Cooking Class: Produce Precise Pasta

Your guide to making your own gluten-free pasta at home, with tips from our resident baking expert.

Since I don’t have celiac disease, nor any gluten sensitivities, it’s easy for me to consume a nice plate of pasta. But I do understand the pain of those who cannot, especially when you eat out, and the establishment advertises “gluten-free” pasta available. You do your due diligence by asking lots of questions, to hopefully reassure yourself before eating the product. Then, a few hours later, your real problems begin.

It may have been a true gluten-free pasta product (based on the mouthfeel texture difference), but it was most likely cooked in the same water and pot as the restaurant’s gluten-based pasta products.

If you feel angry, that’s understandable. So, now you decide to embark on some adventures in cooking pasta at home. There are many excellent dried gluten-free pasta products available. Simply cook the gulten-free pasta according to the manufacturer’s directions (of course, in a clean, dedicated gluten-free pot with fresh, clean water and a touch of salt).

If you are willing to pursue mixing, rolling and shaping your own gluten-free pasta, let’s go!

Now, I’ve only developed one type of gluten-free pasta dough, which is in my gluten-free baking book. I only use it to produce a type of gnocchi. One of my readers informed me that they took my recipe and developed a spätzle-type form.

Of course, always investigate the source of every ingredient that you are considering using, especially the flour. Most authentic dried pasta products are produced by specific manufacturers. They utilize heavy-duty extruding-type machines because the doughs are very, very dry. Many gluten-free dried pasta products are made using a type of, or combination of, “pulse” flours. Pulse flours (from a variety of dried beans, peas and lentils, excluding soybeans) are very high in protein and fiber and come in many different flavors and colors.

For the average home cook, fresh, soft pasta dough is best. Eggs are the primary wet ingredient used because of the high-protein binding properties. In fact, you can use liquid egg whites, or at least 50% of the total eggs used can be whites. The extra protein will provide more “bite” to the pasta product upon cooking. How much to use? That’s up to you. If you make the dough to feel wetter, allow for time to absorb the liquid. Refrigerate the dough, uncovered at first for a few hours. Then wrap it up. Fresh dough is highly perishable due to the eggs and the high percentage of flour, which is subject to rancidity. If you’re not using it within a few days, freeze it or make smaller batches.

Click here for our homemade gluten-free pasta recipe!

As far as rolling out the dough, proceed with caution. Keep the shapes simple, like a basic flat-egg noodle. Use high starch content gluten-free flour for dusting, which can also be mixed with some cornmeal to give the pasta extra unique texture.

After shaping, it’s best to dry out somewhat at room temperature for up to one hour before cooking. You can also keep it stored in the refrigerator for up to two days or freeze it.

As far as the cooking process goes, gluten-free pasta products generally cook much more quickly than others (except for many of the dried manufactured versions). I like to make the cooking water extra salty, since the dough is quite bland. Use 1-2 tablespoons per 1-2 quarts of water used for cooking. If the salted water is at a full boil, fresh gluten-free pasta will sink to the bottom, so keep the water temperature up. Within 2-3 minutes, you should see the products begin to float. Carefully remove a sample, suspend in ice water, then sample for doneness. Be careful not to overcook the pasta. You might see a continuous layer of “foam” on the top of the cooking water. This is from the starches that have fallen out of the pasta. If a continuous amount forms, then consider discarding that water and start with a new pot of water.

 

How to Assemble Scrumptious Gluten-Free Scones

Master gluten-free scones with tips from our resident baking expert, and impress your guests at breakfast or afternoon tea.

Flaky, dense, with just enough moisture, a scone is a savory treat to enjoy just about any time of day. They can be eaten with jam, cream or a variety of toppings and are exquisite served alongside coffee or tea. Perfecting gluten-free scones need not be daunting. Here are my tips for learning to bake your best scones.

Scones are traditionally sweet but also can be more on the savory side, though they are not biscuits. Of course, that might lead to much discussion as to which is better, but of course, the two baked goods are different. Biscuits and scones both come from the quick bread family. Leavening action is produced mainly from the use of some type of chemical leaveners and supplemented by the production of steam, produced once many of the “liquefiers” begin to melt, then boil during the baking process.

Click here for the recipe for Blueberry, Lemon and Poppy Seed Scones

When it comes to making a gluten-free scone, you might first find a high-quality dry scone mix that suits your needs. If not, then let’s look at some considerations. A scone can include a solid fat or even a liquid form of fat (especially if using heavy cream). The flour is relatively low in protein.

It’s more about including enough stabilizers within the overall liquid-based ingredients to provide the flour mixture with sufficient hydration and strengthening properties. That’s why I prefer to use some liquid whole eggs or even liquid egg whites. Try to include at least ¼ of the total liquid content with either egg substance. The remaining liquid is best made up of a high fat content liquid, such as classically heavy cream. If dairy is an issue, then select a plant-based milk beverage and supplement with some additional fat, like oil. Use close to ¾ cups of total liquid to two cups of gluten-free flour.

Here are some suggestions to get you started. They’re based on using two cups of a gluten-free flour mixture, which does not have any added salt, sugars or fats added.

  • Any scone will contain a chemical leaveners, whether baking powder (first choice) or baking soda (with the use of an acid-based liquid in the recipe, like buttermilk). Baking powder is best, and if you’re unsure whether the baking powder is gluten free, then make your own! Use 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Mix all together and sift before using. Use two teaspoons of baking powder to two cups of flour.
  • Add a small pinch of salt, for flavor enhancement, of course.
  • The sugar, preferably granulated to help with providing tenderness, can be white granulated or even turbinado. Use about ⅓ cup of sugar to two cups of gluten-free flour.
  • Typically, scones contain some type of dried fruit to impart texture and sweetness. Depending on the texture of the mixed dough, the dried fruits can be added in the dry form. But if your dough has been stored in the fridge overnight and it has a very firm texture, then cover the dried fruits with hot water. Allow the fruits to hydrate in the water for 15 minutes. Drain off the excess liquid, then add approximately half a cup of the plump fruits to the dough.

If your scone dough is wet, cover it with wax paper, then refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. This will help to tighten up the mixture. Portion out and cover with egg wash (if you prefer a shiny, golden color) or cover lightly with a small mixture of ¼ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of gluten-free flour (for a more classic, rustic look).

If the mixture is quite firm, then skip the refrigeration and proceed straight to portioning. The oven should be preheated to 400° F. After five minutes, lower the temperature to 350° F. The internal temperature of your scones should be 190° F or higher at the center before they are finished baking.

Allow to cool, briefly, while you are brewing tea or coffee, and enjoy this treat.


Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America.

How to Make Delightful Gluten-Free Donuts

Craving some sweets this spring? Use our resident gluten-free baking expert’s tips to create beautiful, delicious light donuts that will impress all your friends.

Donuts or doughnuts—however you spell them, I love to eat them! Freshly fried and covered in warm, sweet glaze are my favorite kind. I use to be able to inhale a whole glazed donut at once, but I don’t suggest that you try it. Of course, these “oily cakes” contain a lot of history and nostalgia.

