Will Bake for Food: Charitable Bakers

13 11 2011

This weekend, I was fortunate to participate in an annual baking charity event called “Will Bake for Food.” It’s a bake sale orchestrated by Jenny Miller and Jenny Richards, and comprised of a community of Seattle food bloggers selling their sugared sweets to support the Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County. Supporters not only came in droves to buy holiday sweets, they also contributed canned goods; in total the bake sale brought in $2,571 and several huge barrels of food to donate. Pretty impressive for a four hour bake sale!

As far as bake sales go, this was certainly one to attend. There were homemade marshmallows, pumpkin cheesecakes, brown-butter Nordy bars, savory and sweet popcorn bundles, bread pudding made with apple-fritter donuts, and chorizo caramel sauce. But what I appreciated most was all of the unique gluten-free items for sale. Because I do not eat gluten myself, I notice these things.

Gluten-free baking has become big business these days. This Reuters article offers a great aggregate summary of recent gluten-free business opportunities – did you know that gluten can be found in McDonald’s French fries and some lunch meat and lipstick? Making gluten-free products presents huge profitable ventures these days and the nation’s largest food conglomerates are looking to cash in on what was once a tiny niche. Though it is impressive to see how what was once a small business is now capturing corporate interest.

So what did I make to contribute to the bake sale? I made a salted birdseed brittle, perfect for human consumption. I adapted a recipe by Jess Thomson in the November 2011 issue of Edible Seattle magazine. What caught my attention was that brittle is a great sweet treat that simply is gluten-free; it’s made from sugar, butter, and a crunchy filling. So often gluten-free baking is an attempt to make common gluten-filled food without the use of wheat, barley, rye, etc. – and it just doesn’t compare.

Now for the recipe. My only adaptions from the original Edible Seattle recipe were to exclude emmer (as it is a wheat grain), increase the volume of the quinoa, millet and sesame to compensate, and generously salt the surface of the brittle for a sweet and salty flavor combination.

Salted Birdseed Brittle – Directly adapted from Jess Thomson’s recipe in Edible Seattle

1 1/4 cup quinoa

1 1/4 cup millet

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup bonus mix of quinoa, millet and sesame seeds, or substitute sunflower seeds – in lieu of emmer

2 cups sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup water

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread the quinoa, millet, and sesame seeds evenly on a baking sheet. Toast seeds in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant, 10-12 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a large sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then stir in the butter. Cook the mixture over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until it measures 290 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the toasted seeds and the baking soda, then return the heat and cook until the mixure boils again. Immediately pour the mixture onto two rimmed baking sheets, dividing it evenly between each sheet. Working quickly, use a small spatula to spread the mixture into an even layer about 1/4″ thick. Generously sprinkle the sea salt over the surface of the mixture. Let it cool until completely hard.

Break the brittle into bit-sized pieces, then store in airtight containers at room temperature, up to 2 weeks.

This is an easy treat to make over the holidays and nice to bring to parties and potlucks too. Enjoy the brittle and continue to think of how to support others in need.




One response

14 11 2011

Yum! Wish I would have had unlimited tickets so I could have bought some of this and tried it! Looks great, though.

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