Gluten-Free Girl & The Chef

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I’m sure you’ve all heard of Gluten-Free Girl by now. If you haven’t, then you had better go through my blog roll on the right hand side of the page. There are some wonderful bloggers out there who are happy to give away any advice they can in order to make your life more beautiful and a hell of a lot easier.

One of them is Gluten Free Girl, Shauna James Ahern. She’s been blogging for quite a few years now, and she’s held the attention of thousands because of her delicious food, her frankness, and her amazing story of survival. You can actually read all about it in her first book: Gluten-Free Girl. I read this, and although I knew quite a bit of the story from her blog it was also nice to get some more insight into what makes GFG tick.

She’s been on the trail recently promoting her newest work: Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. I haven’t had the opportunity to read this work yet, but once the library has it (and I have time) you’ll be sure to see me deep within its pages. If you decide to click the above link you will see that there is a video on the same page. Do not skip over this. Watch the beauty of their love and their story.

The most important link in this post, however, is this one. It’s the link to her blog. It’s the kind of blog I can only dream about hosting (at least right now). The layout is beautiful, the pictures are spectacular, and the food is out of this world.

Lately GFG has been moving away from using xantham and guar gum. I’m also interested in shifting myself away from using these two ingredients. While I assumed they were the base for any decent gluten free baked good, I was proved wrong by her most recent whole grain muffin recipe. Everyone always talks about how the gums are necessary to get a decent texture out of gluten free grains, but I am definitely calling shenanigans on that statement. There are actually cultures in this world that don’t use glutenous grains to make breads (arrowroot bread in the Pacific Islands anyone?), and they don’t use xantham or guar gum to enhance the texture.

Back to Gluten Free Girl, Mrs. Ahern. She and her spouse, The Chef, have also released a basic recipe for making your own nearly whole grain all purpose flour blend. There’s no specific flours you need to buy or use. You can pretty much use what you have on hand (but blends still produce the best overall products in the end).

The blend is seventy percent whole grain flour and thirty percent starch. The best way to get such precision is to use a kitchen scale, and they aren’t too hard to get your hands on these days (and they aren’t much money either). So, let’s say you’ve got a few different whole grain gluten free flours around. You’d take seven-hundred grams in any amount of each grain to make the whole grain portion of the blend. The next step would be to measure out three-hundred grams of starch (she recommends using at least two types, like corn and potato).

Once you have the two portions mix them together well (sifting is always a good option, or you can whisk and fold the flours together by hand).

Voila! You have an all purpose mix that is high in whole grain goodness, but that makes delicious baked goods. This is especially important now that I am seeing so many ready made gluten free products using the cheaper processed flours that aren’t whole grain. I’m also noticing a strong trend toward including high fructose corn syrup under its new names, and toward including a lot of modified food starches. I’d rather be able to bake the same product in my own kitchen, and I can tell you that I have no HFCS or MFS hanging around.

So, there’s no reason to wait. Grab what you’ve got, and get baking!

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4 Responses to Gluten-Free Girl & The Chef

  1. I love Shauna and all of her gluten-free work; her cookbook is amazing and she is so inspiring. Thank you for writing this beautiful post…love how you have no HFCS or MFS hanging around as I am the same way…I love making my own delicious gluten-free dishes using well made gluten-free flours and wholesome products. Keep up the great blogging! So happy to have found your gluten-free website!

  2. Hey Amanda… I echo your and Healthy Apple’s sentiments. No HFCS or MFS! To the point of the nutritional value of whole grain GF flour blends versus those made from refined and modified starches, you might be interested in this recent post I did comparing 9 flour blends, including the Artisan GF Blend:

    http://noglutennoproblem.blogspot.com/2011/01/great-gluten-free-all-purpose-flour.html

    I’ll be adding two more flour blends to the comparison as soon as I hear back from those companies.

    Also, in terms of xanthan gum-free GF baking, my experience has been that the most successful recipes to do so benefit heavily from the use of eggs, where the albumin and other proteins do some of the job of the gluten or xanthan gum in other recipes. Melissa at Gluten Free for Good has had great success using duck eggs (I think) in lieu of conventional eggs. She’s not sure why they work so much better, but they do the job well!

    Cheers, Pete

    • amanda says:

      Fantastic post Pete! I love the breakdown, and I was surprised at some of the outcomes. The Tom Sawyer has so much fiber in it for being one of the “not whole-grain” flours.

      I’m happy with where your mix placed (and it’s still the best in performance), and I wasn’t surprised by the fiber and protein content of the Bob’s Red Mill AP flour. I can’t use the BRM AP flour too much though because it really can taste like blood (metallic). I’m curious about the micronutrient content of the blends, because I think that will show a LOT. If you do that part, please let me know.

      I have had a duck egg omelette before and so I can see from that why they would give so much loft to the baked goods, as well as texture. I sure wouldn’t mind eating some duck eggs! I just can’t source them right now.

      I remember reading Bette Hagman’s books when I first went gluten free, and she didn’t use XG or GG as far as I can remember, but she use a ton of eggs! It really made her stuff higher in calories and fats than I was used to seeing, but I’m more okay with that now if eaten in moderation versus using the gums.

      Any testing of that happening in your kitchen? Removing the XG from your mix?

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