Saturday, July 26, 2014

GFCF Baking

I absolutely love to bake. Cookies, bread, muffins, pancakes, biscuits, popovers, anything and everything. So at the prospect of going GFCF it was only a matter of when, not if, I would figure out how to adjust making my favorites.

I knew from browsing Pinterest that the internet was a great source for ideas and recipes of various and unknown quality, but when the Gaffer found The How Can it Be Gluten Free Cookbook from America's Test Kitchen it was the key to cracking the code. I fell in love with the Best Recipe series from ATK several years ago because of their analytical, scientific approach to kitchen alchemy, and sure enough their GF cookbook is exactly what you need for a strong start in GFCF baking.

The first section provides the basic science of baking with gluten, the challenges presented in removing it from traditional recipes, and their solutions. There's tips for adjusting your existing recipes, analysis and reviews of commercial GF flour blends, and because ATK thought they could do better than any of them, a recipe for blending your own mix. Then there's reviews of various GF sandwich bread, pastas and an overview of the various ingredients you might need on hand for GF cooking and baking.  What's with all the different flours? And what in the world are xantham gum and pysllium husk? Your answers are here.

Then they get into the recipes. I've had excellent results with their peanut butter cookies and banana bread so far, just substituting coconut oil for butter to make them caesin free as well.

It is important to note that it's not a GFCF cookbook, and dairy ingredients are present in most recipes. The authors dedicate one page to suggestions for other dietary restrictions including dairy, but they fail to mention substituting coconut oil for butter, which has worked really well for me. Almond and coconut milk have worked so far, but I haven't even tried to work out a cheese substitute yet. Kind of suspect there isn't a good one, unfortunately.

This weekend I had slightly less success with their chocolate chip cookies and blueberry muffins. Both were tasty, but not quite excellent. I've been using a different flour blend and had to experiment with non-dairy yogurt, so I suspect one or two more tries will give better results.

Overall, I highly recommend The How Can it Be Gluten Free Cookbook. I'll try to post occasionally with which recipes work and which ones require a little more tweaking.

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