Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Cooking and Baking Gluten Free – What Do I Do?

By Jimmy Boswell – The Gluten Free Chef

Development Chef for The Gluten Free Store

Cooking and baking Gluten free can sometimes be a daunting task when you're new to Gluten free living. Having at adopt a GF diet is not as bad as many people think and with some insight it can be fun, I love my Gluten free life.

Some common questions that people are always asking are;
What flours and ingredients can I use? 

How can I bake a gluten free dish without it tasting like cardboard? 

How do I get that nice 'chewy' texture without using wheat flour?

Here are a few hints about GF flours to assist in your baking and cooking.

First I have to say that the key to successful gluten free baking is using a combination of flour and starches. Ingredient lists might look long, but once you have a pantry stocked with a good supply of flours, baking will be easy and fun. 

Each flour/starch has a distinct taste and character, they are sometimes not interchangeable so if you are following someone’s recipe it should be followed to a tee to ensure a great end result.

Rice flours are the closest to wheat flour in behaviour. They are made from either white or brown rice, and each has its own characteristics. Try it in gingerbread brownies or carrot cupcakes.

Amaranth Flour has a pleasant, nutty taste and has great nutritional value, 15% protein and good balance of amino acids. It is high in fibre, iron, calcium and phosphorus. It combines well with other flours to make good tasting bread, muffins, pasta, cookies, gravies, sauces and more.  To increase the protein content of baked goods substitute about 10-15% amaranth flour for the flour stated in a recipe.

hickpea Flour (Gram flour) is a cereal flour made from ground chickpeas. It is also known as garbanzo flour, or besan.  It contains a high proportion of carbohydrates. Mixed with an equal proportion of water, it can be used as an egg-replacer in vegan cooking. It is pale yellow and powdery and has an earthy flavour best suited to savoury dishes.

Millet Flour Millet Flour has a subtle flavor, lots of vitamins and minerals, and adds a lovely creamy color to baked goods.  Millet flour, which has light yellow color similar to cornmeal, is an option that provides a buttery flavor.It contains high levels of two essential amino acids (proteins), methionine and cysteine. Our bodies need adequate supplies of all of the essential amino acids for growth and cellular repair. Most grains, including rice, corn, wheat and sorghum have low levels of these two important proteins.

Chestnut Flour Italians have gathered chestnuts for centuries, dried them and made flour and It's still a staple in the diets of many. While it not cheap I value thos flour very highly. I use it in cakes, pancakes, pastry, porridge, or to thicken soups.

Quinoa flour (pronounced keen-wa) is composed of 10 to 18% of protein, 69% of carbohydrates and 6% of oil. Quinoa flour is the most interesting substitute to wheat flour. Besides its high nutritional value, the quinoa flour is used in a wide range of baking and pan-fried dishes. In a proportion 2/3 quinoa flour, 1/3 rice flour it is possible to bake cakes such as chocolate fudge cake.

Sorghum Flour is a wholesome, hearty grain that possesses a mild flavor that won’t compete with the delicate flavors in other food ingredients. Sorghum improves the texture of recipes and digests more slowly with a lower glycemic index, so it sticks with you a bit longer than other flour or flour substitutes. This makes it a great healthy substitution for more traditional flours. 

Buckwheat flour  has a rich, nutty flavor and a very high nutritional value and is also high in fibre. I use it in pancakes, waffles, noodles, breads and cakes.

Sorghum flour adds texture and flavour to multi-grain bread recipes.

Cornstarch and tapioca starch add a pleasant fluffy texture. However, too much starch can make baked goods hard and heavy.

Xanthan gum is a corn-based product that is used in gluten-free recipes to replicate the 'chewy' texture of wheat flour. It makes a remarkable difference in your baking and a little bit goes a long way!

Where to get these flours? www.glutenfreestore.co.nz

Sometimes we just don't have the time to run around town looking for flours and starches! The Gluten Free Store has a wide range of flours, starches, gums and spices. The flours come in 1kg, 5kg, 10kg and 25kg bags.

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