Friday, November 30, 2007

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit


Well what I really wanted to title this post was; Rice Flour and Potato Starch are Not the Only Substitutes for Wheat Flour. But it wasn't that catchy you know?



What I am fumbling to say is that there are so many grains out there that don't contain gluten, so why do all gluten free recipe books seem to focus on the white tasteless ones? The starches that rush into your bloodstream like an overenthusiastic puppy and stress out your poor old pancreas? I thought this way of eating was supposed to be for my health, right?



I've been trawling Amazon for something interesting to get my teeth into baking wise and there I found book after book that simply substituted a 'gluten free flour mix' for wheat flour in everything from cakes, to pastry to bread.



But grains have a taste! Root starches have subtly different tastes. Nuts can be made into flour and boy do they have rich and varied flavours.



Go into any bookshop and there will be an artisan baking book, full of luscious images of, dark sourdough rye breads, fluffy Danish milk bread, oily focaccia, wholemeal loaves, and dense barley breads; all celebrating wheat, rye and barley in a fantastic way. So what do we gluten free bakers try to do? We try to emulate these breads. Forgetting momentarily that what we have is the opportunity to make breads and baked goods that celebrate the qualities of all the different grains available to us - the gluten free ones.



I made some Teff bread last night and when it came out of the oven I tore off a piece of the crisp crust to taste it. The loaf inside was dark and dense like a sourdough rye and when I bit into the crust I thought - 'ooh, that's got a bit of a bran flake taste to it' (bearing in mind that it's a good many years since a bran flake came anywhere near me). What I was unconsciously doing was trying to liken it to bread I had tasted before - to see if it measured up. When I tasted it for itself I realised that the Teff was nutty and moist, ok it did have Rye like qualities, but it was also something in itself. It had a slight bitterness too which might need softening, but made the loaf pleasingly adult.



The nuttiness was great with peanut butter. I decided to experiment with other nutty flours to play up the flavour of the Teff, maybe even stud the loaf with some walnuts? Hmmm.



If anyone knows of a gluten free recipe book, other than Shauna Ahern's delightful Gluten Free Girl, that uses some more interesting grains and pushes the boundaries of interesting food a little - please let me know. Meanwhile; I'm working on it.