Archive for: gluten free
You never know what you’ll see posted on Facebook or Twitter, but once in a while you find something that really inspires you. The other day I found a recipe that I knew I wanted to try immediately. Rick Bayless posted a recipe for Rustic Chocolate Cake that looked easy and sounded delicious, so I got together the ingredients to give it a try.
The cake is a gluten free cake that is similar to many flourless chocolate cake recipes that I’ve tried. The bulk of the cake is made with chocolate, butter, sugar and eggs – but it also included amaranth flour. Amaranth is a gluten-free grain that is commonly used in Mexican and South American cuisines. Amaranth is high in protein, calcium and fiber, as well as many other vitamins and minerals, and with the growing popularity of gluten free grains, it is easier to find than ever these days. When ground into a flour, amaranth is often included in gluten free flour mixes. It absorbs water easily and can help baked goods to stay nice and moist, although it can lead to dense baked goods if not used in the right recipe.
This particular cake was easy to make and turned out beautifully, although I did find it needed a little extra time in the oven to set up completely. There are only a few ingredients, so the only unusual ingredient you might need to pick up is the amaranth flour (which I just happened to have on hand, by random luck, when I read his post ). It was dense, but not heavy, and had a tender texture that just kind of melted in your mouth. It is very, very moist and that just makes it seem even more decadent than it is. The chocolate flavor was great and the cake wasn’t too sweet – and it was a huge hit with the crowd I served it to.
The crisp crust on the cake will crack a bit as you slice it, so I dusted mine with cocoa powder before serving. It would also be great served with a little whipped cream. If you don’t have amaranth flour, you can bake this cake using other gluten free flour mixes (I tried it with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Mix and it turned out beautifully) as well, so it is a great choice for any kind of gluten free baking. It is so good and so decadent, that people will never know that they are eating gluten free when you serve this to them.
Flourless chocolate cakes are one of the most indulgent types of cakes that there is, since they usually deliver a generous dose of chocolate in every single bite and there aren’t a lot of other ingredients to get in the way of that chocolate flavor. I tend to bake them when I’m really in the mood for indulgence (or for the birthday of a chocolate-loving friend or relative), but these cakes also happen to be gluten free and that makes them a fantastic choice when you have to bake for someone with dietary restrictions. While I enjoy larger flourless cakes that can be sliced to serve a crowd, I slightly prefer smaller portions like these Flourless Chocolate Cakelets. They take less time to bake and everyone gets their very own little cake when you go to serve them.
The finished cakes will look like brownies, although they will have a smoother top than most brownies do. But when you bite into one, you’ll find that they don’t taste much like a brownie. The cakes are very tender, with an almost melt-in-your-mouth consistency, and they have a strong, satisfying dark chocolate flavor. They’re not too sweet, which makes them seem even richer. I like to top mine off with a little bit of whipped cream to break up the chocolate intensity and add a few fresh berries for garnish. You can also eat them as-is or pair them with a little bit of ice cream and a few toasted nuts if you want to add a little texture to the finished dish.
I baked these in muffin-top liners, which gave me really elegant finished cakes. If you don’t have muffin-top papers, you can use regular muffin cups and you will get the same number of cakes, though they will have a slightly different shape to them. The cakes keep very well when stored in an airtight container and that means that they are an excellent choice for entertaining because you can do all your baking a day or two ahead of time.
Cornbread is a great side dish, whether you’re eating a bowl of soup or chili, or serving a big roast. It is easy to make and versatile enough that you can spice it up with all kinds of other flavors. Cornbread is also a recipe that can be easily adapted be gluten free. Cornmeal doesn’t contain any gluten and most recipes don’t contain that much flour, so it is actually very easy to substitute in gluten free flour blends and still get a delicious bread that is not much different from the original.
This Gluten Free Cheddar Cornbread is an adaptation of a basic buttermilk cornbread recipe that I often use, and I made it using a gluten free all purpose flour blend. The Trader Joe’s GF All Purpose Flour works very well in this particular recipe, but just about any all purpose blend should give you good results. The cornbread has a pleasantly crumbly texture and you get a lot of corn flavor from the cornmeal. I added a generous handful of shredded cheddar cheese to give the cornbread a more savory flavor, since I was planning to serve this batch with a batch of chili.
A common complaint about gluten free baking is that the finished products turn out to be a bit on the crumbly side. Most cornbreads are slightly crumbly, no matter which recipe you use, so this is one recipe where a crumbly texture doesn’t take anything away from the dish. If you don’t want to use cheese in the cornbread, you can omit it. Other variations you might try include substituting the cheese for corn or adding some chopped green onions or chives for another twist
And I will also note that if you don’t have gluten free flour in your kitchen, you can absolutely make this recipe using regular all purpose flour instead.
Regular Trader Joe’s shoppers will have noticed that TJ’s has added a new item to their baking section in the past few weeks: Baker Josef’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. They’ve had a good Gluten Free Brownie Mix that has been around for quite a while now, and this all purpose blend should give gluten free bakers a few more options for gluten free baking at home. The popular brownie mix uses rice flour as its primary grain, and so does this flour mixture, which is made with whole grain brown rice flour, potato starch, rice flour and tapioca flour. It’s a small bag – only 16 ounces – so you only get about three cups of flour (give or take) to play with at a time. The bag states that it can be “substituted cup for cup with all purpose wheat flour in most recipes.”
I find that rice flour is often the base for many gluten free flour blends when they’re intended use is dessert baking, as opposed to heartier bread recipes. I tried the flour in several recipes, including a cake and the cookie recipe that comes on the back of the bag. The cake had an extremely tender, soft crumb and a good flavor – but it also had a slightly sandy texture from the rice flour (common, with rice flour) that kept you from forgetting that you were eating a gluten free cake and not a regular one. The blueberries in blueberry muffins tended to sink down a bit, since they didn’t get as much structural support from the batter as they do in regular muffins, but they looked beautiful and were still tasty. The cookies worked out very well, and were just a touch more crumbly than you might expect regular chocolate chip cookies to be. The sandiness that comes from the rice flour was much less noticeable in cookie form.
Gluten free flour is a term that is applied to flours that are made of non-gluten containing products. There are many kinds of gluten free flours available at supermarkets these days, along with many “all purpose” gluten free flour blends that are designed to be an easy to use replacement for wheat flour. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale that, when water or liquid is added to it, makes an elastic dough. Gluten free flours on their own do not have this elasticity and typically produce a much denser product, so blends of different types of grains are used to create gluten free flour mixes with a more versatile consistency that will work well in the same applications as wheat flour.
Commercially available gluten free flours are all made with different mixtures and these mixtures vary widely from brand to brand. They might contain rice flour, teff flour, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, garbanzo flour or buckwheat flour – just to name a few of the many options that could be a foundation for a gluten free flour blend. These flours could also contain nut flours, made from very finely ground almonds or other nuts. Xanthan gum is a binder that is frequently added to gluten free flour mixes to give the flour some elasticity and make it easy to use right out of the bag. Since the base ingredients for gluten free flour can be very different, different brands can produce very different results in baked goods, giving a recipe a completely different taste and texture.
If you are planning to do a lot of baking with gluten free flour mixtures, it is worth taking the time to try different brands to see what flour blends work and taste the best in your baking.
Homemade Gluten Free Thin Mints (I got the best results with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose, pictured above)
Gluten Free Banana Pecan Muffins (works well with different types of mixes)
Everyday Food rates Gluten Free Baking Mixes