cookies

Meet Our Sponsors: Better Batter

better batter

We like making our own flour mixes in our kitchen. But we’re weird. I don’t mind the flour flying onto my black pants as I measure it out onto a bowl balanced on a scale. I like playing with new flour combinations every week — maybe we should go back to sorghum? I feel like a bit of a mad scientist when I mix almond flour and buckwheat, millet and sweet rice. This crazy process is something I truly enjoy.

But I can’t imagine everyone likes doing this or has the time. After all, making food in our kitchen is what we do for a living. And now that we have two kids instead of just one, I understand even more keenly why people might not want to spend part of their Sunday afternoon mixing flours into a cambro and giving it a big shake. It makes sense that the more occasional baker would just like to buy a mix of flours.

We’ve tried all the gluten-free flour mixes on the market, and one of our absolute favorites is Better Batter. We’re happy to announce Better Batter as our latest sponsor.

Better Batter is intended to be a cup-for-cup replacement for wheat flour. It’s not a whole-grain or high-protein flour mix. Instead, it helps you to make your grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies, gluten-free. This all-purpose flour mix works well for making pies, cookies, cakes, muffins, and quick breads. If you need to be gluten-free, but you don’t love to bake and play mad scientist in the kitchen making up new recipes? We think you would love the Better Batter all-purpose gluten-free flour .

Their seasoned flour mix is great for making fried chicken and fish, onion rings, or anything you wanted battered before you fry it. The Better Batter pancake and biscuit mix makes Lucy’s favorite pancakes of the moment. The Better Batter brownie mix makes fudgy, lovely brownie mix. And the Better Batter yellow cake mix and Better Batter chocolate cake mix make fluffy, moist cakes. If you have a gluten-free birthday party coming up, or you want to make a batch of cupcakes so your kid doesn’t feel left out at birthday celebrations, these are truly wonderful.

(Note: the Better Batter mixes do contain xanthan gum. I can only tolerate xanthan gum occasionally, so these worked for me when we were testing them. Those of you who cannot tolerate xanthan might not be able to use these regularly.)

These are, in our opinion, some of the best gluten-free flour mixes on the market today.

We encourage you to click those links and buy some Better Batter through Amazon, which is the best way to find them. We also wanted you to hear more from our sponsors. Their story is part of the reason we love this company.

What compelled you to create Better Batter?

We began our gluten-free journey because my child was dying — literally.  Teeth loose, bowels even looser, shedding intestinal tissue — he was a mess and a half! I was 100% committed to giving him a normal diet, and so I began to look for gluten free alternatives. When my younger son and I were also diagnosed with celiac… and then my sisters and father (!)…  I knew gluten free would be a permanent part of my cooking.

Back then, there weren’t any gluten free products consistently available (2003) and the recipes that were out there just weren’t great (boy have things come a long way!!) and even more than that I couldn’t make the foods my family made. My dad is a retired executive chef, as is my granddad, so that was seriously traumatic. I was tired of making “other people’s food” — I wanted to make MY mom’s pie, not someone else’s.

Better Batter itself (the flour) was dreamed up, on a night after I quite sincerely cast up a prayer to heaven to have some kind of solution to my problem, so I can’t take much credit for the initial creation of the product, except to say it’s been a literal God-send, but the urge to help other people to live a normal life and the urge to give charitably is what compelled me to create Better Batter (the company) and what continues to compel me to create new products.

Why do you think Better Batter works as a gluten-free flour mix?

Well, as you have told your readers many many times, it’s about getting the mix of starches, binders, proteins etc into the right combination. I call these bodifiers, modifiers, starches, and binders, and we have a combination that is similar enough to real gluteny flour to work in real gluteny recipes, when measured properly.

Can you tell us the story of a customer(s) pleased by Better Batter?

Sure! We have a customer who has a child with both celiac disease and autism. They were really struggling because their son was extremely self limiting in what he would eat. At the time, he was only eating a popular orange powder brand Mac-n-Cheese and breaded chicken fingers.  She was at her wit’s end, because the sensory issues that come with autism made it next to impossible for her to feed him alternatives.

She came to us to ask for help, and fortunately, I was able to be there for her in a very real way because my older son (who also has autism) was very self limiting, at first, too. We decided to switch to a great brand of gluten free pasta elbows and use the powdered cheese from the company and to make homemade chicken fingers using our flour.  It worked! She couldn’t believe he would actually eat the alternative, and I explained that if the taste and texture is perfect — and it has to be perfect — you *can* make substitutions.

Fast forward a few weeks: Her son randomly grabbed strawberries from the table and tried a bite. The next day, he grabbed some breakfast cereal (also gluten free). And the food list started to expand for him. As his body healed, his ability to tolerate different foods increased. As a result of better nutrition, he grew a great deal (about 8 inches) and his neurological function improved dramatically, to where he became very high functioning. He was able to communicate enough to help her realize that he loved playing the piano, and now he’s pursuing that with passion.

