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More healthful baking with white flour alternatives

POST: November 12, 2013

Great article about us in the Washington Post!! 

By Casey Seidenberg

The first time I attempted to bake with flours other than the standard “white devil” was a disaster. Although my boys and I had a blast making blueberry muffins with quinoa flour and cookies with spelt flour, our enthusiasm faded rapidly when we took the first bite. None of us could even stomach a second try because the whole lot tasted that dreadful.

Since then, I have learned a great deal about the diverse types of whole-grain flours. I’ve come to know the varieties that successfully produce pancakes, muffins and cookies and those better for flatbreads and pizza crust. I’ve learned to take it slow and mix unfamiliar flours with familiar selections until my family’s palate adjusts.

To save you some bad batches of baked goods, here is a cheat sheet for baking with healthful flours.

Nutrition

Why choose flours other than refined white? Refined white flour, called “the white devil” by many in the nutrition community, is made by removing the fiber, wheat germ and B vitamins from a wheat kernel. In fact, it has been shown that 93 percent of the fiber, 25 percent of the original protein content and almost 20 other essential nutrients are lost. The starchy (gluten) part of the kernel remains, is finely ground, and then bleached with chemicals. Sometimes the resulting refined flour is enriched with synthetic vitamins and minerals to make it “healthful” again, although the jury is out on whether our bodies absorb and use those synthetic vitamins as effectively. The body immediately turns this processed final product into glucose, which raises insulin levels and can contribute to sugar highs, energy lows, weight gain and cravings.

Usage

Most whole grains and many nuts and beans can be ground into flour, but they are not all interchangeable. Each has its own character, ranging from silky to gritty, and they yield different outcomes when baked. Wheat is the most versatile and popular because of its gluten content, which allows recipes to bind easily without crumbling.

When experimenting with whole-grain and bean flours, do so in stages. If a recipe calls for a cup of white flour, try a quarter-cup of a whole-grain flour and three-quarters cup white. Next time, increase the amount of whole-grain flour by a bit, ensuring it still suits your palate. There are countless cookbooks chock-full of recipes using all kinds of flours. Pick one up for tested recipes that will keep you from tossing batches of rock-hard muffins, crumbling cookies and bitter-tasting breads.

Selection

The method of production has an effect on the flour’s performance, flavor and nutrition. Organic flour from a stone-ground mill is ideal. Visit Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park (www.nps.gov/pimi) to learn about the milling process and buy premium whole-grain flours (sales go on hiatus in the colder months — call before visiting). Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills are two high-quality brands that can be found in grocery stores nationwide.

Storage

Store in an airtight container, ideally in the refrigerator. Processed white flour has a long shelf life, but whole-grain flours go rancid more quickly. Freshly ground, whole-grain flour has a shelf life of one to two months in a pantry and four in the fridge. Store-bought flour will have a use-by date on it. A rancid flour will begin to smell and give an unsavory taste. Rancid flours also have lower nutrient content.

Going gluten-free

Bob’s Red Mill, a producer of many high-quality whole grains and whole-grain flours, suggests using 2½ teaspoons of baking powder per cup of a wheat-free/gluten-free flour. And when baking without wheat or gluten, add xanthan gum or guar gum (both binders that keep batter from separating) to improve the texture of the baked good. Visit www.bobsredmill.com for additional details. My favorite brands of gluten-free flour are Deya’s Gluten Free Flour, which can be bought at www.deyasglutenfree.com , and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour and Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix, both of which can be found at grocery stores nationwide.

The Flours

Almond:

●gluten-free

●not a whole grain but an ideal flour substitute for pancakes, muffins, cookies

●adds sweetness

●creates a cakelike consistency if used in a large quantity

Barley:

●contains gluten

●use to thicken and sweeten gravies and sauces

●combine with other flours like whole-wheat or spelt for breads

●adds sweetness

●lightly toast before using for ideal flavor

Brown rice:

●gluten-free

●use for pie crust, breads, crackers, pizza crust (to make crispy)

●substitute in small amounts

●in breads, must be combined with a sticky flour like oat or with xanthan gum or guar gum

●grainy texture

●purchase in small quantities as high oil content causes rapid rancidity

Buckwheat:

●gluten-free and wheat-free (despite the name)

●use in pancakes, waffles and pastas

●do not use in sauces — it will turn to glue

●adds an earthy flavor to baked goods

Cornmeal, yellow & blue:

●gluten-free

●use in pancakes, muffins, corn bread and tortillas

●use to thicken sauces

●the blue variety has a higher nutrition content and turns a lavender color when cooked

Garbanzo:

●gluten-free

●not a whole grain but an ideal flour substitute for crepes, flat bread, hummus and falafel

●high in protein and calcium

Kamut:

●high-gluten

●works well in pizza crust, flatbreads and pasta

●does not rise well, so do not substitute 100 percent

●protein-packed

●adds a lovely amber color

Millet:

●gluten-free

●provides structure to flat breads, bread, pizza and muffins

●provides protein

●easy to digest

●sweet, buttery, cornmeal-like flavor

Oat:

●low-gluten or gluten-free depending upon the factory in which it is processed

●add to cookies, pie crust and muffins

●use in soups and sauces for a dairy-free, milklike base

●sweet taste

●contains antioxidants that help baked goods retain freshness

Quinoa:

●gluten-free

●use in bread

●try 50 percent in cake recipes

●replace 100 percent in pancakes, crepes, muffins, crackers and cookies

●contains twice the protein of corn or rice

●dry-roast to enhance its flavor

Spelt:

●contains gluten

●when using as a substitute, reduce the liquid by 25 percent

●do not over-knead because high gluten content will make it dense

Teff:

●gluten-free

●use to thicken stews, soups and sauces

●makes breads, pancakes and waffles

●sweet, malty flavor

Whole-wheat:

●high-gluten

●an all-purpose flour

●more nutritious than white, so an ideal 100 percent substitute

Whole-wheat pastry:

●less gluten than whole-wheat flour

●try a 50/50 mix with unbleached white flour

●absorbs less water than white, so it tends to crumble more easily

For guidance on flour substitution amounts, go to www.bobsredmill.com.


Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a D.C.-based nutrition education company.

 

Heads up Palm Springs

POST: October 28, 2013

Heads up Palm Springs, Exquisite Desserts will now be making gluten-free cakes with our flour!

http://www.exquisitedesserts.net/

Heads up West Hollywood and Santa Monica

POST: October 17, 2013

The totally awesome bakery, Sweet Lady Jane, (bakers of Ellen and Portia's wedding cake) will now be baking gluten-free- with our flour of course!

http://www.sweetladyjane.com/

Heads up Brooklyn

POST: October 14, 2013

You can get items made with our flour at Cobblestone Catering on Court Street!

http://www.cobblestonecatering.com/about.php

Heads up New Jersey

POST: October 10, 2013

Our flour will now be carried at Great and Gluten Free - 431 US Highway 22 East at Bishops Plaza Whitehouse Station, N.J.

http://www.greatandglutenfree.com/

Heads up New Yorkers

POST: October 1, 2013

The Health Nuts with locations in Manhattan, Queens and Long Island is now carrying our flour! Please visit one of their stores soon to get your bags!

Gingerbread Houses

POST: December 2, 2012

I can't think of a better way to get into the Christmas mood than to make Gingerbread houses! My daughter and I embarked on making gingerbread houses together, and what fun we had! We had saved a great deal of candy from Halloween to have a good mix of candy (gluten-free of course) to decorate the houses with. My daughter's house turned out much better than mine did. Shortly after I finished decorating my house it collapsed! The problem was that I did not bake my gingerbread long enough. There is a bit of a trick with gingerbread, so please learn from my mistake. If you are looking to make a gingerbread house that will be the centerpiece of your table, then baked your gingerbread a little bit longer. This will insure harder, stronger gingerbread. If you want to make your gingerbread into cookies, then don't overbake and take them out of the oven when they are still soft. I made the mistake of underbaking the gingerbread pieces that made the sides of my house. With the weight of the candy and the icing my house collapsed. My daughter's house pieces were baked longer and her house is still standing strong! 

Enjoy, and get creative- there are lots of fun ways to decorate your house!

Gingerbread:
3 cups Deya's Gluten-Free Cake Flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg
1 cup dark-brown sugar
1/3 cups dark molasses
1/2 cup butter, softened

Icing: (about 2 cups)
4 Tablespoons softened butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk
Dash of salt

1) In a large bowl, stirl together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
2) In another bowl, beat egg and brown sugar. Add molasses and butter. Add all dry ingredients and mix until combined. Make dough into a ball and chill for at least 1 hour. 
3) Cut gingerbread house pieces out of cardboard.
4) Roll chilled dough out between two generously floured pieces of wax paper to approximately 1/4 inch thick.
5) Cut shapes out and transfer gently to floured cookie sheet.
6) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until slightly firm.
7) Remove from oven and cool before assembling.
8) Make icing- cream butter and half the sugar, and milk until fluffy. Add the salt and vanilla. Add remaining sugar and milk until there is a good spreading consistency. Beat until the frosting stands in sharp peaks. Use immediately as icing will begin to harden. 
9) Assemble house with icing and decorate with candy.

