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02 December 2010

gluten-free holiday baking, 2010

the 12 days of holiday cookies

Let's bake, shall we?

It's December 2nd. Most of you have probably gathered your recipe cards around you to take notes and make substitutions, pulled out the butter to soften on the kitchen counter, and started planning on sending boxes full of crisp cookies and soft squares of gingerbread to friends and family across the world.

I am not sending baked goods as presents this year. In fact, Danny and I decided to be honest and not even attempt holiday cards. Our lives have been one fine frenzy lately and I have to admit that I'm pretty darned tired. I'd much rather keep things simple.

So here is the holiday card you might have received from us:

"Dear _____. Thank you for being in our lives this year. Thank you, particularly, for making us laugh. We adore you. Happy [insert particular holiday here]. Love, Danny, Shauna, and Lu."

There. Holiday cards are sent.

We're sending baked goods virtually as well. And we're giving them to you.

Starting tomorrow, we'll be doing the 12 days of holiday baked goods on this blog. Most will be cookies. There might a special fudge and something else involving cake. But let's face it. This time of year, it's all about the cookies.

We've been baking for weeks, trying out recipes, working out our best all-purpose mix for cookies, measuring and tasting, then sending these cookies out of the house. (I've been sending them to work with Danny. I'm not sure how many have made it there. He's been pretty excited about these cookies.)

These are going to be 12 fabulous holiday treats, baked goods that just happen to be gluten-free.

So start your engines. Let's talk about baking before we begin.


As anyone who has been reading this site for awhile knows, we bake by weight in this house. It's the only way to bake.

For years, I stayed away from scales and grams. Who needed them when cups were so sturdy, and so familiar? If you are gluten-free, you need scales and grams.

Each gluten-free flour has a different weight per cup. For example, 1 cup of millet flour weighs 120 grams. 1 cup of sorghum flour weighs 127 grams. 1 cup of teff flour weighs 158 grams. 1 cup of sweet rice flour weighs 204 grams. Try substituting potato starch (192 grams per 1 cup) for cornstarch (128 grams per 1 cup) and you will have a heavy baked good, dense and tasting terribly starchy.

(And by the way, these weights are according to this conversion chart of gluten-free flours. However, the lovely woman who created this chart may measure a cup of flour differently than you do. Do you spoon in the flour and level off? Or do you scoop a cup of flour directly from the bag? There's a big difference in weight between those two methods.

One night last year, when I was just learning how to bake by weight, I asked on Twitter: "Can someone with a scale tell me how much 1 cup of regular all-purpose flour weighs?" Within moments, I received a flood of answers, ranging from 4.2 ounces to 5.5.

Do you see how inaccurate cups can be?

By the way, this isn't just a gluten-free thing. This is a baking thing. I have friends who are pastry chefs in restaurants and bakeries. Not one of them measures in cups. In fact, any baking book that has recipes written in cups? The author probably developed the recipe in grams and tried to convert them to cups because the publisher demanded it. That's why some recipes don't work as well as they could sometimes.

And so, I'm on a mission. If you want Christmas cookies, you have to buy a scale.

They're not expensive, I promise you. We use this Oxo scale, and it's currently $34.99 on Amazon. Do you know how much weighing this puppy has seen in the last 18 months? It's still going strong. This This ultra-thin scale is on sale for $25 at the moment. I think this Escali scale is elegant. We've seen kitchen scales at thrift stores, ones that worked well, for less than $10.

They are worth their weight in cookie dough, I promise you.

All you want in a good scale is the ability to measure in ounces and grams. You also need a TARE button, which allows you to weigh 100 grams of one flour, hit the tare button to zero it out again, and then weigh another flour in the same bowl. That's it.

And that's the beauty of this. It's so easy. When I was resisting, I assumed that measuring in grams must be harder. (I think it's the trauma of being forced to learn the metric system in the 5th grade. They taught me badly.) Turns out that all you do is tip the flour into a bowl and watch the grams rise on the scale. When you hit 140 grams, you stop.

It's so much more precise. And do you know what that means? Recipes work.

Someone wrote to me a few months ago and said, "Can't you just put your recipes in cups? I don't need my recipes to be perfect like you do." Let me make this clear — I'm not doing this to make my recipes perfect. (They're not.) We give you recipes in grams because we want you to have cookies you love. Period.