Generally, there are four major categories of donuts, based on the mixture’s texture. Of course, the number of shapes, flavors, colors and garnish can be infinite. The four major types of donuts are:

  1. Yeast-raised
  2. Cake-textured
  3. French “cruller” types
  4. Beignets

Yeast-raised speaks for itself: an enriched, yeast-leavened, soft-textured bread-dough-like product. These donuts are not too sweet until the exterior glaze is applied.

Cake donuts get their name from the soft, tender, cake-like crumb structure inside. They are highly enriched in a fat mixture, whether in a firm, tender dough type or the loose, wet batter type.

French crullers are a pâte à choux-based fried doughnut, while beignets are light, tender fried dough with the shortest shelf life (probably since people consume them so quickly!).

Making any of these versions of donuts gluten free can be quite challenging. It can be tricky to get the right texture and then help the donuts survive the frying process. If you don’t get it right, your gluten-free donut could disappear into the cauldron of hot vegetable oil forever!

Personally, I’d start with the cake donut variety first. Why? Because it is firmer and has a somewhat dry texture. Again, determining the optimum mixture texture is your biggest concern. A gluten-free flour blend with a high amount of protein can be helpful, especially since most are only carbohydrate-based flour blends. The use of some gums is a good idea, when used in the desired level. Too much, and you might have a donut that doesn’t expand and is quite tough; too little, and you may find yourself with a gum mixture that could dissolve away in the hot oil.

Changing the cake dough base into a batter-style mixture can limit the number of shapes but can also speed up things when frying. Of course, we are frying, so be aware of hot oil! Place, don’t drop, the donuts into the clean, hot 350° to 375° F oil. Keep all other liquids away from the oil.

Use good, fresh, clean gluten-free oil and use a good-quality probe thermometer to monitor oil temperature. Overly hot oil will be dark and can develop a bitterness, which can affect the product. Remember, depending on the gluten-free flour blend used, there can be a fast formation of surface color, so start by frying gently, not too hot or too fast. Periodically check the interior for a completely cooked texture.

Yeast-raised gluten-free donuts should be handled fast, not allowing excessive alcohol gas to build up in the mixture. If so, that flavor won’t cook out during frying. I prefer to make a yeast-raised donut much like a gluten-free bagel, with a soft, firm texture that I can pipe into the shape by using a pastry bag. I pipe it onto individual, lightly oil parchment squares, which then allow me to place them into the hot oil one at a time with a large, perforated metal spoon or metal spatula. I’d apply this same technique for crullers, unless I’m scooping out the shape via an oiled portion scoop.

Once fully fried, drain briefly on absorbent paper, then decorate. A hot donut will allow the garnish to adhere much easier and allow for a second application, if so desired. Be patient and, of course, ready and able to sample your results. When the donuts are garnished, folks will flock to them, lured in by the sultry aroma of frying oil.

Gluten-Free Pizza Making Techniques

Pizza is one of my favorite food groups. Whether it’s served hot or cold, it soothes my stomach and my soul. To imagine not being able to enjoy this treat is hard to think about, but many with celiac disease fully understand. Of course, it’s generally not the sauce, cheese or various toppings that worry you, though of course there is always a great risk of cross-contamination to be considered with all of those things. It’s that small problem with the base of any pizza, the crust.

I see many pizza shops offering gluten-free pizzas to customers. Even when the crust is gluten free, where the pizza is assembled and how and where it is baked can be a potential factor for causing digestive issues. Most pizza shops that offer a gluten-free crust are probably purchasing the crust from a gluten-free manufacturer. How that manufacturer makes the product might vary somewhat, but many use machines to produce tens of thousands of items per batch.

What about making your own pizza dough? I make my gluten-free crust similar to gluten-free bread, with extra hydration to allow for better absorption qualities within the flour blend. The dough should be wet enough to allow for ease in scooping out onto the parchment-lined tray or by shaping via a pastry bag.

Check out our Top 10 Gluten-Free Pizza Recipes here

If there is excess moisture, it can be eliminated by using guar or xanthan gum. Remember to start with approximately ¼ to ½ teaspoon of gum per 1 to 2 cups of flour. You want to mix using a paddle, to intentionally beat in some air along with producing a smooth and somewhat thick batter. Additional batter strength can be achieved by replacing up to ¼ of the total liquid with liquid egg whites. As far as adding oil to the crust, consider brushing it on the surface when the assembled pizza is about to be cooked or immediately after removing from the oven.

As far as proofing the dough goes, make a sponge pre-ferment before mixing the complete crust mixture. That way, you can get a lot of fermented flavor into the mixture, and if you happen to let it proof too much, the remaining ingredients added in should start the proofing cycle again. As a general rule of thumb, I’d take up to ⅓ of the total flour from the recipe, use it in the sponge, mixed with up to half of the total yeast from the recipe and hydrate that flour with an equal amount of water (from the entire recipe). So if the full recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, use one cup of it in the sponge. Use the suggested amount of yeast with that one cup of flour, then hydrate it with one cup of warm water. The mixture will be very wet, so cover the top of the sponge with some of the remaining flour from the entire recipe, forming a crust-type flour covering. The sponge is “proofed” when the flour covering is breaking open from the yeast action inside of the sponge. At that point, mix the sponge with all remaining ingredients. Scoop or pipe out the shape onto a lightly oiled parchment-lined tray or pan. Proof for 20 minutes, then partly bake the crust.

The oven need not be super hot (350° F), but bake until some color is formed. Remove from the oven, and gently and quickly flip the crust over so the firmer crust texture surface that was on the bottom is now on the top. Once cooled, proceed to top with your favorite sauce, cheeses and assorted toppings.

Don’t forget to brush the outer crust edge with your favorite infused olive oil, consider a nice micro-brewed gluten-free beverage and save some slices for your friends and family.

Bellissimo!

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

Cooking Class: Produce a Primo Gluten-Free Pot Pie

Craving some comfort food during these cold winter’s nights? Use our resident gluten-free baking expert’s tips to create a tender and flaky crust for a cozy gluten-free pot pie.

Pot Pies illustrationThere’s not much better than a hot pot pie on a frigid winter day. Sure, you can probably purchase one already made, but premade pot pies often fall short in two areas. First, they are designed to be microwaved for faster cooking. I still prefer to bake pot pies in a conventional oven. Second, some premade pot pie makers skip the bottom crust, only using a top crust. But the more crust the better, I say! And so, here are my keys to producing a gluten-free pot pie that’ll give you another reason to stay inside.

You will need three elements to make your pot pie: gluten-free pie dough, a flavorful stock or broth, and a hearty filling, which requires a gluten-free roux as a thickener.

Rolling in dough

I covered gluten-free pie dough in the past. Making your own is a terrific accomplishment, but purchasing a premade dough is OK. The main concern with premade dough is that it has been mixed ahead of time and then allowed to “age” in the fridge.

I don’t bother using a solid fat in a gluten-free pie dough because it can interfere with the binding properties. Rather, I melt unsalted butter or lard, then add it in with the liquid. Or I use an oil such as canola.

