Misadventures in Gluten Free Baking
Back in April my acupuncturist suggested that a gluten free diet might alleviate the chronic joint pain I had been experiencing for years. I embraced the idea immediately. Anything to live pain free. Besides, I didn’t eat that much bread anyway. I was saddened to have to say good-bye to beer, but I could still drink wine and potato vodka, so, that was something. For the first month or so, I didn’t feel too deprived. I researched alternatives and was determined to learn as much as I could about gluten free cooking and living, so I could pass that knowledge on to you fine folks. Early in the summer I came across a gluten free baking book that was written by a CIA professor. I had great faith this was the answer to my prayers. I began collecting the (expensive) ingredients I would need. Finally, I was ready to try one of the recipes. I wanted to make bread. I just wanted to be able to have toast with my eggs in the morning. Maybe something as simple as a sandwich. I followed the recipe to. the. letter. I was warned that it would look more like a batter than a dough. It seemed to rise the way it was supposed to. Finally, it was time to bake it. It ended up being the most disappointing baking experience of my entire life. Even worse than the time I used too much baking powder in the biscuits when I was 10, but my grandfather ate them anyway, proclaiming them “delicious,” but I knew they tasted like aluminum foil.
When I pulled the bread pans out of the oven, the “bread” immediately began to collapse into itself. And of course, to add insult to injury, it would not tip out of the pan cleanly. Then, there was the texture. All wrong. This looked more like cake than bread. If I wanted cake, I would have baked fucking cake. That’s not what I wanted at all. And then I tasted it. Not good. Not good at all. I wanted to weep over the wasted and expensive ingredients. I wanted to write the author of the cookbook a nasty-gram. “Hey, you, Mister Man! You didn’t do your research! You lied to me! You lead me down the primrose path!” I felt betrayed. I mean, WTF Dude?! I will not divulge the author’s name. I don’t really want to publicly shame anyone. But I thought he must have a huge set of gonads to be brave enough to charge $18.95 for that useless treasure; and in paperback no less! I promptly tipped the “bread” disaster into the trash can. I was tempted to do the same with the book; dumping coffee grounds on top of that, and perhaps peeing on the whole pile just for good measure.
After some soul searching I now realize what was really ticking me off. I’ve made hundreds of loaves of bread in my life with a high level of success. I knew what I was doing, back then. And suddenly I didn’t anymore. Gluten free baking is a completely different animal. It’s a beast. A bitch even. My confidence was so shaken that I didn’t want to try any more misadventures in gluten free baking. I feel terrible when food product gets wasted; especially the expensive stuff. I can’t afford it and I imagine you guys can’t either.
So here’s how I made peace with it all. I decided that I have no interest in becoming a master gluten free baker. I’m willing to buy gluten free bread, ready made, and have found a tasty loaf sold by Trader Joe’s. It’s available in white or whole grain. Makes beautiful toast and sandwiches. You can dry the end slices and make your own bread crumbs. This Thanksgiving I plan to use it to make stuffing.
From here on out, my existing recipes on this blog will be edited to include gluten free options. I will also share with you some successful alternatives that I have discovered.
In the end, going gluten free has been worth the struggle. It still pisses me off, but, I’m not in pain any more, that’s huge and a bonus benefit was that I lost about 30 pounds without even trying.
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