So people. Get used to it. You're going to have to start baking by weight.


We've done a lot of work so you don't have to do it.

We have an all-purpose mix on this site already, and many of you have kindly written to us to say how much you love it. Thank you.

We're constantly tinkering around here, as you might imagine, so we have a slightly modified version for these cookies (and in general).

Do you have a pen? Write this down.

200 grams superfine brown rice flour
150 grams sorghum flour
50 grams potato flour
250 grams sweet rice flour
150 grams potato starch
100 grams arrowroot powder
100 grams cornstarch

That's it. Weigh each one out and then put it in a giant container. (We like cambros, which you can find online and at restaurant supply stores.) Stir up all the flours together. Put on the lid and shake the heck of that thing until all the flours have mixed and combined into one flour. That's it.

You now have flour for baking.

I know it seems like a lot of flours. It's true. Each one has properties that lends itself well to gluten-free baking. Buy a bag of each of these flours, however, and mix them all up, and you'll have enough flour to bake all the cookies on this site for the next four weeks.

That's the plan. Every single baked good we will be sharing this month will be using this all-purpose flour. No need to buy other flours. Make yourself a batch and start baking.

Let us tell you why we chose these.

First of all, as I have written before, we have found that the best gluten-free baking mix is 40% whole grain flours and 60% starches. Why? We love whole grains, not only because they are nutritious, but also because flours like brown rice or quinoa have nutritious qualities that a white rice can simply never offer. Also, don't forget that gluten is a protein, so you need to replace that somehow in your baked goods. Using flours that have proteins does that.

Too much of whole grain flours, however? The cookies and baked goods start tasting too nutritious. They have a grainier feeling. They look different than we are used to seeing. I applaud those of you who are doing baking with more whole grain flours. We've done some too. However, we know that during the holidays? People want a familiar taste, a texture on the tongue that reminds us of childhood. Too much whole grain tastes like obligation.

So, in this mix, the whole grain flours are the superfine brown rice, the sorghum flour, and the potato flour. (Yes, I know that potatoes are not a grain. However, the flour is the whole vegetable ground down, rather than a white starch stripped of its nutrition.)

Here's another reason we want you to bake by weight. If you cannot eat one of those flours (you are allergic to rice or potatoes; you don't like the taste of sorghum), you can substitute. Try almond flour, quinoa flour, teff flour, or millet flour. Simply substitute your flour with the SAME WEIGHT of the original flour and you are set.

The same is true of the starches. We like sweet rice flour, potato starch, arrowroot, and cornstarch in combination. However, if you cannot eat corn, use more potato starch or tapioca instead. If you can't find arrowroot powder, use tapioca instead. We used to do that. Again, substitute your starch with the SAME WEIGHT of the original starch and you are done.

(A few years ago, we wrote an informal guide to the properties of the different gluten-free flours. That might help, if you are unfamiliar with some of these choices.)

Yes, of course, there will be small differences between our flour and yours if you use different flours. They all have different tastes. But that's one of the reasons we use so many flours. Switching out one won't make that big a difference. I have to say, however, that we really don't like the bean flours. Their taste comes through, no matter how many flours you use. And I still don't want my cookies to taste like beans.

We added a touch of potato flour to this AP mix because we have found that a bit of potato flour helps create soft baked goods (and this is true of bread, too). Too much more than 50 grams, however, and you start tasting the potato. We also traded out the tapioca flour from our original mix. Tapioca flour, to me, has started to taste a bit metallic. It's also a bit slimy in the final texture. Who wants a slimy cookie? So it's just a bit of refinement.

You can order Bob's Red Mill arrowroot online. In this case, 80 ounces of it is $21. DO NOT buy arrowroot powder in the spice section of the grocery store. It is completely overpriced. While you're online, you can order any of these flours we've shown you here, usually at drastically reduced prices from a grocery store.

Oh, and since I seem to get three emails about this a day? Sweet rice flour may not be in the baking section of your grocery store. It's usually in the Asian foods section. It's a hugely important part of gluten-free baking and it's also one of the cheapest flours. Almost all big grocery stores carry it now, in the Asian foods section.

