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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cinnamon Girl

Reader-submitted question: Are you allergic to gluten?

No, but someone else in my household has celiac disease, which is a gluten sensitivity.

Gluten-free baking is a huge headache. No other flour bakes the way wheat flour does. The first few times I tried to make cookies with rice flour, they shattered as I took them off the cookie sheet. I almost cried. I thought I was messing up the recipe, but it turns out that wheat flour holds together much, much better than any other flour when baked.

So far, I have found exactly two gluten-free recipes that are really good: a cinnamon loaf made with rice and corn flours and oatmeal cookies made with sorghum flour. Everything else is just terrible. I hardly ever bake now: I'm not a fantastic baker, but I'm not bad, and it pains me to spend lots of time creating something that just ends up in the trash.

A few specialty shops sell gluten-free breads and pizza crusts, but they're not very good. I don't like any of the substitutes you can buy in stores; instead, we eat rice and potatoes. I've found one brand of rice lasagna that's not half bad, but it's really more stress than it's worth. You can't just drain the noodles after boiling: you actually have to dry each one individually with a paper towel. Yes, it's weird. No, it's not tasty enough to be worth all of the time you'll spend drying noodles.

If you have celiac disease and like to bake, I highly recommend sorghum flour, which you can buy in your local health-food store (or order from the south, if you live north of 60). It is an acceptable substitute if you have a recipe that doesn't call for much flour.

I also highly recommend Ricki's blog for lots of recipes that don't require gluten.

Thanks for your question.


Ricki said...

Aww, thanks for the shout-out! I know it's a bit of a pain, but certain things (like nut-butter based cookies) are still pretty good w/o gluten flours. And I've been told that Bob's Red Mill makes an all-purpose GF blend that can be substituted one-for-one with regular flour. :)

Anonymous said...

give these a whirl:

The Coconut Diaries said...

There is a woman who works in my office that tried to make a gluten-free thankgiving dinner for her daughter and she wouldn't eat it. So I guess, this festive season, I am thankful that I am not allergic to gluten and that I can eat all the cookies my ass can stand before it rips open my pants