Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blends...Which is the best?

Being new to gluten-free, I am still getting my feet wet with gluten free baking and testing the waters of which gluten-free blend is the best for baking and just anything, really.  I thought I would try to gather some of the different blends together in one place and do a comparison and possibly get opinions on what works best for others.  These are blends that I would and do use personally due to flour availability, ease of making, and best results.  Here's what I've come up with so far...

Ahern's All Purpose Blend (from
 200 grams superfine brown rice flour
150 grams sorghum flour
50 grams potato flour
250 grams sweet rice flour
150 grams potato starch
100 grams arrowroot powder
100 grams cornstarch

This was from 2010...lately I'm seeing that she is using equal amounts of sorghum, sweet rice and potato starch.

Carol Fenster's Sorghum Blend (from
1 ½ cups sorghum flour (or brown rice flour)
1 ½ cups potato starch (not potato flour) or cornstarch
1 cup tapioca flour/starch

Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Blend (from
1 1/4 cups (156g) brown rice flour
3/4 cup (88g) sorghum flour
2/3 cup (90g) cornstarch
1/4 cup (37g) potato starch
1 tbsp + 1 tsp (14g) potato flour
1 tsp (3g) xanthan gum

Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix (from
3 parts brown rice flour
3 parts corn starch
2 parts soy, sorghum or garflava flour
1 part masa harina

Allergen-Free Cuisine Gluten Free Flour Mix (from
4 cups superfine brown rice flour
1 1/3 cups potato starch (not potato flour)
2/3 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

I've only tried 3 of these so far (Cybele's, Carol's and GF Cooking School).  I am going to try a single recipe with each blend and post back with my results.  I'm off to bake...  

Update: May 2014
Earthmama's Gluten Free Flour Mix 
Okay, since the days of mixing up these flour blends, I've gotten lazy.  I don't want to use more than 3 flours.  It's just too much work!  So, nowadays, I keep it simple.  I mix:

48oz of Bob's Organic Brown Rice Flour
24oz of Bob's Potato Starch 
24oz Tapioca Flour

Looking back now, this is the same combo as Cybele uses, just not quite the same ratio.  I just take the whole bag and dump them in my big container.  Much easier than measuring out or weighing cups.  I used to order all my flours through Amazon.  With the subscribe and save, the prices were dramatically lower than you would pay at a store.  However, they have taken most Bob's Red Mill items off subscribe and save.  Now I find a better price at Vitacost, who also has a set and save program and you don't have to order as many at a time.  This blend works well as an even exchange for AP wheat flour.  Depending on the recipe, you may need more or less.  I don't even add xanthan gum for pancakes but do for cornbread and biscuits.     

Gluten-Free Caprese Tartlets

While the kids and I were at Costco the other day, we saw some fresh mozzarella which got me jonesing for Caprese salad.  This is NOT the time of year for that, I know, and I am all about eating seasonally and locally but I couldn't help myself.  I bought some tomatoes and the cheese and headed home with visions of Caprese tartlets dancing in my head.  I first saw Caprese tartlets on Melissa D'Arabian's show on the Food Network.  I happened to have some hemp bread in the freezer (which was not white bread but it worked) and some basil from my garden that I had frozen for just such an occasion.  I found that if you freeze fresh herbs from the garden, they may not look pretty but they retain their flavor.  There is just no comparison between fresh basil and dried.  They don't even taste like the same plant to me!  Anyways, here's the recipe with the slight variation for gluten-free.  This would make a great appetizer but we just ate it for dinner along with a salad.  Please excuse the presentation in my picture.  My 6 year old was waiting her for food so I was a bit rushed. 
Check out the original recipe and comments here:

Gluten-Free Caprese Tartlets (Recipe Courtesy Melissa D'Arabian)  

Total Time: 23 min  Prep: 10 min  Cook: 13 min Yield: 4 servings (2 tartlets per serving)


  • 8 slices gluten-free white bread (I used gf hemp bread)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella (approximately 2-inch ball), thinly sliced
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling, optional
  • 8 fresh basil leaves


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out a piece of bread to fit in the bottom of the muffin tin.  Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Press the slices in the muffin tin, to form tartlet shells. Set aside.