It is best to make the crust the day before you will use it. Letting it age overnight is best to make the rolling out of the dough more manageable. If you can’t wait for a night, be sure to let it rest for at least four hours.

Stock it to me

I fancy a hearty stew for my pot pies. Always start with a flavorful, thick—naturally, from the bones—stock. Sure, making one from scratch is time well spent. But, if pressed for time, purchase a high-quality, low-sodium broth to make the stew.

The inside job

Sauté the vegetables in butter or oil until onions are translucent, then singer (dust) the cooked veggies with gluten-free flour (preferably one with some protein content, not one that is all starch). This classic technique allows the vegetables to begin the cooking process and naturally develop into a roux together. It also cooks out the starchiness within the roux. Gradually add in your boiling hot stock or broth. Bring back to a second boil to fully activate the roux. Remove from the heat and cool properly, in a shallow pan.

Fold in large chunks of whichever protein you choose, whether roasted chicken or medium-cooked beef (boneless cuts, with some traces of fat). Now, season the stew, but don’t over salt. This mixture should be very thick and full of vegetable and protein chunks.

Now, split the pie dough you’ve already made in two. Place the first half in a pie plate or shallow casserole dish, pressing into the bottom and up the sides. Next, pour your stew into the crust. Top with the rest of the dough. Brush the top crust with some egg wash. Leave a vent hole or cut slits into the top crust to allow steam to escape during baking.

Final tips

If your filling or stew is super-thick, consider making individual hand pies. The top and bottom crusts are more prone to browning, but it’ll help improve the hand pie’s external structure. If the filling is a bit too loose, fold in some flavored cooked rice or potatoes cooked until just before fork tender.

Now go make that pot pie you’re dreaming about a reality.


Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

Gluten-Free Baking Technique

As the weather cools down and the urge to bake starts ramping up, I jump into my gluten-free baking techniques lecture to the students in my Advanced Baking Principles class. After a general introduction about the medical aspects concerning celiac disease, gluten intolerance and related issues, I ask the class a few basic questions.

First, I write a list of product names on the board in order of the importance gluten plays in manufacturing each one. I then ask the students, “Are there any gluten-free ingredients in the formula that help sustain the structure of the product?” This is typically met by some puzzled faces.

So, we discuss the two questions. Initially, we look at the gluten perspective, thinking about the gluten-free ingredients that contribute to the structure (“stabilizers”). This helps us when it comes time to determine a gluten-free ingredient strategy. These conversations are pivotal to the baking-pastry student’s ability to realize how we take gluten for granted and how to implement an effective gluten-free approach. I also remind them to accept and understand the role of the additional stabilizers in the formula. This enables them to truly grasp how a gluten-free ingredient application can function.

We all realize that baking is somewhat scientific—formulas, reactions triggered by ingredients, and various mixing and baking techniques. Unfortunately, this means that some products are extremely challenging to convert into gluten-free versions. Of course, many such difficulties are based on the role that gluten plays and selecting, for example, the best combination of gluten-free flours to use in each instance.

I also ask my students to think about whether gluten-free versions of all the products they have made are available in the market. If so, what form is it available in—fully baked, fresh, par-baked, raw-frozen or in a dry mix? Much of the variety now available is driven by manufacturers’ desire to offer more of their products to the expanding gluten-free market. These companies also need to consider achieving a maximum shelf life. This factor, along with the inherent manufacturing dilemmas that companies face, forms a big puzzle in need of solving.

Sure, the demand for products has led to better competition and, thus, more high-quality options. But solving the main “puzzle” involved in producing gluten-free items takes time. You might not realize it, but bakers adore gluten and tend to take it for granted. And now, thanks to its tendency to trigger a variety of problems for many consumers, they have to find new methods and ingredients that are safer without compromising product quality.

The below graph helps clarify the dilemma that bakers, pastry cooks and chefs face when preparing a gluten-free dish. Be patient with us, and stay patient when you are experimenting. Bake well…bake gluten free.

Gluten-Free Recipe Conversion Graph

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

Expert Baking Tips: Gluten-Free Pie

Use this advice to ensure everyone will clamor for a piece (or two!) of delectable gluten-free pie.

Who doesn’t love pies? Apple and sweet potato are two of my favorites. Pies are quite simple but can become quite complicated, especially if you are not patient. There are many types of pies, ranging from different fruit fillings to custardy soft-filled ones (like sweet potato). Chocolate or banana are examples of cream-filled pies, and you can also make ones with unique fillings or special types of unusual crusts. Whichever is your favorite, a gluten-free version should be in the picture.

The Crust

So, let’s begin with the crust. Crust should not be taken for granted, unless you decided to use a pre-made shell. It does take some dedication to produce, especially as a gluten-free variety. Compared to a gluten-flour-based dough, the gluten-free version is much less complicated to mix but can be difficult to roll out. Commonly, it is the flour that is the issue. Traditionally, a gluten-based pie crust uses pastry flour, a soft-textured, unbleached flour with around 7 to 10 percent protein. Of course, that low amount of gluten protein is quite significant to the ability to roll out the dough. There are other factors, too, which I’ll get back to later. I find that using a gluten-free combination of flours, where at least one is very high in protein (whether it is “pulse” source, dairy or egg-based) is best to begin with. The other flours of course should be gluten free, and can be mainly of a high carbohydrate-starch source.

The fat

The fat, well of course unsalted butter is preferred, but if dairy is a concern select the type that you are happy with. The main thing that I do, I melt/liquefy the fat. Why? Because typically the fat is left in solid pieces, in order to assist in the flakiness in the baked crust. The problem with a gluten-free dough/crust is, without the gluten protein present, water and fat vapors won’t be trapped correctly. In turn, the flakiness becomes greasy sections, which can then fry the crust. So, I melt the butter just enough to mix into the dry ingredients, while making sure that it is not added in when hot. I also consider using a little less in a recipe and compensate with extra water.

Liquids

Speaking of water, that is the most common liquid used in pie dough recipes. Sometimes other liquids, such as skim milk or fruit juices, might be used. I prefer to keep it simple and neutral in taste. As mentioned previously, I add extra water in order to assist in keeping the gluten-free flours well hydrated. Plus, the water is a key ingredient in providing much of the texture in a pie crust/dough. Why/how is this so? Most folks look only at the role of the fat as the primary contributor to the tenderness/flakiness. That’s OK, but the water/liquid help to provide texture and some tenderness (in conjunction with the tenderizing effects from the fat) by being trapped in the flour. The flour absorbs the liquid, which turns into steam during the baking process. The starches and proteins hold that steam, causing additional rising in conjunction with the effects from the fat’s role. In a gluten-based flour pie, a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice is used to relax the gluten. This is not necessary, of course, for gluten free.

