(UPDATED Sunday, May 2nd)
** And the winner is …. Janine! Please contact me at email@example.com with mailing info, then your copy will be on its way! **
If you have been reading for a while, you know I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Barbone’s recipes from her book Easy Gluten-Free Baking. Christmas would not have been the same without those recipes. You can read all about the holiday baking here.
And I put out a teaser a while ago to let you know this was coming.
Now it’s time.
She’s here for a little Q & A.
Be sure to read all the way to the end because there is a sweet surprise. (and by sweet I mean cookies, breads, cake, bars, twinkies, girl scout cookies, ALL gf)
Introducing Elizabeth Barbone, author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking…
Hello! Before I dive into Sarah’s questions, I wanted to thank her for chatting with me! While I currently reside in New York (where I was born and raised), I had the pleasure of spending three years in Wisconsin. I loved it! As a Mount Mary College alumna, Milwaukee feels like a second home. Hopefully I will be able to visit again soon! I’d love to teach a gluten-free class in the area.
Why gluten free baking? Do you have Celiac Disease?
Great question! And it is one I get often. First, I don’t have celiac
disease but I do have severe multiple food allergies. When I was a
student at the Culinary Institute of America, I picked up “Against the
Grain” by Jax Lowell Peters. At that time, I knew nothing about
gluten-free eating. Her words captivated me. I’ve been on a restricted
diet since birth and, honestly, had never really spoken to anyone
about it. Reading Jax’s words resonated with me at a core level.
“These are my people!” I kept thinking.
Later, my allergist asked me if I knew anything about baking
gluten-free. He had a few patients on the gluten-free diet and they
kept mentioning to him how awful the food was. This was in 1997 and,
honestly, the options were pretty slim. The curriculum of the CIA did
not include gluten-free baking. So, I set off on my own. I found a
gluten-free company and did my internship in a gluten-free test
kitchen. I was in love with the work from the beginning. Baking
without gluten? I’d been told it couldn’t be done. But it can be done!
And it can be done wonderfully. I felt like I’d stumbled upon some
baking secret. It was a joyous time for me.
Funny thing happened two years ago: I developed a wheat allergy. I
know this is rather confusing to people because in my first book, I
state that I can eat wheat. And that was true then. It isn’t true
anymore. One day I was experimenting in the kitchen and went to scoop
some flour. My hands ballooned up. They were so swollen that I
couldn’t bend the fingers. After a series of allergy tests, wheat came
up as a problem. So, I eat gluten-free now. And I feel so much better!
How do you even start the overwhelming process of baking with all of these different flours?
I love how many different flour options are available. I try and keep
it simple. I’m lucky to have readers from all over the globe and, even
today, many people can’t get their hands on “exotic” gluten-free
flours. In fact, I live in a fairly small area in upstate New York and
sometimes *I* have trouble finding flours. My philosophy has always
been to use flours that are accessible. I use rice flours and
cornstarch primarily. I’ll also add sorghum flour, tapioca starch and
potato starch to the mix. These are all flours/starches that most
people can get their hands on easily. Working with my palette of
flours, I then sit down to create a recipe and will tinker with it
until it is just like its wheat counterpart.
What can you substitute for cake flour for a gf recipe?
I wish I had an easy answer for you. In my experience, there isn’t an
all-purpose gluten-free flour blend. To me, they are all lacking. I’d
have to look at a recipe, see what’s in it. I’d look at the liquefiers
(butter, oil, shortening and sugars) and the stabilizers (eggs, wheat
flour). Only then could I recommend a good replacement because each
recipe has different needs. Recipes are like people: they are touchy!
Do you use any of the flour blends?
Ha! I should have read ahead. I really don’t like flours blends. They
eat up counter space if you make them yourself and are expensive if you
buy them. Plus, the results are often not great. One of the things I
am proudest of is when people try my recipes they always, always say,
“I’d never have guessed that was gluten-free.” I work super hard to
ensure that my recipes aren’t gritty or heavy or gummy or “off.” If
someone if going to spend their time in the kitchen and their money on
baking supplies, I want them to have a great experience. Flour blends,
for me, aren’t a great experience.
What is YOUR favorite recipe from your book?
