More and more people I know are going gluten free these days. There is a wave of dietary awareness sweeping through the population, and people who lived with symptoms for years are discovering that those symptoms were caused by gluten all along. It’s amazing to finally be free of pain, but there is always the question, “what to eat?” How will I bake cookies again? And oh, what about bread? There are some good options on store shelves and some not so good options, and the same is true of recipes. These are the recipes for my favourite gluten free baking: pancakes, cookies, pie crust, bread. You’ll probably discover some favourites of your own too, but these are enough to get you started.
Heather’s Banana Oat Blender Pancakes
I am in love with this recipe. It’s one of Heather’s retired Whole Foods Kitchen recipes, and it satisfies everything I want in a pancake. It’s moist but not gummy. It’s flavourful without being overly sweet. There are no strange gums or weird thickeners. And best of all, it freezes exceptionally well. Most mornings I pop one in the toaster and it comes out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside and not at all dried out. Yum. These also work really well with half the oats replaced with raw buckwheat groats.
When I first started baking gluten free I went out and bought loads of tiny bags of specialty flours and started trying to make complicated things. Many of them did not turn out, and I was so disappointed. Now, more than a year later, I still bake with many different types of specialty flours but I’m also more and more partial to simplicity. Simple recipes are easier to make, and I’m far more likely to actually make something if it’s quick and easy. I found a big bag of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix at our local wholesaler and I love it.
It won’t work for people with bean sensitivities because it’s got garbanzo and fava bean flours in it, but for the rest of us it makes ordinary baking quick and easy again. The last time I made the Everyday Bread recipe I substituted half of the Bob’s Red Mill flour for tapioca starch and it turned out even better – a little lighter and a little less beany. Also, this bread very much needs salt (I add 1 – 1 1/2 tsp) and less brown sugar (I reduce it to 1 Tbsp).
Oh, cookies. Life without cookies would be possible, but just not as much fun. This recipe is adapted from one of my favourite cookie recipes, A Little Nut Cookie, from Deborah Madison’s cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I give this cookbook as a gift to lots of people, not just vegetarians, because it is so useful and thorough. This cookie recipe works perfectly if you replace the wheat flour with gluten free oat flour. No other fiddling is necessary – oats stick together really well on their own, much like chickpea flour. I sometimes add a teaspoon of baking powder to get a cookie that is a little lighter, although they’re lovely when they’re dense too. And if you’re wondering where to find gluten free oat flour, just pop some gluten free rolled oats in the blender and whiz them up for a few seconds. Ta da! Oat flour.
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups gluten free oat flour
1 cup finely chopped nuts (I like almonds, but walnuts, hazlenuts, macademias or pecans would all be lovely too)
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375F. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and light. Beat in the egg, then add the vanilla, salt and baking powder. Stir in the oat flour, then the nuts and chocolate chips.
Drop the dough by teaspoons on a cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned on top, about 8 minutes.
Totally Amazing Gluten Free Pie Crust
Now I have a confession to make: I was never any good at making pastry. I could whip up bread, cakes, cookies, multi-step layered bars of many kinds and yet the standard wheat flour pie crust never turned out well for me. As you might expect, gluten free pie crust was no better. For a while we just stopped eating pies. This was pretty tragic and a real blow to our repertoire of special occasion recipes, most of which centered around a savoury pie. Then Tom discovered this recipe! It is a gluten free pie crust that really turns out like tender, flaky pastry. You can roll it out and pick it up and it sticks together! It does not turn out like an oily pile of ground nuts (I tried that once), or a tough, inedible leathery skin (tried that too), or a disintegrating pile of crumbs (I gave up at this point). It is really truly pastry, and it is simple. For me, it actually turned out better than most of my attempts at making classic wheat flour pastry.
Do you have some favourite gluten free recipes? Share them with us in the comments!