Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Taste PCC & Avec Baking

I attended Taste PCC in Issaquah a few weeks ago. It’s a fun little fair where local vendors who sell their products at PCC Natural Markets can hand out samples directly to customers. I came for work (we ran the Tony’s Coffees &Teas booth), but I took a little time out in the day to chat with vendors and taste some new gluten-free products. Here are the two products you shouldn’t miss.

5/5 Spoons
 These deserve some attention. Wheat-, gluten-, and soy-free, many of the flavors are also dairy-free. I’ve never had a nutrition bar that is so well-suited to my dietary needs and tastes so delicious! They’re relatively high in protein and prove an ideal airplane travel meal. You know: the food stash those of us with allergies generally bring along on our travels. Add it to your list.

Avec Baking Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
5/5 Spoons
This is one of the best gluten-free all-purpose flour mixes I’ve tried. Denise Cooley, the creator, explained to me herself that she uses freshly ground flours from a mill in Bellingham, WA, and how this makes a huge difference in the flavor and function of the mix. It tastes wonderful, plus it includes whole grains such as sorghum and brown rice.

It passed my Fannie Farmer Biscuit Challenge. One of my favorite cookbooks is The Original Boston Cooking School Cook Book, published in 1896 by Fannie Merritt Farmer. I love seeing how recipes used to function closer to their original form. There are over 56,700,000 Google results for “biscuits,” but Fannie has only 3. They’re simple recipes—a great starting place for gluten-free experimentation. Making her biscuits gluten-free requires a truly stellar gluten-free flour mix. I change very little about the recipe, but use the weight equivalent of gluten-free mix where the recipe calls for regular flour. (I also sub vegan butter for the butter and lard, and replace the milk with soymilk and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar to curdle it like buttermilk.) Only King Arthur Flour’s gluten-free mix passed it before. And I like the biscuits from Avec Baking’s mix better.

On the back of the Avec Baking mix, you’ll find a recipe for focaccia bread. This recipe includes xanthan and guar gums, but these are optional. You don’t need the gums, just some ground flaxseed. I’ve included the original Avec Baking focaccia recipe below, along with my own variation. I made it twice in a week and still can’t seem to keep it around more than a day. My husband, who digests gluten just fine, snatches it up the minute it emerges from the oven. Delicious.

Avec Baking Focaccia Bread
Makes 1 9x11-inch pan

1 ¼ tsp yeast
1 ½ cups Avec Baking Gluten Free Flour mix
½ tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp guar gum
2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
½ tsp good salt
¼ cup apple juice
½ cup water less 2 Tbls
2 large eggs + 1 egg white
2 Tbls olive oil
½ tsp cider vinegar

2 Tbls olive oil, 1 12 tsp dried rosemary, sprinkle of good salt, kalamata olives cut in half. Optional: sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Prepare a 9x11 baking dish with a generous amount of olive oil and sprinkling of Avec Baking Gluten Free Flour Mix and set aside. Put eggs and egg white in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Begin on low and whip the eggs. As the eggs start to break down, slowly increase the speed up to high and continue for 3-5 minutes or until the eggs double in volume and become frothy and pale yellow. While the eggs are whisking, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and the remaining wet ingredients into another bowl. Once the eggs are done, turn mixer down to low and incorporate your wet and dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated and no lumps remain. Turn dough out to prepared pan. Using an offset spatula spread the dough evenly. The dough will be sticky so work quickly as to not lose the air you have work to incorporate. Cover with aluminum foil and let rise for about 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F while dough is rising. Once dough has risen, remove foil and sprinkle with toppings. If using olives, place them gently on the surface without pressing them in too firmly. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to cooling rack and enjoy!

Beyond Celery Variation on Avec’s Focaccia
Makes 1 9x11-inch pan

1 ¼ tsp yeast
190g (1 ½ cups) Avec Baking Gluten Free Flour mix
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried rosemary
Slightly less than ¾ cup water
2 tsp brown sugar
2 eggs
1 egg white
2 Tbls olive oil
½ tsp cider vinegar
2 Tbls ground golden flaxseed

Follow directions as above, stirring the ground flaxseed and brown sugar into the wet ingredients. I find plastic wrap works better than aluminum foil when the dough is rising.

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