So my 10 yo has been sick for several months now and I’ve been wondering if I should even continue this blog. We don’t know what he has. We do know he’s in constant pain, both with his head and stomach. We tried gluten-free for three weeks. During this time, I was like, now how can I write a baking blog of all the things I know when I know nothing about gluten-free?! Turns out I don’t need to become an expert as it made no difference and his celiac test came back negative.
From a purely geeky perspective, it was quite fascinating to do some gluten-free baking tho so I have added a tag for it and am now at least much more aware of the need for gluten-free recipes for those with celiac, those who are gluten-intolerant, and those who make the choice to go gluten-free for other reasons.
For the unaware, gluten is a protein in wheat (barley, rye, etc.) and oats. More precisely, it’s a string of amino acids. The string in oats is ever so slightly different from wheat so some people who can’t have wheat, can have oats, and some can’t. Gluten is what gives bread it’s wonderful rise (besides yeast) and chewiness. When you knead bread, you’re developing the gluten in it, stretching out those chains. When you make cookies, you don’t want to develop the gluten ’cause you’ll end up with tough cookies. Similarly with cakes.
That’s the whole point of different kinds of flours. With cake and pastry flour you have very low levels of protein so your cakes and pies will be tender and delicate, not tough and chewy. Bread flour on the other hand will have some of the highest protein levels around, for higher rise and better texture.
What does this mean if you’re going gluten-free? That you need to find a substitute for the gluten. This is where xanthum gum comes in. It takes the place of gluten, but it still won’t give you the same texture to your dough and there’s waaaaay more to learn about baking gluten-free than what I’ve picked up these past few weeks. The texture of bread dough becomes very airy, almost like foam. And cookies? I have no idea how people use a cookie scoop with this kind of dough. It’s crumbles instead of a mass of dough. I found myself grabbing handfuls to squish together to form balls of dough. Amazingly enough, it worked! The cookies were actually quite good, too. Just don’t expect the exact same flavors. Afterall, these are made of bean and rice flours largely.
There are some great all-purpose, gluten-free, flours out there (Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur Flour) which will give you a start so you can see the kind of airy dough you end up with when baking this way. Betty Crocker and Bisquick even have some gluten-free mixes so that you’re not totally left in the dust if you find yourself completely lost. I’ve made both Betty Crocker’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies and Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten-Free Pizza Dough mix. We all loved the pizza dough when I made it into Focaccia, drizzling it with olive oil and sprinkling it with salt and dried rosemary. Mmmmm Good! This will be a keeper for the future for sure!
When using gluten-free all-purpose flours, unfortunately, you can just take your favorite recipes, substitute in gf all-purpose flour for regular all-purpose flour, and add a bit of xanthum gum. I wish. I asked about this on the King Arthur blog because that’s what the xanthum gum package implied. There’s more to it than that tho and like I said, I don’t know enough yet to explain it all.
There is lots of information out there to be had on going gluten-free; just google it. Meanwhile, I highly recommend checking out the King Arthur Flour web site for recipes and information. Also check out glutenfreegoddess.com. I have not tried her recipes yet, but they look promising and she gets great comments from her readers. She also has tags for dairy-free, vegan, etc.
So what does the future hold on this blog? I have no idea 🙂 My son is awaiting a pediatric gastroenterologist appointment, but I will be back to blogging and working on getting at least a couple of posts out each week because I really enjoy doing this. When the recipe is gluten-free, I will tag it as such.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging… 🙂