Tag Archives: mix

What happens when you cook with corn starch?

9 Sep

I finally found potato starch in this town, but I thought I’d share the results of my experiments using corn starch instead.

I found that corn starch absorbs a LOT more water than potato starch. A whole lot more! Like twice as much, at least! This may be useful for adding moisture to products, but if you don’t make major changes to the recipe, you’ll end up with BRICKS. Heavy, hard, not-very-appetizing bricks!

The other thing about corn starch is that it doesn’t brown well. The bread I made, that contained only a very small amount of it, was pale and hard on top, and did not brown even when toasted. This might be corrected by adding more sugar, but that would throw everything else off.

Bottom line: if you’re going to use corn starch for baking, expect a lot of trial and error before you get a good result. My advice is to keep corn starch for thickening sauces, and not use it for other stuff.


How to Choose Gluten Free Products

17 Aug

Now that I’m living in a new area, I’m having to familiarize myself with new products to replace some of my old standbys. There are a few things I look at carefully when choosing gluten-free products.

  1. Nutrition. If the main ingredients in a product are white rice flour and any kind of starch, I stay away from it. These products are usually nutritionally empty — not much better for you than cotton candy! It’s important to choose whole-grain flours when you’re eating gluten-free, because most GF flours aren’t fortified.
  2. Flavor. Different flours have different flavors. Personally, I really dislike the taste of garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour. A little is fine, but when it’s one of the main flours a product uses, I usually don’t like the product’s taste. Notice what flours you like/dislike by reading ingredient lists of products you try. Use your observations to help you choose new products that you’ll enjoy.
  3. Texture. There are a lot of gluten-free products out there these days that have excellent textures. Finding foods that have a texture you like, and also meet your nutritional and flavor requirements, can be tricky. Recipes that use some starch, in addition to whole grain flours, generally have a soft texture that’s more similar to wheat-based products. 100% whole grain products will be grainier and denser (which is nice, sometimes).

Finding new products and checking their ingredients is time-consuming, but once you have a list of go-to products, your life will be much easier.

I bet by now you’re getting pretty good at reading labels, aren’t you?

Gluten Free Raisin Bread Mix

14 Aug

This morning I mixed up some Bob’s Red Mill Raisin Bread. And mmmmmmmm…. good stuff!

I did not use a mixer (just a spoon) and let it rise a little longer than recommended. Probably shouldn’t have, because it fell a little in the middle. I also sprinkled some cinnamon and sugar on the top, because I like my raisin bread kind of sweet, and this mix isn’t very sweet.

I thought I’d overbaked it (I used the recommended 60-65 minutes), but when we cut into it, it was moist and delicious.

Definitely a good Saturday treat!

Using Gluten Free Flour Mix — Do I HAVE To?

16 Jul

Well, no. But in most cases, you’ll wish you had.

When I first started doing gluten free cooking, I did not want to mess with a flour mix. I didn’t understand or believe that it was necessary — after all, wheat flour works just fine by itself, shouldn’t I be able to just substitute with rice flour or something?

If only it were that simple. For most recipes, using just one type of gluten free flour doesn’t work.

There are lots of different flour mixes available, usually a combination of rice flour, other flours, and starches.  The ratios and particular flours used in a mix affect the flavor and texture of the finished product. They may use bean flours, quinoa flour, rice flour, buckwheat flour (which is not related to wheat), and various starches.

Some flour mixes are best suited to substantial baked goods, like breads. Others are better suited to tender cakes, muffins, or cookies. I use my flour mix for almost everything, but add extra rice flour or starch to give the texture I want. For me, that’s just simpler.

Next time you go shopping, pick up

  • 2 bags of brown rice flour
  • 1 bag of sorghum flour
  • 1 bag of tapioca starch
  • 1 bag of potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1 bag of sweet white rice flour (also called glutinous white rice flour, which does not contain gluten) edit: you won’t use the whole bag for the mix, just 1 cup.
  • Xanthan gum (use this in individual recipes, not in the mix)
  • Baking powder, if you don’t already have it (this is also measured for individual recipes, and not in the mix)

After you’ve made your flour mix, having the mix and the extra brown rice flour, xanthan gum, and baking powder on hand will make your life much easier. Baking isn’t hard. Gluten free baking isn’t hard. Having the right ingredients readily available is the first step.

If you live in an area where you can’t buy some of these items in a store, order them online (Amazon sells them, as do other places).