Caramel Apple Pie

Greetings from Toronto!!

The Adventuresome Kitchen has been up here on a whirlwind 48-hour Gluten-Free tour. We have eaten our way across the city and only scratched the surface of the delicious gluten-free opportunities here. I will be posting on our Toronto experience later this week, but for now- here’s a photo teaser.

And yes….for those of you who are “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fans, you may recognize one of these photos!

And now, let’s talk Pie!!! How about a Caramel Apple Pie?

This month’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap features a recipe called “Ozarkian Taffy Apples”.

There was some conversation in our group about why this recipe was called “Ozarkian”. Now, I can’t say for sure, but I do have a few ideas. I live just west of the Ozarks, and I do know that apples have played a big part in their history. It is said that Johnny Appleseed came through the Ozarks in the early 1800’s, introducing apples to the region. However they got here, by the late 1800’s pioneers from the Dakotas frustrated by drought and the brutal conditions of farming in the high plains were backtracking to the Ozarks ready to try their hand at raising apples. Laura Ingalls Wilder, her husband Almanzo, and their daughter Rose were among those seeking to improve their fortunes by raising apples (among other things)in the Ozarks.

During apple season, our local farmer’s markets are filled with many varieties of heirloom apples and I thought it would be great to learn what kind of apples Laura cooked with on her farm. I contacted the very kind people at the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Mansfield, Missouri to find out what kind of apples Laura and Almanzo grew, and was told that the two varieties on Rocky Ridge farm were Ben Davis and Missouri Pippin. I’ve had Pippins before and they are a great pie apple. For me, the idea of making a pie with apples that may have been grown on Laura’s farm was irresistible, and the Caramel Apple Pie was born. I started working on this recipe last fall, in the hopes of making a nice apple post, but wasn’t happy with the results, and was happy to give it another try. I used Braeburns for this pie and felt their slightly tart flavor worked nicely against the sweet of the caramel-type filling. I also added lots of pecans- because for me- when I have a candied apple, it always has to have nuts.

The Kitchen Divas in Training had to get in on this adventure as well, and did a great job of making their own pie. You can bet I’ll be making this again during apple season and looking for Laura’s apples at the farmer’s market!

Be sure to visit the recipe swap page at Burwell General Store and check out the links to my fellow blogger’s sites- you will be in for some delicious apple treats this month!

Gluten Free Caramel Apple Pie

Makes One 8-9 inch pie


Pie Crust (gluten free if you need)

5-6 apples (enough to make about 6 cups, chopped)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 tbs corn starch

1 tbs lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Caramel Topping

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1 stick (8oz) butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbs cornstarch


Preheat oven to 425 and move oven rack to the bottom third of the oven.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped apples, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch, and set aside.

Roll out half of the pie crust and place it on the pie pan. Cover with 1/2 cup of the pecan pieces. Set aside.

In a second bowl, combine the remaining brown sugar, butter, cornstarch and pecans.

Roll out the top crust for the pie and cut out any decorations you may like.

Add the apple mixture to the pie pan. Place the caramel topping over the apples, covering the apples completely.

Pour the heavy cream over the mixture and cover with the top crust.

Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, then turn the oven to 350 and bake for another 30-45 minutes- until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling out of the holes. You may need to cover the crust with aluminum or a pie ring if the outside of the crust browns too quickly.

If you can- wait at least 4 hours before eating. This allows the juices to firm up. You are certainly welcome to enjoy immediately, but your pie will be a bit more crumbly. This pie tastes absolutely fabulous for breakfast!!

Gluten Free Lemon Cake

This just in: The Online Bakesale for Japan raised $8269 dollars. That will turn into over 80,o00 worth of food at Second Harvest in Japan! Many thanks to my fellow bloggers who donated such beautiful food, and to the generous people who participated in the auction.

Welcome to the April edition of the Burwell General Store recipe swap! This month’s subject was a crazy cake recipe that provided the perfect opportunity to talk about kitchen chemistry- something anyone who bakes may understand intuitively, but that is really helpful to understand more deeply- especially if you’re baking gluten-free.

To recap: Christianna, the fabulous blogger at Burwell General Store found an old cookbook and several months ago invited a group of folks to take one recipe each month and put their own twist on it. I joined the group last month, and it’s been fun to get to know my fellow bloggers, as well as challenge myself in the kitchen. And this month’s cake, was certainly that! Here is the original recipe:

Wacky cake indeed! What excited me about the Wacky cake was that it only used baking soda and vinegar for leavening. No egg, no baking powder- only these two magical ingredients. What is so special about these two ingredients you may ask? Step into my kitchen lab and I will show you!

