Wednesday, August 10, 2011

GF Experiment Diary 1

      Being ten days into the gluten/refined sugar free experiment I'm ready for a rant.  For your sake I'll do my best to hold off.  In the last week and a half we've done some experimenting - some acceptable results, some not so much - and I think if we had researched it at all before we started . . . . well, we would have done our absolute best to talk mom out of it.  Really, the gluten free concept is not that difficult to deal with (except for the lack of really good bread) but to try get good baked goods without using refined sugar is proving near impossible.  There are currently two camps in our house: one that says, "Give back the gluten and we'll live without sugar," and the other that would prefer it the other way 'round.
  In any case, pull up a chair and I'll take you through what has been working and what hasn't.  :)

  I tried to adapt our recipe for Aussie Bits to  gluten free today, even though it would be safe to assume my oats have been contaminated with wheat.  (Common scenario, apparently.  Who knew?)  I made half a batch, just in case.  Result: not quite what they should have been.  I left the brown sugar out and increased the honey a little (not enough); I left out the dried fruit because a few people in my family find it unappealing, so I used a handful of chopped nuts instead; I substituted sorgum flour for the wheat flour (not bad, taste-wise and there wasn't the grit that goes with rice flour); I took a cue from other recipes I'd seen online and added an egg to aid the binding process.  They didn't look bad, but they were kind-of bland and really crumbly.  It made me want to crumble them up, dry them out in a low oven and pour milk over the crispy bits for breakfast tomorrow.  :)

  Last week we tried two different variations on gluten free cake for mom's birthday, which I won't bother including a link for.  Both were adapted to fit the processed sugar free rule; one was sweetened with honey, the other with rice syrup.   I was not impressed.  Could be my irritating prefectionistic tendency, but I consider the experiment a failure.  Sure it was edible, but it wasn't a good edible.  The honey version was sweet, and though it didn't rise like it should have, the dense texture wasn't offensive.  The brown rice syrup version was gummy, bland and lacked any attempt at impressive personality.  Oh - and for the record: don't bother trying to sweeten whipping cream with liquid stevia.  It doesn't taste nice.  :P
  We've been using the basic sandwich bread recipe, also from King Arthur Flour, with mixed opinions.  It isn't amazing, but it will do - until we can find something better.  It makes decent toast if you pop it down twice and watch so it doesn't burn; but as far as "I feel like a good, simple piece of chewy crusted bread spread with some nice butter" moments, it sort of misses the mark.  Although, I do have to admit I felt a little better today when I bought a loaf of commercial gluten-free bread - Sharpi spit it out.  No really, it was that BAD.  Can any one say, "tasteless sawdust the consistency of sand"?  I really really hope the gluten free pasta isn't a repeat of the commercial bread thing.

  It isn't all bad.  We've found a coconut 'candy' recipe that mom really likes.  And our pizza crust for supper was surprisingly nice.  It was a bit more thin, crispy style than I usually like, but I wasn't going to complain.  I was eating pizza for goodness sake!  (Tomato sauce, bacon, caramelized onions, fresh basil and just enough cheese.  Mmmm, yummy!  I wish we had left-overs . . .)  My only "not impressed" moment was when I tried to lift the slices off the pan.  For as much olive oil as I poured on the pan, that thing should not have stuck at all.  I should have taken pictures for y'all, but we were so hungry by the time it came out of the oven there was no time for pictures.  Hmm . . . a re-creation might be in order.  :)


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