by Penelope Loves Lists Contributor Lisa Shields
Recently, I posted about my struggle with spontaneity and leaving enough margin in my life. This topic is definitely on the forefront of my mind as my children get to be more independent and closer and closer to leaving the nest. I need to re-find the things that I enjoy (apart from my role as mom, wife, friend, etc) and that make me feel most alive.
As always happens when I turn to the Penelope tribe, hearing from all of you with both similar struggles and helpful tips has left me energized and motivated to make some changes in my weekly structure. One Penelope made a point that really hit home.
Carey, a fellow Penelope, wrote …
“I PLAN my relaxation time….which includes girls weekends, runs, workouts, meditation, and days with NOTHING on my to do list. I have to plan in advance to get that time.”
And, a lot of you Penelopes echoed this statement in various ways. It’s brilliant, and honestly, not sure why I’ve never really done that before. #duh
So, I’ve resolved to put downtime onto my calendar with the attempt to pick back up some activities that I’ve put on the shelf for entirely too long. One of those things, and I know I’ve mentioned this before, is baking. I love to bake. The process of taking set ingredients and strategically combining them to create something scrumptiously better than the sum of its parts, is inspiring to my soul. #socorny #sotrue
So, today, during my planned downtime … I baked. This Sunday afternoon, for an hour, instead of being “busy” with planning my week ahead, I relaxed and created and listened to my soul sing. And, the win/win here for all of us, is that I’m sharing my creation with you because, honestly, you inspired it!
In 2010, my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease, so when I bake, I tend towards making her things we just can’t go pick up at the local shop down the street. I look for things she used to love and work to recreate those treats so they are safe for our gluten-free (GF) household’s consumption.
I follow a TON of gluten-free and paleo food bloggers and I’m here to tell you that bar none, the most talented one I’ve come across is Brittany Angell. She’s more than legit and her recipes are clear and easy to follow. Yes, they take some specific ingredients, but in the world of GF baking, that’s the norm.
What makes her unique is that her concoctions have better texture than SO MANY others you’ll try in the GF world, and I’m a total texture girl. I don’t care how good it may taste, if the texture is wonky … no thank you.
Today’s treat was Strawberry Shortcake Monkey Bread Cupcakes straight out of Brittany Angell’s newest book, Every Last Crumb. (If you even remotely like to bake, and you’re into gluten/grain-free food .. you MUST have this book on your shelf. You can thank me later.)
You can find the whole, detailed, recipe at the link above .. but, I’ll break it down into some easy steps:
Step 1: Gather your ingredients: blanched almond flour, potato starch, baking powder, butter, eggs, finely-diced fresh strawberries, kosher salt, sugar (you can use regular granulated sugar, or for a more paleo version, try granulated maple sugar).
Note: You don’t HAVE to use a kitchen scale (the online version of the recipe is in cups, but the book has measurements in grams and I have to admit, I’ve become a total kitchen scale addict. More on that in another post. #imatease)
Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients (almond flour, potato starch, baking powder, salt) together thoroughly. Then, dice the butter into small pieces and using a pastry knife or a fork, cut the butter into the dry mix until it resembles peas.
Step 3: Beat the eggs and then mix them into the flour/butter mixture just until combined. Be gentle. These are biscuits and you don’t want them mushy. Just combine until the dough comes together.
Step 4: Scoop a generous teaspoon size of the dough (I use a small cookie scoop for this purpose … it’s a lifesaver) and grab a few pieces (4-5) of strawberries and mix them together in your hand and form into a ball. Place the ball in a bowl with granulated sugar and roll to coat.
Note: You’ll be tempted to throw the strawberries into the dough and mix it all together and then scoop. I know. I was too. But, Brittany warns you not to do this or the moisture from the strawberries will start to seep into your dough and it’ll be mushy. I trust her. You should too.
Step 5: Place 3-4 dough balls into a cupcake lined muffin tin and press gently so they’ll adhere together when they bake.
Step 6: Bake in a 350 degree oven for 27-30 minutes until golden brown on top. Immediately remove from oven and drizzle the cupcakes with a simple glaze (powdered sugar, a bit of milk and some vanilla did the trick for me). You want the glaze to be slightly thicker than honey.
Step 7: ENJOY! They are delicious warm and lasted all of 20 minutes in my house (mind you we had a group of high school girls over for a study group). Everyone, gluten eaters and non-gluten eaters alike, were raving.
After this trial run of planned “margin time” … I admit, I’m hooked. I feel more uniquely “me” then I did just a few short hours ago, and I assure you my family is 100% on board if it means the wafting of delicious baked goodies in the house.
Thank you, Penelopes, for re-energizing one of my passions!