lperry

Gluten-Free Baking

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As of yesterday, I now live with a partner who can't eat gluten proteins. Baking, however, is a significant part of my cooking. I'm determined to make this change without there being a radical difference in what shows up on our dinner plates every night. I know that I am not the first person to have this particular wish, but I do have a bit of an advantage in that starch and its properties are something that I study as part of my work. I hope that my experiments can help others who have to make this change, or those who, like me, are cooking for someone with a restricted diet. If you have something in particular that works, please share. :)

Gluten-free baking project #1 was cornbread. First, I figured it would be easy, and second, I wanted something to work well on attempt number one to galvanize me for more challenging tasks ahead.

The wheat flour typically added to cornbread doesn't really contribute as a structural element, but is used to lighten the heaviness of the cornmeal. I subbed in rice flour in a one - to - one volume ratio with no discernible difference in either taste or texture from the regular cornbread I make, and this substitution will very likely work in any recipe that has a larger volume of cornmeal than flour. The cornmeal was stone ground white cornmeal.

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Good luck! Have you noticed the timely recent posts on Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef (March 2 & 7, 2011)?

If not, check out the 2nd, especially, for a coterie of gluten-free bakers and their ratio rally.

I have, and these last two posts are actually some of the best information out there. I've read quite a bit of the online information, and it seems that many people don't understand the role that gluten plays in baked goods. I can't see trying to "replace" gluten in something like a cake or biscuits, when the purpose of using a cake flour (low protein = low gluten) is to prevent the gluten from being activated in the first place. There also seems to be confusion about when specific amounts matter and when they don't. That's why I started with cornbread - the cornmeal makes the structure, and the rest just doesn't really matter. I kind of wish I had grabbed the acorn starch at Super H and made a more "authentic" cornbread, just for fun, but I already had loads of bags in the cart.

Mr. lperry is also finding that packaged, processed, gluten-free foods are about as good as packaged, processed, wheat products. He's not too thrilled with this morning's "bagel." I suggested oatmeal because he likes it, it tastes good, and he can eat it. Shifting expectations will certainly be a part of this transition.

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Mr. lperry is also finding that packaged, processed, gluten-free foods are about as good as packaged, processed, wheat products. He's not too thrilled with this morning's "bagel." I suggested oatmeal because he likes it, it tastes good, and he can eat it. Shifting expectations will certainly be a part of this transition.

That's for sure! You very likely will not find a satisfactory GF bagel. Udi's brand makes very good GF breads, and their bagels are acceptable, although not a true substitute for the real thing.

I'm glad you found Shauna & Danny's blog. I highly recommend their book, not only for baking but for living the GF lifestyle. If you use the link on their blog to get to Amazon and buy it, they get a commission, and you pay the same price you would anyway. The book is lovely, filled with fantastic illustrations. The stories and comments are lovely, and the recipes are great.

I'm not much of a baker myself, but I have followed Shauna's blog as she has worked through one recipe after another. She had a great series on cookies at Christmastime.

I am two years gluten-free, and it has been a life-changing experience (for the better). It takes several months of being strictly GF to really notice a difference, so perseverance is essential. When I find myself missing something that contains gluten, I think about what specifically I miss, and how I can re-create that quality without the gluten.

Nathan at Restaurant Eve has developed a great GF bread recipe, and he might be willing to talk to you about his trials and errors, too. He told me it took quite a lot of batches before he was satisfied with the results. I always consider his GF bread a treat.

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Does anyone have experience with almond flour? This product gets good reviews and I'm tempted to give it a try for carb reduction purposes.

On sale for $19? I got a lb. at Yekta in Rockville for $5. If it's just blanched almonds ground into flour, and all almond flour is by nature gluten-free, don't bother ordering.

And yes, I've baked things such as delicious, chocolate-filled Sicilian sandwich cookies w almond flour.

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On sale for $19? I got a lb. at Yekta in Rockville for $5. If it's just blanched almonds ground into flour, and all almond flour is by nature gluten-free, don't bother ordering.