The Kitchen Divas in Training are now schooling at home, and for science, we are currently studying chemistry. I am as excited as they are about this, because I chickened out of high school chemistry, and in the past year as I have delved more deeply into gluten-free baking, I’ve found myself wishing I understood chemistry better than I do… If you’re curious about chemistry, or have kids who are curious- I highly recommend this series of books– even if they go to traditional school. They’re informative and fun. I personally like all the smiley faces on the different atoms!

So what goes on with vinegar and baking soda when you bake? Well, this:

Cool huh? Baking soda- a base, is reacting with vinegar- an acid. A rather explosive combination.. Add sugar, and the result is amplified. On a molecular level the vinegar and baking soda atoms are switching partners- that’s what’s creating the bubbles.. And, in the kitchen- what happens when you add this to flour and oil, and pop it into a hot oven? Puffy cake!! well…. most of the time, as our kitchen experiments showed.

For this challenge we hypothesized that a cake made with lemon would have a similar lift as the chocolate cake. Chocolate is also considered an acid, and can help increase the amount of bubbles in an acid-base reaction. Honey is also considered an acid- as is an egg…the addition of any of these ingredients can help facilitate the proper reaction to ensure a puffy cake… For our cake, we went with lemon and honey. I had a beautiful jar of the palest yellow acacia honey from our trip to Paris that I had been saving for something special, and since it seemed like sunshine in a bottle, we thought it would be the perfect compliment to the Meyer lemons we picked up.

Now, like all good experimenters, we decided we needed a control. So while one young scientist worked on the experimental recipe, the other created the original Wacky Cake recipe, using the same gluten-free flours as the experimental recipe.

Here’s some of what we learned:

While the acid-base reaction helps give batter a lift, gluten-free chemistry is slightly more delicate. In addition to making sure you have the right proportion of acid to base, you also have to have the right combination of gluten-free flours. Otherwise you end up with gummy cake that tastes like the tapioca balls at the bottom of a bubble tea, like this picture to the left. Notice that the chocolate control cake is puffier. That’s because the chocolate provided additional acid for the reaction.

The shape of the cooking vessel makes a big difference. This recipe calls for mixing the cake in the pan it’s baked in. All well and good, but it’s hard to get the flour wet in the corners. We had the bright idea- well I did at least- of cooking the cake in a stainless steel bowl- the one it was mixed in. I had visions of a rounded lemony puffy cake, not unlike those enormous muffin tins used to make barbie cakes or Easter egg cakes. Not only did we end up cooking cake number two for an hour, but the middle was still uncooked, and upon removing it from the bowl, it looked like this:

The third time was the charm, however. The flours were adjusted properly, we’d gone back to a square baking vessel (more surface to heat the batter), and we’d adjusted the lemon/acid content to where we got a decent lift in the cake!

In conclusion, we learned a lot in our little experiment, including that I rely very heavily on eggs to act as a binder and a lifting agent in some form. To achieve lift using only an acid-base reaction is possible, but easier in a chocolate cake than a citrus cake. Our gluten free lemon cake has a great moisture content- due in large part to the honey, and it has a nice crumb. It’s sweet, but not too sweet- and I’ll be having a slice with my morning coffee. No doubt the Kitchen Divas in Training will be asking for a slice with their breakfast as well!

Be sure to stop by the Burwell General Store Recipe Swap Page to get a run down of all the participating bloggers. Links to their sites are there, and you will enjoy the delicious variety of cake offered this month!

Gluten-Free Lemon Cake

makes 1 9×9 cake


3/4 cup tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)

3/4 cup brown rice flour  

1/4 cup almond meal

4 tbs sugar

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

zest from 2 lemons

5 tbs melted butter

1 cup cold water

1/2 cup honey

3 tbs lemon juice


In the pan you are baking in, place all the dry ingredients and stir with a fork to fully mix. Using a 2 cup measuring cup, combine water, honey and lemon juice. Stir until honey has dissolved. Next, make a hole in the center and add the melted butter. While stirring, add the remaining liquid. You will see bubbles start to form as the baking soda and lemon juice begin to react. Combine ingredients and place in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes. Turn to 350 and cook an additional 20 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Buffalo Pot Pie with Gluten Free Green Chile Cheddar Drop Biscuits

This week’s crock pot recipe is hearty and flavorful- Buffalo Pot Pie w/ Gluten Free Green Chile Cheddar Drop Biscuits. Don’t let the length of the recipe intimidate you.

I went and got involved with another fun group of recipe swappers, this one hosted by the illustrious Christianna who blogs at Burwell General Store. She found an awesome old vintage cookbook, and for the past few months folks have been recreating and revamping one recipe a month. If you’ve stumbled across this in your blog wanderings, you’ll agree that the recipes have been fun and inventive!

(And special thanks to Toni from Boulder Locavore who was kind enough to help me get involved with this recipe group!)

