Monday, March 18, 2013

Aunt Chloe and Gluten Chemistry

Lately I've been reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin" - a classic that ya'll are probably familiar with -  in which case you'd already know that Aunt Chloe is an amazing head-cook of her master's plantation. Under her gaze the poultry in the hen-yard tremble and, under her hands, the most toothsome and melty pie doughs take shape. Pure skill and deliciousness.

I mean, who wouldn't like to be Aunt Chloe in the kitchen?

Well, the number of rungs (on the latter to success) betwixt me and Aunt Chloe have, shall we say, increased considerably. There's been  a lot of testing going on in our kitchen as we've experimented with making G.A.P.S. approved meals.

I remember a dreadful experience that I had with accidentally making gluten-free donuts about a year ago. They didn't rise, tasted like dried oats and crumbled apart in the fryer. The glaze was the best part.

I'm super excited that we're still allowed to bake with nut flours and honey - however - nut flours don't seem to have a whole lot of gluten content and this is important because....

In a normal bread recipe you would mix water with wheat flour and stir. Because of this, two proteins in the flour, glutenin and gliadin, connect  to each other and the water. Keep stirring and all of the proteins continue to connect and cross-connect and form..*Ta-da!* sheets of gluten which are meant to trap air and the gasses made by yeast in the dough. SO. Gluten in the wheat flour, essentially, is the key to success in risen bread.


While I haven't even bothered to attempt any risen breads thus far, I am looking into it.

From my research, I hear that there are gluten substitutes such as arrowroot powder...? Besides that, some courageous pioneers of gluten-free cooking have put together quite a few successful recipes - for me, it's just a matter of finding them.

On the plus side, though, almond flour is positively awesome in pancakes, and coconut flour is terrific in banana bread (thank you, Kara for finding this out!). Some of the soups that we've had are excellent and, besides baking, our lives aren't severely altered...So now I'm just working to find s'more terrific recipes for things like, pizza crusts, sandwich breads, biscuits and such.

( Actually, I'm planning to attempt a beautiful chocolate pie this evening, and a biscuit recipe that I found.)

Have you been making anything interesting of late?

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