You'll need some xanthan gum and guar gum, as well. We have found, over and over, that using a bit of the two together makes for a better texture in gluten-free baked goods. These hydrocolloids are shaped differently when you look at them under a microscope, which means they bind together well and more accurately mimic the effects of gluten.

I don't put the gums into the AP mix because you'll need such a small amount that they could get lost in there. Also, if you wanted to use this AP mix for a bread recipe, for example, you'll need far more xanthan and guar gum than you would in a cake. We will adjust for each recipe accordingly.

Have I bored you silly yet? I hope not. This is all pretty important stuff. I'm thrilled to be able to distill some of the huge lessons I have learned in the past two years. I am completely a geek, yes. But you get cookies out of it.

But, speaking of cookies, let's show you some you could make right now. These are some of the best holiday cookies already available on this site.

And hey! Those of you who are stubbornly addicted to baking by cups are in luck. Most of these were created before we made the switch.

No one needs to feel deprived during the holidays with these treats:

gluten-free gingerbread


sugar cookies I

Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

Rosemary's Christmas cookies II

Rosemary's Christmas Cookies

gluten-free rugelach, batch #2


spicy molasses cookies

Spicy Molasses Cookies

ginger cookies for Christmas

Chez Panisse Ginger Cookies

fruit and nut balls II

Fruit and Nut Balls

Cookies That Are Not Necessarily Holiday Cookies But Could Be

almond butter cookie

Almond Butter Cookies with Chocolate

36-hour chocolate chip cookies II

36-Hour Chocolate Chip Cookies

World Peace cookies I

World Peace Cookies

gf oreos, close-up

Homemade Oreos

gf fig newtons

Homemade Fig Newton-Like Cookies

gluten-free black and white cookies

Black and White Cookies

want some cookies?

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

And finally, these.

jam thumbprints

These I will give you the recipe for tomorrow.

Let the holiday baking begin!


At 12:13 AM, Blogger Eat the Love said...

Wait. Are you telling me I need to get a scale now? Sheesh.

LOL! YES! Everyone needs to get a baking scale! I TOTALLY AGREE! You tell 'em Shauna! Baking is SO much easier with a scale.

And you forgot one of the most important points about using a scale. LESS THINGS TO CLEAN. No more washing all those measuring cups. Dump the flour in, tare, dump more flour in. Easy Peasy.

And those cookies? SHUT UP. I want to make them all. AND eat them all... I can't wait for the recipes....

At 1:05 AM, Blogger divinacucina said...

I am also a "scale baker" really makes life so easy- and as a teacher- it is also easier if people understand ratio.
Easier to cut a recipe in half!

Easier to understand why 1 cup of flour to 1 egg for a recipe can vary by so many grams and change a recipe.
Grazie Bella

At 1:28 AM, Blogger L Vanel said...

This came at just the right time for me. I have been fretting about holiday baking this year since we discovered my son has multiple allergies. I need this first step of coming up with a flour mix so all the measuring and mixing can be done in advance. Little things like this can sometimes interfere with all the best intentions when I'm working on so many things at once. Right then, to the kitchen.

At 3:20 AM, Blogger Kate at Serendipity said...

I've just started baking gluten free and your books and blog have saved me. Thank you!

I live in Belgium, and havent' found sweet rice flour yet. I'm still looking...

At 3:59 AM, Blogger Fiona said...

As someone who grew up in the UK, I'm still amazed that people don't bake by weight - everyone has a scale in the UK as all recipes are by weight. Hadn't even heard of cup measures till we moved across the pond a few years back.

What stlll gets me are those recipes that state how many grams of flour or sugar you need and then ask for a stick of butter. Whilst it's always going to weigh the same, you definitely need to tell your international readers who have never heard of one what a stick of butter weighs please!

At 4:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well that answers my questions! i was hoping you'd give a list of all the flours you'd be using so i can get ready this weekend!! not only that, but you included an all-purpose mix so only one-time mixing!! looking forward to following along with you :)

At 4:07 AM, Blogger White Toast with Butter said...

Everything looks great! Amazing that you do so much with a little one running about.