The bottom line on pie

As far as a recipe is concerned, I’ll leave you with the following advice. Make your own dough, if possible. If not, there are many offerings of pie dough/crust dry mixes you make according to the specific directions on the package. You should be able to find a select few varieties of already-mixed gluten-free pie dough. So, if you are willing to mix your own, begin with the most common recipe ratio that most bakers use: 3-2-1 pie dough. Of course, this ratio is based on weight amounts, not volume. The reference of three is for the total flours, two is for the fats, and one is for the liquid. The main adjustment that I lean toward is to use only 1.5 (instead of two) parts fat, and increase the liquid to 1.25 parts (again, it’s all base on weight).

As with gluten-based pie doughs, it is best to mix the dough, followed by resting time (of a few hours to overnight) in the fridge. This will allow all of the ingredients to fuse together and re-solidify the mixed-in melted fat into the flour matrix. It will also help to reduce the amount of dusting flour needed during the rolling out of the dough. Using too much dusting flour may ease your rolling time, but later that extra flour will make the baked crust too dry and crumbly. I prefer to also roll out a gluten-free dough in between two sheets of clear, food-grade plastic or wax paper. Parchment paper can suffice also. Use a high-carbohydrate-starch content gluten-free flour for dusting.

Don’t forget the fillings

As far as fillings are concerned, use what you find is best. Of course, make sure that the ingredients are gluten free. Try not to make a fruit-filling double crust too tall in height, because the fruit (especially with homemade apple chunks) filling can break through the gluten-free crust over time. I do love a slice of sharp cheddar cheese on top of apple pie, both slightly warmed. Yum!

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

Looking for more gluten-free tips for the kitchen? Check out Richard Coppedge Jr.’s past columns:

 

Make Your Own Gluten-Free Pate a Choux

 

 

 

Keys to Baking Luscious Gluten-Free Cakes

 

 

 

DIY: Homemade Chocolate Treats

 

 

 

Keys to Baking Gluten-Free Muffins

 

 

 

Keys to Homemade Gluten-Free Buns

 

 

Keys to Homemade Gluten-Free Buns

You don’t have to be a master breadmaker to produce homemade gluten-free buns. Just use these expert tips.

Now that we’re entering the hottest of summer’s days, picnics, cookouts and other outdoor get-togethers dominate the calendar. For those with celiac, that can mean hot dogs and burgers without any buns. That’s not much fun—unless you prefer to consume such ”naked” items with a knife and fork or go the Paleo or low-carb route and wrap your burger or hot dog in lettuce.

While many varieties of gluten-free buns line store shelves, adventurous home bakers should consider making their own. You have two options—modifying a dry-ingredient bread mix or using an existing recipe designed to produce gluten-free buns.

Hot dog and burger buns are generally made from a medium enriched type of yeast-raised dough. The formula typically contains eggs, sugars, milk (mainly milk powder) and some fats/oils. All of these give the dough a softer texture, along with more natural moisture and crust color.

I understand if you’re a little hesitant. That’s why finding a packaged gluten-free bun that you like might be the easiest option. But, if you’re willing to try, start with the dry-box mix option. These mixes, mainly available for items like pizza crust, loaf breads and the like, are engineered to work. All of the dry ingredients you’ll need are already in the box. You’ll need to measure and add the liquid-based ingredients—which might be as simple as water, oil and eggs—to the mix.

Enrich your mix

Start by making the liquid ingredients “richer” by replacing 50 to 75 percent of the water with skim milk. Liquids should be as close to room temperature as possible before adding.

Replace the remaining water with liquid whole eggs. Add in any fat/oil as directed. These adjustments provide the level of hydration needed to bring the mixture together very closely to the original design, but with more enrichment.

Crust color

Your bread mixture will appear more dense/heavy, which is normal. Allow an additional 10 to 15 minutes to proof, or rise. Also, baking temperatures might have to be lower at first. Due to the additional browning capabilities, allow the crust color to form gradually.

The dry mix will probably already contain some sugars. For additional yeast activity and to provide additional browning of the crust, consider adding 1 teaspoon granulated or turbinado sugar to the mixture.

Get your buns in shape

You can shape the hot dog buns with a pastry bag, piping the mixture into cylindrical tubes of desired length on lightly oiled parchment paper. Shape the burger buns by scooping out with a lightly oiled portion or ice cream scoop, then place on lightly oiled parchment paper.

Allow time to proof in a warm, draft-free area of your kitchen—not in the oven. The buns should increase in volume by 50 percent. For extra color—and to allow sesame seeds to adhere to the tops of burger buns—mix together one whole egg, a pinch of salt and one teaspoon water for an egg wash. Lightly brush the bun surface with egg wash prior to baking.

Finishing touches

Make sure the buns reach an internal temperature of at least 210° F. Remove from baking sheets and place onto a cake-cooling or similar screen. Thoroughly cooled buns can be bagged up and frozen. They will stay good at room temperature for two to three days if stored in an airtight container.

If you’re trying an existing gluten-free bun recipe, follow the directions, but consider my tips to take it to the next level.

And remember, any mistakes can be broken up and turned into fresh or dried bread crumbs or used in a gluten-free bread pudding.

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

Looking for more gluten-free tips for the kitchen? Check out Richard Coppedge Jr.’s past columns:

 

Make Your Own Gluten-Free Pate a Choux

 

 

 

Keys to Baking Luscious Gluten-Free Cakes

 

 

 

DIY: Homemade Chocolate Treats

 

 

 

Keys to Baking Gluten-Free Muffins

 

 

Make Your Own Gluten-Free Pate a Choux

The gluten-free pate a choux has a very dry exterior while the interior is quite soft and moist.

Pate a choux, or choux paste, is what bakers produce first to make eclairs and pastry puffs with luscious cream fillings. It’s a unique substance. I refer to it as a “paste” because it cannot be shaped or directly handled with one’s hands. Nor can it be rolled out or cut into portions. Classically, it is piped using a pastry bag.

First, the roux

The task begins with making a mixture very similar to a roux, a combination of melted fats and flour cooked or baked to varying degrees, then used to thicken soups, stews and, of course, sauces. Pate a choux takes this concept further, by using additional liquid and incorporating eggs.

Pate a choux is first cooked on the stovetop, cooled slightly, then finished by adding eggs. After scooping it out or piping it into various shapes, it is then baked. Baking heats up the water-based liquids and the eggs to boiling, creating steam, which leavens the shell before the structure forms. The shell’s exterior is very dry with multiple breaks in the surface, while the interior is quite moist, soft and notably blown-apart.

A pate a choux mixture should be fully cooked before adding eggs to it, so that it achieves correct leavening action. Undercooked choux mixtures can result in greasy dense shells.

The typical ratio for pate a choux is 2-1-1-2—that is liquid-fat-flour-eggs, by weight.

The two parts liquid is either water or milk. The liquid is a primary binding substance and major contributor to the creation of the steam that forms the leavening. Water will produce a more dry-crispy shell with not much shine, while milk can soften the exterior a little while providing more shine.

The one part fat is the major tenderizing ingredient, keeping the flour soft and helping to lubricate the choux paste. The fat of choice is usually unsalted butter, but almost any fat or even vegetable oil will work.

The one part bread flour provides the choux’s overall texture and structure. You will need to cook it within the choux.

