Tag Archives: gluten free

Cake or Cake?

A few years back my sister, Mrs. Music, introduced me to the Eddie Izzard skit, “Cake or Death?”.

The cake or death part starts at 5min, but the whole thing is funny. I’ll wait.

Back? Okay. Well, gluten free cake can be the “death” in the cake or death question, as it doesn’t really rate as cake. For the past few years I’ve been making non-cake cake. It’s a recipe off Allrecipes.com and is pretty good, but the texture still isn’t very cake-like. For SoupKing’s birthday this year I googled in hopes of finding a recipe that a) didn’t list ingredients I couldn’t find and b)was better than my standard non-cake cake.

I did, indeed, find an excellent recipe. I think I followed most of the instructions without alterations the first go around. It had better flavor, moisture and texture, but it was a tad too mushy.

Miss Drama’s birthday was yesterday and so I needed to whip up a cake. After all, a birthday without cake? Clearly death (okay, not really, but definitely a very sad birthday.) So I looked up the recipe I last used with vague notions of improving it. Turns out, I was out of coconut flour, which turned out to be serendipitous.

  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 3 cup all purpose gluten free flour (recipe at end of post HERE) *no two flour blends are quite the same so keep that in mine*
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon GF Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (or non-dairy substitute– I used goat milk)
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free vanilla (I may have been more generous as I kind of just poured some into the batter)

In addition to tweaking the ingredients I ignored the instructions and proceeded with traditional cake making procedure, starting with pre-heating the oven to 350F. Then I creamed the eggs, sugar and oil together and added the vanilla. I was using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. If you add too much liquid or flour too quickly you end up wearing a fair amount. So, I alternated adding a little flour and a little milk until all of it was combined. I let it mix for 2 minutes at high speed. Then I sprayed two round cake pans, dusted with a few pinches of the flour mix, poured in the batter and cooked. I’d start with 20 min and then check every couple of minutes after that depending on your oven. One of the cakes was done in about 22min., while the other took closer to 30min as it was a bit more full.

Cool and ice and tada, almost-cake cake! It wasn’t too mushy, yet it had that great moisture you want in a cake. The texture reminded me of the best box mixes or a freshly baked cake from a bakery.

Almost-cake cake!

Mrs. Music deemed it evilly delicious and even Mr. Music commented on how good it was and he isn’t used to gluten-free baking. The remaining little bit that was left last night didn’t last through today, so I’m pretty sure this cake is a keeper. If not for the fact that I ate a rather large amount last night, I may have made another today, as it is MY birthday today. Instead, I ate a whole pint of goat milk ice cream–far less effort.

To celebrate my victory over cake death and my birthday, wander over to InkStained Succubus, comment and get a chance to win a free digital copy of my book Fated Bonds.

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Buns!

I’ve done several recipes of gluten free buns. All of them tasted great, but they were usually lacking in the consistency department. There was the time I attempted my own baking rings and had bread mass versus rolls. There was another time my rolls became more of this big giant pull-apart thing. You get the idea. Wet dough = crappy roll.

I wanted to fix sloppy joes yesterday, but the store was out of gluten free buns. So, once again I turned to the internet, but I can’t help tweaking things so mine was slightly different than the one I found. I really liked this one as the process was simple. Some recipes call for multiple rises, which is more than I care to do for a quick dinner.

Gluten free buns

  • 1.5 c brown rice flour
  • 1/2 c sorghum
  • 1 c tapioca
  • 1 tbs yeast (I used bread machine yeast as that’s what I had)
  • 1 tbs xanthum (Yes, that is a lot, but you really do need a firmer dough for buns)
  • 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tsp thyme (optional or could use any herb mix you like)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar or honey (I used honey)
  • 3/4c warm water
  • 4 eggs (warmed to room temp)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • optional onion seeds, sesame, or poppy seeds pressed into top of buns

Mix all the dry ingredients. In a mixer bowl, crack eggs, beat well, and add the rest of the liquid ingredients. Add the flour to the liquid and mix for 2 minutes using a paddle attachment. If the dough is dry add up to 1/4 more water, but dough should not be wet, just a bit sticky.

Grease a cookie sheet or use parchment paper to line. Coat your hands in oil and scoop up roughly 1/4-1/3 cup and roll into a ball. Do this until you have ~8 buns and (redistribute as needed). Then, flatten the balls, gently pressing the onion seeds or other decorative seasoning into the top.

Let the buns sit in a warm place to rise for about 45 min. (I let them rise a good 10-15min longer than recipe called for). Preheat oven to 400 while buns are rising. When they have risen, back for 10-20 min. They are done when they are golden brown.

dough before rising

dough before rising

Buns!