At 5:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in South Carolina and none of our grocery stores carry sweet rice flour, not even Whole Foods. I called the regional office in Atlanta and they don't stock it in the district is what they said. So I went to an Asian foods market and found it there. It is labeled glutinous rice flour, but according to all of my research it is the same thing. So, if people can't find it in their grocery store ...have them check the asian market.

At 6:01 AM, Blogger ChrisNeufeld said...

Bored us silly? Not even close.

Really good stuff Shauna, thanks.

At 6:12 AM, Blogger Aubergenie said...

Ooooh. Shauna. Now you're talking. I am salivating looking at all those cookies just waiting to be made. Can't wait for the next posts!

And props for extolling the virtues of cooking using scales--it is so easy, I just don't understand people's reluctance!

At 6:35 AM, Blogger spicybohemian said...

Oh wow!!! These look amazing! I can't wait to try them all. Your Christmas cookies were the first gluten-free cockies I ever made back in 2006. I've been coming back every year! :)

At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh. Thank you! Just the photos and I think, "Okay. I can make it through the holiday season." I love to bake. I love to share food with my friends. I love to go to holiday parties, but with nothing to eat, what fun is that??

Thank you. Thank you.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger jorghahaq said...

I have an important question about the gluten free flour recipe. Is there anything can be substituted for cornstarch? I have a child who is deathly allergic to corn and everything that is made from corn and I would really like for her to be able to eat the holiday cookies as well.

At 7:01 AM, Blogger jorghahaq said...

Is there something that can be used in place of the cornstarch in the gluten free baking mix? I keep forgetting to ask you this. I have a child that is deathly allergic to corn and everything that is made from corn so I would prefer to eliminate the corn starch rather than make gluten-free cookies and "normal" cookies and risk those with celiac disease in the house mixing up the cookies...

At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes indeed...let us bake! i don't HAVE to be gluten-free but i know it would be great to cut back, especially right now...thanks for the amazing ideas!

At 7:47 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

The link for the recipe for the oat and chocolate chip cookies is broken!!

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

Noooo the link for the recipe for the oat and choc chip cookies is broken, they are my fave!

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Catie said...

So excited - about the cookies and the all purpose flour.

Quick question about baking - do you bake on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper or straight on the pan?


At 8:37 AM, Blogger Micki said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Pétra said...

First thank you for putting up pictures of all the cookies now I don't have to wait wondering what will be next. I have already made a few on the list in the past so I know they will all be yummy!I am excited for tomorrows and the gingerbread.
Sweet rice flour was one of the first I used in gf baking and I know how hard it can be to find.I just bought a bag made by Bob's Red Mill so it can be ordered online now. It doesn't have the splashy gluten free packaging but I looked on my bag and it has a little gf badge at the bottom. I don't work for Bob's but live in Portland if you are ever here their factory store is so fun!

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Pétra said...

PS I did switch to the scale for the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies and I love it! Now I have to figure out converting for all my old recipes.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have a child that can't have cornstarch or potato starch. If tapioca starch is slimy, then what other starches may be substituted? He really wants Christmas cookies and I really want to make him some, but I am stumped. Thank you.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Kristen - Dine & Dish said...

What a delicious, delicious, delicious post and so informative!

At 10:18 AM, Blogger alexis rose said...

oh. my. goodness. i love you. (if only through the internet.) you are simply amazing and inspiring. i recently read your post on rugelach. funny that i should read it right after rifling through my great-grandmother's jewish pastry recipes and longing to recreate gluten free versions. you've given me the confidence to go forth and conquer! thank you. :) may your holiday season be truly blessed.

At 10:32 AM, Blogger Scotty said...

Thank you for the explanation of the different flour weights. Makes total sense now. I someone has issues with cornstarch. I was going to ask about substitutions for the rice flours. I can do rice in limited amounts but it is also a trigger food for me. Along with bean, glutens,nuts. Makes gf options much smaller. No eggs or dairy either. You may understand why baking has been nearly non-existent for me.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Shauna said...

Hi folks, I'm glad you're enjoying the post. I really want everyone to be able to do this!

For those of you asking about substitutions, please go back and read the post fully. I explained it there. If you can't have cornstarch, replace with another starch of equal weight! It's the same with rice.

