The Main Menu: Try some gluten-free recipes

Gluten is increasingly causing problems these days. More people complain about being sensitive to the gluten contained in wheat, reporting a number of medical conditions from mild discomfort to a full celiac condition. There are also people who are allergic to gluten which causes an anaphylactic reaction when they eat products containing it. For these sensitive people, removal of gluten from the diet is essential.

Gluten is the protein in flour which gives flour its strength. It allows bread to rise and maintain a beautiful full volume. It allows cakes to rise and stay risen. Canada produces the best, high gluten flour in the world, ideal for making bread and pasta. However, it is this gluten which can cause havoc.

Rice flour, corn flour, potato flour, chick pea flour, nut flours, quinoa flour, and bean flours are all low in gluten. These flours may be used in combination (usually two or three) in a recipe to make up the amount of wheat flour called for. For instance, a cake calling for 2 cups of wheat flour could have 1 1/2 cups of chick pea flour and 3/4 cup of rice flour to make up the 2 cups of wheat flour.

The substitution of lesser gluten flours will not produce the same texture or taste as wheat flour. The gluten in flour is critical in producing a nicely raised cake of even texture, whereas flours of lesser gluten content produces a cake of less volume, and a somewhat different taste. However, by using this substitution, it does mean someone who is sensitive to gluten can have a cake, bread, a muffin or a cookie otherwise denied to them.

The following recipes are from friends who have had to remove gluten from their diet, and have experimented with a variety of non-wheat flours to produce baked goods they enjoyed.

Noella Kyser, who is gluten sensitive and an excellent cook, has experimented with a variety of flours to find a combination which works for her in recipes. These flours are available in health food stores and The Bulk Barn.
Noella finds these crepe-like pancakes delicious for breakfast or snacks. Snacks are often hard to find for the gluten sensitive, and she enjoys these with a little honey or hazelnut butter.

2/3 cup (150 mL) almond milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2 tbsp (25 mL) arrowroot flour
3 tbsp (45 mL) each, brown rice flour and quinoa flour

In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together arrowroot flour, brown rice flour and quinoa flour. Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened. Spray a non-stick pan with baking spray and heat over medium-high heat until a drop of water on the pan sizzles. Pour half the batter onto pan to make one pancake. Repeat to make second pancakes. When bubbles appear on surface of pancake, and when edges are a deep golden brown, gently flip pancake and cook until the other side is golden brown. Serve immediately.


Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Glaze
Barb Betts has experimented with a variety of low gluten flours to find some that work well. She makes this apple cake batter  into a bundt cake or into muffins. Yummy!

1 cup (250 mL) each, brown and granulated sugars
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
1 3/4 cups (425 mL) chick pea flour
1 1/2 cups ( 375 mL) rice flour
2 tsp (10 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) nutmeg
1/2 tsp (2 mL) powdered gelatin
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 L) baking soda
2 cups (500 mL) peeled, quartered, thinly sliced apples
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts (optional)

Caramel Frosting
1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
1/4 cup (60 mL) light cream or milk

Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Spray 9 inch (23 cm) bundt pan with baking spray. Using an electric mixer, beat brown and granulated sugars with vegetable oil and eggs until thick and light in colour. In a separate bowl, stir together chick pea flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, gelatin, salt and baking soda together until well mixed. Gradually beat flour mixture into liquid mixture until well combined. Fold in apples and walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan; bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring brown sugar, butter and cream to the boil; boil four minutes. Remove from heat. Once cake has cooled, unmold and pour frosting over cake. Variation: to make muffins, preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Line 20 muffin cups with muffin papers and spoon batter into muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer.

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