Christina Thorne, friend and owner of Bad Cat CreationsWell, as with most things in life, it depends on who your friends are. Hearing Christina rant about lack of choices and lots of not so palatable commercial options inspired Frank to try his hand at gluten free baking. All winter long, he practiced, experimented, read, learned, tried again.
Oh MY! Definitely a learning curve.
Gluten is composed of the sticky storage proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. It is that sticky quality that helps create texture and smoothness in baked goods, that maybe makes baked goods light and fluffy. The glue that hold things together. Light bulb moment for Jane, well duh! yep in days long before glue sticks we made paste from flour and water to create art projects.
Baking without gluten challenges the baker to find a blend of ingredients that will taste good, hold together, and bake up light. Balancing the grains, nut flours, vegetable flours, xanthan gum, for both taste and nutrition. Many of the “flours” that make the appearance more like things made with wheat flour are highly starchy, thus more calories. Others tend to have a definite flavor that is hard to overcome, a flavor that overpowers the spices. Texture tends to be grainy and heavy, also prone to falling apart.
Frank has come up with a few really good recipes. The best so far has been angle food cake, caramel-chocolate-peanut bars, almond crispie cookies, oatmeal raisin cookie, peanut brown sugar cake, pound cake, chocolate fabulousity cake, and a cinnamon swirl coffee cake.
He has not baked anything with wheat flour since December. Partly because he needs the practice developing gluten free goods and partly to eliminate potential contamination. Even micro bits of wheat flour picked up from the mixing bowls, baking dishes, etc. can cause reactions in people with gluten intolerance. Not fun at all, not pleasant, a risk to be minimized. He bought a new flour sifter to dedicate to gluten free and also dedicated mixing bowls and baking dishes.
He has baked at least once a week, carrying samples to Christina, our gluten intolerant friend. She has had no gluten reactions, so we are feeling confident that he is not getting any contamination and is choosing appropriate gluten free ingredients. Christina has also been great at providing taste feedback, what she finds tasty, what needs improvement.
It has been a joy for Frank to be able to provide home baked food options for Christina, and now he hopes to provide more choices for others with gluten intolerance too. This year at Bemidji's Natural Choice Farmers Market he is offering gluten free baked goods most Saturdays.
There are also two other bakers at market who offer gluten free baked goods: Cheryl of Chill Creek Ridge with rich chocolate torts, cookies, scones, muffins; and Malisa of A Grain of Good often brings a few loaves of gluten free artisan bread. It is really neat to be working together, each having a little different style and thus offering a nice variety of gluten free baked goods.
Thanks for reading, have a great day,
(a few resources if you wish to learn more about gluten intolerance/sensitivity or gluten free baking
Eating gluten free - the challenges, unexpected things that contain wheat/gluten
Gluten sensitive enteropathy and wheat allergy
How Baking Works