After a recent baking fiasco using a pre-made GF flour mix, I could use a conversation on using GF Flours.
I used to make my own GF flour combination, but when the pre-mixed options started showing up on the shelves, it was easier to switch and only have ONE bag of GF flour in my pantry, rather than four or five bags of things like rice flour, chickpea flour, coconut flour, potato starch, xanth gum, etc. I used my GF flour primarily for pecan tassies (for my sis) and pancakes and waffles. Pretty basic use.
But, I have a co-worker who is GF (NOT Celiac's) and I've been trying to be more inclusive when I bake for meetings that there is something for him.
So, Do you buy a pre-made mix or make your own?
If you buy a pre-made mix, which one do you like and why?
If you buy a pre-made mix, do you have to adjust your recipes in any way (from experience) or are there some recipes you found that just don't convert well? Successes?
If you make your own mix - what advantages do you find vs buying a pre-made mix?
Lots of questions! Hopefully some of you will be able to chime in.
When DH was doing gluten free, I too made my own flour mix based on a Cook’s Illusrated recipe. Just recently I saw a gluten free flour from The French Laundry and was tempted to buy it until I saw the price. Now if either one of us were on a gluten free diet I would have purchased it but it was pretty expensive to buy merely out of curiosity. Here’s a link to a Fine Cooking blurb about the flour: www.finecooking.com/article/gluten-free-flour-from-the-french-laundry
When I did a lot of gluten-free baking, I used custom blend flour mixes. Now that I just occasionally bake gluten-free things, I use a packaged mix. I use the King Arthur all-purpose flour mix most of the time and have good results. I have seen the Thomas Keller Cup4Cup but haven't bought it. It is pricey. And it also contains milk powder. Some of the gluten=free baking that I do has to be dairy-free so I haven't tried it. I just bought a bag of King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten-free flour, but haven't experimented with it yet. The KA web site says it is for nonyeasted recipes. It is not as expensive as the Cup4Cup flour. My grocery store carries both. It would be interesting to try them side by side. For baking, I tend to use recipes from gluten-free baking sites that I trust rather than convert regular recipes.
I've been baking GF for about 8 years now. At first, I wanted to make my own flour blends, which rarely (never?) worked well. I could bake well with regular wheat flour and did not use baking mixes, except for brownies, prior to the GF change. GF baking was challenging and usually had unimpressive results. To buy expensive flours, spend the time and optimism making something, and then toss out the product made me crazy. I've also had GF treats at various bake shops that were sad, miserable, and not worth the calories. Nothing like searching out a "great" GF shop on vacation and finding a yucky, dry, beany cookie! Thanks, nameless bake shop in nameless large city.
Then I had good luck with the King Arthur brownie mix and banana bread mix for use with company. Both mixes are good as directed and also tolerate add-ins, such as peppermint chips and peppermint extract for the brownies (or some ancho chile and other chile powders for spicy brownies) or toasted pecans and extra bananas for the banana bread. I like to put sanding sugar on the top the banana bread before baking, which seems to wow people for some reason. The success with these mixes led me to try a GF carrot cake recipe from the King Arthur website using their GF yellow cake mix as the base. It turned out very well, and DH and I ate it all over the week after his birthday (so it stayed fresh in the refrigerator for a long while). So, I have these standards for company that are tasty, pretty, and predictable. I take the brownies to work, let the GF colleagues know so they can hurry in to get some, and the rest just fly off the plate! This may be a good place to start for your colleague.
Over the last 2 years, I have had good luck with either the Bob's Red Mill 1:1 gluten-free baking flour or the King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten-free baking flour. For the most part, the cookies I make perform well with these flours. I do tend to make the dough ahead and chill them before baking, which limits overspreading of the cookies. It seems to hydrate the dough better to have an overnight chilling period. Cakes and quick breads are not as reliable for me with these 2 flours. My reliable pound cake was just not so good with the GF baking flour. We didn't eat it. And...I like cookies, so I stick with those. The gingersnaps I make are very good and not obviously GF. The biscotti are slightly more crumbly with the GF flour, but still good.
I have made a sausage ball recipe substituting the GF flour from Bob's Red Mill. The flour cannot hold onto all that fat from the sausage, cheese, and butter. So, my sister suggested swapping sour cream for the butter. It was a decent fix. The balls still leak some fat during baking, but they absorb it back if you let them stack on the pan until cool.
For bread-making, I don't have a good solution, as the flours above say that they are not for yeast bread recipes. So, I took their advice and didn't try.
Good luck. I think what changed from me was having a standardized mix that worked for the brownies, and then I felt OK to branch out from there. I figured that King Arthur tested and retested their flour blend, so that I could rely on their investment.
Ya'll confirmed (in addition to what went into the garbage can) that I should have taken the time to drive into town for a bag of Bob's Red Mill 1:1 and for future cookies/baked goods, I should try KA GF mix. I haven't seen it at my local store, but I might have overlooked it too. I'll check next time I'm there.
And while the French Laundry and Thomas Keller flours seem highly recommended...but I'm not spending that much on flour for a co-worker.
PattiA you noted: For baking, I tend to use recipes from gluten-free baking sites that I trust rather than convert regular recipes.
A most excellent point and probably part of my problem - any recommended/trustworthy sites?