Buns!

They had an excellent taste, cut well even when hot, and stood up to the massive amount of sloppy joe ground beef slathered on them.

Bake and enjoy my fellow GF peeps and if you like, here’s the original recipe!

Apples to Apples

The articles going around decrying gluten free food that I mentioned yesterday claim that wheat is healthier because you’re missing all the vitamins and in place adding starch, sugar and fat.

Is this true? In some cases, I would hazard that yes it is, especially with packaged foods. However, there are many options out there that use GF whole grains, just as there are whole grain gluten varieties.

Instead of doing this:

Misleading image

Let’s try something novel! Let’s look at the numbers and compare apples to apples, as the saying goes.

People love white bread, so let’s compare the average white bread, with a commercial gluten free white bread, and a homemade white bread recipe that I regularly use.

Bread

Now, given the information above, I’d say that they are all rather on par, with the homemade version perhaps slightly healthier.  The calorie counter gives white bread a score of B, but that’s primarily due to the calcium content. Otherwise, it has more sugar, no more fiber, and and just as much sodium as the store bought GF white bread. It does, however, have more protein.

Looking at the homemade version, it has less sodium, potassium (which is absent in both store varieties), more iron than both, more fiber, and less fat. Other areas it is similar or maybe not as good, but on the whole, I would say that each of these is similar, with a few trade offs. Keep in mind that if one can eat dairy, milk can be added to the homemade recipe, which would increase the calcium content, but also the fat content.

Are there better, healthier options than these breads? Most definitely. There are multigrain breads in both gluten and non-gluten varieties, and homemade versions are nearly always better than both as they have no preservatives, and you can cut the amounts of salt and fat to taste.

So remember, whether it’s gluten filled or gluten free, read the label, as neither is magically “better”.

One Step Forward…Two Back

The downside of being gluten free, aside from the complexity of eating out and cooking, is that there are people bound and determine to prove it is just a “fad”. I will grant that gluten sensitivity, and likely Celiacs as well, is a complicated pathology that involves more than just the gluten trigger.  This makes it no less real than say, schizophrenia, bipolar, major depression, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, or any number of diseases with complicated, hard to test pathology.

There’s currently articles going around claiming that non-Celiac gluten intolerance does not exist based on a paper published by a Dr. Peter Gibson who decided his prior published work was suspect and so repeated it, which reversed the results.

As a scientist, I’d like to point out a few things. His sample size was 37 individuals. Those individuals were divided into four groups and each got a different diet. Their diagnosis was mostly self-diagnosed and confirmed via questionaire. So basically, 37 people who maybe are gluten intolerant but could also have something else going on (yeast overgrowth, food allergy, parasites to name a few) were picked. On one hand it demonstrates the need for a definitive method of diagnosis, but also, that the experimental setup is questionable.

That’s a whopping nine folks in each category. What measures were taken to ensure patient compliance? Anyone who has attempted a GF diet knows how hard it is to avoid gluten. Also, two-weeks is not enough time for severe inflammation to reduce and for the body to heal. It often takes MONTHS. Wikipedia explains the whole FODMAP thing. Do some of the things on that list bother me? Yes. Do they send me into days of gastric distress like gluten and casein do? Nope. Many Celiacs and GF sensitive individuals, due to the nature of inflammation, have problems with many other foods that can exacerbate inflammation.

Were some of those patients likely not GF sensitive? Quite likely. This does not mean that gluten is not a problem for some people.

The important point is that non-Celiac’s gluten intolerance is not a new thing.

Read here or here for starters.

If you aren’t sick, don’t buy the hype. GF is not a fad diet. It isn’t the next new awesome weight loss trick. It’s a lifetime commitment required out of necessity.

I felt like puking up my guts for a solid year and at my worst was curled up in bed with debilitating migraines and intestinal cramps. My GI doctor told me to eat more fiber since I wasn’t a Celiac. Yeah, that didn’t really help. Trust me, if there’s a problem, you WILL know, as your body will make it pretty darn clear.

If you eliminate foods and find that you feel drastically better, don’t be afraid to trust what your body tells you, no matter what research gets shared around the internet.

I’m becoming my mother

Yes, I said it. It’s happening. I’m turning into my mother. I don’t mean the whole, “If you don’t quit making that face, it’ll freeze like that.” I never bought that line, so I don’t sell it. I just tell them it’s annoying or they look stupid.

