Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Doorstop Disasters and Lunchbox Successes

Each time I try to come up with a new gluten free/dairy free recipe I am confronted with the very real posibility that it will fail. Even three years into this adventure of gluten free baking, I fail miserably sometimes. The other day I was working on a new bread recipe and I knew before the dough was even through the mixing stage that it wasn't going to work. It had a consistency of gritty, lumpy cement. So, I threw it out amidst pointed questions from my husband about why didn't I just try to bake it. See how it turns out. After all, I worked so hard on it and isn't that stuff expensive? Well, sometimes you just know. That dough was only going to make a super doorstop. No thanks. I could take no more humiliation that night. So, I put it where it belonged...the trash.
I wish I could tell you that I just moved on and tried the next day with spirits raised and a spring in my step, as they say. Nope. I was embarassed and felt dejected. It took me a solid week or so, to try my new bread recipe again with some tweaks and adjustments. I'm pretty satisfied with it at this point. I'll get it into the post at a later date. BTdubs...I have been using a fabulous recipe from the book Gluten-Free Baking With the Culinary Institute of America.This book rocks! I've learned so much and I am constantly referencing it for my own recipes. It even looks liked a well-loved book. All dog-eared and stained...I love it! But, I digress... My point is this...You are going to make mistakes. You will get frustrated from time to time. You may even put away your measuring cups and your Kitchen Aid (I covered mine up with a kitchen towel once for a week. I felt it was taunting me.) until you can breathe without feeling like you're choking on your failure. Gluten free and dairy free baking is loaded with small nuances that bring with it a steep learning curve. Rest your nerves on this however; with each goof or utter failure, comes a lesson learned or a chemical reaction uncovered. I suggest keeping good notes on each of your baking experiments That way you will have a reference point that is in your own words and therefore easy for you to quickly understand. I have a notebook filled with different outcomes on various baking trials. On the cover I have written in bold black Sharpie, something Spongebob said to his snail Garry when he refused to take a bath. It says, "You have duped and/or frustrated me for the last time!" It reminds me that all of the challenges we face with gluten-free baking are really opportunities for improvement and successes. (Plus, it makes me laugh. Spongebob is HUGE in our house! We're not alone, are we?)
If you want to improve and increase your collection of go-to recipes, you have to make sure that you don't give up. That you get yourself back into the kitchen and try, try again. Give ourself plenty of opportunities to fall flat on your face and conversely to open up that oven and know your family will be smiling and asking for more, please! Success! The other day I was inspired to create an Almond Butter and Jelly Muffin. Oh how kids love peanut butter and jelly in all its forms. So, since my 6-year-old Isaiah is allergic to peanuts, we use Almond Butter. I think I might try to make my own because dang, it's expensive. At least the variety that doesn't require you to spend twenty minutes mixing the deep layer of oil sitting on top into the rest of the glop, is expensive. But, I splurged for this recipe. You know guys, just feel free to use peanut butter if you're able or really any nut butter that makes your kids lips smack the happiest. These muffins are delicious. But guess what? I struggled. My first batch was way too crumbly. My second batch had so much jelly in them that they stuck to the muffin tin and all effort to dislodge them pierced the muffin and shattered them. So, I persisted. I was in the mood to succeed. What can I say, it happens. Plus, I knew what was wrong. I left out the xanthan gum. Oops. I know better than that. So, make these gluten free/dairy free Almond Butter and Jelly Muffins for a yummy lunchbox treat or an healthy, protein packed start to your day for breakfast. You'll find this Gluten Free Flour mix very versatile with quick breads and muffins.I have been so inspired by throughout the passed three years and this flour mix is a direct result of that inspiration. I've only used it in quick breads and muffins so far. I am anticipating coming up with a different mix to use for different gluten free baked goodies, so I'll let you know. Almond Butter and Jelly Muffins 1 3/4 cups GF flour mix (see recipe to follow) 3/4 cup light brown sugar 2 tsp GF baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp cream of tartar 1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp xanthan gum 1/2 cup Canola oil 1/2 cup rice milk 1 tsp vanilla 2 eggs 1/2 cup almond butter, mixed well jar of your favorite preserves Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 375 degrees F for high altitude) and line 15 muffin tins with paper liners or grease thoroughly, if you prefer. In a large bowl, whisk together the GF flour mix, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon, and salt until well blended. In another bowl, whisk together the Canola oil, milk, vanilla, and eggs. When the mixture is well blended add the almond butter and whisk away until all the ingredients are incorporated. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until just blended. Fill each muffin cup 1/4 full.
Add 1 tsp of the preserves in center of each muffin cup,
then add enough batter to fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.
Try to be careful, as you want all of the preserves to be covered so you don't get a leaky mess. I know from experience! Enjoy the final product...I promise, it's a winner and absolutely perfect in a lunchbox or do what I do, send it with your little one(s) for a much needed afternoon snack. Kindergarten is so tough! My Isaiah told me, "Mommy, remember, I'm just a small boy." Small boys need a snack with an energy kick to it like these muffins...
Gluten Free Flour Mix 1 Cup plus, 1 tsp Brown Rice Flour 1 1/2 Cups plus, 2 TBS Sweet White Sorghum flour 1/2 cup plus, 2 tsp Arrowroot Starch 1/2 cup Potato Starch Whisk all together until completely incorporated and store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Brown Rice Flour can turn rancid, so keep it cool.

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I look forward to any and all comments from readers. Feel free to correct me, enlighten me, and encourage me!