Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Made in a Facility that..."

Well, I have an unfortunate update on sorghum flour front.  We invited celiac faculty member and his family over for Pizza, and Riley went to the Indian Grocery to get more Jowar.  She came home with a stack of flour, took a closer look at the bag and saw the following: 
"Made in a Facility that processes Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Soy, Milk and Wheat." 
How long has that been there?  Was it always there?  My best guess is that I saw it when I started baking, and thought that it was close enough for now.  In the beginning, we were trying a lot of things, and weren't sure what we would end up using.  We still needed to find substitutes for bouillon, barbeque sauce and things like that.  So I put "Made in a facility that..." below "Food Starch - Modified" on the priority list of things to worry about.  I guess the warning was there the whole time and I never revisited the issue.  I have felt so much better not eating wheat that I stopped thinking about Jowar potentially being a problem.  And the Maestro is sooo much better than he had been...
This wouldn't be a problem, really, if it wasn't for Hildegard.  I warned her that my flour wasn't certified gluten-free before she ever ate anything I baked, but I know that if she had looked at the package, she would not have chosen to eat any of it.  Riley stewed for about a week before bringing me the phone and asking me to tell her that we'd been slowly poisoning her for the last semester.  Hildegard actually had a pretty good laugh about it.  I guess the time she sat down and ate six muffins, she felt a little funny, and she has occasionally gotten a small rash.  So it's not exactly "No Harm, No Foul", but we didn't almost kill her.
I can't give up Sorghum Flour, though, even if I have to give up the Indian Version of it.  Sorghum flour doesn't taste like beans.  It has more flavour than rice and less than Millet.  It is a pale yellow, and silky smooth.  It is a good weight when I mix it with some tapioca starch.  It has comparable protein to Quinoa.  It is everything I have wanted it to be, including inexpensive, except certified gluten-free.  I know Bob's Red Mill sells it, but I can't afford that.  More on that point in another post coming soon.
I emailed Twin Valley Mills, in Nebraska, to order some of theirs.  They sell it in a couple of sizes, and I think with shipping it comes out to 15 cents a pound more than what I am paying now.  For you it may be less, and they only process sorghum there.  This was just before Christmas, and they haven't gotten back to me yet.
Anyway, I left Riley stuck in the narrative with another full celiac coming over for pizza, and possibly contaminated flour.  She called me at work and I found this recipe by Carol Fenster, Ph.D. that calls for Brown rice and Tapioca, both of which we had.  This recipe won't work for Hildegard because it uses yeast as a flavoring.  I'm pretty sure that's the only reason to have it in there, because there isn't enough sugar to feed that much yeast, and she doesn't call for any rise time.  We ran out of Tapioca starch and used some corn starch for half of that, and I am not sure if we had gelatin or not.
We were really pleased with how it turned out.  It was a great crispy flat crust, just what Riley likes in a crust of that type.  The kids couldn't or didn't chew it, so we still need the soft crust I was working on, but it got us through the crisis at hand.  I'm not sure what six people she served that to, but I would plan on being able to share that much dough between the two of you.
Wheat-Free and Gluten-Free Pizza Crust recipe

1 tablespoon gluten-free dry yeast
2/3 cup brown rice flour or bean flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 tablespoons dry milk powder or non-dairy milk powder*
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
2/3 cup warm water (105 degrees F)
1/2 teaspoon sugar or 1/4 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In medium bowl using regular beaters (not dough hooks), blend the yeast, flours, dry milk powder, xanthan gum, salt, gelatin powder, and Italian herb seasoning on low speed. Add warm water, sugar (or honey), olive oil, and vinegar. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. (If the mixer bounces around the bowl, the dough is too stiff. Add water if necessary, one tablespoon at a time, until dough does not resist beaters.) The dough will resemble soft bread dough. (You may also mix in bread machine on dough setting.)

Put mixture into 12-inch pizza pan or on baking sheet (for thin, crispy crust), 11 x 7-inch pan (for deep dish version) that has been coated with cooking spray. Liberally sprinkle rice flour onto dough, then press dough into pan, continuing to sprinkle dough with flour to prevent sticking to your hands. Make edges thicker to contain the toppings. Bake the pizza crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread pizza crust with your favorite sauce and toppings. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until top is nicely browned.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Riley's Amaranth Muffins

Hildegard is flying home for the holidays today. Last night she and Riley went to a middle school Jazz concert with the Maestro, while Hildr and I stayed home to read stories about Fish. Before they left, Riley made some muffins with some Amaranth flour that Hildegard had ground.