And yes, I've baked things such as delicious, chocolate-filled Sicilian sandwich cookies w almond flour.

I think my Vitamix can handle that :)

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I think my Vitamix can handle that :)

If you are not careful, with the Vitamix's speed, you'll get almond butter instead of flour.

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If you are not careful, with the Vitamix's speed, you'll get almond butter instead of flour.

Yes, I thought about the heat as well after I wrote that. Parmesan does not do well in the Vitamix.

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You can make almond flour in the food processor. Just add whatever sugar is needed in the recipe and it will grind finely without making almond butter.

Jumping in with both feet, gougères.

I mixed up this g-f flour mix. (Scroll past the parsnips.) I used millet instead of sorghum, and potato instead of cornstarch. It looked like this, except it was in focus. Then again, pretend I'm not wearing my glasses, and it's perfect.

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I used David Lebovitz' recipe because I've made it successfully with wheat flour, and because it uses gram weights instead of cups. I substituted the g-f flour mix for the wheat flour and used pecorino romano and chêvre cheeses. I had garlic chives in the garden, so in they went.

Just for kicks, I measured out a half cup of the flour I mixed - it weighed 70 grams on the money, but I had just beaten the heck out of it with a whisk to break up any clumps. I haven't put my sifter through the dishwasher yet, so it's off limits.

I got these:

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Crispy shell, shinier and more uniformly shiny than usual on the surface, so better texture with the bits of cheese on top (I did both, just to try it). The dough is more tender than wheat, and melts a bit on the tongue. Quite good, but I will change a couple of things on the next go.

What was different, and what I'll change next time:

1. The dough in the pot was more glutinous in texture than wheat dough, and it didn't form a skin in the pot quite like wheat dough. It formed a ball almost immediately, so I stirred it around for maybe 20 seconds just to make certain it was "done." The dough is also whiter in color than wheat dough.

2. When mixing in the eggs, they didn't want to blend in. After a couple of minutes of trying, I still had clumpy lumps, so I pulled out the regular beater and put in my beater blade with the fins. This blade smeared the dough against the sides of the bowl and incorporated the eggs with ease. I didn't want to use the whisk - too much air.

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3. The dough is softer in texture, so it fell more on the silpat than wheat dough, and, frankly, my piping skills could use some work. Because of these factors, I ended up with larger puffs with a more eggy interior. A bonus if you're an eggy interior sort of person, but we are more crispy exterior people, so I'll practice and go smaller next time.

4. The taste was eggier. This result could be due to the change in flour, or it could be due to the larger size and greater proportion of eggy interior mentioned in #3. Next time I'll use a sharper cheese, and I won't use any soft cheeses. I've used them with wheat puffs with no issue, but I think this dough needs a dry cheese to help keep it from spreading. I've got an aged gouda that I think will be fantastic.

5. It is possible that a different flour mix with a higher whole flour to starch ratio will work better for something like gougères where spreading dough can be an issue, and I'll certainly try more mixes as I go along. This mix behaved like I expect White Lily to behave.

Judgment: pretty good for a first try, and potential to be excellent with a few tweaks.

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I don't know if any of you are Top Chef watchers, but seeing it on Bravo last night, one of the contestants used sweet potato ribbons (cut with a vegetable peeler) simmered in stock or water as a pasta substitute, and Colicchio thought at first he had actually made sweet potato pasta. I think the Bravo website has recipes or links to things made on the show. Anyway, watching the show last night made me think of this discussion.

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^ I do that a lot with ribbons of summer squash when the garden starts bursting. Great with pesto.

Everyone needs to make socca. Tonight was my first time making it, and I thought it could use some work, but it got rave reviews from my dinner companions. A traditional gluten-free dish and super easy to make.

Edited to add Bittman's take on socca. I used the recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's cookbook. I'll try Bittman's ratio of water to flour next time.

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Everyone needs to make socca.

