It’s Saint Patty’s day, and I’m part Irish, so I broke out the holiday spirit! My boys believe in Leprechauns, and I believe in cookies, so I baked the Leprechauns some Sunbutter Greenies. (You know if a Leprechaun has been in your house if your house is messy, by the way. My son Monte informed me that we’d clearly had a visit). These cookies are from my new cookbook and are a really fun treat. They’re a chocolate chip cookie (Enjoy Life Chips, of course!) made with maple syrup and sunbutter, and the combo has a magical chemical reaction, creating a green center in the cookie. Don’t believe me? Look below. (the Leprechaun ate the other half…)
But the best part of today was unpacking my new package of goodies from Authentic Foods. The news I am about to share is truly the most exciting discovery I have made all year. Authentic Foods is now selling a product called GLUTEN FREE CLASSICAL BLEND. This product is THE EXACT SAME THING AS MY BASIC GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR MIX. This is the mixture I use in the vast majority of my recipes. So now, you don’t have to make it up yourself. No more buying three flours. Just buy one product, pre-mixed from Authentic Foods, and save yourself the hassle. It’s a combo of their superfine brown rice flour (which as many already know, I’m sort of in love with), potato starch, and tapioca starch. The proportions are all the same as my mix, so use it one-for-one, cup-for-cup. These Sunbutter Greenies were baked today with this fabulous new product, and you can bet your booties, I’m totally sold. Thank you, Authentic Foods, and most importantly, hats off to Annalise Roberts (author of the incredible Gluten Free Baking Classics) and the late Bette Hagman, for trailblazing this flour combo in the first place!
If you want this product in your local Whole Foods, or Wegmans, or local health food store, ask them to stock it. My local Whole Foods doesn’t yet, and I’m going down there tomorrow to shake my cookies at them. Here’s the link for more info GF CLASSICAL BLEND
I’ll be testing out lots of other new products in the weeks to come, so please check back soon for new reviews, musings, and some brand new “FREE-TO-EAT SWEETS” that I’m about to launch.
Happy Saint Patty’s Day!
I am asked a lot if it’s okay to substitute guar gum for xanthan gum in my recipes. The answer is “yes”. They are pretty much interchangeable, one for one. Many brands of xanthan gum are a derivative of corn (except for Authentic Foods xanthan gum), so those with corn allergies will want to use guar gum in my recipes when I call for xanthan gum. But please note, there are subtle differences. To illustrate this subtlety, I have turned once again to my trusty Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. I made one batch with xanthan gum (as the recipe instructs) and one batch with guar gum. All other ingredients were EXACTLY the same. See the photos below. The top photo are the cookies made with xanthan gum, the bottom, with guar gum. Both were delicious, but there was a slight difference in texture.
The cookies made with xanthan gum (top) are slightly chewier, with more cracks in the surface. The cookies made with guar gum (bottom) are more domed, with fewer splits in the surface and a very slightly denser consistency. One is not better than the other. I found the cookies made with guar gum crumbled a bit more, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles! The one notable difference I should add is that the cookies made with guar gum caused some gastric distress (that’s right, that’s code for “GAS”). I looked into this and sure enough, gas is a side effect of guar gum, but one is assured that after several days of ingesting it, this will settle down.
So what are these vegetable gums, and why use them in the first place? Both xanthan gum and guar gum are used in gluten-free baking to help mimic the structure traditionally provided by gluten (protein) in wheat flour. They add viscosity, and really help keep the baked goods together (binding), as well as preventing them from drying out too quickly. In the old days, I tried baking gluten-free without xanthan gum, out of some sort of misguided rebellion (I didn’t need that 1/4 teaspoon of powder!) I have since come to my senses. After all, it really is magic powder. And a little bit goes a long way… so though it might seem rather spendy, a bag of xantham gum or guar gum should last you many months. Keep it tightly sealed in the fridge.
In sum: you can use either xanthan gum or guar gum in my recipes. Guar gum is less expensive, but it might give you gas until you get used to it. Up to you.
Today I’m talking about brown rice flour. Though to some, this may seem about as interesting as discussing “toast”, hear me out. If you’re interested in perfecting gluten-free baking, this is pertinent information. Why? Because there is so much variance between brands.
In my new book, The Allergen-free Baker’s Handbook, I wax poetic about Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour. I consider it the Cadillac, or Cashmere of brown rice flours. And the reason I feel this way is because it makes superior baked goods. Combined with potato starch and tapioca starch, it’s about the closest approximation to all-purpose flour you’re likely to find for gluten-free baking. In fact, I think I prefer the delicate crumb it produces to all other flours.
Today I got an email from a reader who was making my “Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies”, from The Allergen-free Baker’s Handbook. She was concerned because the cookies kept coming out lacy. She’d had a lot of success with other recipes in the book, but was flumoxed by this one. She wanted to know if she was doing something wrong. But the only thing she was doing differently from the recipe in my book was baking the cookies with a flour mix using Bob’s Red Mill flour instead of Authentic Foods… Hmm, well, I love a challenge, so I got to baking. See below for the results.
The ONLY difference between these two batches of cookies is in the brand of brown rice flour used. Whoa, that’s crazy, right? The cookies on the left are made with Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour, and the cookies on the right are made with Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour. Now, for what it’s worth, my kids actually preferred the lacy cookies, while I prefer the more traditional, heartier chocolate chip cookies. There is no right or wrong here. I created the recipes in this new cookbook using Authentic Foods, and in most goodies it won’t make a huge difference, (though trust me, the texture will be far superior with Authentic Foods… and no, I don’t work for them!). But in a few recipes, such as this one, you may find more variation between one brand of brown rice flour and another.
Next, I’ll test this recipe again using Ener-G Brown Rice Flour, and I’ll be sure to post a picture, so we can continue comparing. Additionally, I will continue to update this site with answers to frequently asked questions…. So if you have a question, send it my way!