Advice for Those Going GF

So, if you are just going gluten free let me give you some advice. Things to do, things you should get and things not to bother with. I wish I had read a column like that when I was first plunged into gluten free eating.

If you plan to make baked goods, I suggest a stand mixer in the KitchenAid family; nothing big; just a standard/classic model. So many gf breads need a long beating before you put them in a pan. The stand mixer is a workhorse in my gluten free kitchen, used for breads, cookies, muffins and other baked goods requiring a long beating. I also have attachments for shredding large amounts of cabbage, for grinding cranberries for relish and I just got some for rolling out sheets of pasta. There are attachments for making sausage, for grinding grain and for straining out seeds from veggies and fruits. It’s a big investment but mine is 25 years old and still working despite my frequent usage.

I have a 8.5 x 4.5 heavy duty aluminum bread pan for gf quick and yeast breads.  The taller sides and slightly narrowed width is particularly helpful for yeast bread rising. Definitely helpful to me as a baker. My pizza pan is heavy duty too. I have various baking sheets and pie pans sized to what I bake frequently. Sturdy muffin pans and English muffin rings are useful.

Yeap; this is my fav bread pan, full of quick bread. The ridge sides are taller than 9×5 pans; just makes a great loaf of bread.

A well-functioning oven is critical to gf baking; you need those even temperatures for sure. I used to have a second oven with bottom heat; great for pizza and gf pie crusts. My current range is more traditional. I put my rack just above the oven bottom and my pie crusts come out perfectly browned. Just as good as the pizza oven I sadly gave up when it died.

You should get an instant read thermometer, use my constantly and it is great for temping proteins to know when they are ready. A set or two of solid measuring cups are vital as are 2 sets of measuring spoons and a liquids measuring cup; I have a one cup and a two cup size of those. A large, medium and small whisk set is needed as are spatulas for scraping bowls.  I have a OXO pie crust rolling bag; very sturdy and well made; is a huge help in pie crust rolling; much better than  the cheaper ones; the translucent silicon sides are excellent for the crust rolling process. My cheap one lasted a year; this OXO one is about 3 years old and in perfect condition.

Best pie roller bag ever!

I store some flours in my freezer; whole grain ones especially. Others are just in large storage jars in my kitchen and pantry. I have tried many mixes and brands and find a few are my favorites; King Arthur basic gf flour is my workhorse blend. I also really like Better Batter for a host of recipes especially quick breads. Kim’s GF Flour blend is wonderful for making pizza and focaccia. I made an old school muffin mix to use for cobblers Bette Hagman’s book, More from the Gluten-Free Gourmet – You can find the mix recipe in my post:  https://myworldwithoutwheat.com/2020/05/20/rhubarb-cobbler-spring-treat/

When starting out start slowly. Look at recipe comments and try new things. I do want to give a shout out to King Arthur’s website and their large amount of wonderful gf recipes. They are well tested; work every time and have great flavor and texture. Their chocolate chip cookies are the bomb! I also love their cake mixes they sell; makes a bigger double layer cake than other brands of available store gf mixes.

Things I don’t care for: quinoa flour and almost all bean flours. Chickpea flour has some specific recipes it works well in. I avoid using all white flours except in a few cases as it is pretty devoid of nutrients and of flavor. I make a great French bread and I subbed in brown rice for white rice flour; much better flavor. Look at my most recent pizza dough recommendation; this one is a game changer; must try it; easy to do and it makes enough for two crusts.

Rediculously good crust…and easy to make.

There are many cookbooks available. My hands down favorite is Annalise Roberts, Basic Gluten Free Baking. Her pie crust is perfection. I love her muffins, the waffles are the best and the chocolate cake is excellent. She has another one full of heritage recipes which has proved to be a super source of party desserts. Maybe you should read some of my blog posts for ideas of what to make/bake. I had some excellent blueberry muffins my neighbor made with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 blend; so tender and delicious. I had shied away from that blend for a long while but those muffins totally changed my mind.

Don’t let anyone tell you that gf baked goods always taste bad; not the least true. My mom swore for years that my gf angel food cake had to be made with all purpose(gluten) flour. I had to swear that I never ever bake anything with gluten-based flour to convince her.

great crust helps make a great tart
The Daffodil Cake!

So get out there and bake some good stuff. I never post a recipe unless I make it for myself and most of them, I made over and over again. They are all delicious things you can feel confident in making.  Enjoy baked good again. Really.

