Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Baking Gluten Free in 2015

How many ingredients does it take to make a batch of scones? Well, in February of 2010, I used nine ingredients to make a batch of gluten free chocolate chip scones. I used Bette Hagman's recipe from her book, "The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread." The original recipe lists thirteen ingredients.

The gluten free flour used in the original recipe is a blend of flours also from the cookbook. So, to get a dozen scones I had to have the flour blend already prepared so I could take the required amount from the larger batch, add several more ingredients to the flour blend, and then put all the ingredients together to make the dough. And it really wasn't that easy a dough to handle.
Gluten Free Scones

Now, it's 2015 and I have this recipe down to six basic ingredients plus whatever I'm using for the treat, such as chocolate chips or raisins or blueberries.

I use Gluten Free Bisquick pancake mix and so do away with gums and egg replacers, as well as reduce the amount of baking powder and baking soda required. And the dough is much easier to handle.

In 2010, anyone who baked gluten free goods expected to have to make flour blends in large batches and store them for use in recipes. We had blends of all sorts; rice, bean, corn, and potato flour blends were staples in the pantry, all stored in airtight containers.

This meant buying all these different kinds of flours and blending them in varying mixes and ratios and adding enhancers such as gums and egg replacer. I needed a pantry to store the equivalent of a couple of bags of wheat flour.

Now I have Gluten Free Bisquick Pancake Mix and Pamela's Gluten Free Bread Mix in my pantry.

It's a hell of a lot easier to bake gluten free in 2015 than it was in 2010. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Basic Rules of Recipe Writing

It may be more accurate to say the rules for recording recipes, which is a different thing than creating/writing recipes. 
1: Use a descriptive title
Don't name your recipe Chicken and Noodles. Think about the herbs and spices you used. If it's lemon and rosemary, call the dish Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Broad Noodles.

2: List the ingredients in order of use
Ingredient lists allow the cook to assemble everything s/he needs before starting the cooking process.  Include how much of the ingredient is required, and how the ingredient is used, ie. 1 onion, chopped

3: Pay attention to how you write the amounts
Writing "1 onion, chopped" means you chop one whole onion. "1 cup chopped onion" means chop enough onion to make one cup. The first direction is ambiguous; the second direction is clear.

4: Write the directions in the right order
The first ingredient on your list should be the first ingredient you deal with in your directions. Be precise. Don't write, "Cook the meat a little bit before putting it in the slow cooker." Write, "Brown the meat in a fry pan, drain, then add to the slow cooker."

5: Include essential information
Just after your descriptive title, and before your list of ingredients, tell the cook how many portions this recipe makes, required oven/appliance settings, and any substitutions that may be used.

Why is this important? Because if food is a universal language then the recipe is the translator.