Monday, September 14, 2009

How Fat Affects Your Gluten-free Cooking

The house is quiet. Lisa and Ken really should get out of bed, but school is out for her and he is laid off. I often don't have the time or inclination for their type of luxuries.

Although I have a skirt to let out for Lisa, some cooking, cleaning, and editing to do; I wanted to take the time to talk to you about fat. I'm not talking about the polyunsaturated, mono-saturated kind, nor how we all eat far more fat than we think we do. I wanted to share how fat affects your gluten-free cooking.

Each ingredient in a recipe has a job to do. Understanding the role of each item brings a balance to the whole recipe. Then converting recipes to suit your health needs and taste preferences become a joy, not an overwhelming task. You will be set free to engage in freestyle cooking.

Fat can be a great flavor enhancer to regular baking, however it has another job. Fats such as shortening, and butter in gluten baking reduces moisture's ability to form gluten protein chains. These chains bring strength and elasticity to bread. Without these chains fat helps to produce a more tender cake.

Non-gluten flours are bulk and flavor. Without the gluten proteins fat becomes unnecessary to produce a moist, tender cake. It's use in a gluten-free recipe can be a flavor enhancer, but in the case of rice flour it tends to create a mushy mess that does not rise.

To summarize, when converting a recipe consider the purpose of the fat in the recipe. If it is to make a tender cake-like item such as pancakes, muffins, quick breads, or cakes you may be able to eliminate the fat altogether. If fat is in the recipe as a flavor enhancer cut the amount in half (or more)and use butter or a butter substitute. If the recipe calls for applesauce or other fruit puree leave out the fat, altogether.

Since I have posted breads, banana bread, and muffins previously, I will provide you with my fat-free apple cake. I use chopped apples instead of applesauce, because applesauce tends to sink to the bottom of the pan before the cake is cooked.

Gluten-free low-fat
Apple Cake">

1 cup rice flour

1 tsp guar gum

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1½ cups sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup chopped apples

1/3 cup apple juice

1 tsp vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients.

Add all the wet ingredients and mix just until uniformly moist.

Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 9 cake pan*.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

*I have doubled this recipe and baked it in a 9 x 13 pan, but I like the results best in smaller pans.