No, I’m referring to recipe tweakification. (That’s not a word? I’m an author. I henceforth declare it a word.) When I was little, my mom almost never followed recipes. Oh, for baking she’d have some, but even then would add some of this and a little of that. She began cooking solo in her early to mid-teens. I didn’t break out to solo sauteing adventures until I was about  nineteen. It’s one thing to assist as sous chef and another to man the whole operation.

My first foray into cooking involved lots of Lea and Perrins. What can I say? I loved the stuff. Eat food tasting like it long enough, and even the most die-hard fans will want other seasoning. I bought some Indian cookbooks, and then ventured into tried and true American classics, and then I discovered baking. My very first baking project was a pumpkin pie. I think I ate it all myself because the ex didn’t like pumpkin pie. It turned out well, even if I was sick of pumpkin pie by week’s end. I then tried cookies, and cakes, and found that brownies were my kryptonite. I was hitting my stride when gluten intolerance struck (and dairy intolerance).

I didn’t quite go all the way back to square one, but there was definitely a learning curve in regards to the many flours and starches used in GF baking. I still use recipes, especially if it’s a new dish, but I’m not afraid to venture beyond the ingredients list.

On Easter Sunday, I made some lovely dinner rolls. Granted, I didn’t let them rise long enough, and they may have needed a bit more flour to maintain a rounder shape, but the texture and taste were lovely. A guest asked, “There’s no gluten in these? At all?”

That, my internet denizens is a sign of GF baking success. I had been worried, because I essentially cobbled together a couple of different recipes. Soup king asked what I put in it, and I started listing ingredients and the additions to the recipes. He expressed frustration that I never exactly follow a recipe anymore. I commiserate. I had the same frustration once with my mother.

 

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home. I was out of ginger and with stomach plague rampaging through the house, this was a horror I could not allow to persist. Of course, I ended up getting other stuff.

On the way through the gluten free isle, I passed a couple pondering gluten free mac ‘n cheese options. I stopped, backtracked a step and pointed to the better one.

“That one tastes the best.”

According to Miss Drama, we ended up talking FOREVER. Then again, in Miss Drama’s world, anything over five seconds is forever.  The encounter reminded me that I should share my gluten free sandwich bread recipe with the world. This one mimics white bread. I have one from a recipe book that I’ve tweaked which is reminiscent of an Italian bread, and when I substitute buckwheat tastes almost rye-like. While simpler, they lack the soft flexibility of good old white bread. My next plan is to try my hand at a multi-grain bread, but I suspect I may be the only one in the house that actually LIKES multi-grain bread.

I have two versions of the recipe, one for old fashioned baking in an oven and another I adapted for a bread machine. A lot of folks cannot tolerate corn. Supposedly, potato starch is interchangeable with cornstarch. I’ve yet to try that, as potato starch is more bothersome to me than cornstarch. Tapicoa is another alternative, but that may cause crumbling and likely is not a one to one switch. If you don’t like soy, try millet in its place.

Version 1:

  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 4 tbsp sugar (or honey)
  • 1.5 c water (warm)
  • 3c GF flour mix (see below)
  • 2.5 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vinegar

flour mix:

It’s given in parts so you can make any amount you wish. I’ll put the parts and the cups that I calculated. I ended up with a little left over which I stored away for next time.

  • 3 parts brown rice flour [1 cup]
  • 3 parts corn starch [1 cup]
  • 2 parts soy flour [2/3 c]
  • 1 part masa harina or finely ground corn flour [1/3c]  Masa harina would be in the Mexican food section of the grocery store.

Directions

Preheat oven on LOWEST setting

  1. In a small bowl combine yeast and sugar and slowly add the water, stirring to dissolve the yeast. Let sit.
  2. Mix flours, sift 2.5 c into a large bowl and add the other dry ingredients.
  3. In another medium sized bowl whisk eggs, oil, and vinegar until the eggs are slightly frothy.
  4. Add the yeast to the eggs and mix.
  5. Add the liquid to flour and mix for four minutes. The dough is wet and tends to climb the beaters, but I just raised it partially out periodically. I got a new mixer that comes with a paddle, which works perfectly for gluten free batters.
  6. TURN OFF OVEN
  7. Transfer batter to a greased loaf pan. Glass cooks more evenly than aluminum.
  8. Allow to rise for 20 or 30 minutes until it is even with the top of the pan.
  9. Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes. (My oven is a bit hot, so I baked at 350 for 60 minutes and it was perfect.)
  10. Allow to cool and enjoy 🙂

Tips and tricks

  1.  Don’t let the bread rise too much past even with the pan or it’ll fall.
  2. The loaves I made this way tended to be a bit delicate. The bread machine version works better with all 3 cups of flour. I haven’t made one by hand in awhile, but this may improve the texture.
  3. Honey can be substituted for sugar and as little as a single tbsp (honey or sugar) can be used. Soy flour is a bit strong, though, which is why I added more.