The gluten-free aspect

As for the gluten-free perspective, here’s the tricky part. The primary concern is, of course, the flour. With whichever gluten-free flour you use, the concern is twofold. First, how well does the flour cooperate during the expansion of the choux? Secondly, will the flour provide the strength to not collapse during baking?

Conventional all-purpose gluten-free flour might need some assistance in regard to strength. Replace one-third of the whole eggs with an equal amount of liquid egg whites. The liquid whites will provide more direct steaming and protein strength. The cooked choux paste will probably feel wetter and softer than a traditional bread flour type. That’s normal, so avoid using additional gluten-free flour, which might over-dry the choux during baking. Don’t worry—adding a small amount of guar or xanthan gum to the choux (after cooking, just before adding the eggs) can help. Start with ¼ teaspoon at a time, but do not exceed 1 teaspoon to start. You can also experiment with adding a scant amount of gluten-free double-acting baking powder in the same manner as the gum.

The two parts eggs are added after the liquid and fat have boiled, followed by all of the bread flour. The mixture is then stirred and cooked over medium heat for two to three minutes. Generally, the eggs should be close to room temperature and incorporated into the mixture one at a time (slightly beaten). The eggs are the key to the steaming action-leavening. Some bakers might replace a portion of the whole eggs with whites or even yolks but start with whole eggs. Mix in by hand or use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.

Lastly, it may be necessary to pipe the gluten-free choux pastry into a mold, which can help maintain the pastry’s shape and height. Lightly grease the mold first, and then dust with gluten-free flour.

Last steps

The choux paste is piped while it is still warm so that the baking and steam formation will be most effective. The preheated oven needs to be hot to make the overall liquids and fat boil quickly, forming steam. Allow for the explosion to occur without opening the oven door, which can cause collapsing from the introduction of cold dry air. Carefully take a peek after about 15 minutes. You should see the choux develop beads of “sweat” from the interior steam that formed on the exterior. Once the beads of sweat have vanished, lower the oven temperature to 350° F. Bake until a sample is hot to the touch but lighter in weight, with an internal temperature of at least 210° F, which reduces the possibility of collapse.

After cooling, the choux pastry items can be bagged and left at room temperature for one to two days—or bagged and stored in the freezer. When ready to use, remove from the bag and refresh by heating up in a warm oven for a few minutes.

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

Illustration by Danel Vasconcellos

Inspired to do a little gluten-free baking? Look through our constantly growing collection of delicious dessert recipes.

Keys to Baking Luscious Gluten-Free Cakes

Cakes, cakes, cakes—as in “pound,” “layer” and “sponge,” the three basic categories. These range from the heaviest textured batter of a pound cake to the lighter, less-dense layer-type cakes and, finally, to the super-light and fragile sponge cake.

If you respect and understand the mechanics, ingredients and mixing processes involved for each type, these in-demand desserts are just that to make—a piece of cake.

Batter ingredients—eggs, sugars, flours, leaveners, fats/oils and other liquids—are similar in nature for most cakes, but each type does entail specific and unique differences. I’m going to focus more on the flours and certain chemical leaveners.

Flour power

Cake flour, a chemically bleached soft-wheat variety, is the type most commonly used for gluten-based cakes. The characteristics of such flour are critical to maintaining a tender cake. And the chemical bleaching process helps produce a softer structure. Of course, for your baking confections, the cake flour needs to be replaced with a gluten-free flour, ranging from an all-purpose blend to one as simple as almond flour. Depending on the type used, I’d consider increasing the amount by 20 percent (based on the original weight of cake flour listed).

Baking powder

If the cake batter recipe calls for baking powder, make sure that the starch it contains is truly gluten free. If it isn’t or you’re not sure, simply make your own version. Follow these instructions to create your own single-acting baking powder, which will work as long as you’re using it immediately. It won’t work in batter made ahead of time, then frozen or refrigerated. Remember 2-1-1 as a simple ratio for preparing your own baking powder. Mix, then sift together 2 ounces cream of tartar, 1 ounce baking soda and 1 ounce cornstarch.

Eggs and egg whites

Replacing some of the eggs in a recipe with egg whites provides the extra protein structure missing from some gluten-free flours. Use two egg whites in place of one whole egg. You can also whip up the egg whites to a medium peak, then carefully fold into the batter at the very end. The whipped whites introduce more air to the batter, improving its texture.

Cake pans

Consider using a tubular-shaped cake or Bundt pan. The hole in the center assists in baking the middle of the cake by transferring heat to the center area, which can reduce the chance of it falling.

Is it ready?

Remember, gluten-free cakes tend to contain hidden moisture due to their extra-dense cell structure. So, don’t be afraid to bake the cake a few extra minutes to drive that moisture out. Also, use a good pencil-type thermometer to check the temperature in several places. The cake will be ready when the internal temperature is around 210° F and it starts pulling away from the walls of the pan. Once fully baked, immediately remove from the pan onto parchment or a cooling screen.

Cake life

Pound cakes tend to have the longest shelf life, while sponge cakes dry out quickly. If you’re baking a cake ahead of time for an event or occasion, consider storing in the freezer after it cools to room temperature. Just wrap well before freezing. In the case of layer cakes, dabbing simple syrup on top of each layer when assembling will bring back needed moisture:

Syrup Simple as 1-2-3

To make simple syrup, combine one cup of granulated sugar with one cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Allow to cool to room temperature before using. Store extra syrup in the refrigerator.

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

Illustration by Danel Vasconcellos

If your mouth is watering over the image at the top of the page, check out the recipe for the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layer Cake!

DIY: Homemade Chocolate Treats

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about sweet gifts for your sweetie. Instead of buying a box of chocolates, show how much you care by creating your own homemade chocolate treats. Putting in extra effort to show your affection—and the beaming smile sure to light up your loved one’s face—will make all your work more than worth it in the end.

I have the honor of interacting with a select few who are experts in their field of teaching. One such authority is Chef Peter P. Greweling, a professor in the baking and pastry department here at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). He is the author of two books on chocolate and confections, and his knowledge of everything chocolate is second to none. Plus, I can always sate my chocolate craving by visiting his classroom whenever needed.

What is tempering?

Tempering is the key step in preparing the chocolate to coat your homemade chocolate treats. In his book, Chocolates and Confections, part of the CIA’s At Home series, Greweling explains, “Tempering is the process of heating and cooling chocolate to ensure that it will set with a proper gloss and snap…  Chocolate that is not tempered will develop streaks that turn gray and a soft, grainy texture.”

Tempering tips

So, let’s get into the simple tempering process. Start by melting 3 cups of chopped chocolate or coin-sized chocolate pistoles in a thoroughly clean bowl while setting aside 1 additional cup. Using either a water bath or microwave, heat the chocolate until it’s fully melted—120° F for dark and 110° F for milk or white chocolate.

