Monday, August 24, 2009

Life After Gluten: A Guest Post!

http://lifeaftergluten.blogspot.com
My friend Tiffany from Life After Gluten is in a remarkable postition as a gluten-free person: Her former occupation? Baker. No one knows more about the properties of flour and how to bake than Tiffany. So I cajoled her into writing a guest post about baking gluten-free for me. Dear readers, get ready to learn about baking from a pro. And I am guest posting today over at Tiffany's blog, Life After Gluten, so be sure to head over there and check out what I have to say about lunch. Now on to the Wisdom of Tiffany:


Gluten is a beautiful thing. Who doesn't love a good, tough bagel, or a firm, chewy, foldable pizza crust? Gluten provides elasticity to a baked product. It holds the structure of a muffin together, it helps a croissant to flake. How can someone bake without it? That's what I set out to discover.

Being a professional baker did not prepare me for the struggle of baking without gluten. Everything I knew about food science flew out the window when I was diagnosed with celiac. How could I possible bake anything? First thing I tried was a chocolate chip cookie mix. I lovingly mixed the ingredients together, and popped a big ball of cookie dough in my mouth. Big mistake! This dough had bean flour in it, which is bitter! I admit that I began to cry. What a horrible first experience! The devestation tempered a bit when I tried the cookies after they were baked. They still weren't great, but at least the bitterness cooked out. That was my first lesson in baking gluten free. Bean flour is bitter when raw, but the bitterness bakes out in the oven.
I am here to explain what I know about baking flours, ratios, flour combinations, etc. I don't claim to be an expert, but I have learned a couple things in the past 2 years.


1. If at first you don't succeed, cry, and then try again! You will never find that perfect recipe unless you keep at it. There are endless combinations to a good pizza crust, and it's going to take some time before you find the one you like.

2.Take ideas from recipes you already have. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. If you have a pie crust you really like, try it with a gluten free flour mix. See how it turns out. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't...find out!

3. Take recipes from the internet. Try something that someone else made up! Change it a bit, take out what you don't like, add what you do like. It's all up to you! I based my favorite pizza dough recipe off of Emeril's recipe!
You are welcome to try out gluten free flour mixes from the store. I have had success with Sylvan Border Farms flour mix, as well as Pamela's mixes. They are quite expensive, however, and I enjoy trying my own. I also try to make my mixes a litle healthier than mostly just starch mixes. I usually will try to add in some ground flax seed into a bread to get some fiber in there. Just add a little so as to not change the texture of your finished product too much. One thing to remember is that celiacs generally don't get enough fiber, so it is super important to replace it in other ways.

Each flour you come across has different properties to it. One will strengthen, another will act as a tenderizer, another will add moisture. This is where things get hairy. Wheat has all of these properties, so it is difficult to wrap your head around needing multiple flours to substitute for just one. I have spent a while trying to develop the perfect flour, and for me, I have found one I really like. To get a good idea of what flours do what, I would suggest taking a look at a book called You Won't Believe It's Gluten Free by Roben Ryberg. The information inside is invaluable to creating your own mix. Starting on page 14, you can find an analysis of gluten free flours, and their properties. I don't necessarily agree with her opinion on whether to use a certain flour or not. For example, she says not to use quinoa flour, because it's flavor doesn't merit use. I happen to like quinoa flour, so I take those opinions lightly. Her book also uses one or two starches or flours to create multiple recipes, so it is nice for a beginner, or someone who would rather just have a few flours, instead of multiple. In the past couple of years, I have decided that I prefer to have a selection of flours available, because I tend to get better results that way. Again, it is all about what you do, and do not like.

You can check out my flour mix recipe here, just remember that it has buckwhaet flour, which makes your final product a little darker in color. It is also meant for more hearty recipes, such as cookies with nuts, or whole grain style bread. I love it in cornbread, also! Please note that the garbanzo flour can add a hint of bitterness if not cooked thouroughly. It is a bean flour :)

My pizza dough recipe, like I previously said, is based off of Emeril's. Give it a try, and see what you think!! So far, it is the best we have tried, and my gluten eating husband says it is just like regular pizza! Score!

Yield: 2 16 to 18-inch pizza crusts
Ingredients:1 cup water (105 – 115 degrees F) 1 tablespoon sugar 2 tablespoons active dry yeast 1 1/2cups white rice flour 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour 1/2 cup flour mix 2 cups tapioca starch 2/3 cup instant non-fat dry milk powder 3 teaspoons xanthan gum 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup hot water 3 tablespoons olive oil 4 egg whites at room temperature Vegetable oil spray Corn meal
Method:Preheat the oven to 400ยบ F. Combine 1 cup of water (105 – 115 degrees F), 2 tablespoons active dry yeast and sugar. Let the yeast "bloom" in the water. Combine the white rice flour, garbanzo flour, flour mix, milk powder, tapioca flour, xanthan gum and salt in a bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle and set on low. Mix the flour well and then add the olive oil with the remaining 1/2 cup of water, slowly pouring into the bowl. Add the egg whites slowly until the mixture is well incorporated. Add the yeast mixture and increase the speed to high and continue to mix for 4 minutes.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and evenly divide into two balls. Dust 2 half sheet pans (jelly roll pans) with corn meal to prevent sticking, and to add crunch to the bottom. You can spray it with cooking spray if you would rather do without the crunch. Place one of the dough balls onto each pan. Place a plastic glove or a plastic sandwich bag onto one of your hands and spray some vegetable oil onto the gloved hand. Using that hand, gently press each dough ball into a 13-inch circle about 1/4 inch thick, leaving the edges a bit thicker to prevent sauce from dripping onto the pan. You can also just use a wet hand to 'smear' the dough out into shape. Set aside for 10 minutes to rise.
Place the dough into the oven and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with your favorite sauce and ingredients. Place back into the oven and continue to cook until the crust is golden brown and crispy, 10 to 12 minutes longer. (Note: if the baking pan is not liberally greased or corn meal-ed, the dough will stick. If this happens, use a flat metal spatula to separate the dough from the baking pan.)
Hopefully this gives you some ideas to create your perfect pastry, loaf, bun, whatever! Please, ask questions, get dirty, make mistakes and try again! That's what makes this an adventure, and it makes the success more of a reason to celebrate!

-- Tiffany

Life After Gluten

1 comment:

  1. I realized while reading this that it sounds like I have garbanzo flour in my all purpose mix...I don't, but I DO have it in my pizza crust recipe, so that's what I am referring to when I say to bake the crust long enough to cook out the bitterness :)

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