I've made socca numerous times, using Ana Sortun's recipe from her book Spice, which is full of interesting Mediterranean/Turkish dishes. I often combine socca with a spicy carrot puree, which has cumin, ginger and harissa in it, and dukkah,which is an irresistable blend of toasted nuts, seeds, spices and coconut ground together.

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On the page after the socca/farinata recipe in Jaffrey's cookbook is a recipe for panisses. They're on the list.

Brownies

I don't want "the world's best gluten-free brownies." I want the brownies Mom made for us when I was a kid, and the ones I've made since then. I want these.

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The card looks as good as it does because I haven't had it out in years. I know this one by heart. Mom typed it out on my Dad's manual typewriter and then I inherited it when she got a new filing system. Remember choco-bake? :) We moved from that to Baker's at some point, and as I became more of a chocolate snob, I tried Callebaut and Valrhona. I also added in parts of various dark chocolate bars from the pantry on top of the 2 oz of unsweetened chocolate. Today I used about a third of a big espresso infused bar. More salt too.

To make these gf, I used 83 grams (note the newest note) of the gf flour mix linked above. I'm working with one cup of wheat flour as 125 grams, so 2/3 is 83 grams. The gf starches settle, and you can use too much, hence the weighing. The result:

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Indistinguishable. This is a semi-cakey semi-fudgy brownie with a shiny crust that crackles, and they tasted like they always do. This is how I want gf baking to be - I want to use the recipes that I've always used, because they are familiar and comforting to me. It may not work with everything, but it's safe to say that you can use your Mom's or Grandmother's brownie recipe just fine if you weigh the gf flour instead of using cups.

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Key Lime Pie in a Coconut Crust

I combined two recipes. Here is the crust. Just use a couple of tablespoons of a GF flour mix or a single flour. It is just a binder, so it doesn't matter a whole lot. Next time I'll bake it a little longer, or toast the coconut a little more.

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Here is the filling. I used three egg yolks and added a bit more zest after I tasted it.

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It's like a key lime pie over a giant coconut macaroon. :)

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Lperry you are such an invaluable new asset. Thank you so much for your postings! They are incredibly helpful and just cheer me up to read.

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Lperry you are such an invaluable new asset. Thank you so much for your postings! They are incredibly helpful and just cheer me up to read.

That cheers me up! Having a diagnosis of celiac is bad enough - nobody should have to eat awful food in addition to it.

I'm working on bread this week in our new Zojirushi bread maker. It's one of those things I never thought I'd have, but gf bread dough is really tough to handle, and the breads from the store are pretty awful and shockingly expensive. We bought bread three days a week prior to Mr. lperry's diagnosis, and that's a lot of time spent messing with a dough I don't quite understand yet. I got an OK multigrain loaf last night on attempt #1, but I think I can do better.

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Sneak Preview. Chanel had 5 takes, this is 100 gram test bread #3. The boule, the cut, and the tear.

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The tear looks drool-worthy. Well done!

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Pie pastry

I used Ann Amernick's recipe from The Art of the Dessert, but any recipe you like will work fine as long as you use gram weights. I used a flour mix that is 50% whole flours and 50% starches, and the whole flours are rice and millet in equal amounts. I'm not using any gums. I did the usual mixing in the KA stand mixer, but when the "finished" dough was still really crumbly and dry, I added in another tablespoon of water. There's no sense in making it difficult for yourself - you can't make a tough gluten-free crust, so put in as much liquid as you need. Here's what it looked like after mixing.

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Then I did the fraisage thing. There are some nice videos on YouTube if you are unfamiliar with the technique. My hands were too dirty to get a photo. :) The nice thing about fraisage is you can immediately roll out the dough. Put rice flour in your shaker, flour the surface heavily, (gf dough is sticky), and roll. GF piecrust rolls like a dream.

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Putting the pastry in the pan is tricky because it is so delicate. Rolling it onto the pin worked for me. I did take a picture of the quiche I made, but it was either out of focus or the steam fogged the lens. I parbaked to make sure it would be crisp. Here is the finished crust from a scrap that I broke open and turned on its side.

