(This is Lucy’s favorite phrase of the moment. Hot diggety!)
And then, in the middle of the piece, I read this: “So I put together my own gluten-free flour mix, one without bean flour, and turned to America’s favorite Gluten-Free Girl, Shauna James Ahem for guidance.”
Gulp. Really? Wait. Hot diggety!
I’m honored. Martha Rose Shulman, the author of the article and the creator of all the fine muffin recipes that accompany it, is one of my favorite recipe writers. Unfailingly interested in food, she creates good-for-you recipes that taste fantastic. Just a few weeks ago, Danny and I sipped soup for days that was made with her vegetarian pho stock. If you don’t know her work already, we’d like to suggest that you dive in.
So once again, hot diggety! The fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of people across this country made muffins based on our whole-grain mix this week made us a little breathless. And very grateful.
Then, Danny and I realized. We’ve never explained our whole-grain flour mix succinctly. So here you go.
Want to make a gluten-free whole grain flour mix in your kitchen? Here’s how.
We generally use this ratio: 70% whole-grain flours to 30% starches or white flours.
Let’s make it simple. Let’s make up 1000 grams of whole-grain flour mix.
Choose 700 grams of any combination of the following flours:
Amaranth Brown Rice Buckwheat Corn Millet Oat Quinoa Roasted Soy Sorghum Sweet Brown Rice Teff
You might notice that I have not put in garbanzo (I don’t like it) or coconut (I don’t like the way it tastes or the way it sucks all the moisture out of a baked good). You might like those. Substitute if you want.
This means that you can make your own blend. If you are allergic to corn, and you know you can’t eat the certified gluten-free oats, blend up 100 grams each of brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, sweet brown rice, and teff. Or make it easy on yourself: 350 grams of buckwheat and 350 grams of millet. (The flavor you find by blending all these different tastes is fascinating. It’s amazing how boring regular AP flour seems after you use this.) Find your own favorite combination.
And then throw in 300 grams of any combination of the following:
Arrowroot Cornstarch Potato Starch Tapioca Flour White Rice Flour
We like using 150 grams potato starch and sweet rice, at the moment.
Combine the 700 grams of whole-grain flours with the 300 grams of starches in a big container. Shake it all up. Use a whisk to combine them until the flour mix is one color. You have a whole-grain flour mix.
The question always arises: do we really need the starches? That’s up to you. The starches do help lighten the flour mix, so you get more rise and lift in baked goods made with some starches than without. However, I have been playing with an all whole-grain mix — buckwheat, millet, and teff — and it works well with nearly every baked good I love to make. (Not pie. Whole-grain pie crust is just sad.) In fact, before sitting down to write, I ate a warm slice of sweet potato-oatmeal bread, made with coconut sugar and an all whole-grain flour mix. It was utterly delicious.
So it’s up to you. If you’re brand new to gluten-free and used to eating a lot of white bread, you might want to try the gluten-free AP flour mix, then graduate to the whole-grain mix, and then make a mix of whole-grain flours that are entirely whole-grain. After all, just eating gluten-free isn’t enough to be healthy. We all have to find our own way.
Me? I’m finding my way to another one of these cornmeal-millet muffins with sharp cheddar cheese. When we gave one to Lucy today after her swimming session, want to know what she said?
70 grams millet flour 70 grams cornmeal (make sure it’s gluten-free) 140 grams whole-grain gluten-free flour mix 10 grams (2 teaspoons) psyllium husks (you can also use ground chia seeds or ground flaxseeds, or any combination) 5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking powder 3 grams (about 1/2 teaspoon) baking soda 3 grams (about 1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt 5 grams (1 teaspoon) chili powder 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) smoked paprika 2 large eggs, at room temperature 40 grams (2 tablespoons) Dijon mustard 300 grams (1 1/4 cups) buttermilk 75 grams extra-virgin olive oil 115 grams (1 cup, packed) grated cheddar cheese
Preparing to bake. Heat the oven to 425°. Grease a standard-size muffin tin.
Combining the dry ingredients. Whisk together the millet flour, cornmeal, whole-grain flour mix, psyllium husks, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chili powder, and smoked paprika in a bowl. When the mixture is one color, set aside the bowl.
Combining the wet ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, Dijon mustard, buttermilk, and olive oil.
Finishing the batter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the liquids. With a rubber spatula, stir everything until it is almost combined. Add the grated cheese and stir together until entirely combined. Make sure there is no visible flour remaining.
Using a large ice cream scoop, fill each of the muffin cups to 3/4 full.
Baking the muffins. Bake the muffins at 425° for 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to 375° and bake until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean, about another 10 to 15 minutes. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then remove them to a cooling rack.
Brownies seem pretty simple, right? They’re flat, they taste of chocolate, they satisfy a quick urging for a weeknight dessert. How hard could they be?
Let me tell you, people, there are no end to discussions about brownies in the world.