Add the reserved, non-melted chocolate, known as the seed, into the melted chocolate. This will cool the melted chocolate. Stir gently until the chocolate temperature falls to 85° F for dark or 83° F for milk or white chocolate. Now it’s time for the temper test. For melted dark chocolate, keep the temperature below 90° F. For milk or white chocolate, keep it below 87° F. Dip a clean spoon in the chocolate. Remove and allow the spoon to remain undisturbed for seven to eight minutes in a room at 68° F. Do not place in the refrigerator. Once time has elapsed, examine the spoon sample. If the chocolate does not look wet and has a uniform surface with no streaks, it is tempered. Congratulations! Now, keep the tempered chocolate warm—not above 89° F for dark or above 86° F for milk or white chocolate.

Troubleshooting

If the chocolate did not become tempered and all of the seed chocolate has melted, you will need to add more seed. Start with 2 to 3 tablespoons and stir for three to four minutes. Test again for temper. If it is ready, remove any non-melted seeds and proceed to use the tempered chocolate.

To keep the tempered chocolate warm, use one of these techniques:

  • Wrap a heating pad around the bowl of chocolate.
  • Place the bowl of chocolate over a pot of water at the desired temperature.
  • Using a microwave-safe dish, warm the temper with short bursts in a microwave.
  • Warm briefly over direct heat.

Now, the properly tempered and maintained chocolate can be used to dip your favorite candies or nuts into, drizzle on cookies, or coat ganache-based truffles or macaroons. In the end, the labor is one of love, making it perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

Illustration by Danel Vasconcellos

Keys to Baking Gluten-Free Muffins

Muffins are like pies—quite simple to make but easily made wrong. So let’s get to the basic principles of gluten-free muffins.

The Fat Is Where It’s At

The choice of fat, which determines the treat’s tenderness, is up to you and hinges on your personal muffin preferences, which brings us to the essential question: Do you want your muffins to be chewy or more soft and tender? Once you have decided, it’s time to understand the mechanics behind the source of fat and the mixing technique needed to achieve your ideal texture. At room temperature, oils are in liquid form, while most fats are solid.

Using an oil in a muffin recipe is easier to mix in, since the oil’s density does not allow it to trap air. On the other hand, a fat that is solid at room temperature can hold in air if mixed first with sugar (in baking, beating those two together is referred to as “creaming”). Creaming distributes the sugar crystals into the fat, so together they work to trap air cells.

Now, granted, you can also melt the butter so that it works like oil would, resulting in a tender muffin with a unique flavor but much less of a cake-like texture.

If you are concerned about calories, then eat half a muffin at one sitting. Muffins contain a lot of carbohydrates and calories from fats/oils. An oil-based muffin will be lower in saturated fat, but it’s still fat.

Flour Power

The most common ingredient containing gluten in a muffin recipe is, of course, the flour. Generally, most gluten-free all-purpose flour blends will work, with the following considerations: It’s best to replace the gluten-based flour with the gluten-free one based on an equal weight replacement—even if the original recipe’s ingredients list gives the amount of flour needed in cups. To do this, measure out the gluten-based flour by volume, then place on a scale to determine its weight. Next, measure out that same weighted amount of your gluten-free flour. Many bakers will add extra gluten-free flour to the recipe, which initially sounds like a nice solution to tighten up the batter. But while it will do so at first, it can dry out the baked muffin in the end.

Achieving Peak Form

If you find that your muffins drop in the center during or after baking, don’t assume that you are under-baking them. Rather, it’s a natural result of using gluten-free flour, which makes it challenging to achieve a nice high peak for your muffin top.

So, you need to increase the amount of stabilizers in the recipe without drying out the end product from the addition of extra flour. Most muffin recipes contain whole eggs, which provide the moisture needed to hydrate the batter as well as additional stability during baking. But there’s a better solution for getting your gluten-free muffins to stay in “peak” form. Whole eggs contain fat from the yolk, which can liquefy to some degree. Try replacing half of the total number of liquid whole eggs with two liquid egg whites each. For example, if your recipe calls for two whole liquid eggs, use instead one whole egg and two egg whites. This two-for-one exchange will yield just about the exact same amount (for large eggs), so you are still hydrating the batter at the same level but it will have more stability thanks to the fat-free, high-protein egg whites. If your muffin tops still don’t reach your desired height, replace all of the liquid whole eggs with liquid egg whites. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of liquefying ingredients in the recipe to keep the muffins tender.

Finally, sprinkling a scant amount of coarse-type sugar such as turbinado or evaporated cane juice on the muffins before you pop them in the oven will help keep the tops moist during baking and produce a crispy, sugary crust for your muffin tops.

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

Quick Guide to Quick Breads

Quick breads should be just that—easy to prepare and
baked soon after being mixed and shaped.

 

A quick bread is a chemical-leavened product made from a batter or dough-based formula. The leavening actions result from the production of CO2 and internally produced steam. Examples of quick breads include muffins, biscuits, scones, soda bread and loaf-cake-type breads such as banana-nut.

Batter vs. Dough

The basic difference between the batter and dough formulas is the amount of liquid in each. A batter is more fluid in texture because it contains a higher percentage of wet-type ingredients such as milk, buttermilk, sour cream, eggs, egg whites and sweeteners. Batter needs to be baked in a pan with side walls, which provide the lateral support needed during the baking process. These characteristics can lead to a longer baking time, until the sides of the product begin to pull away from the walls of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. A batter-based item generally cannot be shaped without a pan that has side walls.

A dough-based quick bread contains more dry ingredients than one from a batter, so it can be handled by rolling and cutting out the desired shape. Because it is a dough form, the product generally holds its shape and does not need a side wall pan—a cookie sheet or sheet pan will suffice.

baking powder and baking soda

Let’s get back to the leavening actions. The word “quick” is associated due to the production of CO2 gas commonly created in the mixture. This is accomplished through the use of baking powder or baking soda in contact with an acid-based ingredient. Once the presence of the correct “catalyst” is present (moisture or heat), the chemical reaction will occur, producing CO2 and leavening the mixture.

Please remember that baking powder and baking soda are not the same! Baking powders contain a combination of special dry acids, baking soda and a starch substance to keep those two from reacting while in the box. Always make sure that the baking powder is gluten free—don’t assume. The main concern is with the word “starch.” That can mean any type of starch. You can also consider making your own baking powder. Remember these numbers: 2-1-1. That’s for 2 ounces of cream of tartar, 1 ounce of baking soda and 1 ounce of cornstarch. These numbers are based on weight, not volume, and this recipe produces 4 ounces of homemade baking powder, which should work well for you—with one exception. That is, the homemade baking powder is only a “single-acting” type of baking powder. Most commercial powders are “double-acting.” You can use the homemade baking powder in quick breads that you are going to bake right after mixing and shaping, but not for storing the unbaked mixture in the refrigerator or freezer before baking.

Baking soda is an alkaline substance that’s actually great for many household cleaning duties. It will react eventually with many of the low-pH ingredients in a recipe, such as buttermilk, sour cream, citrus juice, etc. Be sure to keep the baking soda away from those ingredients, because it can begin to react before you know it. Always sift and mix it in with the dry ingredients.

