Gluten-Free Flour Mixes for Baking

Photo by Emily Carlin

 

You’ll find three options here for making your own gluten-free flour mixes. I opt for keeping two kinds on hand. We like the first recipe for cakes, cookies and lighter fare. The sorghum adds a nice texture and imparts a very good taste  without being overpowering. I substitute cornstarch for tapioca at times, with no real noticeable differences.  At times I’ll try out another cake-like variety and I’ll mix up a big batch of the middle recipe. As far as the latter recipe, we like that for breads, pizza crusts and biscuits or heavier or denser items. You’ll find masa harina in the Mexican section of most grocery stores and it’s wonderfully cheap (a boon for the budget of GF families.) You must store all GF flours in the fridge or freezer, as they can become rancid at room temperatures rather quickly. Keep them covered in large, tightly covered containers or ziplock bags. 

Gluten Free Cake Flour Mix -From Gluten-Free Cooking School
1 part brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca starch 

Gluten-Free Cake Flour Mix- From Gluten-Free Bay 

3 cups brown rice flour (fine ground)
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 1/4 teaspoons guar gum ( I used xantham gum with equally good results) 

Sift ingredients together, combining thoroughly. Use in place of flour in cakes and other baked goods. Store in airtight container or ziploc bag in refrigerator. 

All-Purpose Gluten Free, Soy Free Flour Mix – From Gluten-Free Cooking Cooking School 

3 parts brown rice flour
3 parts cornstarch
2 parts sorghum flour
1 part masa harina or corn flour 

When baking gluten-free,  it’s likely you’ll need to add xanthan gum or guar gum to the recipe for the “elastic” quality that simulates normal consistency of baked goods-unless of course, the mix already has this added to it. (If you use a commercially made mix, check the package prior to using it in a recipe, as you definitely do NOT want to accidentally double or delete this ingredient.) 

It’s wise to keep some on hand for converting regular recipes. I opt for xanthan in my home. Though it seems pricey, a little goes a long, long way…A word to the wise- you’ll seriously ruin your baked goods by overdoing the xanthan or guar gum inclusions. I added 1 tsp instead of 1/2 tsp (doubling it by mistake) only to find my cookies were…almost “slimy” (eewwww).  Thankfully, it’s a texture you don’t experience much in the kitchen otherwise.  We don’t like guar gum here, because it’s got some interesting laxative properties that only exacerbate some people’s existing digestive issues – but it might work for you and not offer the same ill effects it does here. As a rule of thumb, you can usually replace one for the other in the exact quantities specified.  

Though some recipes or GF chef’s will use a higher percentage of xanthan gum, I opt for the sage advice below – culled from “What’s Cooking America.”  

“Most gluten-free flours will require the addition of xanthan or guar, a substitute binder used to compensate for the lack of gluten.  The amount needed to add will depend on the type of product and it’s reliance on the gluten structure. Breads rely heavily on gluten for their structure, cakes to a lesser extent, and cookies almost none. Typically the starchier and/or more refined the crumb, the less the reliance on gluten.   Xanthan gum tends to be almost three times as expensive, and in the US is grown off of corn syrup (but tests out corn-free in the lab after processing).  Some gluten-free groups discourage the use of guar because of the higher fiber (and therefore possible laxative effect) of large amounts of guar gum use.  Try both and see.  If these gums are not appropriate for you, some suggest the use of mung bean (AKA green bean) flour (1/8 of cup to every cup flour) or pre-gelled potato flour.” 

“Suggestions for the addition of xanthan or guar: For every cup of wheat-free/gluten-free flour use:
 
½ teaspoon Xanthan/guar gum for cakes
 
1 teaspoon Xanthan/guar gum for breads or pizza
 
½ teaspoon to no xanthan/guar gum for most cookies.”
 
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Casein and GF Coconut Whipped Cream- When You Gotta Have a Fix

 

Photo by Ginnerobot

As a child, I lurked in the kitchen waiting for my mother to make whipped cream- real, luscious whipped cream. She’d hand me the beaters and I’d scuttle off with my treat. This was before the onset of my own food intolerances and celiac disease, of course. Then there were many bleak years, post- diagnosis where I yearned for a smidgen of whipped cream in vain. Back a hundred years ago or so, when I was a kiddo- though my mother was an amazing pioneer in the world of gluten-free cooking- knowledge and resources were limited.  To this day,  I remain a consummate whipped cream junkie.

Thankfully, being gluten and casein free today doesn’t mean your pumpkin pie is doomed to be forever lonely. There are wonderful alternatives available that actually taste fabulous.

One of the best friends you’ll make in your walk on the GF and casein free path is coconut milk. You’ll find it nearly every grocery and health food store.  Coconut milk comes in two main varieties whole or full fat and “light.” While the light works well in nearly all sweet baking as an equal and flavorful substitute for milk, the full fat kind is magical as a replacement for cream. (A word of advice, don’t use coconut milk in such fare as “potato soup” or it will impart an overpowering and unwelcome coco-nutty taste. Although coconut milk is a great item, some things DO NOT work as universal substitutions. Kindly learn from my mishaps and spare yourself the agony)

Tips for working with coconut milk:

To make whipped cream, you’ll need the full fat kind. Grab a few cans and stick them in your fridge as you’ll want the cream to clump together and separate from the watery “milk”. I like to leave cans for several days in the fridge. The bare minimum I’ve found you can get a decent separation is about 4-8 hours of chilling. Much less than that and your cream will be sludgy and gooey.