1. My Easy Sandwich Bread recipe. I worked so hard on this recipe. So
very hard. I wanted to create a recipe that someone who’d never baked
a loaf of bread could make successfully AND I wanted it to be tasty. A
tall order for gluten-free bread. I worked for a long time on this
recipe. Today it is the recipe I get the most comments on. When I
teach it during classes, people cry because they’ve not been able to
make bread. After the class, they feel so empowered and so hopeful. My
little bread recipe has affected the lives of many but none more than
mine. For this reason, I will always love it.
2. Chocolate Chip Cookies. At this point, and I am not kidding, I
think I’ve made thousands these chocolate chip cookies. They are
wonderful! Sweet, crisp and buttery. In life, sometimes you just need
a good cookie. For me, that means making a batch of my chocolate chip
cookies. In fact, if someone were to make me a batch, I think I’d love
them forever! This is one powerful chocolate chip cookie!
3. Pumpkin Bread. I love converting recipes for people. Rosie, one of
my early newsletter readers, sent me her family’s recipe for pumpkin
bread. It was the only thing she’d ever baked. But, boy, did she bake
it! There was always a loaf of it around the house. After her
diagnosis, she was no longer able to make the bread. I played with the
recipe and finally perfected it for her. Being able to return a
beloved food to a someone is one of my favorite things! And, really,
Rosie’s bread is great! It contains orange juice, which sounds weird,
but really isn’t! The bread is super moist and flavorful. I love it!
Hmm, I might have to go and make a loaf!
If I want to convert a family favorite recipe to gluten free, can I substitute any of the gluten free flours together? Or does it have to be specific mixture to work?
Gluten-free baking is specific. Again, this is why I don’t really like
blends. If you want to convert a family recipe, play with some
different flours. Or you could send the recipe to me! I love
converting them for folks!
Can we expect another book in the future?
I can’t say too much. But the answer is…YES! And I am very, very excited!
Do you work with tapioca flour? It has an off taste to me. What could I substitute instead of tapioca starch/flour and still get the same results?
It’s funny you ask this. Someone just asked me about this on Facebook.
You can use either all cornstarch or 50% cornstarch and 50% potato
starch. Also, try switching brands before you cut out tapioca starch
Any general baking tips for newbie bakers? Yes! Here are five tips:
1. Invest in a good set of measuring cups and spoons. Gluten-free
baking is finicky and requires correct measuring. The spoon you eat
cereal from? That’s not a baking teaspoon! Don’t measure with it! A
set of nested measuring cups and spoons are the keys to good baking!
2. Have all of your ingredients on hand. Nothing is worse than
deciding to make a pan of brownies only to find out that you don’t
have any chocolate in the house 1/2 through making the recipe. Pull
out everything you’ll need before you start baking!
3. Create homemade mixes. I talk about this in my book. Since I don’t
do a “flour blend”, I like to pre-measure the dry ingredients for
recipes I use a lot. When you buy a gluten-free mix, this is all
they’ve done for you! You can save money by doing it yourself. I have
one reader who make up a dozen bread mixes. She has four kids that eat
gluten-free and she goes through a lot of bread!
4. Get an Oven Thermometer. Ovens can be off. Nothing is worse than a
pan of cookies burning that you’ve spent time and money creating. An
oven thermometer ensures that your oven is behaving correctly.
5. Decide what you miss. Eating gluten-free can be overwhelming. Often
folks feel they “should” learn how to bake bread or pizza dough. The
word “should” is one of my least favorite words! If you aren’t missing
bread but are dying for a Twinkie, make a gluten-free Twinkie! The
“Tastes Like” chapter in my book came about because students were
saying to me, “You know what I really miss….” They’d always be shy
before they’d tell me they wanted an Oreo or something. It’s okay!
Decide what foods you miss–don’t judge yourself for it–and then head
into the kitchen.
Isn’t she a gem?
And it gets better. She has generously offered a copy of her book for one of you!
Leave a comment below with YOUR favorite thing to bake gluten free.
You’ll be entered into the random drawing that will end on FRIDAY, APRIL 30th at 5pm CST. (in time for happy hour)
Easy right? Just like the recipes in her book. Looking forward to the next one!