Gluten-Free Baking is Nuanced
The Everyday Art of Gluten-Freeand its author Karen Morgan have a definitive point of view when it comes to gluten-free baking. And once she brought her theory and practice to my attention it made so much sense: a cookie is not a cake nor a bagel or a waffle. Or a biscuit. Or a pie. Different baked goods require individual approaches when it comes to flour replacement. Luckily for us Karen has figured out how to group baked goods into 6 categories and has developed a GF blend that excels for each (examples in parentheses):
- Biscuit Blend (great for biscuits, waffles, pancakes, hot dog buns, sticky buns, crepes and even ice cream cones).
- Donut & Fritter Blend (donuts, fried calamari, corn dogs, cream puffs, tempura)
- Pie & Pasta Blend (pasta, pie crust, pot pies, empanadas, ravioli, gnocchi)
- Cookie Jar Blend (chocolate chip cookies, biscotti, blondies, thumbprint cookies, vanilla wafers)
- Cake & Muffin Blend (classic vanilla layer cake, Boston cream pie, red velvet cupcakes, blueberry muffins)
- Bread & Pizza Blend (pizza, bagels, sourdough bread, challah, pull-apart rolls, English muffins)
The chapters all begin with the blend recipe, which is followed by individual recipes using that blend such as those mentioned above and many others. You will be able to make GF Monkey Bread, Hamburger Buns, Batter-Fried Chicken, Sweet Potato Pie, Galettes, Trash Can Cookies, Hostess-Style Cupcakes, Cinnamon-Raisin Bread and more. Pictures are sprinkled throughout and her directions are in-depth and clear. In the back of the book is a very thorough chapter on ingredients called The Gluten-Free Pantry. She discusses ingredients at length and helps you understand what properties each brings to the table from the perspective of both what they can do and what they can’t. She is a huge guar gum proponent (calling it her MVP) and truly dislikes and will not use xanthan gum. She states that there are studies that show how certain people experience gluten exposure type symptoms after ingestion of xanthan. I found this part of the book very interesting and enlightening and if you are interested in GF baking you will find it very valuable.
By the way did you notice that it says bagels up there? Of all the GF baked goods I have tried over the years I have never had a good GF bagel. In fact, they have all been horrible. Crumbly, soft. No chew! I grew up on the lower side of Manhattan and I know bagels. This would be the ultimate test. You can read my interview with Karen and we discussed this whole bagel thing. I was skeptical. She sent me her Bread & Pizza blend (she also sells the blends). I made the bagels. Guess what? I got to experience that chewy, toothsome quality in her bagel that I had been missing for years. Years! No longer. Now I know I can eat GF and have my bagel, too. We are featuring her Bagels and also her French Boule, as well as her Bread & Pizza Blend.
I am enthralled with her approach. We made her waffles and they were crispy outside and so tender inside that the non-GF eaters couldn’t tell they weren’t a classic version. I also made her blueberry muffins and while I wasn’t a huge fan of the nutmeg that is just a personal preference easily rectified. All in all this is my pick for GF book of the year. Get it. Make the blends. Order the blends. MAKE BAGELS!
The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free: 125 Savory and Sweet Recipes Using 6 Fail-Proof Flour Blends by Karen Morgan. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Photos by Knoxy Knox.