Version 2:

  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 4 tbsp sugar (or honey)
  • 1.5 c water (warm)
  • 3c GF flour mix (see below)
  • 2.5 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp flax meal

flour mix:

It’s given in parts so you can make any amount you wish. I’ll put the parts and the cups that I calculated. I ended up with a little left over which I stored away for next time.

  • 3 parts brown rice flour [1 cup]
  • 3 parts corn starch [1 cup]
  • 2 parts soy flour [2/3 c]
  • 1 part masa harina or finely ground corn flour [1/3c]  Masa harina would be in the Mexican food section of the grocery store. OR 1/3c Sorghum (I think I prefer the sorghum). IF you choose not to use the flax meal, use 1/2 c Sorghum

Directions

  1. In a small bowl combine yeast and sugar, flax, and slowly add the water, stirring to dissolve the yeast. Let sit.
  2. Mix flours, sift ALL OF THE ABOVE MIX into a large bowl and add the other dry ingredients.
  3. In another medium sized bowl whisk eggs, oil, and vinegar until the eggs are slightly frothy.
  4. Add the yeast to the eggs and mix.
  5. Add the liquid to flour and mix for four minutes. The dough is wet and tends to climb the beaters, but I just raised it partially out periodically. I got a new mixer that comes with a paddle, which works perfectly for gluten free batters.
  6. Transfer batter to a greased bread machine loaf pan WITHOUT THE PADDLES.
  7. Program :
    • PREHEAT -15min
    • KNEAD -OFF
    • RISE 1 -20 min
    • RISE 2 -OFF
    • RISE 3 -35min
    • BAKE -1hr:10min
    • KEEP WARM -OFF
    • CRUST= MEDIUM
The slight fall in the middle means I added a bit too much water.

The slight fall in the middle means I added a bit too much water.

It's a very pretty loaf

It’s a very pretty loaf.

Road Hazards

I’m glad to be home. Where did I go? I attended a two-day medicinal chemistry grad student and post-doc conference. I perfected my undercover snoozing and tested my caffeine tolerance while listening to hours of presentations.

Not five minutes after leaving our campus Sunday, with Professor B driving a minivan and Professor M driving a fifteen passenger van, some moron attempted to merge into our minivan. I looked out the window and mere inches away was another vehicle and it was moving closer still.

“Car! CARRRR!”

Professor B typically drives a Hummer. I saw why after the two and half hour road trip. He drives as if he owns the road and little things like one-way street signs or speed limits 1need not apply to him. Still, that could not compare to other road hazards:

Depending on others to provide gluten and dairy free food.

I called ahead and they agreed to accommodate, but when the coordinator says, “Uhm, I don’t really know much about gluten,” you make back-up plans. I stocked my suitcase with as much food as clothes: almond milk, kale chips, ginger (in case I got glutenated), GF crackers,  seasoned dry peas, and a small summer sausage.

Sunday

Dinner buffet: Swedish meatballs, egg rolls, some sort of spinach dip or quiche thing, and a couple of other clearly non GF selections. What did that leave me? Plain, raw veggies and fruit.

I went back to my room, snagged the sausage and crackers, and came back to the table as if carrying your own sausage was a perfectly normal thing to do.

Monday

Breakfast:  Eggs and bacon, which isn’t bad, but the eggs looked funny and even though the guy  said they had nothing in there, I’m not so certain.

Lunch:  Catered lunch from a Mexican restaurant, which sounds as if I’d be out of luck, but actually they had a detailed allergen checklist on their website which steered me clear of the chips I might have eaten, as well as the beef.  Enough of their fajita toppings were safe so I created a fajita salad and filled up, as dinner didn’t sound promising.

Dinner: Battered and fried chicken patties, veggie burgers (veggie stuff is rarely GF), and hot dogs, chips, and buttered popcorn. The hot dogs were the only thing I could eat, and this took a leap of faith that they were a GF brand. So I added my kale chips and that was dinner.

Tuesday

Breakfast: same

Lunch: Sandwiches catered from a local place, which happened to have GF bread. Yay!

The catered meals from local restaurants topped both university provided meals.  For dinner tonight Soup King and I made chicken Marsala, cauliflower, and steamed peas and carrots. Nothing tops home-cooked food.