Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beyond Gluten

For the first few days, life without bread and other wheat products isn't so difficult.  Then you start to miss bread, pancakes, cake, etc.  Fortunately, there are gluten-free flours out there.

I bought Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour substitute, and followed their instructions on using it as a substitute in making bread.  When I pulled the loaf out of the bread machine this morning, my first thought was: "There's a bread version of the chestbuster in Alien?"

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It really did look like something ripped its way right out. It doesn't have to look good; I often use bread machine bread to make French toast, for which it is quite yummy. Perhaps Bob's Red Mill flour substitute would work okay for cookies or something. For bread, it was really not particularly pleasant. It just did not taste right. Not disgusting, but not particularly pleasant, either, and a bit gummy.

The other experiment worked out a bit better. Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Pancake & Waffle Mix is not a complete mix. You add oil, egg, milk, and sugar to it, but it produced completely credible looking pancakes that actually tasted pretty good.

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They have a bit more of a nutty flavor than traditional white flour based pancake mixes, but still quite pleasant, with a nice texture. I tend not to glop on the syrup, so I notice the flavor. My daughter, on the other hand, describes pancakes as "a vehicle for syrup."

Both of these products are pretty expensive if you are used to buying conventional flour. The materials aren't all that unusual: it isn't like they make them from unicorn hooves or Bigfoot fur. But as with most things, because the market for gluten free flour is small, there are not the economies of scale that come from conventional flour production.

Bob's Red Mill is, I think, on the my permanent "don't buy" list. The Hodgson Mill product, while expensive, makes a very nice pancake alternative, and I will buy it occasionally for that reason.

My wife also made cornbread this evening that was gluten free, substituting rice flour for wheat flour. I could barely tell any difference, and it was only different--not inferior.


  1. Some people recommend soaking your grains, whole or ground into flour, before eating them if you have a gluten intolerance. Apparently it's a historical treatment for that and other digestive problems.

  2. While I've never tried going gluten-free, we've had to go milk-free due to a daughter who has allergies to milk. Well, not completely milk-free, but we've had to figure out how to make meals that way.

    It's amazing how many pre-made things we take for granted! And how many of them contain things like wheat, milk, and eggs.

    Thus, I know how you feel when a lot of your favorite things suddenly become "forbidden"!

    Fortunately, our daughter's allergies have seemed to "let up" somewhat; she still gets a rash now and then, and we don't like to give her straight milk, but it seems that we can occasionally give her cheese, or eat pizza.

  3. You don't need wheat flour or a wheat flour substitute for cornbread: I make this recipe for my celiac brother-in-law -- you have to make sure the creamed corn is gluten-free (and most is)

    2 cups yellow cornmeal
    1/2 tsp table salt
    1 tablespoon sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup 1% milk
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice (milk + acid = "buttermilk")
    2 large eggs
    1 can creamed corn
    1/4 cup jalepeno peppers, diced
    1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped

    Bake at 425F in a greased 8x8 dish for 30 minutes

    Jalapenos and green onions are optional. So is the creamed corn, but it does make for a moister and less crumbly product.