Wheat-free baking?
September 12, 2005 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I want to do some baking for a friend with an allergy to wheat gluten.

She has a sweet tooth, but gets an itchy rash if she consumes even a small amount of food with wheat in it. Are there any websites with recipes for barley-, wheat- and rye-free baking? Can I simply substitute non-wheat flours like cornflour or rice flour? I'm a bit of a novice in baking, but I'm good at muffins.
posted by Ritchie to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"wheat free baking"

I've tried wheat-free box mixes that use rice flour. It results in a grittier texture, but I like it.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 6:35 PM on September 12, 2005

It is difficult to substitute rice or corn flour in correct proportions, let alone to get a palatable texture. There is gluten-free flour, but its utility can be limited to certain recipes. One problem is that xanthan gum is used as a binding agent in gluten-free mixes — you don't need much of it in rice or corn flour, but for you to use this ingredient, it is very expensive.

My advice is to go to Whole Foods or a co-op grocers. These places generally have gluten-free aisles where you can pick up no-muss, no-fuss gluten-free flour, pancake, cake and brownie mixes from Pamela's Bakery and other vendors.

Another favorite recipe of mine is apple crumble, especially now that fall is coming, which lends itself well to the "crunchier" texture of the gluten-free flour that I get. Email me if you're interested and I'll send you the details.

Make sure your pans are clean, if you've baked wheat-based mixes in them before.

You'll use a lot of butter and sugar. If you use vanilla extract, make sure you use natural extract. Synthetic can contain gluten (although why this is boggles my mind).
posted by Rothko at 6:41 PM on September 12, 2005

How about something like a flourless chocolate cake?
posted by bcwinters at 6:55 PM on September 12, 2005

I get the Miss Roben's catalog (scroll down for the online pdf version), and order quite a bit from it. Two people in my family have wheat allergies, and my boss does too, so I bake a lot of their goodies. Everything's really good, and no one's ever had a reaction. My boss's wife bakes treats for him from Miss Roben's too, and he raves about the muffins and the pancakes, both of which I've never tried. Yes, you can usually replace wheat flour with other flours - just experiment.
posted by iconomy at 7:28 PM on September 12, 2005

Here's a shopping site geared to celiac disease patients, which should work well for your friend. Celiac disease is an intolerance for wheat gluten, so these products should also work well for your friend with a true food allergy to wheat gluten.
posted by lambchop1 at 7:29 PM on September 12, 2005

Gluten is the stretchy stuff that gives baking with wheat it's unique properties (e.g. the soft, springy nature of white bread).

The gluten-free recipies that work best are the ones that least rely on these properties. I'd recomend a moist heavy chocolate cake -- I'd lean towards the recipe that uses the most chocolate and the least flour-substitute. It is also easier to make an exquisite gluten-free icing than an exquisite gluten-free cake so I say go big on the icing.

Unfortunately, I buy my gluten-free birthday cake already made so I can't tell you the recipie.
posted by winston at 7:46 PM on September 12, 2005

oops. Hit "post" instead of the spellchecker
posted by winston at 7:48 PM on September 12, 2005

Don't bother trying bread or anything, but since you said she had a sweet tooth, this tofu cheesecake is actually quite good, and I'm someone who would normally balk at such things. You can substitute anything crunchy for the crust if you can't find crumbs without wheat.

Also, cornbread: quick and yum.
posted by transient at 8:31 PM on September 12, 2005

Torta alla Giandiua (aka Nutella Cake)
From Nigella Lawson's "How To Be A Domestic Goddess"

for the cake
6 large eggs, separated
1 pinch salt
125g unsalted butter, softened
400g jar Nutella
1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum or water
100g ground hazelnuts
100g good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted

for the icing
100g hazelnuts, skinned
125 g double cream
1 tablespoon Frangelico or rum or water
125g good quality bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 180oC. Prepare a 25cm springform pan: grease and line with parchment or wax paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs whites and salt until stiff but not dry (this means that they will hold their peaks, yet still appear glossy and smooth).

In a separate bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together, then add Frangelico (or rum, or water), egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in the cooled, melted chocolate, then lighten the mixture with a dollop of egg white, which you can beat in as roughly as you want, before gently folding the rest of them in a third at a time.

Pour into the prepared pan and cook for 40 minutes or until the cake's beginning to come away at the sides, then let cool on rack.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan until the aroma wafts upward and the nuts are golden brown in parts: keep shaking the pan so they don't burn on one side and stay too pallid on others. Transfer to a plate and let cool. It's very important to cool the nuts completely: if they go on the ganache while hot, it'll turn oily.

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add the cream, liquer or water, and chopped chocolate and heat gently. Once the chocolate's melted, take the pan off the heat and whisk until it reaches the right consistency to ice just the top of the cake.

Unmold the cooled cake carefully, leaving it on the base as it will be too difficult to get such a damp cake off in one piece. Ice the top with the chocolate icing, and dot thickly with the whole, toasted hazelnuts.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:10 PM on September 12, 2005

posted by Sara Anne at 8:42 AM on September 13, 2005

How about she eliminate the allergy instead?

Find a NAET practitioner. It'll cost about $50 prolly.

I used to be horribly allergic to cats and milk. No longer.
posted by Moistener at 1:07 PM on September 13, 2005

As a fellow Wheatard, let me just say that this gluten-free brownie mix is unbelievably good and super-fudgy.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:48 PM on September 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Rice Krispies contain malt, which contains gluten. So no rice krispies squares unless the box says gluten-free (there's a company in Québec that makes them, for example).
posted by Rothko at 2:21 PM on September 14, 2005

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