This month’s recipe was Chicken Stew with Drop Biscuits.  Our challenge was to change 3 things about the recipe to make it our own and then post about it. I’ve had a sneak preview of some of my colleagues’ recipes, and they are mouthwatering and creative. I’m only sorry I can’t sample them right now! Once you’ve read my take on the recipe, pop on over to the Recipe Swap page at Burwell General Store, where you’ll see everything from crostata to curry. There are even a few additional gluten-free recipes! How cool is that?

I’ve been on a buffalo kick for the last month or so. There is a buffalo farm less than 20 miles from my house, and the owner sells her meat at many local grocers as well as the River Market. I had a great conversation with her a few weeks ago about stew meats,  cooking ‘low and slow’, and thought since the cold weather is refusing to give way to spring- at least for the time being- that a buffalo pie would be a nice twist on the chicken pie theme.  And, to save time and energy, I did it all in my crock pot! I have an older crock pot with a removable ceramic interior, which means it can go from crock to oven very nicely. I slow cooked the buffalo with some red wine and a few other ‘stewy’ ingredients, before adding my biscuits to the top and popping the whole thing in the oven!

If you don’t have a crock pot and a toaster oven in your kitchen, I highly recommend their addition. Both items are great in the summer when you don’t want to heat your kitchen any more than necessary. And, if you’re only cooking a little- it takes way less time and kilowats to run the smaller appliances. My toaster oven can even accommodate my small Le Creuset Gratin baker. Perfect for all sorts of side dishes! But I digress….

The crock pot gets a workout in this house because I’m very fond of throwing in a bunch of ingredients, walking away, and coming back to enjoy them several hours later. The key is to use the lowest setting and to allow cooking for a minimum of 6 hours. Anything beyond that just makes the meat even more tender. Normally, when I do a roast or a stew, I serve it with clear broth made from the cooking juices, but this time, I went out on a limb and added a little roux and cream. It was totally worth it, and I will absolutely consider doing it again. Hopefully not until next fall! The creaminess of the sauce worked nicely with the texture of the drop biscuits, and the green chiles added the tiniest bit of punch to the flavor. I could have used a little more myself, but wanting to make this accessible to a variety of people- including the Kitchen-Divas-In-Training… I went a little light on the chiles. Certainly add more if you like the heat- the dish is rich enough that it can stand up to a somewhat spicier biscuit! This is a recipe that can easily accommodate whatever changes and twists you’d like to add when you serve it up at your house. Remember always to have fun in your kitchen, and be sure to stop by the Burwell General Store Recipe Swap page for some outstanding recipes and a dose of inspiration! Who knows what might end up on your table?

Buffalo Stew

Serves 8


2 lbs of buffalo stew meat, cubed

1/2 cup red wine

4 shallots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups potatoes, chopped (about 3 small)

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 tsp salt

2 tbs wheat-free tamari (soy sauce)

6 twists of fresh pepper

1 1/2 cups water


2 tbs butter

3 tbs sorghum

1 cup milk, half n half, or heavy cream


Place all ingredients except the roux in a crock pot and simmer on low for 6-12 hours. A word- please use red wine you would drink. If it’s not fit to drink, it’s not fit to use in food you will eat… just sayin’…… See! I told you it was easy!

45 minutes before you are ready to eat, turn off the crock pot and remove the ceramic container. It will be hot, so be sure to use potholders and place it on a heat safe coaster. Turn your oven to 425, and begin preparing the green chile cheddar biscuits below. Just before putting the biscuits in the stew, make the roux. Melt the butter in a small saute pan. When the butter is foamy, add the sorghum and whisk briskly. When you start to smell the flour, but before it has darkened in color, slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk. Once the ingredients are fully incorporated, add to the stew and stir. Then add the drop biscuits and proceed as directed.

Gluten Free Green Chile Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Makes about 20 small biscuits


1 cup millet flour

1 1/4 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

1 tbs baking powder

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 oz (one stick) butter

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup chopped green chiles

3 tbs honey

1/2 cup buttermilk


3 tbs butter

3 tbs honey


Place dry ingredients in a food processor and mix by pulsing about 6 times. Chop the butter into 8-10 segments and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse an additional 6-8 times, until the butter has been cut up to pea-sized bits. Add the cheddar cheese and pulse 2-3 more times.

In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, combine the honey, green chile, and buttermilk. Add to the dry ingredients and pulse several more times until mixture comes together in a ball-like form. Scoop into the stew (or onto a parchment lined cookie sheet) with a large melon-baller. To make the glaze, melt the remaining butter and honey in a microwave safe dish- it should take about 30 seconds. Brush the glaze onto the biscuits and then place the whole crock into the oven. Immediately turn down the oven heat to 375, and cook for 20 minutes, or until tops of biscuits are golden brown. The biscuits expand during the cooking process and make a lovely thick crust over the stew. Don’t be shy about cutting into this and serving the biscuits on top of, or next to the stew. Enjoy!!