Gluten-Free Experiments

Over the last few days, I’ve finally gotten the chance to do some serious baking! It feels SOOO GOOD!  I have really missed cooking lately, as evidenced by the fact that between 3 regular meals, 2 baking experiments, and not having dishes, I’ve probably spent at least 6 hours holed up in the kitchen so far this week.  Yesterday, I made bread from a Pamela’s bread mix.  Today I experimented with homemade gluten-free pasta. I also knocked off another photography prompt today, part of documenting my experiment today. The prompt was:

So I introduce you to my buckwheat-chana flour spaghetti:

I am anticipating this blog may become mostly a food blog. I briefly mentioned a few months ago, when talking about my (now postponed) 10K training about my gluten-triggered exercise induced anaphylaxis. I found out a few days ago I may have something closer to celiac disease.  I went through a bunch of asthma testing in grade 10 or 11, and the doctor discovered the anaphylactic reaction, but ruled me out for celiac at the time.  I never gave it a second thought 2010, when I was trying to lose some of that weight. I googled exercise induced anaphylaxis, thinking it would have a list of cardio that generally worked for people who had it.  Instead I fond a list of triggering agents, one of which was gluten.  I cut gluten out for 24 hours, went to the park, and ran further than I had been able to run in my life with none of my usual symptoms.  I tried it a few more times, and the result was consistent; I also found that if I abstained from gluten for around a week, I could run 5K with little problem.

Well, my mom happened to mention this when she ran into my doctor (they work in the same hospital) after I had first discovered it.  She ran into him again the other day.  In true OCD doctor fashion, he went and opened up my file and poured over my results, looking for missed evidence about my gluten trigger.  He told my mom when he looked at my celiac testing that, while I didn’t have full-blown presentation of celiac, I didn’t have zero presentation either.

I’m going to return to keeping my gluten-free diet that I had before and up to our wedding in July.  I’ve been cheating ever since, and I have definitely noticed some symptoms related to it.  Thus, this blog may take on more recipes and experiments in gluten-free cooking.

Which is what I have been doing for the last two evenings. I’ve attempted gluten free bread a few times, never with successful results.  I decided to take a step back and try a mix.  This was really tough for me.  I have never been a believer in prepacked mixes.  It feels like cheating.  I grew up in a house where baking in particular was revered, so any major component of baked good that came from a Betty Crocker-like box was just blasphemy. But I sucked it up, with the thought that it would at least turn out and I’d learn what the standard was.

Except I screwed it up.  To be fair, there weren’t directions written directly for how I was making the bread, and I mixed up the proportions for pizza dough and bread dough, to the point where I added WAY more liquid than was necessary.  luckily, I found a stash of the same mix from my wedding cake in my box of spices and flours!  It also had a yeast packet, so I managed to remedy things enough that the dough set and even rose! However the bread itself came out extremely dense – much denser than I suspect it is supposed to.  I’ll try a different mix next time, or another recipe.

The pasta was a full-blown experiment.  I had done some research on what other GF bloggers put in their pasta.  I also didn’t have time to go in search of GF flours in Montreal.  Instead, I sifted through my collection, and came up with a mixture of buckwheat flour, sweet rice flour, and chara (chick pea) flour.  I know Flying Apron uses chana  as a base, and I’ve seen it puff up more than other GF flours when fried. I have also heard tell of buckwheat crepes/pancakes, so I thought those would be a good base, with the sweet rice to add some starchiness and balance out the bitter taste of chana and buckwheat.

The pasta proved photogenic, and very ominous 🙂

I was mostly right, but the recipe needs some rethinking in proportions. The buckwheat was very dry, and made for a very very brittle pasta.  Next time, I am going to try using chana and sweet rice as a base, and adding the buckwheat in for extra fiber.  Plus, honestly, it makes the pasta look a little squid-inky when it was cooked 🙂

It was a fruitful couple of experiments.  And it gave me a chance to break out my new KitchenAid Standmixer (I am in love!) and pasta attachment (swoon).  It took about 2 hours from start to finish to make the pasta – I am sure I can knock that down as I get the recipe down. Also, it really is easy with the right gear.  Without the KitchenAid, I think it would have been impossible. Hence, swoon.

Now I have to come up with other fun things to cook this week.  We have Jm coming into town this weekend, so I’ll have to search for some restaurants that have GF food that a meat-and-beer-itarian like him can also appreciate.



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