Lick the Spoon!


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.

21 Responses

  1. Andrea says:

    Glad you put this post up! Also to note, our allergist suggested that as my son had a severe nut allergy, we avoid all legumes. We have noticed that keeping the legumes out of our diet helps keep his eczema flare-ups down. And it’s another great reason to avoid bean flour in GF baking.

    • admin says:


      Thanks for this comment. This is absolutely true of legumes and peanut allergies. I hear this a lot. It’s another very important reason for some to steer clear of the bean flour blends, since peanuts are in the legume family along with beans and peas. What nut allergies does your son have? My son and I have walnut allergies and I am also allergic to hazelnuts.

      Again, thanks for posting!

      all the best,


  2. Marianne says:

    I bake Allergen Free in Georgia, and all my clients love it. I teach them to bake and make goodies fresh. I also teach them to taste what they are making. No one has ever said it was slimy or yucky. You have to taste your food and your end products. i also agree with not putting bean flour in baked goods, I just do not like the texture. Thank you for helping educating people on a larger scale. The country needs this kind of knowledge. Kids need to eat better, and so does everyone else. When kids eat my baked goods that do not have allergies, I know I am doing something good. And I am meeting many more moms that are swapping out their traditional flours for these, and their families have no allergies. Keep up the great work.

    • admin says:


      That’s fantastic to hear! Do you have a bakery? Please leave your contact info here so people in your area can taste your goodies! What kinds of gf flour do you like to work with?

      I too am trying to mainstream allergen-free so that it’s not “weird food’, just “good food” for all.

      kindest regards,

  3. Penny says:

    I have SO ENJOYED tasting the batter and eating the chocolate chip cookie dough from the recipes I’ve made from Cybele’s cookbook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Penny! I am having a bit of a problem containing my enthusiasm for that recipe. Just polished off 3 more cookies! And my kids went through 4 each after school.

  4. Victoria says:

    I’ve never written a fan letter before, but I LOVE your new book. I have 2 celiacs in the family, one allergic to eggs. My other child, although not celiac, is anaphylactically allergic to eggs, sesame seeds, peas, lentils and almonds. He has not had any peanuts and we avoid most tree nuts. We avoid most legumes, but he seems to be fine with chickpea and garfava flour. It is easy to feel alone when you have a child with severe allergies, and everyone else seems to have kids who can eat everything! I have always loved to bake, and was really struggling with the yucky texture of most GF baking I did, nevermind the taste. The recipes I have tried from your book have become the favorites in our home. I do have to admit that I sub in regular milk and butter in the recipes (since dairy is one thing my son can eat) and they seem to turn out fine. I made the chocolate cake in a 9X13 for a birthday, and it was great. My foodie friends clambered for more. I tried the chocolate chip cupcakes in a 9X9, and they fell apart. Maybe my fault for using butter? I also tend to use Rebecca Reilly’s baking mix (using combo of brown rice and chickpea flour), and the recipes taste great. No beany aftertaste at all. I’m looking forward to new recipes!

  5. Laurel says:

    Amen to that! I can’t tell you how many GF cookbooks and how much chickpea/ garbanzo flour I’ve trashed. Expensive yes but also completely inedible. I’ve bought almost every cookbook out there and until yours Annalise Roberts was my favorite even though I had to take out the dairy and egg. I swear I cringe every time I see/hear/read another GF expert advise using that Bob’s Red Mill crap. I think it’s just laziness.
    Also, every single recipe I’ve tried from your cookbook has turned out and has been edible as well even though I replace the shortening with oil. I am so fat at this point I can’t pull on one pair of pants I own and I haven’t even gotten to the bread recipes yet.
    Thank you for this book. Thank you for caring enough to share and thank you for setting the record straight about both TOO MUCH XANTHAN GUM and using bean flours in sweets. Again, I say, Amen!

  6. found your site on today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

  7. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  8. […] Lick The Spoon! | Cybele Pascal Quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, buckwheat, millet, Montini, Garf, all have their own site. Purpose Recently, there has been a trend toward use of mixtures of bean flour in heavy rotation. This must be considered. … (Oh my God, Bob's Red Mill Docs hate me now, or what?) Now, I would have ignored this "metal" as, until I heard another misunderstanding represented Cooking Gluten-free Expo. I heard another woman colleague counseling new gluten free bakery that was … […]

  9. this post is very usefull thx!

  10. Marianne says:

    Evening Cybele,

    I have a small bakery south of Atlanta. Too many people have food allergies, so we are busy! I mostly blend flours, Authentic Foods, Arrowhead and some BRM products. I also use Domata Living Flour. It replaces wheat flour cup for cup and no extra Xanthan gum is needed. I am testing it to compare to AF Multi Blend, both have Xanthan Gum yet Domata does not tell you to add more.

    Allergen free is not “weird” food! It tastes great, and it should or it is not worth baking! My logo is You CAN eat cake! And you really can! Finding products to use and also trying to work them as Organic is even more challenging! But we are working towards that! We are also teaching people to change over their entire kitchen, and stop baking for just the one or two with allergies. The entire family should be eating better! Classes are a great way to also build informal support groups!

    Keep up the great work! Allergen free! Oooh Rah!
    Magnolia Manor Sweets
    Georgia, USA

  11. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

  12. Jennifer says:

    I love the Allergen Free baker’s Handbook! I hate beany flour, but I can’t afford the authentic foods superfine brown rice flour because it is not available locally, so I just use BRM and run it through my vitamix for a few minutes to make it super fine. I have played around with different flours too and everything has turned out great, especially the red velvet cake, yum! Although it wasn’t really red because we can’t use artificial colors. I used India tree food coloring and it was not red, it was pinkish brown. I love the vegan whipped topping and use it a lot, but I use almond milk instead of rice because that is what is available and we are fine with nuts.

  13. If only more people could hear about this.

  14. Nicole says:

    Thank you so much for posting this article! I thought I was the only one crawling out of my skin EVERY time I heard those words… Maybe if we all continue to use our voice, we can help those whom are a little misguided get back on the right track with teaching others how to bake and cook gluten/allergy free in a positive, reassuring way!

    Your work is making a great difference for all of us who strive to live our lives gluten and allergy free with confidence. I tell all my allergy free friends that they just need practice to gain confidence. If at first it doesn’t seem right, try and try again until you get it there. Now, people who eat at our house never know what they are missing!

    Thank you again.

  15. Alaina says:

    I have recently given up allergy free baking for my son because among other allergies he does not seem to do well with rice flour, corn flour, or bean flour. The only starch in his diet is potatoes. So you have any experience or suggestions for baking with potato flour?

  16. Marianne says:

    Alaina, have you tried blending sorghum, millet, tapioca with the potato?

  17. Ron Tedwater says:

    Really nice post,thank you

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