I did a little baking with individual flours, but it was to accommodate a few in a large group, super expensive and easier and more successful to just find recipes that didn't' need so much change. I still have an expanding no wheat flour grouping and find myself including GF baking most of the time I bake for groups now. Both sons have friends who are GF and it seems there will be some in every crowd. I bought KA's Measure for Measure and have been trying it in different recipes. I haven't been disappointed so far. I was hesitant when I made cookies from the Momofuku's Milk Bar cookbook with that 10 minute creaming process and using bread flour, so I added a T of cornstarch in case they were more likely to spread. I don't know if I needed the cornstarch -- the cookies I have made GF so far using the Measure for Measure have been great. It is available in the grocery stores and even on Amazon, where you can add it to a subscribe and save list.
Other than using KA's Measure for Measure, I stick to naturally GF recipes (meringues, nut based cookies, rice krispie and oatmeal based, etc.) or use recipes written and tested to be GF. For me, that means finding a few in a book or seeking something out online if I have a need -- I haven't really invested in GF books since it is not an everyday or required thing for me. That said, you should check out Let Them Eat Cake by Gesine Bullock-Prado. Each recipe in that book has 4 versions -- the standard, a GF variation, a vegan variation and a healthier variation. With that book and my naturally GF recipes, I made some great cookie trays before I started using Measure for Measure. The Fudgy Wudgy Brownies are just that -- like eating baked fudge. I even found that baking them a couple days in advance might be necessary to keep them from being a bit too gooey (not that anyone would complain if a bit soft -- they are so rich, I cut into small squares and put them on mini muffin papers. I think the chocolate raspberry cheesecake bars also came from that book and the crust is essentially chocolate coated rice krispies. I also have a recipe for rice krispie caramel morsel bars - not in that book, but reminded of it. I think it came off a Rice Krispie ad -- let me know if you want it and can't find it. Anyway, try that book, the KA website (I picked up Almond Clouds there -- you can do them mini sized too) and scout around.
I haven't tried any yeasted GF baking, but I have noticed some books coming out that appear to be raising the bar there too. Since there are not multiple bookstores to go cruise and not as many cookbooks to flip through before buying, I check Amazon and B&N websites for reviews by people who have actually used the book and mentions in blogs, etc. to check out possible purchases.
I enjoyed reading your reply, Beth. You reminded me that there are some naturally gluten free recipes I use. One that came to mind is almond horn cookies, make from almond paste smittenkitchen.com/2017/04/almond-horn-cookies/ Those are easy to make and look fancy. I dip the bottom of each cookie in chocolate, but putting the chocolate on the ends, as in her pictures, is cute, too.
Others are the almond butter brownies and blondies from the Elana's Pantry website. The peanut butter cookie recipes that use PB, egg, and sugar work, too.
Beth - yes! That helps! Thank you. It sounds like I need to find KA's Measure for Measure. I have done rice krispy bars, but the last batch I made (following the directions on the box) was a colossal failure. Not sure what went wrong, but they were...awful. I've been too embarrassed to make them again. Seriously, who screws up <i>rice krispy</i> bars?!? (me...)
Lantana - thanks for the link to the almond horn cookies and the Elana's Pantry website.
I haven't needed to bake with GF flour very often but even then I tended to choose a recipe rather than choose to use GF flour. I made Rice Krispies Treats using Marshmallow creme (my daughter uses marshmallows). Another favorites was No-Bake Chocolate -Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookies and variations (Rice Chex instead of oatmeal). Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Blossom Chex cookies, Chex Scotcheroos (using Hershey's butterscotch chips). All General Mills cereals are GF, which makes it possible to change cereals to make variations. A favorite was Walnut-Spice Kisses, with finely ground walnuts, or pecans, but there are many different recipes for Meringue Kisses.
Measure for Measure can be found ini most grocery stores now, on the KA website and on Amazon. The lowest price I've seen is as a subscribe and save item -- haven't done Amazon pantry, but that may be a good price too. Shouldn't be hard to find these days. It comes in a blue pouch style bag.
Also, don't forget that you can make a million variations on rice krispie treats. I mix chocolate, citrus zest or spices into the marshmallow mixture, add chips, nuts, dried fruit, etc. in with the cereal. The caramel morsel bars are practically a variation except they use melted caramels (I think it was a 14 oz bag) melted with a little water (1-2T?), stir in 1 cup peanuts and the cereal, spread into a greased 13x9 pan and then top with 1 cup semisweet and 1 cup butterscotch morsels, put in a warm oven 5-10 min to soften and then spread the melted morsels to for a frosting. Let cool until hardened -- or be ready to be messy if you can't wait. I can see those going more adult with other nuts -- why have I not thought to put pecans in them and use all chocolate on top -- like turtle bars? Gotta try it now. LOL
The only flour in cheese cake would be in the crust. If you want a chocolate crust, check out the chocolate rice krispie version in the chocolate raspberry cheesecake bars in Let Them Eat Cake, DH loved those!
Thanks for the discussion and suggestions! Much appreciated! I'm feeling more confident moving forward - I just needed that nudge to look at things a different way. Like finding recipes that are already low in flour - a bit of a "duh" after I thought about it. And I LOVE cheesecake!
I have a meeting next week, the Ugly but Good cookies might be good for that one.