Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brownies 1.0

I made my first attempt at adapting a brownie recipe last night. It took a while to find a recipe for a fudgy-type brownie that did not call for unsweetened chocolate (which I did not have), but I finally found one that I felt was workable, and, most importantly, I had all the ingredients for.

The original recipe for Cream Cheese Brownies is from one of my favorite (non-allergy-friendly) cookbooks, Gifts from the Christmas Kitchen. It also has my favorite recipe for hot chocolate mix.

Here are my adaptations:
  • Used Ener-G Egg Replacer instead of eggs
  • Used Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
  • Added 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

For a first attempt, it came out pretty good. It probably could have baked a bit longer; to say that it was moist is an undestatement. But it did bear a decent resemblance to brownies, unlike the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownies I tried to make subbing Egg Replacer. Even DS#1 liked it. This is definitely a starting point, and I will post updates on my quest for good wheat-free, egg-free brownies.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Baking Day!

Now that the weather is a little cooler, I decided it was high time to do some baking. Top of my list: bread and dessert. Both are things I've been trying to find decent recipes for.

First off was the bread. I made a quick bread, Rice- and Rye-Flour Bread. I was a bit dubious when I pulled it out of the oven and the top was an pale ashy blond, with prominent cracks. After it cooled a bit, I took it out of the pan, and the texture of the sides (not crust) was sort of grainy, almost like wheat-germ bread. I waited as patiently as I could before cutting into it. It is hard to wait patiently to try bread, when you haven't had decent bread in several months. When I couldn't take it any more, I cut off a small slice. Whoa. Any reservations I may have had were immediately dispelled. It was delicious! It turned out savory, buttery, which is interesting since there was no butter in it. Yup, truly vegan. I'm thinking this would be good slathered with butter, especially herb or garlic butter. I'm not sure they would hold up to toasting, but perhaps under a broiler for garlic bread. Mmm!

Next up were cookies. For these, I made Oatmeal Cookies.

Let me digress a moment here to sing the praises of my Magic Bullet. This little wonder is one of the few small appliances that actually lives on my counter. I had used it to make baby food primarily. Then I discovered that it could reduce oatmeal to oat flour. Hallelujah! A cheap source of oat flour! It's not superfine, by any means, but it works well. More importantly, I can get oatmeal in any grocery store cheaply. Oat flour is not to be found short of an hour drive away, and then in little bags at premium prices. Plus I can make up just what I need, thus depriving the mice of at least one temptation.

Okay, back to the cookies. This recipe could be vegan, depending on the type of margarine you use. It originally called for chopped walnuts or pecans, but I decided to use chocolate chips instead, for two reasons. First of all, they are slightly less likely to be cross-contaminated with peanuts than nuts. Secondly, I was really craving chocolate.

These turned out fabulous. Slightly crunchy, full of flavor. One of the best things about these is that because there are no eggs, I didn't feel guilty for eating a couple bits of the dough or licking off the spoon.

Both of these recipes came from an out-of-print book, The Egg-Free, Milk-Free, Wheat-Free Cookbook by Becky Hamrick and S.L. Wiesenfeld, MD. The title is a little misleading, as not all of the recipes are wheat-free, but it is still packed with a lot of good recipes. In some ways, it reads like a church cookbook, with lots of old-fashioned, homey recipes. It can be gotten cheaply on Amazon. Or you can check it out at the library, if you have a good library. I won't reproduce the recipes here because of copyright laws, but I do recommend that you at least browse through this book.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Gluten-Free Vegan?

Not quite. See, this project stems from my now-10-month old son's diagnosis with food allergies, specifically wheat, eggs and peanuts. Given that, we don't need to be gluten-free, but gluten-free stuff is usually labelled prominently, and if it's gluten-free, it's wheat-free.

Similarly, if it's vegan, it will be egg-free. We do still eat meat (though not as much as we used to) and dairy. The two older boys would run away from home to join the circus if I took away their meat and cheese!

The problem with a lot of the recipes I've found on the internet is that they are generally either wheat-free or egg-free, but rarely both. Given that there are no 100% substitutions for either, this presents something of a challenge.

I like challenges. I also like cooking and baking, which is a very good thing, because the readily available wheat- and egg-free convenience foods available locally are pretty much non-existent. (Kudos to one of the grocery stores, Country Mart, for at least having a small selection of Bob's Red Mill wheat-free flours. This makes life somewhat easier.) I am also blessed by having children who are pretty open to trying new things.

I encourage you to join me on my experiments in allergy culinaria! Feel free to post your own experiences if you make one of my recipes. This is one case where too many cooks may not spoil the broth!