LeeAnn, you know, those qualities of tapioca are really subtle. I've been using tapioca flour for years and years. It's only because I am doing such close fine-tuning that I notice it now. Your son will love the cookies made with the AP mix made with tapioca.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Buying a scale is the best advice ever. I went GF in 2004 and mourned for a long time as I was quite the baker before hand. Eventually, more decent mixes came onto the market and I could make do. But when you bought a scale, I did too. It was the key tool to having my GF baking soar.

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Jenn Sutherland said...

If I could eat cookies from the screen, your post would be stripped bare. ;) Thank you for all the beautiful cookies...we will certainly baking up several of them in the coming weeks!

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said... are fabulous...these cookies are out-of-this-world...I am baking all of them this week and my kitchen smells divine! You are amazing; keep up the great work, darling and hope to see you soon!

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Sarah-Wynne said...

Shauna, you're simply fabulous. Ever since going GF and starting to read your blog (starting with the archives, of course, and working patiently up to your sweet love story), I have been baking by weight. And when I have to convert something the traditional way, I use your proportions. Thanks to you and Danny, I've rarely had anything fail because of a bad conversion. We're so thankful you do what you do- keep up the good work!

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Marianne said...

I absolutely love your flour mixture and keep a canister of it in the refrigerator at all times. It has made it easier to do baking and works well in for all of my cooking needs. Thank you for developing this mixture.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Erika said...

i'm completely on board with using a scale to bake by weights! it is still new for us, but we're getting good results.

i'm lost when it comes to converting recipe using cup measurements though. any tips?

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Amy said...

Yay scale baking! No excuses! Forward with the movement!

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Candy said...

I have never been a scale baker (never a baker, actually) and have now requested a scale for Christmas.I hope I made it clear that I'm not the one who wants to be weighed.

This information was far from boring. I have only been GF for 7 months and it has been a real challenge for me. My goal is to do everything GF so nobody knows it and everybody loves it. I mean, who wants to fix everything twice? Nobody at Thanksgiving knew my stuffing was GF and everyone raved about it.

Call me sappy, but I love you!!

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the great info. I had been buying pre-made waffle mix from Trader Joes, but they recently discontinued it. You've inspired me to take the GF baking to a new level. (can I use this as a waffle mix? Bread mix?)
This might be a dumb question, but how big a container should I buy to store all these grams of flours?!
And do they need refrigeration?

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Christine said...

I've been a reader for awhile now and you have never steered (stirred?)me wrong, so when you say get a scale, that's exactly what I'm going to do. This weekend. And then I'm going to bake. And before all that, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart: for your blog, for your research, for your attention to detail, and for your cookies!

At 1:18 PM, Blogger brooke said...

I used my scale for the first time (for baking anyway) last night. Mine is just a simple one (no electronics involved), but I liked the way it made things easier.

I am, also, excited to see my question answered about what to do about allergies to things in your mix. Off to the kitchen to see what I need. :)

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

I'm so excited that you converted the 36 hr. choc chip recipe! My sister in law makes them every year and I swoon and am jealous, but now I can have some!

I have a question, in your opinion, does egg replacers like ener-g egg replacer work well in baking recipes. I can't have eggs and always wonder if baking with replacers will drastically change the outcome or not... if you see this post and have an opinion, thanks in advance!

At 3:13 PM, Blogger zebe912 said...

I LOVE having a digital scale now. (I used to have an "analog" one and tare-ing was a pain.) I just don't find many recipes that are listed in weights and I'm never sure how to start converting. But since I halve a lot of recipes, the grams are so much easier. Thanks for some great new recipes to try! YUMMMM!

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Amanda on Maui said...

Your blend reminds me a lot of the blend from No Gluten, No Problem and their book Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking. They don't use the sweet rice flour and they have tapioca starch in it.

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shauna, with your encouragement I bought a scale a few months ago and I must say that I've been having so much fun converting my "regular" recipes into gluten-free ones! Using the all-purpose gluten free flour mix that you had previously provided allows me to bake the recipes that I've always enjoyed making with little change in texture or flavour. And I especially appreciate the flexibility that baking by weight provides: I often swap out one flour for another, one starch for another, depending on the other ingredients in the recipe and the taste and texture that I'm looking for.
I never thought that gluten-free baking could be as creative as it is now! Thank you!