Sort of a long, roundabout story — I guess she’s happy with our product because it gave her hope and her son a chance to have a healthy, productive future.

Here’s a story straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak!) from one of our customers at Amazon.com:

“Since my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease 8 months ago, I have tried so many different flour blends — both the kind I purchase pre-made and many I have made myself following various recipe blends. There is NO COMPARISON. This flour is by far the best I have used. I have recreated my old gluten containing recipes using the flour as the substitute and recipes come out perfectly. I thought I would never be able to do that again! Importantly, I find the my recipes using this flour are moist whereas with everything else I’ve tried, the recipes didn’t have the same moistness, they were often very dry. I have had friends and family who eat gluten eat recipes I’ve made with this flour comment that they would have had no idea that the recipe was gluten free if I hadn’t told them. It is so nice to not have to try to mix flours to come up with the right combo. I use this flour exclusively for any recipe that I’m converting from gluten containing to gluten free.” ~Jessica

Those types of people, and those stories are what keep me doing this and why we sell our products.

What do you hope Better Batter brings to people’s lives?

In one word: life.

I want our products to give people their lives back — their recipes, their memories. I want people to be able to bless their gluten-free relatives without having to relearn everything they know about cooking. I want gluten free folks to feel normal, for their kids to be able to have what all the other kids have. I want holidays to be less stressful, for menus to satisfy the whole family, and for budgets to reflect real savings. I want a world where to eat gluten free isn’t to feel weird or different or to have to accept mediocrity.

I want our company to give people life to the fullest. I want people with autism to have therapies they need and advocacy when they need it. I want the poor, the orphans, the widows, and the oppressed to have justice, clean water, good food, shelter, and education. I want to change the lives of people who don’t have the means to change their circumstances.

Most of all, I want people to partner with us as we pursue this dream,  because I want them to experience how rewarding it feels to leave a legacy for future generations.

Naomi Poe
Founder and CEO
Better Batter

The good folks at Better Batter would like to offer a sampler pack — one of every mix they make — to two readers of this site. Please leave a comment here about why you would like to win one of these sampler packs. Comments will be closed after Sunday, May 18th. Winners will be chosen at random and notified by email, so please leave a working email address with your comment. 

jam in the middle

I still miss Gourmet.

I know that it has been gone for more than a year, and I’m supposed to have moved on by now. And frankly, it’s not as if I had time to read every article those last couple of years, or even most of them. With a newborn, who became a toddler, my reading time has diminished to the point of thin sadness. Creating recipes on our own means that I have less time to cook in a leisurely fashion, from magazines cracked open on the counter, food stains on the pages. I should be grateful I have one fewer magazine that I cannot read, right?

I still miss Gourmet.

Everything about it appealed to me. The recipes always worked. The photographs inspired me, over and over again. And the writing? Ay god, the writing was incredible. Actually, I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I’m growing sad.

Thankfully, there’s a bit of Gourmet brightening this holiday season: The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941–2009. This book is not only filled with ridiculously-good-looking cookies (shot in the magazine’s style), but it is a history of American baking from World War II until last year. You can learn a lot here.

Oh heck, who cares about their learning when there are date bars, chocolate meringue biscuits, Brazil nut crescents, and brandy snaps. Plus, these little jam tart cookies, from 1993, called Aunt Sis’s Strawberry Tart Cookies.

They are like little tarts, because you work with cold butter to form the dough, almost like you are making a pie crust. However, it’s a much more forgiving process. All you need is a stand mixer (or good biceps if you are doing this by hand). There are only a few ingredients and the dough takes about 6 minutes to put together. The hardest part is waiting for the dough to chill in the refrigerator. The wait is worth it, however.

(Just as an aside, every single cookie recipe we will be giving you in the next few weeks does well with some time in the refrigerator as a dough. The refrigeration gives the flavors to mix and meld and build fully. When you bake freshly made gluten-free cookie dough, sometimes all you can taste is the starches. Wait overnight and you taste the cinnamon and vanilla again.)

Also, there is jam in the middle.

candy cane thumbprints

However, if you want, you can follow Lu’s suggestion and fill the little well with crushed candy canes.

When she and I were in the grocery store, buying the ingredients for the baking extravaganza, she reached for the new display of candy canes hanging down. Last year, she was too little to take any of this in. This December, she recognizes Santa on gift bags. (Wait until she meets Santa tonight, at the island tree lighting ceremony!) So those candy canes called to her, like dangling jewels. I bought a few. And then she dropped one on the floor when we were unloading the bag at home.

No point in throwing it away. Let’s use it.

