Ready to bake gluten-free foods? Get your lab coat.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Before you start baking "gluten free", you use one flour- wheat flour. Maybe you spice it up and have "whole wheat" flour also. Well, when you bake gluten free, it is a virtual science experiment each time. In the place of one ingredient "wheat flour", there could be any myriad of flours, starches, and of course, a binder like xanthan gum, guar gum, chia seeds, etc.

It is for that reason that as I make my way through countless recipes for bread, muffins, etc., I have trashed many an attempt. See, as I cook, I get to the stage that Mr. Pick it Up calls "throwing everything into the pot". I cook with an outline, but at the end, I start launching countless spices, veggies, etc into the pot and watch 'er fly. But, unfortunately, you can't do that when you're cooking gluten free. Flours and starches can be roughly interchanged based on their weights, but proportions must be very closely monitored or you will end up with something that doesn't cook through (like oatmeal inside and no amount of baking can ever fix it) something akin to golf balls (hard, dry) or something that doesn't rise. I wish I could give you more details on what you can interchange, but I just don't know it myself yet.

So every time I make something, I'm a step closer to become a gluten-free scientist- able to swap ingredients out as necessary (or when I run out!). Meanwhile, here's my advice to anyone who hasn't been baking gluten free for long: follow a recipe- exactly. Use a knife to level off your cups and tablespoons for an exact result. No horsing around, no ad libbing. Just follow it...and see if your hypothesis will translate into a yummy result.

In an attempt to organize myself, I have (in a very proud, Pick-it-Up moment) organized about half of my flours- ones that I use often. Have a look at what one cannister of wheat flour turns into:

Here you see: Sweet white sorghum flour, almond flour, potato starch, xantham gum, baking powder, all-purpose flour, baking powder, brown rice flour, garfava flour, flax seeds, chickpea flour, teff flour, amaranth flour, arrowroot flour, etc. etc. etc.
Yup. Wheat is pretty versatile, huh? :)



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