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, thank you. can't WAIT.

And thanks for the info about adding more whole grains, I actually like them. My major complaint about most gf food is that it's too white - I was a whole grain girl long before I was a silly yak.

At 6:03 PM, Blogger LaurieA-B said...

I am thrilled that Alice Medrich's beautiful new book includes weights (by ounce). It also includes 39 recipes for "wheat-free" cookies.

I'm so pleased you are championing baking by weight because it's not extra trouble--it's easy and fun.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Lisa Stander-Horel said...

How easy was that? (I've been watching too much Ina...). I just mixed up the flour - still have to fetch some arrowroot, but had everything else. Subbed some oat for partial sorghum and a touch more brown rice flour, but otherwise, exactly the same. I'm pretty tired of tapioca flour, too. Haven't noticed the odd taste, but pretty sure tapioca fl. is hard for us to eat for some reason,so always happy to have an alternative.

BTW, got a great deal on a scale at Amazon - salton digital for $35 with a $5 instant rebate, so only $30 with free shipping. My old one which cost a lot more died recently, but it lasted over 5 years. Not bad.

Have you noticed that organic and farmer market eggs vary in weight? I'd love it if we could figure out weights for liquids too in American recipes. Eventually.

Thanks for all your hard work. Can't wait to get going on some more baking. (a little side note: Lulu and Phoebe is also aka Lisa Horel, the human, just in case you were trying to figure out who this is.)

Really really. Thank you. And tell Lu those peppermint thumb cookies rock. I'm making some exactly like hers.

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Rebekah said...

I'd like to know the same thing that Lauren asked about the Ener-G powder!

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

My all-purpose mix is ready to go! Let's bake!

At 10:43 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Oh my God, thank you so much for making this post. I am mildly obsessed with gluten free baking. I love your recipes, but this is helpful as it aids me in creating my own and adapting old favorites as well. Thank you!!

At 4:07 PM, Blogger somecallmemom said...

Shauna - Are you using potato starch and potato flour interchangeably? I always thought they were two different things.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger sarah jean, said...

all i want to say is i love you.

coming from a stranger, that may seem weird, but, well, i'm not *too* weird and those are the only words that came to mind as i read this post.

that, and...

T H A N K Y O U ! ! ! ! ! ! !

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I just went to Authentic Foods website to order all the ingredients to make the all purpose mix. $70 worth??? !!! Is that right? Anybody know where to find less expensive options?

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Theresa P. said...

Hi Shauna, NO!!!!!!!!!!!! you did not bore me silly. I LOVED all the information on the gluten free flours. I am a newby. so i wrote everything down. so much to remember.i can really appreciate a good all-purpose flour blend. THANK-YOU it will save me alot of money through trial and error! you know if you don't like a mix/blend your recipes will not be as good as they can be. I would love to win your new cookbook!!! i have heard a lot of great things on other sites about it. I will keep my fingers crossed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy Holidays to you and yours

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Mariposa said...

For Cathy:

When I was first diagnosed years ago I ordered about $70 worth of flour and other ingredients from Authentic Foods. When the order came and it was in this tiny little heart sank.

I have since found many of the ingredients way cheaper locally or through other on-line retailers. First, for the starches, check your local Asian market. They will have sweet rice flour (aka the unfortunately named glutinous rice flour), potato starch, tapioca starch, and corn starch. Those flours you should not have to order online unless you don't have access to an Asian store or a grocery that has an Asian section.

For other flours, early on in my GF life I did a price comparison between Bob's Red Mill's and Authentic Food and BRM was way cheaper. Each flour, compared ounce for ounce, was more expensive at Authentic, and shipping/handling is about twice what BRM charges. So I pretty much exclusively use BRM. I'm not on the superfine brown rice flour bandwagon since I really can't tell the difference, so I use BRM brown rice flour and leave it at that.

I am lucky to live near Portland where Bob's Red Mill is located so I go there every couple months and stock up on the flours I use, which are sold in the store in bulk. Or, I wait until the BRM products go on sale in a local store. Fred Meyer had all the GF BRM flours on sale at 40% off a few weeks ago so I stocked up then.

