Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mastering the Magic of Gluten Free Baking

Cooking. Sorcery. Dark (delicious) magic. Pre-diagnosis, they were all the same to me. After all, I failed equally at each and, whenever I tried, I ended up drowning in smoke

So, when I think of the cooking experimentation that I've already embarked on this summer, I can't help but smile. Immediately after diagnosis, my diet changed in small ways. No gluten, lots of new veggies (who knew cauliflower and avocado could be so addicting?) and, as I've already ranted about multiple times, simple substitutions like banana nice cream

An early favorite!
Now, though, I'm over dipping only my toe in the water. If I don't jump in to gluten free baking with the same survival-based passion that my diagnosis triggered, how will I ever swim with the big gluten free bakers? And so, petrified, I bought my first bread and pizza mixes. And I actually used them! 

For bread, after scanning an aisle full of bags promising the perfect GF loaf, I decided on Pamela's. Then I hurried to the kitchen to get my Pamela on

The actual baking wasn't bad. The instructions were simple to follow, though I substituted my own arm power (biceps and triceps work out anyone?) for my non-existent high speed mixer. What's a broke college kid gonna do? And my bread actually looked promising from the time I popped it in the oven to its transfer on the cooling rack. Mom and I couldn't believe our luck...until we watched it deflate an hour later. 

It's going down...
We laughed, I (inwardly) cried, but two slices later, we deemed the droopy, slightly goopy bread a success! Especially when, a week later, we re-purposed the leftover bread in a kick-butt apple cinnamon bread pudding. My life with celiac has been all about flexibility, creativity and change - cooking with it is no different

My favorite kind of fail!
The most magical experiment happened this week, though, with the birth of my first homemade gluten free pizza crust. Before my diagnosis, the thought of using a pizza dough mix would never enter my mind. It was one of those mysterious acts that only a true chef could achieve. With our favorite pre-made crust (Schars) out of stock, though, this pizza-lover had no choice but to turn on the Bob's Red Mill flour power. 

Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. I mixed the ingredients in the wrong order (sorry yeast!) and spreading the dough balls (sticky despite hours of refrigeration) seemed acrobatic. The saving grace of my Mom and I? Remembering an old tip to cover and stretch the dough through a layer of plastic wrap. Clean fingers and (surprisingly circular) crusts! 

An example of the plastic wrap technique
When we popped our babies in the oven (first naked, then topping-coated), all I hoped for was an edible ending. Boy was I wrong...it was the finest slice of saucy goodness this tongue has ever touched! 

Our crusts were fluffy pillows with crunchy edges. They held their own with our toppings, and the crusts rose so much, we actually want to use even more layers on our next pies! I ate leftover pizza four days in a row and I was totally fine with that! And, during those four days, I couldn't stop ranting about our culinary success

Mommy and Me Pizzas!
Magic can mean many things, but to me, nothing has been more magical than my time in the kitchen this summer. Celiac disease has kicked gluten out of my diet and - I'm not going to sugarcoat it (pun intended) - sometimes I feel deprived. But no more. 

These baking ventures have enriched my taste buds, but also my life. Now, it's my old fears of cooking inadequacy and failure that have turned into smoke. And there's nothing more magical than that. 

*This post can also be found at RunningwithSpoon's link party and Glutenfreefrugal's Allergy Free Wednesday link party!*


Has celiac changed your attitude towards cooking? What are your favorite gluten free recipes? Comment below! 

11 comments:

  1. Holy crap! How have I never thought of using plastic wrap over dough?!!! GENIUS!!!

    Have you tried Pamela's pancake mix? OMG. And substitute the water for butter milk and you have some of the creamiest amazing pancakes! ORGASMIC!

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    1. I know! We were AMAZED at how well it worked! Thank you Internet! I've never tried Pamela's but that sounds amazing!! Thanks for the comment and the tip! :D

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  2. Pizza is the one complete food source... right? :)

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    1. Definitely. Carbs, protein, fats - all that good stuff! :)

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  3. Fantastic post Casey! GF baking can definitely be tricky, but it looks like you are on the right path-have a good weekend!

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    1. Thanks for the comment and the praise! GF is definitely an adventure, but a rewarding (and tasty) one! :) Have a great weekend too! :)

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  4. Hi Casey, I saw your comment on Cotter Crunch about making pancakes with Bisquick’s gluten free flour and adding one squished ripe banana. I would love to have the recipe! I didn't even know Bisquik made a GF mix. Good to know!

    You can contact me at jillconyers.com or jillconyers@gmail.com. Thanks!

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    1. I'll send you an email with the same info, but thanks for the comment! The recipe (just follow the instructions on the box and add a small-medium squished banana to the batter and a little extra water, plus any berries/chocolate, etc) are on my post: http://caseythecollegeceliac.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-top-3-baked-breakfast-goodies.html

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  5. I love this post! I feel like gluten-free baking has come such a long way now that so many types of gf flours and nut meals are available. Hope you're having a great weekend, my dear!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for the comment! Yep, I'm loving all these flours! Intimidating at first, but awesome once you figure out the right mixture! Have a great weekend too! :D

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  6. Pizza crust is one of the biggies, for sure. The best recipe I've found so far is from Nicole Hunn's "Gluten Free on a Shoestring" (glutenfreeonashoestringcom) blog, her "Thick-Crust Gluten Free Pizza Dough". It's got a fairly foreboding ingredient list, tho. The whey protein isolate is probably worth getting. I subbed some psyllium husk powder and tapioca starch for the Expandex (which is a modified tapioca starch) and it seemed to work. I used Ball pectin, although her blog advises against it, and that didn't seem to be a problem either. Anyhow, the resulting pizza was good (sort of a whole grain flavor, not so crispy it would break a tooth, not gummy, not soggy, you could eat it out of hand), so it's definitely one to do again.

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