Books, Reviews, Bent Bunk… and Baking?

With my life changes and medical complications it’s been hard for me to write and review novels. I still read–that’s obviously never going to stop happening–but my brain feels as if I’m in a black fog when it comes to words on the page. It’s possible I need time to process before I’m able to relate my experiences again, and for now I’m giving myself whatever time I need.

That being said, I need something to do with this blog so a friend suggested I chat about one of my other passions: baking, specifically gluten free baking.

It’s not always particularly glamorous, but I do regularly work on creating and adjusting recipes to meet my gluten free needs, and lately I’ve been adding dairy free adjustments to the mix.

On the non-glamorous note, I should mention I’m horrible at taking photos of my gluten-free creations, as they are not usually master works I’d be proud to show to Mary Berry, but I thought I’d start my first article off with something I do take photos of regularly: my ferments, namely, my alcoholic apple cider ferments.

On Sunday, the husbear and I harvested my parents’ apple tree, crushed the apples with our apple crusher, pressed them in a mesh bag for the juice with our apple press, and poured the juice into a carboy with two cups of processed sugar and a packet of liquid cider yeast. This is the second year we’ve tried liquid cider yeast, usually we simply use dry champagne yeast, but some specialty shops offer a fun variety and I’m an experimenter at heart.

Our general cider philosophy is we only create cider during apple season, so from about September to November. We normally create three batches per year but this year we are living in a small apartment and don’t have the room for that sort of inventory.

We have purchased the juice before, one time when we didn’t get the yield we were expecting and another time from one of our beloved cider houses, but most of the time we press our own juice. We’ve done this with a juicer and a juice extractor/steamer cooker, but last year we bought an apple crusher and press and greatly prefer it to the other methods. The juicer was over taxed with how many apples we go through and the steamer takes too long. Also, we prefer to have raw juice, not processed, so it’s possible to grow wild yeasts.

The juice is mixed with additional yeast and will ferment for a few weeks before we bottle it into reusable bottles with stoppers. It all looks something like this when it’s done.


These were prime red apples we harvested at Detering Orchards in 2017 and drank in late 2018 and early 2019.

Normally cider is fine to drink right away–some of our friends drink it within a month–but with our style of fermenting we have the best results when the cider is drank a year and a half from bottling, basically when the mixture mostly clarifies and you don’t have all the apple and yeast sediment at the bottom.

And that’s that. My next baking projects include a gluten free cherry cake, a gluten free steak and ale pie, and I’d like to create a gluten and dairy free simple custard tart, or at least a lactose free custard tart. I don’t mind using vegan butter but I don’t actually have a problem digesting butter, Parmesan, or most fermented dairy products, and butter is significantly cheaper.

Ben at Detering Orchards

To boldly bake,
Ben

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