In addition, Amazon carries Bob's Red Mill products, although of course you have to buy bulk amounts, and often shipping is free.

So, the bottom line is that there's no need to spend a fortune on GF baking.

Regardless of the products you use, I hope your GF baking is a success. Good luck!

At 3:17 PM, Blogger Jules said...

Thank you so much for all the 'boring' info about the different flours and how to use them. I'm a former pastry chef who recently discovered that I might be possible gluten- intolerant. Right at 'baking season'! no less. So cruel... Anyway, this post has given me much more hope, because I can see how easily I can start my cookie baking extravaganza even with gluten-free ingredients!

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Sugar Mags said...

I feel like I should hop on paypal and send you some money. What a great post! I learned so much in that post Shauna. Thank you so much. I'm bookmarking it for future use FOR SURE. You just keep getting better and better! Must be that positive attitude of yours. YES! That's it :)

At 2:34 PM, Blogger kellyknits said...

I'm am grateful to you and the chef every day. Thank you for everything, but extra hugs for all the education!

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Shauna, Chef, and Lu.

I am writing to you, for I am on a mission to achieving greatness. When I read your blog, as it is part of my daily routine to go through various gf and gf friendly food blogs in the mornings, I am inspired. I am inspired to make the kitchen in my home a place where anything and everything is created. I am inspired to create my own gluten free food blog that brings smiles and hilarity and warmth and love to the people who read it. I am inspired to see how far my cooking can take me, to show how limitless in potential this lifestyle really is. Being gluten free is a gateway lifestyle. And where is it going?

I have no idea. But it's going to be epic. And it's going to be awesome.

Now, besides gushing over your blog and how wonderful you three are, I do have some technical questions that I believe you can answer. I know these past few weeks have been extremely stressful and exhausting for you, what with all that traveling and baking and being wonderful and whatnot. So whenever you have time to sip on some hot tea and enjoy a gingerbread man while answering my question, and no time sooner, I'd be forever grateful.

My Question>>>

I was so excited to learn about the different properties of gluten free flours from your blog; heck, I copy+pasted them onto a Word doc and it's sitting on my desktop, waiting for the mad scientist in me to create something (It's ALIIIIVEEE!). That, along with the link to the gf flours and their differences in weight v. volume, is going to come in handy once I begin my own gf adventures in the blogging world. These documents, I realized, were not just handy to have, but necessary as well.

You were absolutely right, Shauna; whether you're baking gluten free or not, scales are essential. Measuring cups are not reliable and the different flours in the gluten free world weigh more/less than others. So here's my question: when making substitutions, whether for wheat/gluten flours or other gf flours, do we do the substitutions by weight or by volume?

To make my question more clear, I'll give you an example:

Say a recipe calls for 1 cup of brown rice flour, which is 158 g. But I, seeking to try something different and struck with inspiration (or is it madness? :D), want to use buckwheat flour instead. So, 1 cup of buckwheat flour is 120 g. In conclusion, that is a difference of 38g.

If the recipe calls for 158 g or 1 cup of rice flour, does that mean I use 158 g of buckwheat flour? Do I make substitutions with volume in mind, or with weight?

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Again, I just wanted to say how much I really enjoy (OK, I'm going to be honest. It's LOVE) your blog. Yours and Elana's Pantry were the first gf blogs I frequented, and the number has grown enormously since then (Spunky Coconut, Celiac Teen, Daily Dietribe, A Gluten-Free Day, Z's Cup of Tea, etc etc etc.). I am currently an exchange student in Sweden until January 2011, so true gluten free foods (instead of de-glutened wheat starch) are hard to come by. However, some flours can be found (i.e. buckwheat, rice, and soy), but my baking abilities here are severely limited. Why? Well, exchange student kitchens lack a lot of appliances necessary for baking, though I have been extremely creative in a few of my meals. But once I get back, let me tell you, it's going to take a heck of a lot to get me out of the kitchen.

Please please please keep doing what you are doing. Please keep spreading the love through your writing and the food you create. And once I have my blog set up, I hope to travel across the country and meet you and the other bloggers that I've come to respect and adore, and cook in the same kitchen and eat at the same dinner table and eat the same meal we've all prepared.