If a recipe has too much baking powder or soda, the final product can look and taste strange. Measure these ingredients with great care.

gluten-free quick breads

In regards to gluten-free versions, I make my recipes with more liquids. So I either consider adding extra guar or xanthan gum to tighten up the mixture or just accept the fact that I have to use a pan with side walls, even for many of the dough items. Of course, without gluten, lateral support is missing. I make gluten-free Irish soda bread by placing the wet dough in a parchment-lined pie tin. Then I cover the surface with an equal mixture of granulated sugar and a gluten-free flour, which helps to dry the top surface.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to bake a quick bread item a bit longer to allow for the moisture to travel out. Happy baking!

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

The Skinny On Baking Substitutes

Find out how our resident gluten-free baking expert adjusts his recipes to cut down on calories and fat.

As the weather begins to turn to warmer, sunnier days, I often get asked about how to make baked goods with fewer kilocalories (k/cal) or less overall fat. Sometimes I prefer to reply by saying, “just eat less, and savor the moment for longer” or “go for a longer walk” or, as in my case, extra miles on the bicycle.

cooking classI’m definitely not a dietitian, but let’s talk about k/cal or, as most folks understand them, calories. We derive energy from foods and beverages. That energy, which depends on the amount of fats, alcohol, carbohydrates and protein, is rated in kilocalories. Fats provide the highest amount of energy, about 9 k/cal per gram, while alcohol supplies about 7 k/cal per gram (depending on the proof) and both carbohydrates and proteins deliver 4 k/cal per gram.

Okay, back to baking. There are various ways to consider reducing the amount of fat and/or k/cals in baked goods. First, realize that the suggested strategies will affect the texture and flavor of the product to some degree. Second, do not attempt to remove all of the fat! It was included in the recipe for a reason, so keep as much as possible. Third, when using a fat replacer, it is best to replace the fat based on a weight perspective. The more precise you are in the replacement strategy, the easier it is to understand and accept the final results.

Baking involves a fair amount of carbohydrates, especially from sugars, and, of course, fat. As I’ve said to my students, “fat is fat, and that’s that!” It serves a purpose, and unfortunately provides the most kilocalories in what we consume.

Fat replacers are used to replace some of the fat in a formula but not all of it. Some of the most common examples are unsweetened applesauce, apple butter, fat-free Greek-style yogurt, silken tofu, plain-baked or cooked potatoes, or sweet potatoes. Each of these examples is either a carbohydrate or protein, so you’ll be saving at least 5 k/cals per gram versus the fat being replaced. There may be additional savings because these products contain some water, which is, of course, calorie free. Because of the natural water content, use caution when mixing. The main thing to understand is that these examples provide good binding properties within a product and can help the product remain moist and/or softer. Apple butter or applesauce contain a fair amount of natural sugar, which will liquefy in the product during baking.

You more or less have to choose your battles, meaning that you have to decide which part of the recipe is best to replace some fat and which is best to keep the fat. For example, in a cake recipe I would keep all of the fat in the icing/frosting because it’s necessary for texture and taste. I’d replace at least half, if not all of the fat, in the cake batter. Depending on which fat replacer I choose, the cake will still have a tender—if not more tender—texture, but will probably lose some density (I can learn to live with that!). If you have ever purchased a boxed cake or muffin mix, you may have noticed some suggestions for substituting the measured amount of oil with unsweetened applesauce. That’s an example of using a fat replacer.

In a product like pie, that’s difficult. The fat in a pie crust is essential for tenderness, flakiness and flavor. I might change the top crust to a crumb-type topping, for which I would replace no more than half of the fat content. You could also try using a crumb crust on the bottom—or eat the regular pie after a longer bicycle ride!

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at the Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the Worlds’ Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

7 Tips for Baking Gluten-Free Cookies

Whether baking for your child’s Valentine’s Day party or your sweetheart, use these seven tips to produce the perfect batch.

Cooking Class JanFeb17 - FINAL

A perfectly baked cookie can delight people of all ages. Yes, even gluten-free cookies. While recipes vary depending on the type of dough, flour and other ingredients, using the best-quality ingredients is the first step in creating a little piece of heaven. Here are seven tips for getting the most out of your cookies.

  1. Margarine. Table butter contains added salt for flavor, but there’s no need to use it in baking. Even unsalted butter generally contains the most fat and excessive sodium that can intensify during baking, making the cookies too salty. Opt for the unsalted variety of a vegetable oil-based margarine. What about using one of those butter alternatives commonly known as spreads? I advise against it as they contain a lot of water and are truly intended to spread on your toast, etc.
  2. Sweeteners. Generally, all sweeteners in cookies act as a liquefier, meaning they melt upon exposure to heat during baking. This helps to promote some of the horizontal spread seen in many cookies. Special cookies such as macarons, some varieties of short bread and certain types of ‘spritz” cookies can call for a drier sweetener, such as a powdered sugar, because it liquefies at a lesser rate. This helps guarantee the greater height typically desired in such cookies. Generally, the coarser the sweetener, the more spread produced, which is why both white granulated and brown sugars are commonly preferred. If considering replacing sugar with an alternative sweetener, like an intense sweetener or a natural sugar replacer, go easy at first. Many of these sweeteners will not liquefy the way sugar does, so it’s best to keep at least half of the original amount of sugar in the recipe.
  3. Eggs and egg whites. Except for some shortbread doughs, eggs and egg whites are the primary ‘wet’ ingredients in cookie recipes. Whole eggs are added after the sweeteners and fat have been creamed together. Egg whites are more of a primary binder and can be added after being whipped to help keep the cookie very light, like a macaron or meringue cookie. The egg product should be close to room temperature when being added to the recipe. Lastly, if the gluten-free flour blend you use produces an overly crumbly cookie or one with too much spread, I have found a solution. Replace each whole egg in the recipe with two egg whites. Experiment first by replacing up to half the number of whole eggs with whites. The creamed sugar and fat mixture may separate without the inclusion of egg yolks, but the whites will add extra protein and improve the structure and chewiness of the cookie.
  4. Flour blends. The big question is, which variety of gluten-free flour should you use? I find that experimentation is the key. The type of cookie, including the desired spread, texture and chewiness, factors in to your flour selection. One brand of all-purpose flour may work well in one cookie but not at all in another. Be patient and willing to blend your own combinations. If you have at least two different types of flour, experiment with different ratios, starting with 1:1. Then, depending on the results, consider a 1:3 or 2:3 ratio—or, reverse that ratio. Weigh the flour to visualize how it affects the characteristics of the cookie. This way you can truly see and taste the results.
  5. Inclusions: The fun stuff. You should generally add in your inclusions—such as chocolate chips, dried fruit or candy—last, along with the flour. Do not over mix when adding the inclusions, which can cause ingredient breakage or even bleeding.
  6. Baking. Yes, baking. Every oven is different. Make sure that yours has an accurate thermostat. Generally, cookies should be baked until they are about 80 percent done. The other 20 percent will occur as the cookies are cooling at room temperature away from any drafts, which can cause cracks.
  7. The dunk. Finally, make sure you have plenty of your favorite dunking beverage ready. Whether cold milk, hot chocolate, red wine, Irish coffee or another drink all together, no cookie-noshing experience is complete without that perfect complement to your sweet treat.