Hurricane Sandy Art Project- Baked Refrigerator Magnets

POST: November 3, 2012

What's a mom to do when a hurricane hits her hometown and shuts down schools and the subway system for at least a week? Well I'm sure I'm not the only one with this dilemma, so I wanted to share with you how I've spent some great quality time with my daughter.
Our multiple day activity has been making new alphabet refrigerator magnets. We made the dough (gluten-free of course), rolled out and cut all the letters, baked, painted, and applied shellac. Then we glued on magnets and stuck them to the fridge! What a fun project-- and I was able to sneak in some math and reading into our art/cooking project and my daughter never knew it!

Baked Dough Magnets
Dough*:
1 cup Deya's Gluten Free Cake Flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

* I'm a big fan of this dough recipe- it is obviously gluten-free so safe for the hands of those with celiac, or the gluten-intolerant child who happens to eat some of the dough. But, since it isn't a typical salt based dough it is more gentle on your skin!

Other supplies:
Cookie cutters
Paint and brushes (or anything else to decorate with- sequence, glitter)
Shellac
Magnets
Hot glue gun

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) In a medium-sized bowl mix all ingredients.
3) Turn the dough onto a floured work surface.
4) Roll dough out with rolling pin.
5) Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. We opted for the alphabet. If you don't have cookie cutters you could also use biscuit cutters or the cardboard of an old paper towel or toilet paper roll.
6) Transfer shapes to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, or a silpat.
7) Bake for 10-12 minutes or until firm.
8) Let shapes cool before decorating (paint and shellac) and glue magnet to the back.

I'm also thinking that these would make great Christmas tree ornaments and presents for teachers and grandparents! More to come on those projects!

Mother’s Nature Network Reports on Deya’s Gluten Free

POST: September 24, 2012

I was thrilled to meet Robin Shreeves, a writer for Mother's Nature Network at Natural Products Expo East 2012. She shared with me that her husband has a gluten intolerance and her family is struggling to find gluten-free food that appeals to everyone. I gave her a sample of Deya's Gluten-Free Cake Flour to try at home. Sounds like the pancakes she made were "a hit!"

Follow this link for Robin's story:

http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/deyas-gluten-free-cake-flour-replaces-all-purpose-flour-in-baking

Deya’s Gluten Free at Expo East

POST: September 22, 2012

Expo East in Baltimore was a wonderful success! The booth was always busy and Deya's Gluten Free got a shout out from Real Simple Magzine Senior Food Editor, Lygeia Grace, when she spoke on a panel about "What the Press are Finding Hot on the Show Floor." 

National Celiac Awareness Day

POST: September 13, 2012

September 13th is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. This date was chosen because it honors the birthday of Dr. Samuel Gee, a British pediatrician. Dr. Gee published the first modern description of the clinical picture of Celiac Disease. He is credited with being the first to identify the link between Celiac Disease and diet.

A big Happy 173rd Birthday to Dr. Gee from Deya’s Gluten Free! Thank you for your invaluable contribution to science!

“If a patient can be cured at all, it must be by means of diet.” - Samuel Gee, MD

Gluten-Free Waffle Cones

POST: August 29, 2012

As a young girl I remember visiting Big Olaf’s in Sag Harbor for their freshly made waffle cones. They were gigantic. They held about a pint of ice cream and required two hands to hold.
I was thrilled to make these much smaller gluten-free waffle cones that everyone in my family could enjoy!

I don’t have a waffle cone iron, but my pizzelle maker did the trick! Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Recipe Yield: 20 waffles cones

Ingredients:
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups Deya's Gluten-Free Cake Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Steps:
1) Heat pizzelle maker
2) Mix all ingredients together.
3) Spray pizzelle maker with grill spray (be careful not to use baking spray as it contains flour).
4) Spoon batter into pizelle maker, and close for approximately 2 minutes, or until desired color is reached.
5) Open pizzelle maker and immediately role into cone shapes. Cookie will harden quickly so must move fast. Be careful as it will be hot!
6) Cool and then fill with desired ice cream. Enjoy!