This email reminds me... I've got to tell my mom that I want your cookbooks for Christmas.

Love and light and laughter,

At 6:31 PM, Blogger moonsword said...

i just discovered your blog and it's amazing! i'm really looking forward to your holiday recipes!

At 5:17 AM, Blogger Amy said...

I was SO excited to find your A.P. flour post, but not as excited as my six-year-old! One of the many blessings of having a little boy with autism is that he reads years beyong his age and has a photographic memory, so he remembers all of mommy's food allergies better than she does! He loves looking for recipes with me. :) When he saw the pictures of all your cookies, he said, "HOLY GLUTEN-FREE!" <3

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

I can't wait to try all of your cookies!
I went to purchase all the flours that make up your AP flour and thought it would be easy since I'm in So Cal and going to Whole Foods...not so much!

No Potato Flour- I will try Mother's Market.

Got Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour but it didn't say "superfine"...??

Didn't find sweet rice flour but I just read your post about the Asian section! Will try again

Got Bob's Red Mill (BRM) 'Sweet' White Sorghum that ok??

I'm a woman on a "YES" mission! :-D

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

This all purpose flour mix worked really well! I actually don't like potato flour I can taste it and it tastes like potatoes to me, but I don't taste the garfava/garbanzo bean flour. I think the differences in what people can taste a wonderful testament to how our genes are reflected on our tongue. Brings me back to all those high school science classes testing who can taste what weird chemical.

Anyway, there are two recipes I'm working with to convert to gluten free and we are in year number two. I only really make cookies around Christmas and I don't want hordes of cookies around without anyone else to eat them but myself. One of the recipes reads "3 cups of flour heaped like mountains." This is about as far away from weighing out your flours as you can get! Thankfully my Mom finally got a scale and I'll have her scoop out with her 1 cup measure that she's had for 30 years and is what this recipe is based upon, a cup of flour heaped like a mountain! Honestly these are the best roll out cookies on the planet if you don't like super sweet cookies, and I feel like the recipe as it is written lends toward the magic of having just one person make cookies and have them come out correctly. If we figure out the weight of the flour she uses then everyone can make cookies just like mom. Yum.

Thank you for all your work in figuring out a tasty and useful flour blend!

At 8:43 AM, Blogger HLF said...

I'm not worried about holiday baking, I'm going to do this as my New Year's Promises to Myself! time to become a "locavore" for as much as I can, and learn to bake GF/DF. Coq au vin and pot roast this week (all local to the island meats), baking next (OK, not local, except for the fact I got the recipe from you, a local person)! Thanks for the advice and recipes, they really help!

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I love all that you do to promote the GF lifestyle and helping to making it palatable for all new to the steep learning curve and also the seasoned ones!

I have been making anatomically correct sugar/christmas cookies with craft store googley eyes and they are such a hit with kids and adults who appreciate the unexpected. By anatomically correct, i mean nothing too racy-little ta-ta's for the females and mustached males. The icing has some almond extract that enhances the flavor which all palettes both young and old appreciate.

Best for 2011.
Warmly J.S. in berkeley.

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I made the Mexican Wedding cookies and they were a hit! No one knew they were GF.

Santa did get me a food scale and a silpat! I'm anxious to try them.

Now I want to try the 36 hour chocolate chip cookies.

Can I use the all purpose mix for these & follow the instructions for the balance of your recipe? I don't have amaranth four.

If i did use the AP, how many grams (or ounces) of flour would I use?

Thanks so much for your inspiration. I'm determined to make GF baking something that is easy and delicious for my whole family (I'm the only one who is GF)

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Update: I made the 36 hour choc chip cookies, although I did make substitutions.
I thought they were pretty good. Guests commented that they weren't as greasy as they are used to, and that they were "fluffy"! (Not sure if that means they liked them or not!)
My substitutions:
I couldn't find amaranth flour, so I used oat flour (I picked it because it has the same weight as amaranth based on the chart you provided)

I used the gram conversion on the chart for the quantities of flour instead of "cups" in the recipe.

Next time I think I'll use a tad less xanthan gum. I'll also make smaller cookies - maybe 2 oz each. They were ridiculously big!

Thanks for all this information - i couldn't have done any of it without you!


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