Friday, September 18, 2015

Converting Recipes to Gluten-Free: Focus on FLOUR!

Some of the best recipes are the ones handed down from generation to generation, sometimes tweaked here and there, but largely sticking to the same tried and true formula that has bewitched and fattened up family members across the ages. Some recipes are so legendary, they begin to take a life of their own and make an appearance at each major holiday gathering, year after year.

So, what can you do when you inherit a beloved family recipe and want to participate in the tradition, but aren't sure how to adapt it to be gluten-free, either for you or one of your g-free relatives? Or, what if you spot something fabulous on Pinterest and want to give it a whirl but need to make a few adjustments to ensure it is g-free? The good news is that you don't have to sacrifice your family legacy or deny yourself the giddy joy of trying that Pinterest recipe and contributing your Pinterest fail for the whole world to see. Yes, your horizons exist beyond gluten-free cookbooks! With a few strategic, yet very simple swap-outs, you can transform any recipe into gluten-free without giving up any of the appeal or flavor.

For Baked Goods, Convert That Gluten Flour to Gluten Free
By and large, the biggest conversion concern will be in baked goods (think, cookies, breads, and pies) and the biggest culprit will be the gluten flour.

So, how do you convert a recipe from gluten flour to gluten-free? Well, the Gluten Free Goddess advises that for every one cup of all-purpose flour cited in a recipe, you can swap it out for 140 grams of your favorite gluten-free flour blend. Remember, every gluten-free flour has a different weight per cup. So, you'll want to buy a kitchen scale! Safe and popular g-free choices for baking can include sorghum flour, brown rice flour, white and sweet rice flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, certified gluten-free oat flour, and teff flour. However, make sure sources of corn, millet, sorghum, etc flours are 100% gluten-free!

Not to be outdone, almond flour, hazelnut flour, chestnut and peanut flours are high protein non-grain options. And do not count out legume flours such as chick pea flour and soy flour. The very trendy coconut flour is a high fiber addition to g-free blends that attracts moisture and adds a lot of texture and flavor.

Simply Skip the Flour or Try a G-Free Flour Blend
Less is more, and in some recipes this applies to the flour. For example, peanut butter cookie recipes do not suffer at all if you simply skip the flour.

It's all about the blend. The Gluten Free Girl has a tried and true g-free flour blend that I have used for many baking recipes. This blend is free of any additives, preservatives, fillers, emulsifiers, xanthan or other gums. Bonus: for those with additional dietary or allergy concerns, it is dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free, corn-free, soy-free, tree-nut-free, and of course, fish and shellfish-free. It’s also guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination from those ingredients. What's not to love?

You can also skip the “DIY”, and find a nice flour blend from your local gluten-free Bakery, such as mine – Sweet Ali’s.

Increase the Hydration
King Arthur Flour provides an important key to unlocking the gluten-free conversion conundrum. Adding liquids (egg, water, milk) will increase hydration and develop structure, but keep in mind that they may also promote a cake-like texture. Using fruit purées in place of some of the liquid content can help aid in building structure.

So, with that, I hope you will be inspired to dig through your dog-eared cookbooks for those traditional family recipes you're hoping to try! With a few savvy swaps, you will be on your way to creating timeless new recipes and family memories to pass down to future generations.

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