Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gluten Free Baking

Wednesday 25th June 2014

I have been cooking and baking mostly gluten free now for a couple of years since we figured out my husband has a gluten intolerance.  To begin with it was really difficult because you cannot simply substitute a gluten free flour in your favorite recipes, it just doesn't work.  Cooking savory things is not really a problem although I still don't love gluten free pasta!  Baking, however, is a whole new adventure.  I borrowed books from the library and tried recipes but it wasn't till I found THIS book that I began to feel like things might not be so bad after all!

Now that I have tried lots of recipes from different books and websites and read up about different flours, I tend make my own flour mixes using brown rice flour, sorghum flour, finely ground cornmeal and arrowroot powder depending on what I'm baking. The mixes described in this book are reliable for anyone just starting out though and use finely ground brown rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch.  I have made my peace with xanthan gum and try to be really careful about not over cooking baked goods.  Gluten free baked goods tend to be done before they achieve that lovely golden color of traditional baked goods!  The other day, my daughter had a friend over and I found myself with a couple of free hours, some very sad looking bananas and a well stocked fridge from my grocery store trip that morning.  I felt the need to bake!  Using recipes from this book I made banana nut muffins and a glorious lemon cake.  I always use considerably less sugar than the recipe requires when I bake.  I find that American recipes are usually too sweet for our tastes so for example the lemon cake recipe called for 2 cups of sugar and I used a little under 1 and a half cups.  

Banana Nut Muffins  (adapted from Gluten Free Baking Classics)

2 cups brown rice flour mix
⅔ cup sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 packed cup mashed banana (2 or 3 smallish bananas)
½ cup chopped walnuts 
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup of oil

* Preheat oven to 350f and put cupcake papers in a muffin pan.  This recipe makes 16 muffins.  I use two muffin tins.  
*  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Add the walnuts.
*  Combine milk, oil, eggs and banana in a bowl.  Add liquid to the dry ingredients and stir till just blended.
*  Spoon mixture into the muffin papers and bake for 18 to 25 minutes till golden.  In my oven they take 20 minutes.  Leave to cool for a few minutes and then remove from pan and cool on a rack.  

Muffins should be eaten soon (shame!!) or wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer.  I usually wrap them individually and then freeze them in a big bag.  I defrost them on the counter for a bit or in the microwave.  They are great in lunch boxes.  They have a lovely light texture.  Sometimes I add chocolate chips!

Lemon Layer Cake  (adapted from Gluten Free Baking Classics)

This cake is beautiful.  It actually has great color and a lovely light texture.  You truly would not know it wasn't a regular cake.  It is delicate and lemony and delicious.  In the book the author fills it with a lemon curd and then frosts it with a lemon buttercream but it is summer here in California so I used whipped cream for a filling over a very thin spreading of an all fruit strawberry jam.  I also added some lovely local organic strawberries.  Over the top of the cake I poured a lemon juice/powdered sugar mixture from a Nigella Lawson recipe, more about that later.

1 ½  cups of sugar
4 large eggs
2 ½  cups brown rice flour mix
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind

*Preheat oven to 350f.  Grease and line with parchment two round 9inch cake pans.
*Beat sugar and eggs with an electric mixer at medium for 1 minute.  Add flour, salt, baking powder, xanthan gum, oil, milk, vanilla and lemon rind.  Beat at medium for 1 minute.
*Pour batter into the prepared pans.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.  They took 30 minutes in my oven.  The cake should feel springy in the centre.  
*Cool the cakes completely in the pans then refrigerate in the pans until you are ready to assemble the cake.  
*Whip some cream and wash, dry and slice strawberries (raspberries would be good too).  Invert one layer onto a plate and spread with strawberry jam and some cream.  Spread strawberry slices on top then top with more cream.  Invert the second layer onto your hand or a plate and remove paper.  Then put this second layer on top.  Refrigerate.
*For the glaze I used 4oz of powdered sugar with 4 tablespoons of lemon juice heated together in a small saucepan to melt the sugar.  When that has completely cooled pour it slowly, tablespoon by tablespoon over the top of the cake.  It will pool at the edges and run down the sides a bit so be sure to use a plate with a bit of a lip so you don't get glaze all over your counter as this would be a terrible waste!  This glaze is from Nigella Lawson's book "How To Be A Domestic Goddess" and is from the recipe for Lemon Syrup Loaf Cake which I used to make before we went gluten free.
Because of the cream, this cake must be refrigerated which is great because gluten free baked goods keep better in the refrigerator anyway.


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