This is our first experience with Amaranth. Reports have indicated that it is bitter, and requires a goodly amount of sugar. Why would anyone use a bitter flour, I wondered. It turns out that the best way is to use a little bit. This flour was ground fairly course, so it gave a bit of a crunch, like corn meal would. Riley used 1 and 1/4 c the standard 2:1 Sorghum Flour/Tapioca starch, adn 1/4 c Amaranth flour. Not very much. That is enough to provide a considerable flavour and texture without overwhelming either.

Saying something is "Nutty" is a bit over done, so I won't say that Amaranth has a Nutty flavour. I'll say it is dark and husky, and leave it to you to figure out what that means. The texture was quite firm, without being tough. Overall, the effect on texture appears to be similar to brown rice flour, but more so. I think a bit of amaranth is what my pizza crust needs.

Either that, or it was the extra egg, but I don't think so. She started with a different recipe than the one I usually use, and the extra egg appears to be the only difference aside from the changed flour mix. I will have to check this...

Whatever the reason, The Maestro ate 3 and a 1/2 of these for Breakfast this morning.

Riley's Amaranth Muffins

1 1/4 cup 2:1 Sorghum flour/Tapioca Starch
1/4 cup Amaranth Flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan fum
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp oil
3 eggs
3/4 cup rice milk
1/4 tsp vanilla

Monday, December 11, 2006

GF Pizza Crust and Hamburger Buns Beta

UPDATE: Riley made these and wasn't watching the oven closely and it got up to 500 degrees after she put the pizza crust it. It turned out the best ever. Apparently, the key to getting a chewy crust with some bite to it is to bake it fast and hot.

We were planning on having a Celiac Pizza Party tonight. Hildegard knows another celiac in the music department, who was jealous when we had pizza the other night. Then there is the little girl in the Maestro’s pre-school class gets rides with Riley every other week. Her Dad has Celiac disease, and is a scientist here. He also teaches flute, and the Mom is a Double-Bass player. So, there are a lot of intersecting lines that all lead to pizza. Unfortunately, the other girl from the music department is in The City today, the Mom has a cold, and the Scientist Dad is teaching a yoga class until after bed-time. So much for the party.

On a side note, the floutist yoga scientist dad has run some biological assays, (ELISA, I think) that verified that Gulten antibodies react with the gluten-like protein in SOME strains of oats, and not others. That is why the literature on oats tends to be contradictory; they don’t specify what strain they are using and some are yes and some are no.

The lack of party today didn’t stop me from getting ready for it over the week-end. Last time Hildegard brought a crust mix that was very good, but too “crisp” for Hildr and the Maestro. We needed some softer crust, more similar to my favorite, Papa John’s. As I mentioned last week, I had an idea for gluten free pizza crust and hamburger buns that I wanted to try out, based on the yeast-free bread recipe I had come up with for Hildegard. The pizza party is the perfect time to give it a shot.

The recipe is what I used before, except that Hildegard isn’t good on Soy, so I used Rice milk, and took out the soy flour.

Yeast Free Bread

1 ¾ c 2:1 Jowar/Tapioca Flour Mix
¼ c Additional Tapioca Flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp sugar, (or 1 tsp stevia, if making for Hildegard)
2 eggs
1 c milk or rice milk
1/3 c vegetable oil

I’ll give away the ending before you look at all the pictures. I need some brown rice flour in the mix, I think, to firm up the final product.

It turned out pretty runny, like pudding. I like pudding. Pouring it into an oiled cookie sheet and spreading with a spoon gave the following pan cake looking thing:

Cooking it provided this:

The bottom is a little light. I was looking for a softer crust, but this is a little too soft for my tastes.

Pouring the batter onto a sheet (like cow pies) gave the following:

which baked into these:

The inside texture looks good to me, but like the pizza crust, they are still too soft. You know the floppiness of a pancake? These are kind of like that. Floppy, like if you aren’t holding them well enough, the bottom half of the bun is going to sag down. Tasty, yes, but not exactly what I am looking for.

They also didn’t come out symmetrically rounded on top. I was looking for something with C(infinite) symmetry, and these look more like fried eggs from the side.

I cooked this crust in a frying pan with more oil, and sprayed the top lightly with oil. This is closer. Notice that it browned a little better, and the bottom is definitely crisper.

The bottom view:

What do I need to do? Well, they need to be more firm after baking, and a little crustier. What I will try next is to try the addition of some brown rice flour. That improved the structure of my muffins considerably. I’ll keep you posted.