Note to regular readers: I failed to upload a picture of the finished dish on Wednesday‘s blog. Hop back here to see Apple Nachos.
In my education of living wheat-free I soon learned that baking anything without wheat flour holds unique challenges. Most everything I knew about bread/biscuit/cookie/pie/cake baking was of no help in the new life of gluten/wheat-free baked goods.
I learned how to knead, roll out and shape dough by watching my mother make her big batch of yeast rolls on Saturday nights. I practiced making biscuits with her or an aunt watching over me. By the time I was in high school my home economics classes added to this first-hand knowledge. I had to learn that this new dough from non-wheat flours did not look, feel, or behave like any of the dough I knew.
In my quest to make bread, I read many cookbooks and tried many more recipes. I read labels and tried various prepared mixes but actually have yet to find anything that compares to a yeast bread. Bob’s Red Mill brand carries the largest variety of grains and flours. You can find this brand in Kroger, Big Lots, Whole Foods and other health food stores or order them online. The biggest problem is the expense — they just cost a bunch compared to any other bag of flour.
I finally found the best blend of flours that works for me. Combining different flours makes a big difference in the texture and baking of bread. Any good gluten-free or wheat-free cookbook will provide a description of the many different kinds of flour available from grains other than wheat. Some are rich in protein, while others add crispness
I mix this blend and have it ready at all times I use it for muffins, cookies, and anything that needs a cup of flour.:
Flour Blend for Baking
3 cups of sorghum flour
3 cups of potato starch (sometimes labeled “flour”, just check the ingredient label for “starch”)
2 cups of tapioca starch (also found as flour but it is from the cassava plant
1 cup of oat or rice flour
Carefully mix all these ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Makes 9 cups of flour blend.
This blend works really well but because there is no gluten you must add something to hold the flour together.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF USING THE FLOUR BLEND:
for every cup of flour add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
If you are a reader of labels, no doubt you have seen xanthan gum on many products. This is the stuff that adds the binder to a baked good. If you spill a little on your kitchen counter and even a drop of water lands on it, you end up with a slimy goop. Xanthan gum is made from a plant, in case you mentally lumped it in with other unknown ingredients found on so many of our food labels.
All of these products can be found at Bob’s Red Mill and Whole Foods. I look for the cheapest price and have learned to hunt in all kinds of places. But the best place for price and availability? A Mennonite or Amish grocery store.
I am thankful every time I find one of the flours I need for baking, but especially glad to find them at a cheap price.
I’m thankful for all those nutritionists, parents of children with celiec disease, Mennonite cooks, and cooks who experiment with baking gluten-free and share their knowledge.
Click here for links to each day’s post in the 31 Days series.