Pizza that Wows! And the English Muffins will Amaze You…

Pizza is a tough food to replicate gluten free. For a year I didn’t really try. I finally attempted one by Annalise Roberts. It has that thin crust which is  almost cracker like. Not bad in flavor and definitely better than ones I get in restaurants or buy premade. I have made that crust many times. Then, a revolution – this winter I found this awesome pizza dough that makes the best focaccia bread that I have every made crust ever; crispy bottom and soft top. Perfectly delicious bread to go with an italian meal. And then I discovered that it makes a wonderful pizza too. Have made both several times.

This week I used some of the dough to make English Muffins; the first half became a pizza of epic beauty and lovely flavor.  The muffin recipe is actually the base recipe for the other two foods. Oh, my goodness; they are definitely the best English muffins I have made since going gluten free. Thank goodness I bought English muffin rings years ago; that recipe back then didn’t work but this one does. It’s a keeper; the texture, flavor, looks, taste; all is much better than any others I have made. I love that it is “baked” under a lid on your griddle or electric fry pan. I used my cast iron griddle on a low setting.

Best process is if you let the dough rise 2 hours in your kitchen warmth and then refrigerate it for 4-10 hours or overnight. It can be used as soon as you take the bowl out of your fridge.

Here is a link to the base recipe: https://www.letthemeatgfcake.com/gluten-free-english-muffins/

These are the ingredients. I do weigh my flour these days; much more accurate so there are both ways in the list for flour and sugar:

  • 3¼ cups (455 g) Kim’s gluten free bread flour blend
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp (16 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp rapid rise/instant yeast
  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • about 1/3-½ cup gf cornmeal for sprinkling
  • 2 tbsp butter
  •  

Here is a link to her bread flour mix. I am thinking of making it in bigger quantities as I have had such success with her recipes. 

https://www.letthemeatgfcake.com/resources/gluten-free-flour-blends/

It contains white rice flour, cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum. Super easy to do with a good scale. And these are fairly standard ingredients; nothing too weird. Far cheaper too than buying those 1 to 1 mixtures or any gf blended flour. Totally worth it! You make enough flour blend for like 4 pizzas. The recipe makes enough for two 12-14 inch pizzas or 2 focaccias. I like to do a pizza and on a second day something different from the remaining dough. It will keep for several days in the fridge. That’s timesaving; one dough; two recipes.

I did the focaccia first, then tried pizza…was blown away by it and this week the English muffins flipped my lid with their texture, looks and flavor. They all are just fabulous in texture and flavor. Really head turning for me for how close they came to all purpose flour baking of my past…may not be as healthy as a multigrain dough but it sure brings back good memories and is so enjoyable. If you bake gf; this dough is super easy to make in a stand mixer and let rise, chill it and make a great pizza. Just plan for it as the dough is better if it has that refrigeration period. Ditto for the English muffins although the round tin molds make them look just perfect. I used a thick pizza pan to make my new favorite pizza and a cast iron frying pan for the focaccia; no kneading, no super liquid messy stuff; it is sticky but it doesn’t need much forming. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!!

Buttermilk Caramel Pie

This pie was revolutionary for me. Been debating buttermilk pie for a long time; felt chess pie (a southern standard) was too sweet and buttermilk pie sounded bland. Finally found a great recipe that wasn’t too sweet and had a perfect texture.  It is from a great new cookbook; “Pie Academy” by Ken Haedrich. This was the first thing I baked from it. Won’t be the last. This guy knows pies!

FYI: It doesn’t have a strong buttermilk presence, more of an undertone. The main thrust is a delightful light caramel flavor and that creamy texture I was hoping for. It is otherwise neutral and perfect all by itself.

Of course, I made my pie gluten free; used my trusty favorite pie crust and put 3 tbsp. of King Arthur basic gf blend in it in place of all purpose flour.

Just baked; kinda puffed up. It will settle back as it cools. Please do not eat this warm much less hot. Room temp is best! Don’t let it’s simple appearance fool you. It is a subtle blending of sugars, buttermilk, vanilla, eggs and butter. Mmmm…….

Indiana Buttermilk Pie

One pie crust; prebake it for 10 min at 375. I let mine cool about 10-15 min before filling it. Here’s my recipe:

1 c plus 2 tbsp King Arthur basic gf flour mix

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Directions: Spray a nine inch pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour. Set aside. Half the time, no 90 percent of the time I don’t bother…

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes. Roll out and fit into pie pan, don’t leave the center too thick! Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Let cool at least 10 min before filling.

