Well, I promised I would share my baking failures with you.
I mean, I wouldn’t call this a total disaster. Maybe I’m blowing it out of proportion.
Last week, Alex and I tried making some thumbprint cookies for the holidays with BRM GF all-purpose flour. We didn’t read the package because the magical internet told us that we could substitute the BRM flour 1:1 for regular flour. Unfortunately, xanthan gum is sometimes (I prefer to use it for binding, Jenee does not) needed as a binding agent in GF flour mixes, and we didn’t do that.
(Side note – don’t taste the uncooked batter from this all-purpose flour. Just don’t.)
Our thumbprint cookies actually tasted delicious – but didn’t look so hot, and crumbled into a bazillion pieces as soon as you picked them up.
Oops. (Jenee tried this recipe again, with a few key changes and came up with this.)
I’ve been wanting to make my own GF flour mix for awhile, but we barely ever bake, so I just haven’t gotten around to it (and let’s be honest, I’m lazy, and thought the pre-mixed GF flours would work better).
I found this post by Gluten Free Girl a few months ago and thought it was great – particularly because I have no idea where to even begin when creating my own GF flour mixture, and she spells it out pretty clearly.
After our ugly thumbprint melty-lava cookie disaster, I got all excited to make my own flour mix for some sugar cookies because I thought it would yield me some better results. I used Gluten Free Girl’s recommended 60/40 : Starch/Flour mixture rules, and mixed 200g Sweet Sorghum Flour, 200g Millet Flour, 300g Tapioca Flour and 300g Potato Flour. It yields just over 6 cups of flour altogether.
I have been dying for a good cookie because of the holidays, so I was googling like a madwoman to find a decent sugar cookie recipe. I stumbled across this one – which is not gluten free – and thought I would try my luck at adapting it cause they just looked so darn good.
We followed the recipe exactly, but added 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for each cup of flour we used (as is general for GF baking recipes, and part of the reason our previous batch of cookies failed) – and it actually looked like everything was turning out okay. The dough wasn’t sticky at all – which GF dough tends to be, so my hopes were high. We baked the cookies for just a bit longer and hotter than the recipe called for – at 375 for 10 minutes instead of the called for 350 for 8.
They even looked all pretty! Right?
(Alex made the sour cream frosting listed in the recipe – which WAS delicious. We substituted plain, unsweetened almond milk for the regular milk that was called for).
No matter how good they looked – they smelled just a little funny, and that made me nervous. As they cooled down they lost the smell and tasted better – they had a good consistency and were actually pretty fluffy – but were just a bit grainy and didn’t have enough flavor. I would say that they tasted more like shortbread cookies than sugar cookies, and they weren’t very sweet.
Major bummer. I guess I was expecting the giant, fluffy, sugar-packed, frosted cookies you buy at the grocery store (you know, the ones they always have out that are frosted for the season? Green and red for Christmas, pink and red for Valentines, etc.) which these clearly were not.
In retrospect, after some more googling (I am the google queen, ya’ll. I google EVERYTHING), I read that potato flour and potato starch are not the same thing (even though tapioca flour and tapioca starch are the same thing), and that potato flour can sometimes taste funny (like bean flours often do) and weigh recipes down.
I’m thinking that next time I try this flour mix (because I really want to attempt some GF biscuits for Christmas dinner) I will either add corn or potato starch in place of the potato flour. I don’t want to change the millet, sorghum or tapioca flours, because they are all supposed to be very light, sweet, and great for GF baking. My lovely baker friend Jenee told me that the ratio is supposed to be 60/40 : Flour/Starch… and I’ve read that in other places, too – so I will also try that ratio next time I attempt a baking feat.
Moral of the story? There will be lots of failures in your GF kitchen, particularly if you choose to bake, so don’t get your hopes up too high the first few times.
You win some, you lose some, right?
On the other hand, I am now on a mission to create a GF version of my favorite grocery store sugar cookies.
Oh – and when you’re experimenting with GF baking, cut the recipes in half – I have about 25 too many funny tasting cookies that need to be eaten…