Giving Gluten-Free a Go
By nature, I am a baker. I dream in sugar, butter, and flour.
A pacifying rhythm comes with combining these basics into limitless varieties of things that make you go “mmm.” There’s a rhyme and reason to it. As in, if I add this amount of X to this amount of Y, I know Z is going to happen. I like that.
And that is also why I’ve consistently shied away from the idea of gluten-free baking. Sure, naturally-gluten-free loving from the oven—flourless chocolate cake, flourless cookies, macaroons, and the like—is all well and good, but replacing wheat with some formula of gums and flours that come from roots and seeds has always seemed like a harrowing sect of pseudo-science that I would never care to learn. I have no shame in admitting that I, like most everyone else in this world, can be fearsome of/mildly close-minded towards that with which I’m unfamiliar.
But then, I got my hands on this book that basically said, “Hey girl, calm on down. You can try new stuff, and it doesn’t have to be scary or complicated.”
“Sweet & Simple Gluten-Free Baking,” by Chrystal Carver preludes 75 gluten-free baking recipes that require 10 ingredients or less with 2 straightforward recipes for all-purpose gluten-free flour blends. Seeing those blends at the onset of the book broke down whatever bizarre mental barrier I’d built up. There was no new science, no reworking of framework baking principles… I simply blend a batch of this AP flour together and follow the recipe as normal. The end. So that’s what I did.
I made a lovely lemon loaf from the book that turned out moist, air,y and full of sunny lemon essence. No weird chewy textures or slightly off residual flavors to be had. I put the bread out at here at the office, and it was gone within the hour (our IT fella actually admitted to collecting the crumbs off of the plate).
Supposing you don’t want to commit to purchasing numerous flours and mixing up a bulk batch of gluten-free AP flour, Bob’s Red Mill makes a great ready-to-rock gluten-free AP flour blend. It’s a super convenient option if you, like me, have no real aversion to gluten, but simply want to make an occasional foray into uncharted territory or throw your friends with Celiac Disease a muffin every now and again.
Lemon Bread PREP TIME: 15 minutes COOK TIME: 70 minutes INGREDIENTS1 ½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend* 1 cup granulated sugar, plus ¼ cup sugar for the glaze 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 2 eggs, room temperature ½ cup milk ½ cup vegetable oil Zest from 1 large lemon Juice from 1 large lemon METHOD Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). Position the oven rack in center of oven. Grease a 4 ½ x 8 ½ inch glass loaf baking pan; set aside.In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.In a separate medium mixing bowl, mix eggs, milk, oil and lemon zest. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir only until they just come together.Pour batter into the greased loaf pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack.In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and lemon juice. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove from the microwave. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Evenly spoon the lemon sugar glaze over the top of the lemon bread. Cool completely before slicing. Store in an airtight container.*For this recipe, Chrystal uses her all-purpose gluten-free rice flour blend that has been prepared in advance. However, rather than making a whole batch, you can scale it down to ¾ cup white rice flour + 6 tablespoons tapioca flour + 6 tablespoons potato starch. SERVES: 12 All-purpose gluten-free flour blend #1 – Yields 8 cups 3 cups garbanzo-fava bean flour 2 cups tapioca flour 1 cup sorghum flour 2 cups potato starch (or corn starch)Note: If you can’t find garbanzo-fava bean flour, mix 1 ½ cups of garbanzo flour with 1 ½ cups of fava bean flour for the same results.All-purpose gluten-free flour blend #2 – Yields 6 cups 4 cups white or brown rice flour 1 cup tapioca flour 1 cup potato starch (or corn starch)Directions: Mix all the ingredients in a large zipper storage bag or a bowl. Store flour blend in an airtight container or freezer zip lock bag in the refrigerator or freezer for up to six months. Shake the container or mix the flour before using in case the heavier flours have settled.