Friday, July 10, 2009

The baking challenge

The following products all contain corn by products:
Baking Powder
Powdered sugar
Yeast (Except Red Star brand)
Some flours (nearly ALL self rising - which I don't use anyway and MOST bleached white flours - which I also avoid)
Corn Starch (duh!)
Corn meal (right?)

The following contain soy:
Baking chips - chocolate, butterscotch, dark chocolate... you name it soy lechtin is probably in it
Vegetable oil

As a result of David's allergies baking has become a challenge. What once was second nature and a soothing activity has become some what stressful and not nearly as enjoyable. Reading labels and researching basic baking ingredients has sapped some of the pleasure out of baking. Further more, many of our wheat products here in the US are genetically engineered. Which, many think, has led to the rise in wheat and gluten allergies. With this in mind I have been attempting to experiment with new kinds of flour. Rice, rye and so on. While rye has a trace amount of gluten, rice has none. This means that a standard bread recipe I once made and always turned out perfectly no longer has the same light weight texture and feel. Gluten helps bread obtain that beautiful airy-ish texture we know and love. I made a batch of bread yesterday. Using a cup of rye and three cups of rice flour along with the remaining 2 cups or so of wheat flour. The bread is quite dense. While it's not dry like biscotti, it's dense like biscotti.

I made brownies on Tuesday night. I was bringing a meal to a friend who just had her first baby and thought a little something sweet would be perfect. I made the brownies with my cream of tarter/baking soda substitute for baking powder.

Word to the wise something I wish I had known: CREAM OF TARTER WILL EXPEDITE THE DRYING OUT OF BAKED GOODS. The muffins I made last week were perfect on Friday night. Moist and delicious. By Saturday morning, despite having bagged them in Ziplock bags and removing all excess air, the muffins were dry. Particularly the poppy seed. Like sand paper on my tongue. How terrible. I mushed them up in a bowl and ate them like cereal. Sand paper, slight exaggeration, eating the muffins like cereal, true story. All that to say I wish I had known. I should have figured it out. Cream of Tarter is most commonly used for things such as: making egg whites stiffen for pie toppings or assisting in the crispiness of a sugar cookie.... but with so many other things to think about those things NEVER crossed my mind. And so, when baking and using the Cream of Tarter and Baking Soda alternative ADD EXCESS FAT or APPLE SAUCE or something that will help to keep baked goods moist. Also if you live in a ridiculously hot place (like TX) and your A/C is running all the time just to keep the house at 80 degrees, storing baked goods in the fridge is a good idea. Helps keep them moist and because there are no preservatives in home baked goods, keeps them from going stale or molding.

Back to brownies. I used the recipe on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa Powder: which is safe. Substituting the baking powder and using my alcohol free, corn free vanilla and adding a few extra tablespoons of butter. They turned out perfect and were still pretty moist when we finished the last of the brownies today.

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