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at the Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

10 Tips for Making Great Gluten-Free Bread

A Chef Shares His Secrets

I love a good loaf of bread. So about 15 years ago when I was asked to teach a new class at the Culinary Institute of America that included gluten-free breads, I paused. After much trial and error, I’ve learned a few things about making gluten-free yeast-raised breads. As a gluten-free bread baker, you have to develop your own level of comfort and make the formula adjustments that work best for you.

Here are tips from my gluten-free baking book that helped me find my level of comfort. Hopefully, they’ll help you, too.

  1. Increase hydration. Gluten-free flour blends are drier and more absorbent, so I use more liquid. Carbonated water, even non-diet soda, works wonders in gluten-free bread recipes. The extra bubbles help to lighten the batter, and if you are using non-diet soda, the sugar it contains can provide extra action for the yeast.
  2. Use the paddle attachment on your mixer, not the bread dough hook. Most gluten-free bread doughs
    have more of a “batter” consistency that does not require kneading. You can also start mixing the dry ingredients using the whip attachment on an electric mixer and switch to the paddle attachment as you
    mix in the wet ingredients.
  3. Use a low mixing speed. This is effective because you are working with a thinner batter rather than elastic dough.
  4. Increase the amount of yeast. Since there is no gluten to stretch and trap the gas as in gluten-containing bread, the yeast has to work harder, so use more of it. If you are experimenting with your own recipes, start by increasing the amount of yeast by 25 percent.
  5. You can pre-ferment, a technique in which part of the bread ingredients are mixed ahead of time and allowed to ferment for several hours to develop more flavor and acidity. Mix one-third of the gluten-free flour in the recipe, an equal amount of water, and half of the yeast. Allow it to double in volume, which will take about 30 to 45 minutes. Then proceed with the recipe by combining the remaining ingredients with the pre-ferment.
  6. Use pans with side walls. Your gluten-free bread “batter” cannot stand on its own or hold a shape and must be poured into a pan that can support it while baking. Smaller loaf pans sometimes work better than large ones. Make sure the pan is no more than two-thirds full.
  7. Proof in a warm, humid environment. Yeast bread mixtures need both to rise. This is true for gluten-free breads, too. You can set up a proofing atmosphere in your kitchen by finding a warm place for the bread to rise.
    Bread can also be proofed in a larger microwave. Place a graduated, heat-proof measuring cup filled with one cup of water in the microwave and heat it until boiling. Carefully push the cup to a back corner, place the bread pan in the center, and close the door. Keep an eye on the pan to be sure the batter is rising properly. Take it out when you see a gentle arc at the top of the pan (about 40 to 45 minutes).
  8. Bake in a moist oven. Professional bakers have ovens that inject steam at the beginning of the baking process and vent it at the end. You can reproduce these same effects at home by using some ice cubes and a cast-iron skillet or cookie sheet that’s warped or that you don’t mind getting warped. When preheating the oven, put the empty skillet or cookie sheet on the bottom rack. Place the bread pan on the middle rack in the oven. Keeping your face back, toss some ice cubes into the hot skillet or baking sheet and close the door. Voila! You have steam. To vent, crack open the oven door toward the end of baking, typically during the last 5 to 8 minutes.
  9. Start out at a lower temperature—350° F—to help prevent the gluten-free bread, which takes longer to bake, from overbrowning. Then increase the temperature by about 25° to brown at the end. You can also maintain a steady temperature and cover the bread with foil if it’s getting too brown.
  10. Use a thermometer to verify that the bread is done. An internal temperature of 210° F or greater at the center is best.

 

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Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at the Culinary Institute of America.

Excerpted from Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College. Copyright ©2008 by the Culinary Institute of America and published by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Illustration by Daniel Vasconcellos, www.vasky.com

Our Guide to Gluten-Free Substitutions in Recipes

 

Generally speaking, substituting ingredients in recipes is ill-advised, especially if it’s a recipe you’ve never prepared before. But what if you have multiple dietary restrictions? Or what if you’re already halfway through a recipe and you realize you’re out of milk, wine or lemons? Worry not! Chef Richard Coppedge Jr. is here to answer common questions about recipe substitutions: when they work, when they won’t and what to expect of your final outcome.

Many recipes call for small amounts of white wine, and I hate to open a whole bottle for two tablespoons. What can I use to substitute for small amounts in recipes?

A simple syrup with a drop of lemon juice can work in many cases. Simple syrups really are “simple.” Just bring one
cup of white granulated sugar, one cup of water and one teaspoon of lemon juice to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, remove the syrup from the heat, let cool and then store in the refrigerator until needed.

Are nut flours interchangeable?

Generally, most nut flours are interchangeable. Keep these two things in mind when substituting, however. First, I recommend using a “blanched” nut flour, which has had the outer skin removed during blanching. Secondly, different nuts have unique flavors and some differences in oil/fat content, so a recipe made with almond flour and a recipe made with hazelnut flours may turn out quite differently.

Can I swap out nondairy milk for regular milk in baking recipes?

Yes, of course. Without the dairy, there will be differences in flavor and protein content. Fat content in nondairy milks tend to be much lower than “regular” milk (except for coconut milk). Soy milk tends to curdle if heated too quickly, and some soy milk is sweetened with (gluten-containing) barley, so be careful what you buy. You can use the same amount of nondairy milk by volume as dairy milk. If you are trying to substitute nondairy milk for buttermilk, just add ½ teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 2 cups of nondairy milk and shake or mix thoroughly.

Can I use dried buttermilk for liquid buttermilk?

Yes, but it is best to rehydrate the dried buttermilk with water before using. The general ratio is one part dried buttermilk to four parts water. If the dried buttermilk has a superfine, powdery texture, you can add it into the recipe in the dried state, but you need to still include adding in the four parts water along with any other wet ingredients in the recipe. If you don’t include the rehydrating water, your final product will be much too dry.

Is coconut oil a one-for-one swap with butter in recipes?

Yes.

When a sauce or gravy calls for regular flour, what’s the best substitution?

Use a mixture of three parts cornstarch and one part potato starch or tapioca starch.

Can I use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic in a pinch?

Yes, but not too much. Avoid using garlic salt due to the sodium content, especially if the garlic is used early in the cooking/baking process because the sodium in the garlic salt will become more intense as the product loses moisture. If you need to use garlic salt, season with it at the end, just minutes before serving.

Is bottled lemon juice a good substitute for fresh?

Yes.

Can I swap out honey for maple syrup in baking recipes (and vice versa)?

Yes, but bear in mind that real maple syrup is much thinner than honey, while artificial maple syrup is much closer to the viscosity of honey.

When a recipe calls for beer, what can I use instead (besides gluten-free beer)?

Most likely, the beer is being used for its flavor and possibly for its carbonation and not so much for the alcohol content. Consider using another type of carbonated beverage, ranging from seltzer water to some type of soda that is not a “diet” soda.

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at the Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.