When I went gluten-free about two years ago, I simply gave up baked goods. There were two reasons– taste/texture and complexity. Most of the gluten-free already baked goods are dry, sandy, crumbly, and taste like dog biscuits smell. There are a few exceptions, for a premium cost. For instance, it’s about seven dollars for a small bag of cookies, or four cupcakes. Even then, I’ve ended up paying $7 for really bad cupcakes!
I also had little desire to tackle the baking myself. All recipes I came across called for three to five flours, xantham gum additions, and other modifications. I had a three-month old baby and barely was getting dinner on the table.
I’ve come a long way in two years, and the Gluten Free community is making its mark. That first year was the hardest. I ended up going GF sometime in the fall and found very little for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That first gluten-free Christmas I was starving (literally because I was still nursing). We were out of town and I still didn’t know what it takes to be GF at other’s. My plate consisted of dry turkey, steamed buttered corn, and over-cooked buttered rice. Last year, I learned how to use coconut and almond flours and fell in love with almond flour. I thought I finally had a plan, that is until my daughter went to a new preschool where they serve breakfast and lunch and it’s a nut free zone. Suddenly, I’m needing to pack two meals a day for her (because every main dish is full of gluten) and they have to be nut free and inexpensive.
Thanks to a post by Gluten Freeville about a “back to school” resource ebook being given away from Jules Gluten Free Flour, I found a lot of answers. In addition to the ebook, Jules was at a Gluten Free expo in Denver, CO back in September. I blogged about it in “What do I do with a Regular Recipe?” after finding Jules Gluten Free flour and using it for the first time.
In the last several months, I’ve continued to enjoy using Jules Gluten Free flour, and highly recommend it, especially for quick or “normal” baking. Although Jules has amazing looking recipes on her blog that I look forward to trying, the flour has been a life saver because I’ve been able to make normal recipes, without extra conversions, ingredients, etc. I’m even making beloved favorites again!
About a month ago, my daughter’s teacher planned to make banana cupcakes in class and asked what should we do for my daughter? After discussing it, we decided that I’d be able to give her a few cups of the flour and she’d use our flour for the entire class. She had no issues with her grandmother’s recipe and Jules’ flour. They only thing we both experienced was needing to add a few extra tablespoons of flour, but I’m thinking that’s more of a high altitude issue. My daughter brought home some amazing cupcakes, which were moist, delicious, and tasted divine. They didn’t even crumble! The best part was that I finally got to try something that someone baked!
Recently, my daughter needed sugar cookies for the “harvest festival” at school. I was so exhausted, I just wanted to find a simple frozen cookie dough we could use. All the sugar cookie recipes I have are complicated and I was in no mood to mix, chill, roll out dough, cut out, etc. However, no such luck finding a GF dough. Just before getting to the checkout, I found a Wilton cookie pan in the Halloween aisle and on the back was the most simple sugar cookie recipe. We grabbed a can of Betty Crocker frosting (which is Gluten Free) and went home to bake our sugar cookies.
Wow, I can’t remember sugar cookies that good in a long time (even gluten cookies)! Nothing GF I’ve bought comes close to comparison. In fact, these tasted more like the Lofthouse Sugar cookies than anything else, although not as soft. It’s a comfort to use normal recipes again with no conversions, no extra ingredients, no worries about if the other half of someone can’t eat the recipe because of nuts or something.
Of course, for two years, I’ve also missed out on my favorite fall bread, cranberry-orange bread. After such wonderful success with the sugar cookies, I decided to have a go. Last week, I searched high and low for my recipe, which I distinctly remember had orange juice in it. Finally, I looked on All Recipes.com and found one that looked familiar. This recipe I ended up tweaking slightly because it calls for 1 cup of sugar and I’m so used to baking with less sugar now, that just sounded like way too much. So, I cut it down by 1/4 cup and added 2T of ground flaxseed to the recipe instead of increasing the amount of flour for the recipe by about 3-4T.
The bread came out perfect moist, delicious, orangey, sweet & tart. In fact, I ate an entire mini loaf that night! Three people who eat “regular” food, thought the bread was fantastic. They said they could not tell it was gluten-free and loved it.
Jules Gluten Free Flour is probably one of my favorite finds with in this gluten-free adventure. I love that I can make normal recipes. I did find her Cranberry-Orange bread recipe after I made mine. Click on the link to check it out because it looks delicious. After payday, I plan on reordering some flour because I’m almost out, I baking Jules version (though I plan on keeping the cranberries whole).
My recommendations for using Jules GlutenFree Flour: 1) cut the sugar a bit. I think this flour has a bit of sweetness to it already and less sugar is needed. 2) Add a few T of ground flaxseed for some fiber, to help with excess moisture (actually a nice issue to have) and to add a bit extra flavor. It’s just good for you, anyway. 3) Gobble the breads and muffins up quickly because after three or four days, they do get more crumbly, though still delicious. They stay moist, they just get crumbly. 4) Order more than one bag of flour because when you first get it and start re-discovering your recipes, you’ll be so excited, you’ll probably run out quickly.
Jules Gluten Free Flour is fantastic, and I recommend it over any of the other flour products out there, including some of the more “well known” ones. Jules is fun to follow on twitter and read her blog because she provides great recipes and extremely helpful information on Gluten Free and Celiac. She has other products like a cookie mix, Graham Cracker Mix, and a new Bread Mix. I’m hoping they will have some sort of bundle for the holidays because I want to try these other products, and frankly can’t wait to try some of the cookies, soft pretzels, Chocolate Beer Cake (which I sampled at the expo), and so much more on her site.
Stay tuned as I learn to enjoy baking again!