In a small bowl, using a fork to combine, mix together the cream cheese, garlic powder, dried basil, salt, and pepper until smooth and creamy. Drop about a teaspoon of the cream cheese into the bottom of each muffin tin. Bake the tartlets until golden and crusty, 12 to 13 minutes.

Meanwhile, liberally salt the tomato slices. Once the tartlet shells are golden, remove them from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Place a slice of mozzarella on top of the cream cheese, then layer on a tomato slice or two. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, if using. Garnish with basil.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Taco Bell Crunchy Taco's are NOT Gluten-Free

Nor do they claim to be.  Guess I should have checked here before going there!  I thought "meat, cheese, lettuce, corn tortilla...these should be okay."  Wrong!

I guess as you have probably already guessed, I had a couple crunchy taco's yesterday and spent the afternoon sicker than sick.  It seems the further I get from my gluten days, the sicker gluten is making me (when I accidentally ingest it).  Gone are the days when I thought I might cheat to have a slice of pizza.  It is just not worth it.  Yesterday, I ate my tacos, came home and suddenly had a case of (what I thought was) pink-eye.  I immediately put colloidal silver in it (which works great for pink-eye) and laid down.  I fell into this sort of weird sleep where I was in and out and just felt kind of out of it.  When I woke up, I felt like I was going to throw out (as my dear little daughter used to say).  I gulped down an Emergen-C and later took a ginger, a couple milk thistle and some digestive enzymes.  I slept horribly last night, waking up often, which I do not normally do.  Even this morning my stomach is still churning and crampy.

Taco, you definitely were not worth it!  I would like to mention here that we actually very rarely eat out.  We rarely ate out before going gluten-free, so even more so now.  But yesterday my floors were being refinished and I didn't have time to pack us something to eat before we left because I was trying to get everything up and out of the way.  I spent my "gluten-drunk" afternoon sleeping it off in my camper where my little girls and I ended up spending the night (floor fumes).  Not my best day, but now I know and you do too!

Update: 2 days later and I still have that "just been run over by a Mac truck" feeling.  I'm having pains in my legs, fuzzy head and stomach woes.  I once questioned whether a little gluten could really make you "that" sick.  Well, now I makes you THAT sick!  I will definitely be exercising more caution in regards to what goes in my mouth!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rosemary Focaccia

My passion for bread baking began when I stumbled across a recipe adapted from Jim Lahey's no-knead bread recipe.  I read Jim's book and tried out some of his recipes and I was sold!  I loved this no-knead thing.  I wanted a way of making up more than one batch at a time and eventually picked up a copy of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  Here you made up large batches and stored them away for up to 2 weeks!  The only problem was that ABin5 used way more yeast (2 T per 6 cups flour vs. 1/4 t per 3 cups flour in Jim's recipe).  So I decided to combine the two techniques.  I would mix up a large batch using only 1 teaspoon of yeast, let it sit out out for 12 hours and then refrigerate.  It would be Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes that would lead me to gluten-free baking.  I had friends with Celiac so I tried out the gluten-free recipes on them.  Of course, I immediately began adapting them so I would have gluten and gluten-free versions of the bread I was offering for sale at the co-op. 

The focaccia above comes courtesy of HBin5's Gluten-Free Olive Oil Bread recipe.  I mixed up a batch last night and made 3 baguettes.  I had maybe 1/2 pound left over so we put it in the fridge.  I got it out tonight, flattened it out on a piece of parchment then sprinkled it with course salt and rosemary, let it rest for 30 minutes or so then popped it in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes.  My kids could not believe it was gluten-free.  The only variation from the recipe was I used 1/2 cup of olive oil and used half tapioca, half Expandex where it called for tapioca starch.

