There was a time after my diagnoses with Celiac Disease where I was certain–certain–that good sweets were behind me. I cried. A lot. (Just ask my family). I cried for my Nana’s pancakes and shortbread cookies that would never cross my lips again. I cried for my favorite boxed spice cake that I ate every year on my birthday. I cried for the frangipane tart that we had each Thanksgiving. I cried for Girl Scout Cookies (even though I don’t really love them all that much). I cried for crisp apple pie from Bloomingcamp Ranch. I cried for hot apple cider doughnuts fresh from the fryer. And for waffles. I was insufferable. (Just ask my family).
But on a trip to Anthropologie, I discovered a gorgeous little cookbook that I almost didn’t pick up because obviously something that beautiful couldn’t possible be gluten free. Except it was. IT WAS! Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free is the work of Karen Morgan, who operates an online bakery and blog by that same name. The photography is amazing…and so are the recipes. One of my favorites is her sweet tart crust that tastes exactly like the tart crust that I used for my frangipane tart each Thanksgiving. You know what? It’s even better. And it also can be rolled out and cut into shortbread cookies that taste exactly like my Nana’s recipe! Karen helped me restore my confidence in the kitchen, she demystified some of the new flours and ingredients that are used in gluten free baking, and gave me tons of inspirational and unique recipes to try (her cottage cheese muffins with hickory-smoked bacon and chives are to die for…seriously). And guess what, I get to meet her in just a few weeks at the Nourished Gluten Free Blogger Conference!
Guess what else? I’m giving away one copy of her book, Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free. Would you like to win? All you need to do is leave a comment on my blog, telling me what you miss most from your gluten eating days. I’ll randomly select the winner on April 5th.
I used her tart crust recipe from her cookbook last night to make a lemon tart with the lemons that were overflowing from my produce bin. The lemon curd filling is divine. It’s sweet, tart and truly luscious (and very difficult not to eat right out of the bowl). When poured into the crisp, buttery tart shell, it makes your mouth sing. It was unusual for me to go to such lengths to make dessert on a weeknight…there are many steps involved…but my heart swelled when my teenage son told me, You’re getting really good at this gluten free baking stuff, Mom. I mean, I can’t tell at all! And I cried. I cried because I knew that all was not lost. I cried because gluten free sweets could be just as good as the sweets from the glutenous olden days. I cried because I was so thankful that my son appreciated my efforts in the kitchen. I cried because all this good baking is the reason why I’ve gained 20 pounds since October. And I cried because there were so many damn dishes to do.
Don’t forget to leave a comment here for a chance to win a copy of Karen Morgan’s Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free cookbook. I know you will love it as much as I do! This giveaway is now closed.
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons tapioca flour, plus more for dusting (also called tapioca starch)
- ¾ cup (non-GMO) cornstarch
- ¼ cup sweet rice flour (or glutinous rice flour)
- ⅓ cup, plus 1 tablespoon millet flour
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons guar gum
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1 large egg, plus one egg yolk, beaten
- 3 lemons
- 1½ cups sugar
- ¼ pound unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 extra-large eggs
- ½ cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 pints of fresh raspberries for garnish
- Make the tart crust. Place tapioca flour, cornstarch, sweet rice flour, millet flour, salt, guar gum and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat lightly to combine. Add the butter, and mix on medium speed until the mixture becomes pebbly. Add the eggs and beat just until the mixture turns on itself. Turn out onto a board that's been lightly floured with tapioca flour and knead for one or two turns. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (it can be stored for a few days in the fridge).
- Remove dough from fridge and place on a board that's been lightly floured with tapioca flour. Roll out into a 12-inch circle. Using your rolling pin, carefully roll up the dough and transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press dough into the pan, taking care not to stretch too much. Remove excess dough from the edges. Prick dough all over with a fork. Spray the shiny side of a large piece of foil with GF cooking spray and lightly press onto dough. Fill with pie weights (I used a very old one-pound pinto beans). Place pan in the freezer for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Remove from freezer and place directly into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely. (Can be covered tightly and kept at room temperature overnight)
- Make the lemon curd. Remove the zest from the lemons using a vegetable peeler, taking care to use only the yellow part of the peel, not the white pith. Place into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade attachment. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is chopped into tiny bits and thoroughly combined with the sugar. Add the butter and pulse until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time and pulse until smooth. Add the lemon juice and salt and pulse again.
- Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan set over low heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is quite thick...like a soft-set pudding.
- Pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl or pitcher, then pour the warm curd into the cooled tart crust. The curd will set at room temperature, or you can refrigerate for a firmer texture. Top with fresh raspberries, if desired.