Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Here There Be Monsters"

Alright. Hold your breath. We're doing this.
 I've got my weapon and my body armor. 

We're wandering blind into the world of Gluten Free.

Gluten Free baking is terrifying. It has a thousand obscure ingredients with names that make grocery clerks walk away when I talk, and a very steep learning curve. Baking with wheat flour seems like something grandmothers do, it's dainty, traditional, time tested. Baking with Sorghum, Xanthan and Guar, seems more like making jet fuel from scratch in a laboratory. In essence; much too tricky for a girl who eats ice cream for dinner.  

But guess what, it's happening.

In truth, baking is baking is baking. Be it gluten free, dairy free, or vegan, we're all making tasty delights in an oven, it's just that simple. This information, however reasonable, doesn't stop me being phobic of sticking a pan full of batter in an oven and 30 minutes later, retrieving a flaming rocket with bloody nubs where my hands should be. 

What can I say, I'm a worrier.

The very first gluten free recipe I ever tried was for gluten free vegan hockey pucks biscuits. It was... unpleasant. I came to realize that trying to tackle two new areas at once was too advanced for me to accomplish, so I told no one and double bagged the garbage. Skip ahead a few months and you'll find me once again optimistically bouncing around google, looking for a beginner level gluten free recipe to try. I got kind of upset though, when it seemed like this was all I could find;

Basic Gluten Free Pound Cake (SOOO EASY!!!) 
1/2 pound (2 sticks) Moon Rocks, softened
1 Eye of Newt (freshwater only)
2 teaspoons Red Grass of Gallifrey
4 large Bald Eagle Heads, at room temperature
2 cups Nettle flour, ground underfoot at midnight in a graveyard

Anyone have a babel fish? I had NO IDEA what I was looking at.What are all these things? I see 'flour' attached at the end but why are there so many different kinds? Too confused to even google the answer to this problem, I blindly did what any bewildered newbie would do, I went to Amazon and filled my digital shopping cart with one of everything.

Your subtotal before shipping is $108. 


Alright, round two. Let's consult Shauna. In case you didn't know, she's the gluten free Oracle of Delphi. She's also a Leo, Leos are magic. They ask questions all the time so they know everything. Ever watch Good Eats? Alton Brown = Leo.

Anyway after spending a few days reading most of her backlog of blog entries I found myself much more informed about all this jet fuel and space language but I was once again overwhelmed with options, and I still didn't quite know what I was doing.

So, I secured my helmet, loaded my weapon and climbed deeper into the crevasse.

I picked five flours to try, more or less at random. They were ones I'd seen turn up in most of  the recipes on Shauna's blog, so I took a chance and ordered some.

When they all arrived, I lined up each little bag all in a row and stood there.What next?

I flipped each bag over, read the little summary printed on the back of what was inside and what it was like, what it did, etc.WHAT NEXT?!

When I got to the last bag in the bunch, I found printed on the back label a recipe for pound cake. It was simple, and it called only for things that I had.

I didn't look up reviews, or worry about what was in it. I didn't freak out, or over think it, I just followed the recipe, stuck it in the oven, and waited (with weapons ready).

It was delicious.

We polished it off in two days, and it contained no test tubes or sporting equipment (as far as I know).

Fellow explorers of the gluten free world, if you're just starting out like me, I'll go ahead and tell you that I don't know what I'm doing. I still don't quite know what I'm looking at. But we've made it to our first camp safely. And I can assure you with good conscience, that this recipe won't make a hockey puck.

You know, if that's any help.

Gluten Free Pound Cake

1 cup Sweet White Rice Flour
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1/4 cup Cornstarch
2tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Xanthan Gum
1 cup Butter, room temperature
1 cup Granulated Sugar
4 Eggs
2tsp Vanilla extract (did you know, you can make your own?!)

Beat the butter until cream and smooth. Add the sugar and beat into the butter until light and fluffy,  about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Add the vanilla and blend until completely incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, cornstarch, xanthan gum and baking powder and blend together with a whisk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until fully mixed. Spread into a greased 9 inch bread pan. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool for about 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cool completely.


  1. Ha! You're funny... and I like what you say about Leos. :) So it was good? It looks fantastic. Your photos are beautiful, and perfectly styled. That looks like the supermodel of poundcake.

    -jen @ stuffjendid

  2. Love the humor in this post - I have yet to wade into th Gluten Free Baking Territory!

  3. Hehe. I giggled ALL the way though this and couldn't help but nod in agreement the whole time! You've hilariously put into words what I've thought SO many times. Kudos for forging ahead and meeting with such great success! Agree with Jen - that's a fine looking pound cake! I'm inspired!

  4. Loved your post! My daughter has a gluten sensitivity so I've had many adventures in the world of GF baking. It's challenging, but I must say it's made me a better overall baker! Once you get the hang of ratios and figure out a GF flour mix you like it gets easier. Good luck :)

  5. I've tried baking some gluten free things when I started working with a coeliac, I used rice flour in place of the same amount of normal flour - it worked really well! It actually gives it an almost nutty taste, I really liked it. This looks yummy.


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