Hi Everyone! I hope you’ve had a great week! The weather has been beautiful here in SW Michigan – hope you’ve had time to enjoy some beautiful weather!
Didn’t you love Beth’s post? I chuckled when she sent me her post because I had baked the blueberry muffin recipe she shared the day before AND I had picked blueberries with my girls that morning! She’s right – it IS blueberry season here in Michigan! YUM!
Friends – I made my first gluten free pie. Scratch crust that is flaky and buttery and held up perfectly to the delicious, fresh blueberry filling. I was doing cartwheels (not literally – scary thought) at finding another recipe for an old favorite that translated to gluten free with success. Sad news though – I didn’t get a picture! It wasn’t the prettiest of pies, which I guess blocked my usual “grab the camera!” response I have to most things I cook/bake. So, no picture to tempt your taste buds, but I will post the recipe for the crust soon.
For today though, I want to remind you of a great resource you really should take advantage of. Your public library! I was very happy to discover that our public library carries a great selection of gluten free cookbooks. I am so thankful to be able to look the cookbooks over before shelling out the money to buy them. Anyone else love cookbooks like I do? I pretty much read them like a novel – cover to cover. My hubby thinks it’s funny that I do this. I’ve been guilty more than once of reading him a list of ingredients and instructions, my mouth drooling, only to have him look at me with a blank stare. I guess you could say I create the recipe in my head while I am reading it and can taste and smell them as they unfold. I think that’s a testament of a good recipe and ok, a little bit of a love for food. 🙂
I checked out five cookbooks and looking through them has been really enlightening. Can I just say, no wonder people find gluten free baking confusing and overwhelming! I am not putting down any of these cookbooks – I haven’t made any of the recipes, so I can’t tell you they aren’t good. But, what I can say is that each of the cookbooks has it’s own flour mix(es), recommendations on pans, and some aren’t just gluten free, but add in the areas of dairy and sugar substitutes. Now, I realize that I am a fan and total supporter of a cookbook that is based on specific flour mixes, so I suppose if you are introduced to one of these cookbooks first, you might feel the way that I do about Gluten Free Baking Classics. But, I would love to have a collection of gluten free cookbooks I could use and expand my recipe collection from, and because of the differences in how the recipes are written and the flours used, it’s going to be difficult. I just can’t invest in all the different flours that are used and I am not even sure I want to.
My favorite of the five I brought home is Gluten-Free Made Simple by Dahlstrom and Burnley. The recipes look delicious, easy and kid-friendly. However, I am frustrated that they refer to a specific pre-mixed all purpose flour mix in almost all of their recipes. The mix, which might be great, is a blend of flours and already has the xanthan gum included. I went to the company website to try to get a breakdown of their mix, and they just list the ingredients, nothing specific. SO, unless I start using the mix they refer to, I can’t make these recipes. GRRRR. I really hope they are getting paid to refer to this flour mix, because I wonder how many doors are shutting on their recipes because people don’t use that mix. I know I am not buying it now. They do mention in the introduction they refer to specific brands of flours because they want the recipes to turn out for you and using what they used will ensure that. They also think it’s cost-saving to have the recipes use this mix. I’m not so sure.
I’ve learned a lot from Shauna at Gluten Free Girl and The Chef and her belief and passion for creating gluten free recipes based on weight of flours, not volume. This is another post in and of itself, one that I have already started writing, but the quick summary is that if you create recipes based on the weight of each flour used, any flour can be substituted in or out, as long as you replace each flour at the same weight. Did you know that a cup of rice flour is a different weight than a cup of tapioca? It is! So, let’s say you are baking something and you realize you are out of one of the flours listed in a recipe that is by weight. No problem! Just substitute the same weight of a different flour that you do have and the recipe should still work. Baking by weight is the standard in most of the professional world of baking – wheat flour or not – and it just makes so much sense.
I have already been very interested in baking this way and after coming across what would be a fantastic cookbook, but finding it basically useless to me, I am even more sold. I wish that the cookbook, or at least the company that makes the flour mix, would provide a breakdown of their mix by weight. If we each knew that, we could duplicate what they have made from what we have in our pantries. I haven’t totally dismissed making a best guess at replacing their measurement of flours to my mix and separate xanthan gum, but it could be an expensive test if the recipes don’t work out. I’ll keep you posted if I do try it out.
Ok, this post has gone a few different directions! My intent was to remind you of the free and helpful resource of your public library. Many times you can search the library’s catalog online and see what they have before even making a trip. Check it out this next week and see what you find! Even if you don’t have success adding recipes to your collection (like me), you can at least learn more about the wide variety of gluten free recipes and styles of cooking and baking that exist. You might even find your new favorite cookbook!