You know, I haven't really been mentioning this, but I've been eating pretty much gluten-free since last August. It's been an experiment of sorts to see if eliminating gluten would affect the stomach pains I sometimes get after eating. And yes, it did — no gluten, no pains. Mostly, my cooking hasn't really changed much, since it turns out much of what we eat at home is already gluten-free. Even most (but not all) of the pasta we've eaten for years has been quinoa, corn, buckwheat or rice-based. We've always used wheat-free tamari, and even the miso in the fridge was wheat-free. But the seitan had to go. And the bread, as well as other things. And the rules for eating out had to change. I managed all that.
What I couldn't quite deal with was baking. I was scared off by the huge ingredient lists for gluten-free baked goods, and the multitude of odd flours and additives. Although I always have an assortment of interesting flours in my pantry, they don't all go into one dish! And I didn't want to eat things that seemed to have so little nutritive value (because they contained so much starch), even if they were desserts. Anyway, I tried to make gf brownies to take to a dinner party, and they were so awful my husband had to run out to Whole Foods to buy a bag of "normal" cookies to bring. The brownies were weirdly sandy, and they fell apart if I touched them. The taste, apart from the texture, wasn't horrible, but who, at a dinner party, wants to eat sandy brownies with a spoon? This failure was disconcerting, but I started reading everything I could find about gf baking, assembled a cupboard full of even more odd ingredients, and vowed to try again. I made a yeasted bread that wasn't awful. And then the cookie pie entered my dessert-starved brain, and I decided to give it a go, beans and all, with a few changes based on knowledge I had gleaned from Carrie Forbes, who writes the blog, Ginger Lemon Girl. (This is not blog that espouses a vegan lifestyle, but there's lots of gf baking info, and some vegan recipes.)
|Chocolate "swirl" cookies (hahaha)|
I'm going to post my recipe for chocolate chip cake because although some of the ingredients are the same as the original, it's really quite different. The original called for oats, and some people who follow a gluten-free diet can't handle oats, even gluten-free oats. (Not to mention the fact that I didn't happen to have any on hand.) I think I used less starch than is found in most gf recipes, but it seemed to work.
I baked my cake in a 10-inch spring-form pan (thrifted from Goodwill on a lucky day) that I first coated with Earth Balance. I want to mention that the cake was hard to remove from the pan bottom (the side just pops off), so next time I'll try baking it on a round of parchment paper. I left the cooled cake on a plate on the counter, loosely covered with plastic wrap, and much to my surprise, it held up very well for several days.
Gluten-free chocolate chip cake(check labels to make sure you are using gf ingredients)
- 1-1/2 cups of cooked, cooled and well-drained cannelini beans (or one can, rinsed and well-drained )
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (your preference)
- 1 cup evaporated cane juice or organic sugar
- 1/2 cup almond flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
- 1/3 cup sorghum flour
- 1/3 cup brown rice flour
- 1/3 cup tapioca flour
- 1 to 1-1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips (the larger amount is excessive but fun)
- Blend the beans, applesauce, oil and vanilla in a food processor until smooth.
- Place the baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, almond flour, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, and tapioca flour in a large bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients together until all lumps are removed and the flours are combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the food processor and buzz until the two mixes are well-integrated.
- Stir in the chocolate chips or, add to the processor and buzz carefully a few times until the chips are mixed in but not broken.
- Spread the batter (it will be fairly stiff) into the greased pan and smooth the top.
- Bake in a pre-heated 350˚ oven for 40 to 50 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out sort of dry. The edges of the cake will be drier than the center, which will stay a bit moist.
- Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan. If you haven't used a spring-form pan, good luck.
UPDATE III: I now find I get a better rise and chip distribution if after mixing the wet ingredients in the processor, I add the wet ingredients to the dry (except for the chips) and beat with an electric mixer for about a minute. Then I mix the chips with a little flour and add half of them to the batter and swirl in gently. I scrape the batter into the baking pan and add the remaining chips, again swirling in gently near the top.
I now have a copy of The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread waiting to be reviewed, so maybe there will be another baking post coming up soon, if I can stop myself from making more chocolate chip cake! Or these cookies!