Be sure to check out for more tasty gluten-free recipes or read the book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

Gluten Free Hemp Bread

Today while carousing GF bread recipes and reading about the need for flours with high protein content, a light bulb went off.  I have some hemp protein powder sitting in my freezer from when my hubby was on an exercise kick and needed the protein for building muscle.  I browsed around for a hemp bread recipe and came across a recipe at  Although the recipe originally said gluten-free, it actually was not, as spelt is the primary flour used.  They have since changed the title of the recipe and I went to work actually making a gluten free, though not necessarily vegan, version.  So here you go, courtesy of FantasticHemp.
Gluten-Free Hemp Bread (adapted from FantasticHemp's Vegan Hemp Bread)

900 g all purpose gluten-free flour mix (I used 400g Bob's all purpose and 500g of my own blend)
50g hemp flour (I used hemp protein powder, 50% protein)
50g hemp seeds (or sunflower if you would prefer a larger, crunchier seed)
1 T xanthan gum (or physillum husk powder)
1 1/2 T kosher salt
3 1/2 C warm water
1 T organic sugar, agave or honey
2 T yeast
1/2 C olive oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 egg (or 1T flax + 3T water for vegan)

(My blend is: 4 C sorghum, 1 1/2 C brown rice, 2 C potato starch, 2 1/2 C cornstarch, 1 1/2 C tapioca starch, 1 1/2 C Expandex.  Brown rice and sorghum are interchangeable, as are potato and corn starch.  Regular tapioca starch can be substituted for the Expandex but you won't get the same results.  Thoroughly combine and store in air-tight container.)
Combine water, yeast and sugar in a bowl and let stand while you get the other components together.  Weigh out all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Add olive oil, vinegar and egg to the water mixture and slowly add into the dry ingredients.  I use a stand mixer and let run for a few minutes (3-5 minutes).  Grease three 8x4 bread pans.  Divide the dough evenly among the 3 pans.  Dough will be wet, like a thick pancake batter.  Put in a warm, moist place to rise for about an hour.  (I heat a cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes then put the pans in the microwave with the steamy cup and close the door.)
When the bread has just about risen to the top of  the pan, turn your oven on and heat to 350 degrees.  Put your loaves in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes.  Remove from oven when done and allow the bread to sit in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.  After 10 minutes have elapsed, run a butter knife or plastic spatula around the edges and remove bread to a cooling rack.  Allow to cool at least 30 minutes before cutting (an hour is better, but it's so hard to wait!)  Spread with a little organic butter and enjoy!

Printable Recipe here: Hemp Bread

Gluten Free Girl's Cardamom Fruit Bread Review

I love the Gluten Free Girl website!  I've read both her books and really enjoy her posts.  I love her relentlessness when it comes to perfecting a recipe so that we get to try it with all the kinks worked out!  I really couldn't afford to bake if it weren't for her and others like her out there blogging their baking accomplishments for all of us GFer's needing to make good food for our families.  I have already tried many of her recipes but most recently I tried her Cardamom Fruit Bread (

I won't post any pictures because hers were quite lovely, plus I fixed this the day we were leaving for vacation so I just didn't have time.  I mostly followed the recipe except that I didn't have any candied fruit on hand and the stuff I bought from the grocery tasted like poison (my darling husband kindly returned it for me) so I just used a variety of dried fruits I had on hand...cranberries, cherries, figs and dates.  I also made a green tea glaze to go on top instead of the butter and powdered sugar.  Everyone agreed that the cardamom was way too overpowering for us.  I would definitely decrease to 1 teaspoon or maybe even 1/2 teaspoon.  The dried fruit worked out fine, although I did add additional sugar to make up for the fact that my fruit wasn't candied.  I probably used about 1/2 cup of sugar instead of the 3T called for.  The bread was far from being too sweet and knowing that Shauna's sweet tooth is continually diminishing and mine is not, I found this to be a good call.  Lastly, I cooked mine in a bundt pan and could have easily taken it out at 40 minutes but left it in the additional 5 and it was a little overcooked. 

