Friday, October 29, 2010

Homemade Baking Mixes, Simplified

When I published my post "Homemade Baking Mixes," I worried how it contained so many possibilities that it might overwhelm many of you. In the past, I have experimented with an array of different flours and mixes. However, in the past year or so, I have really been in simplifying mode. I have enjoyed using the same mix for most my baking. That is the 1/3 part brown rice flour, 1/3 part oat flour, and 1/3 part bean and starch mixture- 1/3 of the bean and starch portion is bean and 2/3 of that is starch. For the starch I usually use 50% cornstarch and 50% tapioca starch. (Potato starch works great 50% with tapioca, if you have that on hand). For the bean flour, I usually use dry lentils, ground in the blender.

This is a very economical mix for me, especially when I buy oats in bulk. I know if you buy gluten-free certified oats the price goes up, but I'm guessing in comparison with other gluten-free certified products, you still will have a good priced mix.* This mix is a nutritious mix with good flavor and balance of texture. It has a sweet and nutty taste. The texture is moist, and not grainy. It feels great to know that when my girls are eating banana bars or muffins or bread and honey for a snack, the flour that I used is nutritious and wholesome. It's almost all whole grain.

For traditional-type cakes(ie yellow, white, or chocolate), I still consider a more light-weight gluten-free mix, such as rice and starch. But even if the mix is rice flour and starch, I use brown rice flour. I see that there are many mix recipes out there that have rice flour, starch, and garbanzo bean flour, and I think that is a good possibility for more traditional cakes, too. When I bake cakes or cupcakes such as banana, zucchini, or pumpkin, I use my all-purpose oat/rice/bean/starch mix. These more wholesome cakes have been more satisfying to me and my kids than the couple of traditional white cakes that I've baked for them. One of my favorite birthday cakes was my daughter's kabocha squash cupcakes I baked for her first birthday. They were deliciously flavorful and moist. We had coconut cooked frosting on top that really complemented the pumpkin flavor.

There are many good possibilities for baking without wheat. I do recommend checking out my other post "Homemade Baking Mixes" just so you're aware of many options. Perhaps you'd like to be in experimental mode with many different flours and mixes like I was for the first couple years. For me right now, however, it's great to have a simplified system of purchasing the same few ingredients, and with bulk prices, and to be eating whole grain products. I created this post to help simplify if any of you are overwhelmed. Perhaps my family again will venture to use alternate grains such as millet, quinoa, and teff at times in baking. I think it is a good idea to have a variety of healthy grains. But then those could be used in cooking rather than in baking mixes. Millet works great in any dish where rice is used, for example, you can have a millet stir fry instead of rice stir fry. Or easier, millet mixed with tomato sauce is something my girls like instead of spanish rice. Quinoa is also good for stir fry. I've made a chicken-basil bell pepper quinoa stir fry that I really like. (The girls didn't go for it, but I think they might go for quinoa- chicken-soy sauce stir fry).

*By grinding my own flour at home, I save significantly. I buy oats and rice in bulk. Oats and lentils grind in a blender to make flour. If you have a VitaMix or grain mill, you'll be able to grind rice into flour as well, or alternate kinds of beans, like white beans. I've even tried grinding white beans in a little cereal grinder, and though the flour was a little courser-textured, it was satifactory.

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