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The crust is crisp, brittle, and incredibly tender, but not flaky like a wheat crust. It is very similar in texture to a pastry made with whole wheat pastry flour. The biggest difference, and this is a huge plus as far as I'm concerned, is the flavor. This pastry has an incredibly delicious flavor. I would call it nutty, but I'm sure it is actually toasted ricey and millety. This was an excellent surprise because I usually consider crusts to be more of a textural element, albeit with a butter flavor, than something that can really add to the overall flavor of the dish.

Advantages to the gf pastry: There was nearly zero shrinkage in the crust, you can't overwork the dough, and the flavor is fantastic.

Disadvantage to the gf pastry: This is a semi-tricky dough to handle once it is rolled out. If you have made a piecrust with whole wheat flour, it is very much like that - the crust broke off at the edges of the tart pan before I could ease it in. That said, you can patch it really easily, and I really think you can probably press the entire crust into the pan after the fraisage step. I rolled it because I'm used to rolling pastry, and I wanted to see how much flaking there would be. Since there isn't really flaking, a press crust will probably work fine.

Disadvantage to my flour mix: The fine brown rice flour leaves a little sandy texture on baked goods with a crust. I made some drop biscuits the other day and did not post because, even though the inside crumb was like a cloud, there was the sandy rice texture on the crust. It is a little like fine cornmeal. It's a difficult trade off, because the rice flour has a lovely flavor. Mr. lperry was very happy, but at two weeks without bread, I think he is too deprived to be a decent judge. :) I'll continue to experiment with flour mixes.

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To all GF bakers who want to make bread, go out and buy yourself a package of psyllium husk or powder, then do an internet search for glutenfrei brot. You can run the pages through a translator if you can't read the language, but just as an example, the very first hit off Google has nearly 80 recipes. Apparently, German and northern European bakers have been using psyllium as a replacement for gluten for quite some time. It is the same stuff that is in Metamucil, but if you can get past that, you can bake bread with no eggs, no gums, and no nastiness. I only wish I had found this earlier - a large loaf of bread #9 (with 3.08% psyllium) is proofing right now after a successful 50 gram test last night. Just like an academic, I went to the journals first and calculated percentages of components. :) Now just like a lazy person, I'll use the recipes off this woman's site. No sense in reinventing the wheel. :)

Also figured out this week - the weird gf taste that's in most of the commercial products is tapioca starch (Manihot esculenta, AKA cassava, manioc, yuca). If you don't like that weird flavor, you don't have to use this starch in your baking - I've been using sweet potato flour and it's working just fine, and any other starch (potato, corn etc.) will probably work as well. Don't feel that you have to follow a recipe exactly - just use the same amounts of whole flours and the same amounts of starches.

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To all GF bakers who want to make bread, go out and buy yourself a package of psyllium husk or powder, then do an internet search for glutenfrei brot. You can run the pages through a translator if you can't read the language, but just as an example, the very first hit off Google has nearly 80 recipes. Apparently, German and northern European bakers have been using psyllium as a replacement for gluten for quite some time. It is the same stuff that is in Metamucil, but if you can get past that, you can bake bread with no eggs, no gums, and no nastiness. I only wish I had found this earlier - a large loaf of bread #9 (with 3.08% psyllium) is proofing right now after a successful 50 gram test last night. Just like an academic, I went to the journals first and calculated percentages of components. :) Now just like a lazy person, I'll use the recipes off this woman's site. No sense in reinventing the wheel. :)

Also figured out this week - the weird gf taste that's in most of the commercial products is tapioca starch (Manihot esculenta, AKA cassava, manioc, yuca). If you don't like that weird flavor, you don't have to use this starch in your baking - I've been using sweet potato flour and it's working just fine, and any other starch (potato, corn etc.) will probably work as well. Don't feel that you have to follow a recipe exactly - just use the same amounts of whole flours and the same amounts of starches.

Can I ask where you found the psyllium husk or powder?

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