Recipe: Gluten-Free, Cranberry Almond Bread (Sourdough)

If there is one food that speaks of Christmas traditions to me, it would be Candy Cane Cookies.  And they’re not even peppermint, right?  It’s almond.  I love it.  I’ve been known to bake out those cookies all year long. . .  just roll them into a ball and flatten them.  No fancy shapes and no food coloring.  I just love the flavor.

So it’s no surprise that when my kids found a Cranberry Almond Loaf recipe in their Focus on the Family Club House Magazine several years ago, I fell in love with that too.  Same delicious, sweet almond flavor, only with cranberries for a bonus.

Cranberry Almond Loaf, original recipe

But then, that Gluten-Free thing happened; and I prefer to prepare foods as healthful as possible.  Therefore, with that criteria in mind, here is a new recipe for Cranberry, Almond Bread.  🙂  This is made with honey and stevia, rather than refined sugar.  The texture of the original bread was rather dry and crumbly, so this gluten-free loaf is more moist (on purpose), and just in time for the holidays!

Cranberry Almond Bread, Gluten-Free Sourdough

I’m not exactly a food photographer.  If you want jewelry photographed, that’s my thing! 

I set my table cloth and delicious loaf of “Christmas Bread” in front of the bay window to catch the early morning light, and the little ones gathered all around me!  The boys were bouncing up and down on both sides, hitting my elbows with their hard little heads while asking, “When can I have a piece?” over and over.  And the almost two year old was standing on a chair, hanging over the table, yelling, “I want some!  I want some!” rather persistently.  So short story?  The photo shoot didn’t last very long, and they made short work of the Cranberry Almond Bread!

Don’t forget to download the Gluten-Free Sourdough, Cranberry Almond Bread PDF   I hope you enjoy it as much as our family has.

Cranberry Almond Bread, Gluten-Free Sourdough at growinggraceful copy


Combine wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown rice sourdough starter, fed in the past 12 hours
  • 1/2 cup water or milk

In a separate bowl, blend dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sorghum (milo) flour
  • 1/2 cup teff flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1.5 teaspoons fine psyllium husk powder (I use Viva brand)

Add to the wet ingredients, mix well, and cover to allow to ferment for 7-12 hours.

After fermenting:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place your pan in the oven to heat.  To your batter, add:

  • 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 tsp. Sweet Leaf Stevia Powder
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 teaspooon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix well.  Remove pan from oven and melt butter along sides and bottom.  Pour batter and smooth top.  {If your kids distract you and your loaf sits awhile before going into the oven, the cranberries may sink to the bottom like mine. 😉 } However, bake it immediately and your cranberries will be well distributed throughout the loaf!

Loaf pan: Bake 45-50 minutes  (I use glass.)

In a hurry and want to bake this out more like a cake?  Use a 8×8″ or 11×7″ glass pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Glass baking dishes

Azure Standard has a dried cranberry that is sweetened with apple juice, and I’ve been itching to get my hands on it.  So far, it has been out of stock, but they’re expecting a shipment this month, so I’ll get to try them in January!

If you’re like me and you are doing a low carb thing while your family continues to eat a more traditional fare, All Day I Dream About Food has a yummy Cranberry Cobbler recipe.  Just omit the cinnamon and vanilla, add a teaspoon of almond extract instead, and you can enjoy some low carb Cranberry Almond “Bread” right alongside everyone else.  😉


How Putting Up the Christmas Tree Turned into a Teachable Moment

I don’t know if it was the colder temperatures and the snow that we had in early October, or something else, but my kids have been waiting impatient to get past fall and on to Christmas.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my in-laws, enjoyed every moment, and got home late. I took Precious #4 into town with me to pick up a co-op order, and we hit a few of the Black Friday Sales.  I survived.  I hate the crowds, the lines, and the hype.  I may win the award for the shopper who spent the least $. Maybe.

When I got home, I found the other “kids” had been deep cleaning, and organizing the living room, WITHOUT BEING ASKED!!!  Wow.  They know me too well.  They knew that if they asked to put up Christmas decor, I would tell them we have to clean first.  🙂

So we have a head start, and my hubby was so surprised when he came home and realized he didn’t have to haul all those boxes up the stairs or assemble the tree.  It’s all done.  He could enjoy helping with the ornaments, read us the story of Christ’s birth, and relax!

The little one was so cute.  She’d pick up an ornament, take a sibling by the hand, and then point out the branch she wanted to place it upon.  She was having so much fun!

Decorating the tree

I had just listened to an interview on the Christian radio, where Phil Vischer explained how our Christmas tree was originally a tradition that was adopted by the Germans in the 16th century when they abandoned their pagan beliefs and came to Christ.  The tree symbolized eternal life because evergreen needles stay, and don’t die.  The branches of the tree point heavenward, and a monk later taught them about the Trinity using the three corners of the tree.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to share all this with my kids!

On to decorating…I put the star on the tree, and my oldest daughter and I were stringing lights.  We used an old string of lights and a new one, and while we were working, the old set had half the lights dimming and another problem had half the lights turning off completely!  I had to figure out how to fix the settings and get all those lights working together.  The littles were watching, and asking me, “What’s wrong with this picture?” And the thought came to me…

What if we thought of this tree as the Body of Christ, while it’s sitting in our dark living-room which represents the world?

And what if we see all these bulbs as the individuals who make up the Body?  They are shining, as Paul commanded in Philippians, illuminating the dark with the light of Christ.  They bring light to the whole room.  These small lights are pointing to the Head of our Body, who is Christ, and is represented by the star which shines brighter than all.  And isn’t that perfect since Christ is called the Bright and Morning Star?

Our Christmas star is plugged into the Power source (the outlet), just as Christ is one with His Father.  The lights strands are plugged into the star so that electricity flows to the light bulbs and powers their light, just as Christ said for us to abide in Him, so that the Holy Spirit can make our lives fruitful.

What happens when one of the light bulbs is disconnected from the strand?  The light given off by the tree is diminished considerably since other lights are hand-capped by that absence.  This is such a perfect way to illustrate 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul introduces Spiritual Gifts and explains how the whole Body suffers when one member suffers…  If we are not cooperating with God’s plan by choosing to exercise our Spiritual Gifts, we do cripple the functioning of this Church Body.  It can’t work at full capacity without our participation, which can also illustrate what happens when Believers stop meeting together as talked about in Hebrews 10, and do not join in worship and service with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And if we are not getting along with one another?

Or we make choices that grieve the Holy Spirit, our “electricity”, who supernaturally powers us to shine?

Or if we make choices that result in ill health, whether emotional OR physical, which cause an inability to serve?

~Then we also cripple the effectiveness of the Church, since God designed us to work together in unity.  Without us, the Church cannot shine as brightly.~

Brothers and sisters, we need God, and we are also designed to need one another.

How putting up the Christmas tree turned into a teachable moment

While unplugging and re-plugging light strands, removing and replacing bulbs, and playing with the dimmer switch on these newfangled lights… my kids grasped, for a few moments, how important they are to the Church Body, and to bringing Jesus’ light to the world…. and this teachable moment is one we can refer back to throughout the year, and relive again next Christmas.

I think we have a new tree-trimming tradition. 😉