This past weekend I presented 3 gluten free cooking workshops to very captive audiences; and I wanted to share the cliffnotes version with you.
Gluten Free Baking Basics
When considering gluten free baking, it is very important to keep in the forefront of your mind that gluten free baking is trial and error- you will fail, multiple times; but this is the reality of this endeavor. But don’t be afraid, trial and error is good- once you get a feel for the various gluten free flours, things will start to run smoothly. Ultimately perseverance is key.
Another incredibly key element is patience. Making gluten free bread is exceptionally time consuming, it can take anywhere from 2 1/2 hrs to 4 hours to make bread; I’ve tried cutting corners to cut time, and the proof is in the pudding.
When we remove gluten from our food, we remove one of the key components of the baking process, so we must find ways to fill the void and replicate the function of gluten. Most gluten free flours aren’t suitable to use on their own, as they are either too heavy, too light or have zero ability to bind itself together, so flour blending is always the best route to a desirable result.
Some of my favorite gluten free flours are:
BROWN RICE FLOUR
Brown rice flour is chocked full of iron, B vitamins and fiber, because it’s brown rice ground up. As with most gluten free flours, in order for brown rice flour to shine it must be blended.
Teff is an ethiopian grain that is blended to create flour. Teff is very high in protein with a slight hazelnut flavor; but the best thing about teff flour, is that is boasts incredibly bioavailable iron. This is important because for most people with celiac disease, there has been some intestinal damage that may affect nutrient absorption; but the iron in teff is easy for our bodies to absorb. Teff doesn’t rise or bind well, so it must be blended with other flours.
Tapioca flour to the naked eye looks a lot like cornstarch, and it behaves the same way too. So when thickening sauces and fillings, tapioca flour is very well placed. In gluten free baking, tapioca flour must always be blended in order to make anything remotely edible; it’s far too light to create the end result you are looking for.
The following recipe makes a very dense and highly satisfying bread, but be warned it’s time consuming. Following a recipe is always important in cooking, in baking even more so, and in gluten free baking it’s everything; if the recipe calls for a stand mixer, use a stand mixer; if the recipe calls for 115 degree water, you had better take the temperature of said water. READ and FOLLOW THE RECIPE EXACTLY!
Gluten Free Sandwich Bread
2 tablespoons organic canola oil, plus more for pan and plastic wrap
1/2 cup millet
1 1/2 cups warm (115 degree) water
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup soy flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup teff flour
2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
2 teaspoons coarse salt
Brush an 8 1/2-by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with oil. Combine millet and 1/2 cup warm water in a small pan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Reserve.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, whisk together flours, yeast, and xanthan gum. Whisk together eggs, molasses, salt, and oil. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients. Then beat with a paddle attachment until combined. Beat in 1 cup warm water and the millet.
Continue beating on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. The dough will be like thick elastic cake batter, not like traditional bread dough.
Transfer to prepared pan and spread evenly. Lightly drape with oiled plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until risen about 1 1/2 inches above edge of pan, about 1 hour and 30 minutes (once dough begins to dome, remove plastic for remainder of rising time).
Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Place bread in oven, and bake until dark brown and hollow sounding when tapped, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely. If necessary, run knife around the edge of the pan to loosen before removing.
Avocado Chocolate Pudding and the Importance of Healthy Fats
Whether giving up gluten for illness or trend, the first few weeks are tough; when our bodies break down gluten products that contain wheat, they are converted to sugar, so when we crave bread, cookies, pasta, cake and the like, we are really just craving sugar. Healthy fats are essential for life but especially during the transition to a gluten free diet. High quality fats, like coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, fish, seeds and avocado help the body lose weight, regulate blood sugar and banish sweet cravings- it’s so essential to always stay ahead of the craving. Avocado chocolate pudding is rich in healthy fats that support the body and it makes for a delicious snack that can be taken on the go; and it will help you keep cravings at bay, while also making your skin, hair and nails glow with health- I love fringe benefits, don’t you?!
1 medium avocado
1/2 cup dates
2 1/2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder
1/4 cup water + 1/8 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon celtic sea salt (or less)
Throw the avocado pudding ingredients into a high-speed blender. Start blending on slow and then crank up the blending speed to high.
Blend until puddingy and smooth. You might need to start and stop this a few times to get it to blend properly because the dates will require more blending than pudding recipes that don’t contain dates. If you have a good blender (AKA Vitamix or Blendtec) then you should be able to get this super smooth.
Use water to facilitate blending, only add a little at a time!
Treat Yo Self
It’s important to feel as though you are still living a fulfilled food life when you’ve gone gluten free; just because you can’t run to the nearest vending machine and grab a quick snack, doesn’t mean that you can’t have treats. In fact I believe that this is a unique opportunity to learn how to snack like a pro.
Rice is a great food to have in a gluten free pantry, there are so many varieties (brown, basmatic, jasmine, wild, arborio etc) and rice takes on whatever flavor you pair it with. The gluten free rice pudding ball samples flew off the table at the event, while most people couldn’t believe that they were GF! Using cardamom flavored almond milk creates a rich base for the rice to flourish; and coconut and almonds add a toothsome bite to the creamy filling. Further proof that gluten free IS delicious!
Rice Pudding Balls
2 cups almond milk
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup raw whole almonds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large saucepan, combine milk, sugar, honey, cardamom, and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil over medium-high. Add rice and stir. Partially cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Transfer rice to a bowl and stir in raisins. Cover with plastic, and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
Spread coconut and almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, tossing occasionally, until coconut is golden, 4 to 6 minutes; set aside to cool. Grind nuts and coconut in a food processor until very finely ground; set aside.
Using level tablespoons, form rice mixture into balls (you should get about 24) and roll in coconut.