Saturday, August 1, 2009
Gluten-Free Baking, Take One
Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake
I've always been a better cook than I am a baker. I'm not very good at measuring precisely, and recipes are more like general guidelines to me. Perhaps this is why I never excelled in chemistry. I much prefer cooking, where I can taste as I go and season as the mood strikes me. The only reason I bake, really, is because I love to eat what I make. Unfortunately, gluten-free baking is kind of like advanced chemistry. Every ingredient is essential for a different reason, and getting the amounts correct makes a huge difference. Now that I've rejoined the gluten-free world, and this time for good, I have to learn the science behind gluten-free goodies.
To start, I picked a couple of recipes I wanted to try and headed to the gluten free mall where I ordered a medley of flour alternatives (potato starch, sorghum flour, corn meal, and the essential xantham gum). My package arrived only two days later, and I happily planned my first gluten-free baking expedition.
I hurried home from work today, excited to make gluten-free cinnamon rolls. I found a scrumptious looking recipe at I Am Gluten Free, and armed with my potato starch and xantham gum, began measuring away. I followed the recipe almost exactly, making only two changes. I brushed the rolled dough with melted butter before adding the filling (because that's what my mom does). And for the filling, I used half white sugar, half brown sugar instead of all brown. But aside from that, I did everything as the recipe called for. At least I think. As I said, precise measurements are not exactly my forte.
My first clue that I had messed up somewhere came when I tried to cut the rolls and place them in the pie dish. They were too mushy and kept falling apart. It quickly became clear that it wasn't going to work. I considered just eating all the batter and pretending it had never happened. (Just kidding! Well, actually I did think about it, but the thought was fleeting). I ended up putting the whole batch of dough in the pan together and smoothing it over with a knife. Goodbye cinnamon rolls. Hello coffee cake!
It turned out the texture was more like that of coffee cake anyway, so it all worked out in the end. I didn't learn how to make cinnamon rolls, but now I know how to make a great cinnamon walnut coffee cake!
This gluten-free baking thing is going to take a lot of practice, but overall I'm pretty satisfied with my first try at it. I won't be attempting this recipe again any time soon because it's very calorie dense and should really only be made once a year (as my mom only makes her cinnamon rolls once a year, for Christmas). But I'll have to try it again before Christmas. I'm determined to have gluten-free cinnamon rolls to eat on Christmas morning!
And in the meantime, I'll be experimenting with gluten-free bread and learning to expand my gluten-free meal repertoire.