio I used for the focaccia came from my Williams-Sonoma Cooking at Home (2010) cookbook: 3 parts flour to 2 parts liquid, with a little oil and leavening agents added to the mix. Since certain yeast strands affect my body negatively, I used baking soda and unrefined apple cider vinegar for the slight rising affect I wanted. I also brushed coconut oil on top at various stages of the cooking process, resulting in a chewy exterior that I oh so love in a flatbread.

I also went a different route in this month's GFRR, a sweeter route. This is definitely a bread pudding, French toast, fruit crisp topping, and sweet sandwich base to enjoy, especially as the days (hopefully) get colder.

Sweet Cinnamon Raisin Focaccia Bread

100 g CGF Rolled oats
100 g Short grain brown rice
100 g Quinoa (I used a combination of white, black, and red)
100 g Garbanzo bean flour
25 g Raw cacao powder (cocoa powder is fine)
25 g Flaxseed meal
300 ml Filtered water
1 tsp. Sea salt
1 tsp. Bourbon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Unrefined apple cider vinegar
320 g Thompson raisins
 Soak the whole grains (oats, rice, and quinoa) in filtered water with whey or apple cider vinegar overnight to twenty-four hours.
Preheat the oven to 400°F
Drain the excess water from the grains and put it through the food processor/blender with half of the water (it may leak if you use all of it at once).
Once blended, pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients excluding for the coconut oil (the dough will appear like a thicker version of quick bread batter).
Transfer the dough to an 8” x 12” baking pan lined with parchment paper and brush the top with coconut oil.
Bake for 30 minutes, continuing to brush the crust with oil at ten-minute increments.
Remove from the oven to cool for fifteen minutes before cutting.
Serve warm.

Makes 8 – 12 servings.

Before I give you all the links to other participants’ entries, I want to give a quick shout out to the person behind this month’s GFRR. Heather of Discovering the Extraordinary is a blogger who is an inspiration to many. After being diagnosed with gluten sensitivity in October 2011, she set out to create delicious foods her body would enjoy regardless of her “restrictions” (Sound familiar?). She encourages her readers to play with their food, to have fun while experimenting in the kitchen, and to discover the extraordinary. Thank you, Heather, for giving us a challenge that made the season even brighter.

*Heather | Discovering the Extraordinary    Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia Bread   
Carol | Goodness Gluten Free    Gluten Free Garlic and Parmesean Focaccia   
Morri (Me!) | Meals with Morri    Sweet Cinnamon Raisin Focaccia Bread    
mary fran | frannycakes    Gluten Free Sage Foccacia    
Aunt Mae (aka ~Mrs. R) | Honey from Flinty Rocks    Focaccia Bread   
Silvana | Silvana's Kitchen    Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Focaccia  
TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies    Gluten Free Cheesy Herb Focaccia      


  1. Mmmmmmm. Looks (and sounds) absolutely divine. Feeling the Italian connection :)

    1. I've been inspired by Italian cuisine... I wonder why... ;)

  2. Thanks so much for the shout out! That made me smile :) Also, your bread looks great...I love anything with cinnamon!...and I enjoyed the food culture lesson, too :)

    1. You're welcome, GF Hostess with the Mostess! One of my very good friends is in Italy and this challenge helped me feel connected despite an ocean between us.

  3. Is that a post card from Penzey's in your photo? I have a bumper sticker that matches...

    This looks delicious! I love cinnamon raisin everything!

    1. Yes, it is from Penzey's! They have this in a bumper sticker? Hmmmmm...

      And thanks! I've become quite the cinnamon raisin fan lately.

  4. Morri, I cannot use apple cider; do you use it just for the flavor or is there a reason I shouldn't try using a substitute, say coconut vinegar, instead?

    On, & all the GF Ratio Rally recipes can be seen at www.

    1. Hiya Terry! The cider vinegar/whey is used for soaking/fermentation purposes to help break down the phytic acid in the grains. You CAN simply soak them overnight in filtered water without any additional ingredients (sea salt helps too), but I just like the reassurance whey/a.c.v. brings in the process.

      So, long winded answer made short, it's optional. :)

    2. Ah, good to know. A little research into breaking down phytic acid yielded this: "Acid mediums options include: cultured buttermilk, milk kefir, coconut kefir, water kefir, cultured yogurt, whey, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Dairy product acid mediums must be cultured!" from:
      I will try the coconut kefir! Thx, Morri.