Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Testing Out Gluten-Free What IiF Flour

One of the blogs I follow is Alex and Aki's Ideas in Food. It's not like the other blogs I follow in that, while it is about food, it doesn't always feature recipes. Although I don't think I have the time, creativity or drive to do the things they do (like make my own vinegar) I still find myself regularly inspired by their posts.

A couple of weeks ago they posted a recipe for gluten-free (GF) What IiF Flour, a concoction that they put together to replace expensive store-bought versions and since my stepmother and stepsister can't tolerate gluten I immediately bookmarked it. Coincidentally I'd just sent off gluten-free brownies and biscotti THAT MORNING, and although they were good, I wasn't overly impressed with the brownies (I don't think brownies should be flat and extra-dense). Perhaps I'm spoiled, but I decided to test out the What Iif Flour with my favorite brownie recipe: Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies. Since I'm typing this can I still say this left me absolutely speechless?

In order to make a real comparison I decided to make a batch of regular brownies and a GF batch; in true scientific fashion, I made sure that the only thing I changed was the flour--the type of chocolate, porportions, cooking method, even the pan were exactly the same for both batches.

Looking at the two brownies, I couldn't tell the difference. When he tried them, neither could my husband. Don't get me wrong, they do taste slightly different, but they are similiar in consistency and texture, and best of all, they both taste great.

Alex & Aki's recipe makes a good 20 cups of flour, which I didn't realize when I started this because I don't work a lot with grams, and I have quite a bit of some of the components leftover. With that in mind, I decided to use the What Iif Flour to make some bread but for comparison purposes I wanted it to be a recipe that I've made before, so I chose the White Loaves recipe from Baking With Julia. The thing I've heard about GF bread is that it often tastes awful. Like ground-up rice awful. I figured the butter in this recipe could help with that.

From almost the beginning I was seriously skeptical. When I put the GF flour in the mixer and kneaded it, it didn't come together like it usually does when I make this bread. It sort of looked like glue and stuck to the sides of the mixing bowl.

I thought about throwing it out at that point, but I figured since I'd already gone this far, I might as well go on. I put the dough in a glass bowl and let it rise, which it actually did a little bit. When I punched it down I realized that the texture was still very sticky and just...off. Again I considered scrapping the experiment. This crumbly-textured disaster of a dough couldn't possibly turn into edible bread, but what the heck.

When I put it into the mini loaf pans for a final rise (they didn't actually rise, by the way) the dough reminded me of Bisquick drop biscuits. I probably could have smoothed out the tops but I like my bread crust textured so I didn't mind.

Thirty-five minutes in the oven and I actually had bread. It smelled buttery and tasted like regular bread. It wasn't quite as fabulous as the original recipe, but I didn't really expect it to be. The crumb was moist and tight, almost spongey. Jake ate it. He said it tasted like bread. That's good enough for me.

Things I learned from this project:
  1. Don't judge a dough by its texture.


  1. I have a friend that can't eat gluten too so I'm bookmarking this recipe too!!! She'll love it!

    1. I was really happy with the results so I know I'll be using this flour again in the future!

  2. Replies
    1. It was fun to take a break from being creative and get all nerdy and scientific!