Gluten Free Baking Class 1 – Apple Streusel Muffins & Banana Nut Bread

Back to class last Sunday, three more topics to take and I will have completed my Baking Arts Certificate. I am getting antsy to be done!

This time around, I am enrolled in Gluten Free Baking. I am learning to take baked goods we eat all the time and modify the recipes to be gluten free.

Many people have an intolerance to gluten. What is gluten you ask? It is a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it causes illness in people with celiac disease.

Standard – chef’s pants and steel toes

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This class begins by scrubbing down our work spaces. Now, for serious gluten free baking it is essential that the baking be done in a space where no wheat flour has been used. To fully say a product is gluten free means that not only were gluten free ingredients used, but also that it was baked in an environment where there is no contamination with wheat products, an area where wheat products were not also used. So, although I am baking something with gluten free ingredients, it is not baked in a gluten free environment. For those with a gluten allergy, this matters a great deal.

On the menu for class was banana nut bread and apple streusel muffins. The difference here is that instead of typical all purpose or whole wheat flour we used gluten free flours such as potato starch, rice flour, soy flour, bean flour, arrowroot starch, tapioca starch and sorghum flour.

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What are these ingredients? Here’s a quick low- down on each:
Potato Starch Flour – a gluten free thickening agent that can be used for cream based soups and sauces.

Tapioca Flour – a light, white and smooth flour that comes from the cassava root. Good for bread recipes.

Soy Flour – Nutty flavour, high protein and fat content. Used in combination with other flours such as tapioca flour and good for brownies or goods baked with nuts or fruit.

Cornstarch – A refined starch that comes from corn. Used as a thickening agent for puddings, fruit sauces and Asian cooking. Can also be used along with other flours in baking.

Corn Flour – A flour milled from corn and can be blended with cornmeal to make cornbread or muffins. Good for pancakes or waffles.

Cornmeal – Ground corn that comes from yellow or white corn. Often combined with flours for baking but it has a strong corn flavour. Also good for waffles, pancakes or white cakes.

White Rice Flour – An excellent basic flour for gluten free baking. Milled and polished white rice. Typically bland, it works well in baking because it doesn’t give extra flavour.

Brown Rice Flour – Comes from unpolished brown rice. It contains bran and is good for breads, muffins and cookies.

Xanthan Gum – This is from the dried cell coat of a micro organism called Xanthomonas campestris. It works as a gluten substitution in yeast breads and other baked goods. It is a gelling agent or thickener.

Guar gum – Also a gelling agent or thickener. It is the powder from the seed of a plant called Cyamopsis testragonolious.

Gluten free baking involves creating flour blends using the ingredients above. When paired with each other in various weights, they all play a role in making delicious and satisfying gluten free baked goods.

So, here’s what I made in class…

The giant rotating ovens that I think were too hot and browned my banana nut bread a little too much….

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Apple Streusal Muffins

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In terms of texture, neither was dry or “cardboardy”, most likely due to the moistness of the fruit in each recipe. The banana nut bread needed some vanilla flavouring, it lacked some ooompf. I did enjoy the apple Streusal muffins, especially the Streusal topping. Both work well for breakfast.

Until next class, we’re making some cookies! =)

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