Filling Ingredients:

½ c packed light brown sugar

½ c sugar

3 Tbsp flour (I used King Arthur basic gf blend)

1/8 tsp salt

3 lg eggs plus one yolk

1 tsp vanilla

1 ½ c. buttermilk

3 tbsp. unsalted butter; melted

Directions: I used my stand mixer (you can use a food processor too or even a portable mixer). I put the dry ingredients in the bowl and mixed them briefly. Add the eggs and yolk and mix well. Add rest of ingredients; blend until all smooth; check to make sure the very bottom got blended too. Oven should be 350 degrees. Put pie shell on a baking sheet or pie drip pan and carefully pour in the creamy mixture. Bake on lowest shelf for about 40 min. Do not let it come out jiggly; should be fairly firm. Let cool on rack until room temperature before slicing. It is also nice chilled. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins

My love for snacking muffins unfolds further…what new flavor shall I make?  Turning to my trusty basic muffin recipe I went for a sweet treat; chocolate chip muffins. They are a riff on my blueberry muffin recipe. If you are wondering why I am posting yet another muffin recipe: homemade muffins are lots cheaper than commercially made GF muffins plus they taste so fresh and oh so tasty. I walk right by all those pricey gf snack bars and cookies; knowing that in my freezer is a zip-lock bag full of luscious muffins that defrost to taste as though I made them that morning.

This batch of muffins was delightful: delicate texture yet with a great crunch and the lightly chocolate flavor from the mini chips.  I cut back on the chips a bit so they are not too heavy or too chocolaty. The walnuts also contribute to the crunch and add a subtle nutty taste.  I added a bit of cinnamon which pulls it all together.

The streusel topping gives a great look and adds texture and flavor.  I messed up my topping this batch; had to sprinkle melted butter over them after topping. Still yummy but they are slightly bald on top as a lot of the oats didn’t stick properly due to my error.  Next time they will be perfect. And there Must be a next time as these sweet treats are awesome!

I love how healthy these muffins are compared to commercial gf muffins, no preservatives, chemicals or weird ingredients I would never bake with.  Try them and see how eating gluten free can be so easy when you bake your own snacks. As always I freeze those I won’t eat in two days time; a zip lock freezer bag works great.

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below) or King Arthur Basic GF Flour blend

2/3 cup granulated sugar  or granulated coconut palm sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 large eggs

½ cup milk, 1 or 2 percent plus 2 tbsp more if you use the palm sugar

½ cup canola oil

—————-

Topping: Mix the following in a bowl, add the butter last after you stir it up a bit: use a spoon to blend. Set aside while you make the muffin batter.

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3  cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. almond meal

¼ tsp. cinnamon

3 tbsp. butter, melted

——-

Muffin directions: Heat your oven to 350 degrees, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 14-16 muffins.  I got 16 when I made them.

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer or big bowl Add chips and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix.  Combine milk and oil.  Beat in eggs, add vanilla.  Add liquids to big bowl; stir just until blended.  It is a very thick batter.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  I use a big serving spoon and fill it about half way to dump in each muffin space. Sprinkle the top with the topping. Press it in a bit so it won’t all flake off after baking. Bake 21-23 min until golden brown. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Remove within 2 minutes from the pans and cool on a rack.  They freeze well for a few weeks: if they last that long.  Keeps in an airtight cookie jar for 2-3 days.  

Originally published in March 2019, no recipe changes made.

Focaccia – Light, Crisp and Delish!

I have made a few attempts at focaccia; some are too bready, some are heavy and it has been rather disappointing. Until now! I just made a great focaccia last week; so fluffy yet crisp on outside and with delicate crumb, really light and a delightful flavor. It is topped with fresh rosemary, grated parmesan cheese, kosher salt and fresh black pepper. I am crazy for it! Best the first day; maybe freeze the leftovers? It does reheat nicely. It makes 2 so you can do 2 12 inch breads or make pizza out of the second half. I have my half in the fridge; making pizza shortly.

Here is the recipe link: https://www.letthemeatgfcake.com/gluten-free-focaccia-bread/#wprm-recipe-container-21

Here are the ingredients if you want to make sure you have them on hand. I had this flour in my freezer but since last week I made a new batch; easy enough if you have a good scale. I love mine; can do grams or ounces and it will zero off the container you put the flour in which is super helpful. This is definitely a white bread flour. I think you could sub in a bit of brown rice flour; it wouldn’t be quite so fluffy but that would add more flavor to the breads you make with it.

Focaccia

  • INGREDIENTS
  • 2 tsp Rapid rise (instant) yeast
  • 1 1/3 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups Kim’s gluten free bread flour blend
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil, extra virgin
  • 4 tbsp. Butter
  • 2 1/2 cups Milk
  • 2 tbsp. Parmigiana cheese
  • 2 tbsp. Rosemary, fresh and chopped up
  • 1/4 tsp. Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt