Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Strawberry Crisp

Since I've already waxed poetic on the whole strawberry picking adventure and the tastiness of the fresh, plump, juicy fruits of my labor, this post is going to be dedicated to my new view of the world. What view is that, you might be asking? Well, I've recently been forced to see things, specifically my dinner plate, through the eyes of one who is gluten intolerant. I haven't discussed it here, but I gave up gluten a couple of months ago as an experiment after dealing with a surge of unexplained headaches and severe exhaustion. Well, the headaches ceased almost instantly, my skin cleared up significantly, and my energy levels have jumped up a notch or two. So now, much to my bread-loving dismay, gluten and I can no longer be friends.

We had a good run, gluten and I. We grew up together in the kitchen and meals of my family, although I am definitely guilty of under-appreciating this old chum of mine. In my adult life we've spent many an hour working together in the kitchen to conceive of delectable baked goods like this one, and this one. It's true what they say - it's so easy to take your gluten for granted until you just can't digest it anymore (that is something they say, isn't it?).

So now I'm beginning to dip my big toe into the waters of gluten-free baking. It's intimidating, what with those long lists of unfamiliar ingredients. Tapioca starch? Xanthan gum? Those bear a striking resemblance to the sorts of ingredients that I've been avoiding for years. If I don't know what it is or if I can't pronounce it then it shouldn't be going into my body, right? I guess I need to tweak that ideal a bit. Xanthan gum, here I come.

My first official gluten-free baking attempt happened two nights ago. I'm sure you're already aware of the form it took from the inconspicuous title of this post and the giant, crumb-covered dessert pictured above. I am proud to report that the recipe was a resounding success, even by the standards of two gluten-tolerant guys, one of whom doesn't even eat desserts. A little pat on the back for moi.

I started out with a crisp because they're fairly easy to make. There's no rising that needs to occur as with bread or cake, and they are the perfect place to put berries, of any flavor.

So here you go. One delicious, gluten-free strawberry crisp recipe. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Strawberry Crisp
makes 6 servings

1 C. gluten-free rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 C. all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 C. brown sugar
7 T. butter, diced
1/4 C. sugar
3 C. strawberries, sliced

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Mix together the first four ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter (I use my fingers to rub it in - it's the most effective way I've found) until mixture is crumbly.

In another bowl, mix the sliced berries and sugar together.

Grease an 8-inch square baking dish, and spread half of oat/four mixture on bottom. Lightly press the mixture down to form a bottom crust for the crisp. Don't worry if there are holes or cracks, it doesn't matter if it's not perfect.

Cover the bottom crust with the berries and spread evenly.

Crumble the remaining oat/flour mixture over the berries. Pop it into the oven and bake 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the berries bubbly.

Serve warm or cold. Vanilla ice cream is optional but highly recommended.

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