Adapting to a gluten-free diet may seem overwhelming – especially after reading recipes that call for flours and starches you’ve never heard of before. A gluten-free diet means eliminating all items that contain the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and many related grains, such as spelt, Kamut and einkorn. While most grocery stores now include GF areas or shelves, it’s crucial to read labels carefully. You’ll find many sites like www.celiac.com online that will give you a list of unsafe ingredients. It annoys me to see Ezekiel bread routinely placed with GF products in mega-marts. Made from whole sprouted wheat, barley, and spelt among other ingredients, Ezekiel’s great bread, but definitely off-limits for celiacs or others with gluten intolerance.
Cooking gluten-free doesn’t have to be tedious or difficult. While baked goods are a bit trickier, the magic lies in combining non-gluten flours with xanthan or guar gum* to replace the proteins found in gluten. Simply put, gluten is the glue that holds food together. If you are creating your own recipes, a good rule of thumb is one tsp xanthan/guar gum to each cup of a flour blend. Using a store-bought flour blend? Don’t gum things up! Check the ingredients to ensure it doesn’t already contain one of these gums.
Putting together a gluten-free pantry? I suggest at least five kinds of flour: Starchy: white rice, tapioca and potato; Whole grain GF flour: brown rice and sorghum. GF cornmeal is also used in many recipes. Blending your own flour mix is not only economical, but it can be tailored to your favourite recipe and stored at room temperature or frozen for later use. Here are a few basic recipes for flour blends:
All-Purpose Flour Blend: Mix together 4 cups white rice flour; ⅔ cup sorghum flour, 1 cup brown rice flour, ¾ cup tapioca starch, 1 ¼ cups potato starch.
Three Ingredient Flour Blend: Combine 4 cups white rice flour, 1 ⅓ cups potato starch and 1 cup tapioca starch
Recipe: Ancient Grains Bread (Bread Machine)
- Mix together 1 cup sorghum flour, 1 cup of quinoa flour, ¾ cup GF cornmeal (or ground flaxseed or ground GF oats), ½ cup tapioca starch, ⅓ cup packed brown sugar, 1 tbsp xanthan gum, ¾ tsp bread machine or instant yeast, 1 1/2 tsp salt.
- Pour 1 ¼ cups water, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar into the bread machine pan. Add 2 eggs and 2 egg whites lightly beaten.
- If your machine doesn’t have a GF setting, select the Dough Cycle gradually adding the dry ingredients and scraping the pan’s sides to make sure wet and dry ingredients are combined.
- Turn off the machine. Select the bake cycle (60 minutes, temperature 350F). Remove bread from the pan as soon as the cycle finishes. Cool completely on a rack.
*xanthan gum is a derivative of corn, so if you have a corn allergy, substitute guar gum