Tonight, I’m going to a “healthy lunches for kids” cooking class, and I’m bringing the sweets. As I whipped up my Allergy Friendly Classic Crumb Cake and Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies, I made sure no last morsel of batter or dough went to waste. I dug my finger into that stand mixer bowl, and licked that paddle attachment like a six-year-old kid. As I do every time I bake something. I’m a sucker for the remnants. After all, this is one of the very best things about vegan baking, you get to eat the cookie dough raw, because it doesn’t contain any eggs. As I struggled to get every remaining speck of batter out of that bowl, off that spoon, and into my mouth, I was reminded of something that’s been nagging at me. Something that needs to be addressed. Twice recently, I’ve heard fellow allergen-free bakers tell people not to eat the goodies raw, because they will taste bad. I need to set the record straight here: Gluten-Free Allergen-Free batter and dough should not taste bad, unless you’re using the wrong ingredients. Would I fight my kids for the right to lick the spoon if this stuff didn’t taste too-good-to-be-true? If the batter tastes bad, then how will the finished product be better? (unless we’re talking about bread dough, which is a whole other story). If you’re having this problem, I think I can help you. I’ve been working with alternates to wheat flour and vegan baking since 2001. Some Gluten-Free flours are better than others. Quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, buckwheat, millet, montina, garfava, they all have their place. But recently, there’s been a trend towards using bean flour blends in heavy rotation.
This needs to be considered. Are you using a bean flour blend? Does your batter taste yucky? Do your finished products have an unpleasant aftertaste? Have these mixes put you off your quest to go Gluten-Free? If so, please remember, you have other alternatives. When I heard one of my colleagues tell a tv host not to taste her cookie dough because gluten-free cookie dough tastes bad and “tinny”, my jaw nearly hit the floor. If it tastes tinny, it’s not because that’s how Gluten-Free Allergen-Free cookies are supposed to taste. It’s because you probably used too much xanthan gum and a bean flour blend. I make no secret of how I feel about bean flour in my sweets. Bean flours are great in the proper recipe, but for cakes and cookies, I just don’t like them. Texturally, garfava and garbanzo flour create a great approximation to all purpose flour, but I can’t get over the bitterness you take along with that. That’s why I bake with a brown rice flour blend. (Oh my God, does Bob’s Red Mill hate me now, or what?) Now, I would have ignored this “tinny” comment, until I heard another misconception voiced at the Gluten-Free Cooking Expo. I heard another colleague advising a woman new to gluten-free baking that she shouldn’t taste the batter because it would taste bad and slimy. I rudely jumped in, saying, “No, that’s not true”. (I’m sorry, I just couldn’t let that comment further sully the reputation of an already misunderstood genre of food, so forgive me for my nerve). My batter never tastes slimy. If it did, I’d dump it in the trash. It is true that xanthan gum is slimy when it gets wet, but if your batter or dough tastes slimy, then you’re using too much xanthan gum. I think people overestimate how much xanthan gum they need. A little goes a long way.
So where does this leave us, and why did I address this? I want people to know that eating Gluten-Free and Allergy-Friendly doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice one of the greatest pleasures of baking: licking the spoon! Bean flours and bean flour blends are great for increasing fiber, protein, and vitamin content in gluten-free baking, but if you want a truly tasty sweet treat, I advise you go for another blend. Authentic Foods and King Arthur now have brown rice flour blends. Your options are a-plenty.