Gluten Free Baking, A Journey into New Territory
Gluten-Free foods are taking their place in the world these days. We are all becoming more aware of gluten, gluten intolerance, celiac (or coeliac) disease, and what this means for so many people. While I am not gluten intolerant, I often cook and bake for functions, locally. Last year I was asked to provide little treats for a Princess Party, put on by the Dacotah Prairie Museum. Accompanied by a queen, little girls from tots to teens were invited, to learn about the lives of real princesses. They were taught how to wave properly, and curtsey.
Little girls hear the word princess and go dreamy-eyed. The program was sold out. I made lots of little treats, but found out one of the little princesses and her queen were gluten intolerant, and could not partake of many of the little treats. This was an intolerable state of affairs. I decided I needed to learn about this disease, be aware of what was involved, and provide alternatives that would be tasty and exciting.
Over the past year, I have been trying out different gluten-free flour mixtures, and making lots of goodies, mainly from my own normal recipes, converted by simply substituting gluten-free flour and adding xanthan gum. In the main, they have been a whopping success. In my honest opinion, as someone who has been baking for 42 years, some of the cakes, fruit or nut loaves turn out more moist and tender than when made with wheat flour, a very happy discovery, without a doubt. The queen mentioned above, works at the museum, so I took an afternoon to talk with this young woman and learn more about what was involved. I also had baked one of my favorite coffeecake recipes, gluten-free and took it for her and the museum staff to try. They all loved it, moist and tender and full of flavor. The young woman was happy with my experiment, as was I.
Another great help along the way was finding Shauna Aherns Gluten Free Girl website. I have studied her site extensively and learned all sorts of things there. I mixed up her gluten-free flour mixture to experiment with, as well as trying out one of her bread recipes; another success. I took some of the bread for the woman at the museum to sample, as well as a slice I slathered with homemade pesto and cheese and broiled. She exclaimed, This is the best bread I have tasted since going gluten free.
This coffeecake recipe was given to me by my best friend of 54 years, and is a terrific recipe, no matter which flour you choose. This is the original recipe, for gluten-free, I substituted a gluten-free flour mixture made up of 6 cups brown rice flour, 2 cups potato starch and 1 cup tapioca starch. I used this mixture measure for measure in this recipe, and added 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the sifted dry ingredients. Be sure to check the labels of ingredients for hidden wheat when making this Gluten Free.
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts; walnuts or pecans are good
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla and mix well. Sift together flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Grease a 10-inch tube or bundt pan.
Mix together the chopped nuts, the 2 teaspoons sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/2 of this topping into the greased pan. Put in half the batter – this requires plopping small spoonfuls of the batter into the pan as the batter is very thick. Then carefully smooth it to fill in any gaps. Tapping the pan on the countertop helps. Pour on the rest of the topping and again plop spoonfuls into the pan till all batter is used.
Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the cake if desired. Serves 12 to 16.
GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: Replace the flour with your preferred gluten-free flour mixture and add in 1 teaspoon xanthan gum. Mix and bake as directed. Sometimes baking is a little bit longer than normal, but since the texture and moistness is so wonderful, I can wait those few more minutes.
Try this recipe, either way, and you will not be sorry.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it was informative and helped you along your own culinary journey. You will find many more recipes and helpful tips on my web site. I am on Facebook at A Harmony of Flavors and share a recipe or tip each day to the fans that have liked my site. I hope to see you there soon.