Coconut Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

•1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk, (Two 13.5 oz cans )

•1/3 cup powdered sugar

•1 – 4 Tbsp Tapioca Flour  or Tapioca Starch (they are the same thing, but may be labeled differently) (add 1 Tbsp at a time)

•1 Tbsp GF vanilla extract or you can use GF almond or chocolate extract for a flavor change

Directions:

1.Chill the unopened cans of coconut milk for several days in fridge or at least 4-8 hours.

2.Open cans, remove cream with spatula. Discard liquid or use in another recipe. (The cream should be very thick, almost coagulated)

3.Beat the thick coconut cream in a chilled bowl with a hand mixer on high speed until thick and fluffy.

4.Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and tapioca starch or tapioca flour 1 or 2 Tbsp at a time, testing for flavor and consistency

5. You can flavor the whipped cream further by adding two tablespoons of cocoa powder and increasing sugar by two tablespoons.  Or add cinnamon or GF liqueurs. Make sure you GENTLY add these ingredients by folding so you don’t cause cream to wilt. Work quickly and use immediately or place in a covered bowl in fridge and store for until needed. In the fridge the cream holds up quite well, but you should consume within a day for best results. 

Use this on your favorite dessert,  as a topping for a rich hot chocolate treat or fold into Chocolate of the Gods for a more “milk chocolate” version or any time sweetened whipped cream is needed.  Or you can immediately pounce on the stuff and mass consume it straight out of the bowl. Who said the gluten-free life didn’t have many options?

Chocolate of the Gods: Don’t Tell the Kids What’s in This and Everyone Will Enjoy It

Question: What’s green and brown and goes “whir”? 

Answer:  Something amazingly delicious – that’s what –  even and in spite of the combined ingredients.

I’m a foodie. But if you’ve read anything about our family, we aren’t the health food sort. By this I mean, we don’t milk our own goats or grind our own grain. I do not want to learn these skills either. While we enjoy almost any vegetable, fruit or similarly “good for you” item, we also enjoy tater tots (Ore Ida- a top choice of harried gluten-free moms) and yes, we eat hot dogs and cakes and candies.  I’d call us “non-selective” feeders and mainstream eaters, apart from being gluten-free, that is.

We’ve nixed enough items to be gluten and casein-free that I’m not up for cutting real, honest to God sugar from our diet and I don’t venture  off the grid into the land of odd combinations or substitutions. Hence, while we eat non-selectively- the healthy and the unhealthy- we don’t make any real steps into the extremes.  And I’d have never tried this combination below were it not for the advice of Lisa Cowden, award winning pastry chef and purveyor of delicious food.

Chocolate mousse is a near impossibility when you are gluten and casein-free.  Cream is the main component in chocolate mousse and cream – lest you haven’t heard- is chock full of nasty proteins called caseins. Apparently, “Chocolate of the Gods” isn’t a new recipe, but it was new to me. If I’d have found this before an expert told me to try it, I’d have run screaming from the kitchen. I say all of this to preface the below recipe for you. It’s delicious. It’s rich. You’ll fool your family and friends into thinking it’s real mousse. And these words come from the most die-hard chocoholic and normal eater, so please try it.

Yeah, it’s got avocados and maple syrup and chocolate in it.(OMG)  But don’t dwell on the ingredients. Once you taste this confection, your palate will thank you. You can also use this for the ganache frosting on Lisa’s cupcake recipes or alternately for any chocolate frosting or filling. It’s incredibly thick, so bear in mind it’s best for recipes you need a stiffer frosting or filling. If you eat it as mousse, it’s super rich. Top it with some whipped coconut cream to lighten up the taste if you desire. 

There are many versions of “Chocolate of the Gods” online. This is a variation I tweaked a bit to our taste and the ingredients I had on hand, based on recipes from Food.com and Spectacularily Delicious.com. Since we almost never have gluten-free soy sauce on hand I omitted that, although some Chocolate of the Gods recipes  do call for it. I’m not sure what difference that makes, since ours turned out wonderfully without it. I used almond extract as we enjoy that flavor best with chocolate, but you can also use vanilla, peppermint or orange GF extracts. It was- I must admit- an “Oh My God” moment in the kitchen when I tasted it. Wow. I promptly fed this to three of my kids, including one adult daughter and her boyfriend who were visiting. Not one person thought it was anything but very rich, decadent dark chocolate mousse. Go and create chocolate lusciousness and may the force be with you…

Chocolate of the Gods

Ingredients 

 

  • 2 large Hass avocadoes, cubed or 1 large florida avocado
  • 1/2 cup REAL maple syrup, plus 2 Additional Tablespoons REAL Maple Syrup
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or regular vegetable oil (coconut oil does add the best taste)
  • 2 teaspoons GF almond extract (or peppermint, vanilla or orange GF extract)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (no substitutions)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (use the best variety you can find)

Directions

  1. Place first six ingredients (avocadoes up to and including basalmic vinegar) in a food processor and pulse until smooth. [Do NOT use a blender as it purees into watery green frog-like soup]
  2. Sift cocoa powder with a metal strainer to remove lumps, then stir into avocado mixture and blend until smooth. [Make sure you blend it well, but don’t over process. Globs of unmixed cocoa aren’t very tasty]
  3. At this point you can refrigerate the pudding in a tightly-sealed container for up to a week or freeze it for up to a month.
  4. Serve chilled, layered with coconut whipped cream and strawberries or raspberries or top with a giant dollop of coconut whipped cream and fresh mint sprigs. Or use for frosting or chocolate filling in bakery items. Doubles as a decadent ganache! Yum!!!

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