However, I would definitely make this again, with the revisions mentioned above.  Thanks to Shauna, at for this great recipe. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Easy Gluten-Free Protein Balls (Almond, Date, Coconut, Protein Powder)

My kid's love these!  They are a healthy, filling snack...great for the afternoon when everyone needs a little something to hold them over until dinner.  This is actually a recipe I made up myself and it is naturally gluten-free.  My husband loves to have 2 with his morning coffee.  You definitely won't feel like your "being good" while eating these, but you are!

Protein Balls (makes 30 large balls)

2 cups Almonds
1 cup Dates
1/2 cup cocoa (I prefer dark cocoa, natural is better for you than dutch or alkalized)
1/2 cup coconut oil (regular or extra virgin, whichever you prefer)
1/2 cup organic shredded coconut (unsweetened) + 1/4 cup for coating balls
2 scoops or about 4 T of protein powder (whey, soy, brown rice or pea, we use the 2 latter)
Stevia or maple syrup to taste
2 T almond milk (optional, if needed)

First, put your almonds in a food processor and process until they are fine crumbs.  Next, add the dates and process until they are completely mixed in.  Add the coconut oil, cocoa, coconut and protein powder and pulse until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.  Taste a little tidbit and then add stevia or maple syrup as needed.  They will already have some sweetness from the dates but you may need a bit more.  These will harden up and not be so "greasy" looking once you put them in the fridge but if they seem too greasy or wet, you can add in a little more coconut or protein powder.  If the mixture seems too dry, I usually just add in a little almond milk or you could add more oil or maple syrup.  Once the mixture is sweetened to your taste, grab about 1 tablespoon or so and roll it into a ball.  Place some shredded coconut in a bowl or plastic bag and roll the almond ball in the coconut.  Place finished balls on a plate and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer to harden up then they can be placed in a storage container or plastic bag.  Makes about 30 large balls (like the ones pictured).  I keep mine in the fridge or freezer but they are tastiest at room temperature or even slightly warmed.  Grab a couple in the morning, put them in your bag and they will be perfect by the time you are feeling snacky, mid-morning.

Click here for printable recipe:  GF Protein Balls Printable Recipe

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Organic Bread Baker goes Gluten-Free!

When I went gluten-free, I checked out as many gluten-free cookbooks as I could from my local library. I LOVE cookbooks, but being a frugal mama on a budget, I'm not going to buy them without taking them for a test drive first. Here I will share my results as well as pictures (which a lot of these cookbooks don't seem to have!). Come along and follow me through some of the best (and worst) gluten-free cookbooks out there as well as some recipes of my own.

Why did I go gluten-free?  I wasn't diagnosed with Celiac Disease, although I was diagnosed years ago as having a small wheat allergy (not near as bad as cats or dust mites).  I paid it no mind and went on with life as usual.  However, 8 years ago, after suffering with a variety of maladies that doctors could not diagnose, I began eating raw and never felt better in my life.  Life happened (in the form of a beautiful baby girl) but long story short, I quit eating completely raw and have done well since my "raw" stint until this year when I began experiencing unexplained fatigue and a just overall "yuck" feeling.  Coincidentally, I began baking organic bread for an organic veggie co-op the beginning of this year and have consumed more bread this year than I had in the 7 years prior combined!  We previously avoided bread because of what we believed were issues with yeast.  After doing a bit of reading, I began an eating plan that required you exclude gluten from your diet for 90 days.  Wow!  I could tell a difference within a week.  My energy levels improved, my skin (I suffer from eczema) started clearing up, my thyroid began functioning better, just to name a few benefits.  I decided my kids needed to do this too as they suffer from various issues that are symptoms of gluten intolerance.  My son has quit suffering from canker sores in his mouth, my 5 year old's eczema has cleared up on her face, stomach problems have vanished and my kids aren't starving all the time anymore.  My goal is to make it so they don't miss gluten.  As an organic bread baker, this is no easy feat, but I'm giving it a try, one recipe at a time.  Here is our journey.