My daughter’s summer visit was so much fun this year. No, we didn’t spend as much time at the beach as planned. Yes, we did shop ‘til we dropped a few times. But more importantly, we spent the time experimenting with gluten free baking. Cori Jaye has become amongst the many to eat a gluten free diet. Her mentor suggested this Mom should consider doing the same. Apparently it runs in families. Always up for a big challenge and wanting to satisfy my daughter’s home baked loves, I decided to make my kitchen gluten free for that week. My daughter has gone cold turkey and craves the food she once loved.
My daughter’s lifestyle change is the catalyst for my gluten free cooking classes. We not only produce home baked goodness from gluten free flours, but we also want them to be organic as well. This is a very tough animal to find. Through my research calling millers and distributors all over North American, I happened upon Cuisine Soleil, a grower and producer of a number of quality gluten, organic, and kosher flours. Albeit right next-door in Montreal too! Lucky me! Ferverous experimentation begins!
We all subscribe to the baking is a science school of thought. Gluten free baking kicks that up more than a notch. It’s reprogramming your brain. I mean I love baking breads and watching them rise and waiting with baited breath for the true results. My daughter lamented that she loves and misses my pies and chewy cookies. My thought was I also better bake some bread and buns for the hot dogs and grilled cheese she requested. Through reading and understanding how gluten free baking actually works, I transformed so many of CJ’s favourites into, well, and I don’t mean to brag, artistic gluten free masterpieces. Not one flop in the bunch. Mulitgrain bread, parkerhouse like buns, hot dog buns, buckwheat waffles, my “Lick the Plate Wild Blueberry Pie”, lemon squares, fluffy white strawberry layer cake, chewy chocolate chunk Toblerone cookies, were all in the list of creations. Leftovers were put in the freezer and went on da plane boss back to the ‘Peg with my daughter.
There is so much I am excited to share in my The Spice Lady Cooking Classes and The Spice Lady Workshops, with those of you who have or choose to be gluten free. I just can’t wait! In the meantime, I want to list some tips for you to try at home.
If you follow these tips, you too can whip up gluten free masterpieces. No brainer!
Purchasing or making your own gluten free flour blends is not brain surgery.
Understand that one flour does not replace the all-purpose wheat, rye, and barley flours we have become accustomed to using. Blend varied gluten-free flours, starches, gums to replicate the flavor, texture, and density.
One rule of thumb is 2 parts flour to 1 part starch. Some gluten-free flours have very strong flavors and some have higher protein. Use more than one to achieve a balance.
Here’s a formula that you can multiply as required:
½ cup of a whole grain flour such as chickpea, amaranth, quinoa, or brown rice ¼ cup neutral flour such as white rice flour or sorghum flour ¼ cup starch such as tapioca starch or potato starch.
Ideas for gluten free organic flour (If you can find Cuisine Soleil products, they work very well):
white rice brown rice amaranth quinoa sorghum flour (neutral tasting) teff certified gluten-free oat flour certified gluten free and organic non-gmo corn flour (I grind my own for polenta).
Nut flours: you can use a Vitamix to grind your own or purchase almond, hazelnut, and cashew flour. Other flours: coconut, chestnut, chickpea, seed, and soy flour.
Gums as Gluten Replacers
Because there is no gluten, you need to find ways to give your baking structure. Here are some ideas for stabilizers:
xanthan gum guar gum eggs psyllium agar agar chia seeds (add to hot water as egg replacers) flax seeds (add to hot water as egg replacers) For yeast: add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum or guar gum per cup of flour blend For non-yeast: add ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum or guar gum per cup of flour blend.
Purchased Flour Blends
Try to buy whole grain, pure flours with no additives or sugar. If it already has xanthan or guar gum in the blend, you can always add ½ to 1 teaspoon more to your recipe.
Increase the Amounts of Other Ingredients
To add lightness, increase the baking powder and/or baking soda in the recipe by 25 percent. If the recipe stated one teaspoon of baking powder, add 1 ¼ teaspoons instead. To add moisture, increasing the amount of butter or oil, adding fruit or vegetables, brown sugar. To create more flavour, use more sugar, spices, and extracts like vanilla. Double the amount of yeast. gluten-free breads don’t rise as easily.
Browning of Baked Goods
Gluten-free baking tends to brown faster on the outside than it cooks on the inside
Lower the baking temperature by 25 degrees. Bake Lower and Longer. Cake or bread may take 15 to 30 minutes longer to bake. Take cakes out of the oven before the toothpick comes out completely clean, so a few morsels should be sticking.
Ok, now with those tips here’s an easy recipe to try out your new gluten free baking skills. My family loves lemon squares. These translate to gluten free effortlessly. Everyone loves a little something something lemon on the menu!
Gluten Free Lemon Squares Yield: 16 – 2 inch (5 cm) squares or 32 triangles
1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter or vegan shortening, room temperature 1/4 cup (25 grams) confectioner’s (powdered or icing) sugar 1 cup (140 grams) Cuisine Soleil gluten free all purpose flour 1/8 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of your electric mixer or food processor, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough just comes together.
Press into the bottom of your greased pan and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar 2 large eggs 1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (approximately one large lemons) 1 tablespoon (5 grams) grated lemon zest (1 lemons) 2 tablespoons (25 grams) Cuisine Soleil gluten free all purpose flour
Confectioner’s (powdered or icing) sugar for dusting
Beat the sugar and eggs until nice and smooth. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine.
Fold in the flour.
Pour the filling over the shortbread crust and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the filling is set.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in centre of oven.
Grease with butter (or use a cooking spray) a 8 x 8 inch (20 x 28 cm) pan.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Cut into squares or triangles and dust with powdered sugar.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.
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