A couple of days ago, knowing I wanted to work on this recipe, I asked for people’s ideal of a brownie. There are over 100 comments on that post on Facebook, with some vociferous disagreement. (“Cakey!” “No, fudgey!”) Last night, after baking a failed pan of brownies (we had run out of sugar so I used honey instead — but it might be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made), I spent at least 2 hours perusing every brownie recipe I could find. How much disagreement could there be? A lot. Granulated sugar. Brown sugar. Unsweetened chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate. Ice baths. Tinfoil. Butter. No, oil. 1 egg. 6 eggs. Fudgey, almost like ganache. Crisp edges. Dry and flaky like cake. Not one hint of cake. “If I wanted cakey, I’d eat chocolate cake.”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen more disagreement on a single baked good in my life. Brownies create discussion, it seems.
There’s even an upcoming lecture involving brownies at Harvard: “Join fellow Harvard alumni in a special lecture series discussing the basic science and history of your favorite recipes for cookies and brownies featuring Michael P. Brenner, Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and current Radcliffe Fellow.” (Actually, I wish I could go to that one.)
Let’s face it. Most of our first brownies had been made from a boxed mix. Mine were. I bet yours were too. And many people still long for their homemade brownies to taste like Duncan Hines. (It’s sad but it’s also natural. We crave what we ate for comfort as children.)
But I didn’t want to work hard to create a recipe that tasted just like it came from a box.
You see, this month on the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally, we decided to tackle brownies. Below you’ll see a list of bakers who made brownies and published their recipes on the same day together. That’s the fun of this rally idea — we’re in this together. So, if you don’t like the texture of our brownies, surely someone else will have made your kind.
I’m not going to give a ratio for brownies, which makes this ratio rally different than the others. Everyone has such a different sense of what makes a great brownie that I wouldn’t dare to presume. However, I will say this: the ratio of flour to the fats and eggs and chocolate is what really makes the difference. More flour in ratio to the other ingredients means a cakier brownie. Less flour means a fudgier brownie.
(Oh, and you don’t need gluten for a brownie! These are one of the easiest gluten-free baked goods to make.)
According to Shirley Corriher, mixing the brownie batter well after adding the eggs helps to make for a crackly crust, so don’t be afraid to keep stirring for awhile.
We already have brownies on this site, brownies I adore. These are an adaptation of Alice Medrich’s brilliant chocolate-determined brownies. They’re wonderful. They’re also just the tiniest bit fussy, since they require you pull out the brownies underbaked and plunge the pan into an ice bath in the sink. (Please don’t use a glass pan!) Other than that, they’re easy and decadent at the same time.
However, my priorities for what makes a great brownie in this house are simpler now. It’s this.
Since Lucy started standing at the counter with me and Danny, our priorities for food have shifted. In the past, I might have worried about making the “perfect” brownie, the most complex or stupendous. (That’s one of Lucy’s favorite words right now.) Now, I know that the best food is the food on the table. The best brownie recipe is the one that our daughter can stir together in one bowl, as I help her to add ingredients. I listened to her this evening, saying repeatedly, “Mama, Mama! I’m baking with you, Mama. Watch!”
Instantly, I was glad I skipped the instant espresso powder, the beaten egg whites, the shaved chocolate, or even slowly melting the chocolate in a double boiler. We melted butter and unsweetened chocolate together in the microwave, stirred in sugar, added one egg at a time, a bit of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and some teff flour. She stirred it all herself. I’ve never seen her so proud.
For that reason, these are the best brownies we have ever eaten.
You’ll probably disagree. That’s okay. You can make your own kind.
Visit the other folks who participated in the Ratio Rally!
I knew exactly the brownies I wanted to make when I read my friend Anita’s description of her ideal brownie: “…shattery top, not too thick, relentlessly chocolate-y.” Immediately I sent her a message, “What recipe do you use?” This simple, stir-it-all-in-one-bowl recipe from Kitchen Sense worked well here. The final brownie? A crackling crust on top that disappeared into a fudgy center. The edges are crisper. The chocolate taste is intense. If you don’t like this brownie, I’m not sure we can be friends.
The secret weapon here is teff flour. Teff has a faint taste of chocolate and hazelnuts, so if you add both to the brownie, the entire flavor jumps out in joy. Because teff is the finest flour in the world, these brownies have not one hint of graininess to them. Technically, because teff is a whole-grain flour, these are whole-grain brownies. Maybe a tiny bit healthier than the boxed-mix brownies. I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.
Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 8-inch baking pan with 2 pieces of tin foil, going opposite ways, leaving enough foil to hang over the edges. Grease the foil.
Melting the butter and chocolate. Put the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Run the microwave for 1 minute. Whisk together the melted butter and chocolate. If there are any remaining chunks of chocolate, microwave for 30 more seconds. Stir well.
Making the batter. Let the butter-chocolate combination cool until you can touch it. Add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring in between. Pour in the vanilla extract and stir. Add the teff flour and stir the batter thoroughly, with a rubber spatula, for at least 1 minute. Toss in the chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chips and stir until just combined.
Baking the brownies. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly into the corners. Bake until the edges have begun to pull away from the pan and the center is just starting to set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the brownies from the pan. Cool for at least 15 minutes. Lift both pieces of foil and the brownies out of the pan and cool on a cooling rack. Dig in.