Good idea, kiddo. These may look a bit janky but they are delicious. The little butter tart cookies that melt in the mouth meet the crackly crunch of candy cane. Sign me up for more. Thank goodness it’s only the first week of December. There is still time to bake more of these jam tart cookies and linger with the goodness that is Gourmet.

Would you like more gluten-free holiday cookies to bake after this one? You are in luck. We’re baking at a hilarious, frantic piece around here. We have plans for you. Make up a batch of the all-purpose mix we published last night and start baking.

We’ll be publishing a new gluten-free baked good every weekday between now and December 23rd!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jam tart cookies

Monday, December 6th

Gingerbread babies

Tuesday, December 7th

Pistachio cranberry cookies

Wednesday, December 8th

Chocolate roll-up cookies

Thursday, December 9th

Snickerdoodles

Friday, December 10th

Pine nut cookies

Monday, December 13

Honey-spice madeleines

Tuesday, December 14

Ginger lemon bars

Wednesday, December 15th

(we have a surprise for you this day)

Thursday, December 16th

Spritz cookies

Friday, December 17th

Cannoli

Saturday, December 18th

Shortbread

Monday, December 20th

Swedish cardamom cookies

Tuesday, December 21st

Russian tea cakes

Wednesday, December 22nd

Coconut spice fudge

Thursday, December 23rd

Round-up of all that we have done, plus a few surprises.

Sound good?

It grows better. We’re giving away a copy of our cookbook on each of those days. It’s the holidays. You’ll need crusty bread for sandwiches and breadcrumbs, curried red lentil dip for party appetizers, fresh pasta for a quick evening meal, and the blue cheese cheesecake with a fig crust for holiday celebrations.

Today, we’re also giving away a copy of The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941–2009. You can use our all-purpose mix for any recipe in the book. Some of them are naturally gluten-free!

If you are interested in winning either of these, leave a comment here about what your favorite filling for these jam tart cookies! Or what you loved about Gourmet. Or why you would like a copy of our cookbook.

Then, start baking!

Winners of the giveaway, chosen at random:

Winner of a copy of our cookbook

Melissa Davlin, who wrote: “Nothing fancy here: I love raspberry jam in the middle of cookies. At the newspaper I work at, we’re running a cookie round-up next Wednesday with a recipe for shortbread cookies with raspberry jam in the middle, drizzled with white chocolate. They look divine.”

Winner of a copy of The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941–2009

Mary Ann Wong, who wrote: “i wonder if it would be possible to make a matcha/black sesame paste to put in the centre of these cookies? nom.

thank you in advance for all those cookie recipes to come. i see a few there that i’ve been struggling to create, hurrah! my spouse will not thank you for the extra inches she’s going to acquire from my experiments, but I will :)

Gourmet was a part of my childhood, just as Julia Child was. the loss of each of these things hurt my heart. I’m glad for the cookie book, but still wish for the magazine back.

*le sigh*”

Can you two lovely ladies please send me an email with your name, address, and telephone number to glutenfreegirl@gmail.com? Thank you!

jam thumbprints

 

JAM TART COOKIES, GLUTEN-FREE, adapted from The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941–2009

The beauty of these cookies is that you could make them again and again, with a different filling each time. Lemon-rosemary curd. Chocolate ganache. Strawberry jam. We were lucky enough to have Sean Timberlake’s apricot jam with bourbon and nougax. Oh my.

Since there are so few ingredients here, it helps to buy the best version of each that you can. Superfine bakers’ sugar rather than the grainy kind. Good European-style butter, with a higher butterfat content than the regular grocery store type. Organic farmers’ eggs.

If you don’t have access to any of that, however, these cookies are great with what you can find at the store. The point is to bake.

420 grams gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
1 teaspoon psyllium husk
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
345 grams (3 US sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large egg yolks, beaten lightly
1 cup jam of your choice

Making the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the AP flour, psyllium husk, sugar, and salt until they are well combined. Add the butter bits and turn on the stand mixer, at low speed. Mix the butter and dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse meal with pea-shaped pieces of butter. Pour in the egg yolks and mix until combined.

Refrigerating the dough. Take the dough out of the mixing bowl. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight.

Preparing to bake the cookies. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it soften a bit. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Baking the cookies. Measure out a teaspoon of dough. Roll it into a ball in the palm of your hands. Put it on the baking sheet and continue until the entire baking sheet is filled. (These cookies will spread just a bit, so leave about 2 inches of room between each cookie.) Make a small indentation in the center of each cookie with your thumb. If the outside edges of the cookie dough start to crack, start over. Do this gently.

Fill each center of the cookie with about 1/4 teaspoon of the jam. (I’ve yet to make one that didn’t spill over the edges in the baking, but I’d rather have more jam than less!) Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the oven until the edges are pale golden, about 12 minutes.

Let the cookies cool for 2 minutes, then transfer them to cookie racks. Let them cool to room temperature before eating.

Makes about 8 dozen cookies.

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