Flours and Starches

Something that some may wonder is why I don’t use a simple flour blend in my baking recipes.  There are such a variety of gluten-free flour blends out on the market today.  Some are good, but there are also those that are just white rice flour, and potato or tapioca starch, which equals no nutritional value.  

While the pre-made blends have some convenience to it, I find that I like the flexibility of creating my own.  This is largely because different baked goods have different textures, which requires different flour blends.  I take it one step further grind my own grains which reduces costs and the fear of cross-contamination with gluten.   Here are my top five grains:

 

 

 

 

 

The one I use the most is sorghum.  To me, it is relatively neutral, and less corse than brown rice flour.  Millet is also similar in that respect, but a stronger flavor.   Amaranth, ah amaranth. When people smell this grain, many are immediately repulsed by the smell.  To me it smells like a garden fertilizer of some sort (doesn’t that make you want to use it?), but no fear! the flavor mellows when cooked.  In fact, I like using it in breads and rolls because it gives a complexity to the bread.

Click here to see the nutritional benefits of these grains. Something that was suggested by Tammy Credicott who wrote “Healthy Gluten-Free Life” was to taste the flours.  Don’t worry, it won’t kill you.  This just gets you acquainted with the taste and texture of these flours.

So why have starches in addition to the flours?  The flours create the core, or the skeleton of the dish while starches are the filler or muscles that provide lift and chew.   There are two types of starches primarily: tapioca, and potato.  They cannot be used interchangeably, or at least they shouldn’t be.  Potato starch is good for a more fluffy consistency while tapioca starch is good for chew.  

Hope these tips are helpful!

Spiced Chocolate Pudding, GF/EF/DF

I have a confession to make.

I have kind of an obsession with pink peppercorns.  When I went gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free, I began to drown my sorrows in  a discovery of new spices and new vegetables (e.g. Jersusalem Artichokes, and Celeriac…that’s another post).  One of these spices was pink peppercorns.  Not actually related to black peppercorns, this spice shares a lift bit of heat implied by its misnomer, but also has an almost floral scent to it.  I created this recipe and submitted it to the So Delicious 3-Course Recipe Contest at godairyfree.com.  It’s a winner for me regardless.

Spiced Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4
Simple, quick, and delicious.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups So Delicious Original Creamer, divided
  2. 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  3. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  4. 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, crushed
  6. 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  7. 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  8. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. 6 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup creamer with the cornstarch and set aside. In a medium-large saucepan, whisk together remaining creamer, cocoa powder, sugar, peppercorns, and salt.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat until just boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly drizzle the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan while whisking continuously.
  3. Let cook until mixture becomes very thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and margarine. Strain through a mesh strainer to remove the peppercorns.
  4. Pour custard evenly into ramekins or coffee mugs. Serve warm if desired. If chilling it, place a piece of plastic wrap or greased parchment paper over each serving. Serve with non-dairy whipped topping and freshly ground pink peppercorns.
One Fine Tomato http://onefinetomato.com/

Another option:

Chocolate Creme Brûlée

Yeah, I said it.  Chocolate…Creme…Brûlée.  Simply portion the pudding in your preferred porringer (okay enough alliteration).  Choose a dish that is heat-safe like a ramekin.  Smooth out and chill.  When ready to serve, sprinkle on about 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar over the pudding.  Shake dish to evenly spread the sugar.  Use a kitchen torch to melt the sugar and create the hard top.

Click Here to see one technic to melting the sugar for a creme brûlée.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes, GF/EF/DF

Strawberry cupcakes were one of the first gluten-free cupcake recipes I attempted to make.  The first time I attempt, well, they ended up looking like they were cooked with a golf ball in the center.  They sunk almost to the bottom of the cupcake tins.  Okay, maybe not that bad, but they required a ridiculous amount of frosting to hide it.

No pictures of those.

One good thing though, I was able to get the texture right, and texture is such a hard thing to get with gluten-free baked goods.  After researching online about sinking gluten-free cupcakes, I found that I was not the only one who suffered from that ‘sinking feeling.’  Two of the common culprits: over-mixing, and over-leavening.

Over-leavening?

If you add too much leavening (baking powder and/or baking soda) it causes cupcakes to do the opposite of its intended purpose? Crazy, I know, but true.  So after adjusting the amount of baking powder, as well as changing the technic for mixing to help prevent over-mixing.  The result was delicious, and to make it even better? Add a filling, and what better filling than a lemon curd to make for a strawberry lemonade flavor.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes, Gluten-free/Dairy-free/Egg-free
Yields 18
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
CAKE
  1. 16 
ounces organic frozen whole strawberries (organic have the best flavor, but use whatever you can find)
  2. ¾ 
cup non-dairy milk, room temperature (recommended, Unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk)
  3. 1-1/2 tablespoon powdered egg replacer mixed with 6 tablespoons warm water
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. ⅓ cup brown rice flour
  6. 1 cup sorghum flour
  7. ½ cup potato starch
  8. ¼ cup tapioca starch
  9. 1-1/4 teaspoon xanthum gum
  10. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  11. 1 
teaspoon salt
  12. 1¾ 
cups granulated sugar
  13. 12 
tablespoons melted Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
LEMON CURD
  1. ¾ cup So Delicious Unsweetened coconut milk
  2. 1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
  3. 3 tablespoons Corn Starch
  4. ½ cup Lemon Juice, fresh
  5. 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  6. ½ cup sugar
  7. ⅛ teaspoon Salt
FROSTING
  1. ⅔ cup non-hydrogenated shortening
  2. 3 cups powdered sugar
  3. 8 ounces vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti), softened
  4. 1 tsp lemon zest
  5. pinch of salt
  6. Lemon curd (recipe follows)
  7. Candied lemon peel (optional)
  8. Chopped fresh strawberries
For Curd
  1. In a small pot, whisk together the coconut milk and corn starch. Place over medium heat. Whisk in the lemon juice, sugar and salt. Whisk every minute or so, then whisk constantly once the mixture starts to bubble around the edges of the pot.
  2. When mixture starts to thicken and bubble constantly, whisk for a few minutes and then remove pot from the heat. Whisk in the zest and margarine until fully combined and place on the counter to cool.
  3. Every five minutes or so, whisk the mixture. When mixture has cooled down a bit, pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and push the plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd (to prevent a skin from forming), and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
For Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in muffin tin. Place frozen strawberries in microwave-safe bowl, cover and microwave until strawberries and soft and have released their juices, about 4-5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over a small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (you should have at least ¾ of a cup of juice). Reserve strawberry solids for the frosting. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally until reduced to ¼ cup, about 8 minutes. Whisk So Delicious Coconut Milk, egg replacer, and vanilla into juice until combined.
  2. In a small bowl, mix brown rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, xanthum gum, baking powder, and salt together. In a large bowl, whisk sugar and strawberry milk mixture together. Slowly whisk in melted margarine, until combined. Fold in dry ingredients until combined.
  3. Fill cupcake liners ⅔ full and bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan, and cool completely.
For Frosting
  1. While cupcakes are cooking, prepare frosting. Using a hand mixer, beat shortening, vegan cream cheese, and salt. Mix in ½ cup of reserved strawberry solids and lemon zest. Beat in powdered sugar until combined. Refrigerate until cupcakes are cooled completely.
Putting it all together
  1. Using a melon baller or apple corer, remove a portion of the center from the top of the cupcake, being careful not to go through the bottom of the cupcake. Fill with curd. Frost cupcakes with desired amount of frosting (I find this works best when done with piping bag with a large round tip). Top with chopped strawberries and candied lemon peel. Enjoy!
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