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  • Writer's pictureMoy's Gluten Free Kitchen

Barfi can best be described as a sweet milk based soft somewhat crumbly fudge. It is very popular in Trinidad and Tobago, frequently used during religious prayers and festivals like Divali. Other popular varieties here in Trinidad include Coconut Barfi.


The real stars of Barfi are the spices. The hint of ginger and cardamom makes this sweet treat a dream.


To make it extra special top the Barfi with sprinkles, nuts, shredded coconut or edible gold/silver leaf.


This version, is perfect for anyone who loves traditional barfi but cannot tolerate dairy. Follow my recipe notes about texture and you will barely notice the difference in comparison to one made with milk.


Try this dairy free vegan almond barfi recipe, I promise it's not hard to make at all!



Ready to eat Almond Barfi
Dairy Free Vegan Almond Barfi

Mix the almond flour with the coconut cream or milk



Make the sugar syrup and combine with the almond flour mix



Almond Barfi cooking on the stove
Cook to desired texture. The color will lighten as it cooks resembling traditional milk barfi


Ingredients

1 cup blanched almond flour

1/8 tsp salt

2 tbsp coconut cream (or coconut milk; I used @naturescharm coconut whipping cream)

½ cup white sugar

¼ cup water

pinch of nutmeg powder

1 tsp ginger powder (you can use fresh grated ginger to taste)

½ tbsp cardamom powder

1 tbsp vegan butter or vegetable margarine

(14 g) rainbow sprinkles


Directions

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside (I used a 7” x 7” baking tin)


Mix the almond flour and salt together. Add the coconut cream (or milk) and mix until the flour is fully moistened. Set aside.


Add the sugar, water and spices to a skillet over medium heat. Mix well and bring to a rolling boil until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to thicken like a syrup. Add in the margarine, mix well.


Once the syrup reaches soft ball stage*, add the almond flour mixture. Press to mix the flour and the sugar syrup together until it is homogeneous like dough.


Continue to cook on low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture begins to dry and gets lighter in colour (the longer it cooks, the lighter it gets). The mixture will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan in one piece. Taste and adjust “seasonings” if necessary, be careful as the mixture will be very hot!


The cooking of the Barfi can take up to 15 minutes (more or less) depending on the texture you want. Less cooking time will give you a soft, moist, chewy Barfi that is somewhat yellow in colour. More cooking time and therefore a drier mixture will give a texture that more closely resembles the Milk Barfi popular in Trinidad and Tobago. The Barfi will be lighter in colour as well. If the mixture becomes too dry, simply add more water and re-cook until you are satisfied.


Spread the mixture out evenly in the tray. Press firmly to smooth the top and compress the mix. Add sprinkles and press into the barfi, you can use a piece of parchment paper on top of the mix to help with this.


If you made a “drier” Barfi, go ahead and slice it into pieces however you prefer. If the Barfi is more moist, wait for it to cool almost completely before slicing. In either case serve when properly set and cooled.


Store in the refrigerator


*Soft-ball stage (235–240 degrees Fahrenheit: When you drop a small amount of syrup into very cold water, it forms a ball. When removed from the water the ball flattens, hence the term soft ball.

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  • Writer's pictureMoy's Gluten Free Kitchen

Cassava Pone is a popular sweet dessert among many of the Caribbean islands (the "one" in the word "Pone" is pronounced like the "one" in phone). The recipe varies from island to island, but the main ingredient is always the Cassava root (also called manioc, yuca (not the same as yucca) or manihot esculenta).


Pone is dense, chewy and sweet, heavier than a pudding. The starches from the Cassava contribute to the “gummy” texture, while the pumpkin, coconut, milk and spices like cinnamon, give it the signature delicious taste. Oh and the pumpkin gives it a nice golden color, the overall finish resembling a piece of yellow opal stone.


Pone is a humble, fairly inexpensive dessert that manages to still feel comforting and indulgent. There are no fancy techniques, no whipping, no creaming, no folding, no sifting. If you are a from scratch person then you will have to grate the cassava, coconut and pumpkin. Quite the workout but not particularly difficult.


It is said to be a recipe which originated with the Amerindians, the indigenous people of the Caribbean. With fresh ingredients you can easily make this gluten free cassava pone!



Ready to serve squares of cassava pone
Cassava Pone - a Traditional Caribbean Dessert


Cassava and coconut pone on a banana leaf
Cassava and Coconut Pone - ready to eat


Ingredients

2 cups grated cassava*

1 cup grated coconut*

1/2 cup grated pumpkin*

1/2 cup grated sweet potato* (optional)

1/2 cup softened butter (or a vegan alternative)

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar 

/2 tsp cinnamon 

1/4 tsp nutmeg 

2 tsp vanilla extract

evaporated or whole milk (if needed)


*These ingrediens are uncooked. Grate before measuring


*If you decide not to use the sweet potato, make up the quantity with more cassava and pumpkin


Direnctions

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease or line a baking ceramic or pyrex dish (about 9”)


In a large enough bowl, place all of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. The mixture will be qiuite thick but you should still be able to turn it. Add a little milk at a time if necessary


Pour the mixture into your baking dish. Smooth the top with a simple syrup of water and sugar


Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean


Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the dish


Slice into squares, serve and enjoy



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  • Writer's pictureMoy's Gluten Free Kitchen

Updated: Apr 12

How much liquid (hydration) does your gluten free bread dough need? The simple answer is gluten free bread dough needs more hydration than wheat dough (or any dough with gluten).


There are of course several factors that determine how much hydration is optimal. For example, a gluten free baguette will not need the same hydration as a gluten free sandwich loaf. The final structure and feel of the crumb and to a lesser extent the type of crust determines how the bread dough should be prepared.


Hydration percentages also differ depending on the type of gluten free flour that is used. As a comparison, bean flours like garbanzo are "stickier", holding on to moisture more than rice or oat flour. Furthermore gluten free sourdough bread has it's own very distinct set of rules/processes.


I'll be focusing here on the amount of hydration needed to make a good gluten free sandwich loaf. Please note that while my recipes do not use eggs or butter, these ingredients also count toward the overall hydration percentage of gluten free bread dough.

 

How to calculate Hydration Percentage


Hydration Percentage of a recipe = Weight of the liquid x 100

Weight of the flour

  • To calculate the hydration percentage of your recipe, weigh the flour and all of the liquid ingredients

  • Divide the weight of the liquids by the weight of the flour and then multiply the result by 100

  • For example, a recipe containing 420g of liquids and 350g of flour your hydration percentage is 120% (420/350 x 100 = 120%)

If you know the amount of flour in your recipe and want to calculate the amount of water you need, multiply the weight of the flour by the hydration percent.

  • For example, a recipe containing 350g of flour, 120% hydration is 420g of liquid (350 x 120% = 420)

 

How much liquid (hydration) to use when baking gluten free bread

I have found that gluten free sandwich loaf dough that is properly hydrated looks more like a cake batter and cannot be kneaded or shaped. To that end, the best hydration for a soft flexible gluten free sandwich loaf is over 100%. Ideal hydration usually between 120% - 130%. Less than that will result in a dense crumb and a heavy loaf (see my video below).


However, for this to work there are 2 conditions that must be met:

  1. The bread flour blend should have a decent protein and fiber profile

  2. The baking tin must have tall sides

I have a post discussing "How to write a Gluten Free Bread flour blend recipe" and why protein is an important part of that formula. For now having a blend that has more protein than starch e.g. more buckwheat vs rice flour, gives more structure to the loaf. Extra protein and fiber contributes to an increase in loaf volume and crumb softness as well as improved texture, flavor, and overall appeal.


Regardless and even with the addition of non gluten forming structural proteins, this "hyper hydrated" state creates a fragile dough structure. This situation is aided but still not completely corrected with the introduction of binders like xanthan gum or psyllium husk (eggs can further improve the structural integrity of the dough).


We are accustomed to seeing regular bread dough that rises above the rim of the baking tin to create the classic dome of a sandwich loaf. Using a "normal" baking tin at a height somewhere around 2", it is highly inadvisable to let gluten free bread dough rise above the edge of the tin. In this state once the bread begins to bake the dough will collapse, resulting again in a dense loaf.


On the other hand a baking tin with tall sides will support the dough as it bakes. It is this combination, a properly hydrated dough AND a tall sided baking tin (4"+) that gives you the best result, a loaf with a nice rise and a very soft, open crumb.


Using a tall sided tin is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your gluten free bread. I share more bread baking tips and techniques as well as a troubleshooting guide in these blog posts:


This video shows the correct consistency for properly hydrated gluten free sandwich loaf dough. Note that the mix is more like a batter.


How can you tell if you used enough liquid?

Many bakers have a poke test to check proved (proofed) dough for readiness. My little test works when your dough is in the tin. I devised this test by chance as I was trying to sort out a tunneling issue (really big hole in my crumb).


If you poke your dough after it has risen (in the tin) and it shrinks or collapses it could be over proofed BUT more than likely it is not properly hydrated. I have tested this many, many times and the result is consistent, too little water and the dough shrinks, enough water and the dough does not move. The dough also keeps the height during and after baking, I am always rewarded with a beautiful, airy loaf! (see my video below) What do you do if your dough shrinks as you poke test it? You could remix the dough with a bit more water and allow it to rise again. OR you could bake the bread as is and the next time you bake adjust your recipe. Add a little more liquid and take notes until you figure how much hydration is enough.


Remember it is not just one thing that will give you success when making gluten free bread. The right flour blend, proper hydration, a tall sided baking tin (see my other tips) all work together to give you the best result.


This video demonstrates how I do my "poke" test. Notice that the height of the dough remains the same before and after baking


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