Monday, February 23, 2009

Turning Gluten Free

When one first goes gluten free one feels overwhelmed. What's left to eat? Your old favorite recipes are now your worst enemy. Some pans and utensils are permanently contaminated with gluten and your cupboards and fridge are full of things you cannot eat. Learning about cooking without gluten feels daunting. Don't forget the feeling that you are in this alone. One search on the internet and you will be of whelmed again. The net is loaded with gluten free information, so where do you start.

For me it wasn't that daunting, at first. I had made changes in our diet 27 years earlier when I learned of my son's allergies. I learned about allergies, nutrition, and herbs with a bit of relish. I found studying about such things exciting. I had made changes before I can make them again. I had wanted to go back to being a vegan anyway. During the early 1990's I was working in a health food store, then, and I felt great on the diet(there was less gluten in it.) While pregnant for my daughter I found that I needed more protein than I was eating so the old American diet again crept back on me as my life became more hectic and more stressful.

Like I said, I did it before, I was sure I could do it again. It was my daughter's love of fast foods and my desire for a good old fashion sandwich that challenged me. I will tell you more about my re-education in baking bread next week. What I have for you this week is an ingredient that may seem like a secret, but is used, now, by gluten free cooks. Gum, not the kind you chew. When I first made the switch to gluten free a friend of mine sent me an article from Taste For Life January 2008 issue, written by Lisa Murry. The gluten I now can't have is the glue in glutenous bake goods, but guar gum provides that glue for gluten free bake goods.

So, I picked an easy recipe to start this new baking experience. Pancakes! It work very well, and since then, I have made my pancakes in various ways. I feel that I have my pancakes down pat and my family likes my gluten free pancake better than they had liked my old buttermilk whole wheat pancakes. While my first pancakes were of just rice flour I have settled on a rice/millet combination that I can whip up quickly (Millet helps provide a crisper crust.) Although, I use soy milk, any milk with at least 3g of protein should work, but water will not work. You can use 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin to compensate for this protein need, if you want to omit milk.

Gluten Free Pancakes

3/4 cup of Rice flour (or any flour blend you can imagine)
¼ Millet flour
½ teaspoon of Gar Gum
¼ cup of sugar or less (this is pretty sweet but helps with the browning of the cake)
2 teaspoons of gluten free Baking Powder (Rumford’s is GF, but not corn free)
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 ½ teaspoons of vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup of milk

Mix all the dry ingredients together then add the wet ingredients. Mix well. The batter will be thin at first, but will become very thick in a minute. You want it to be thick, that is a sign that the gluten is retaining the air that makes baked goods rise and you'll have fluffy pancakes that way.

Spoon about a ¼ cup of batter on a hot griddle. They do not bubble like regular pancakes when ready to flip. There will be bubbles beneath the surface and a slight drying along the edges when they are ready to turn.