Monday, October 8, 2012

The Queen of Gluten Free

Before we made aliyah, celiac disease (or as we knew it to be called, celiac sprue), was barely known to us.  David's cousin has it, but she was literally our only encounter with the disease.  Then we moved, and while at first we only knew a small handful of people with celiac, the number of sufferers has increased dramatically over the last six years.  And not only do people with celiac have to avoid gluten, but we know other people who avoid gluten religiously for a variety of health reasons.

Gluten, for the uninitiated, is a protein found in wheat and related species, and it's what gives dough its elasticity. For people with celiac disease, gluten can cause many unpleasant, very serious, and long-reaching consequences.  While it was not as well known before, more celiac disease is being diagnosed, and the levels of gluten in flour has risen in the last decades, causing people increased sensitivity (or so I have been told). I myself was tested for celiac this year, thanks to a lifetime of stomach issues, and while the test was negative, the wait for results gave me a lot of food for thought, about what I would do with my business if the result was positive.

The thing is, gluten is in a lot of foods. Surprising and unexpected foods. So it can be hard to avoid. But the amazing thing to me was that most cake decorating ingredients are actually gluten free, so to make a beautiful cake that has no gluten, you just need to find a great cake recipe. That I did with a little help from a few friends with family members with celiac. Since I started working on these GF recipes, I am sort of feeling like that is the most popular thing I do.  Believe me, the smiles I get from producing a cake or cupcakes that actually taste good - even to wheat eaters! - makes me feel so good!  I love knowing that a person who might not otherwise have had a cake to enhance their celebration will now get to indulge just like the rest of us.  I can't share the recipes with you (so far just chocolate and vanilla cake) as it's my livelihood we are talking about here, but I can show you what we have created. It's all GF!!

60th birthday celebration

Engagement party

Multiple birthday celebration


Bat mitzvah dessert buffet

Bat mitzvah
17th birthday celebration
Sheva brachot

5th birthday celebration
But to make it up to you, I am going to give you a GF recipe - for the most delicious brownies ever.  So why am I sharing davka this recipe with you?  Because to be quite honest, the ingredients in this recipe are rather pricey (an entire pound of bittersweet chocolate, for starters), so I don't think selling them would ever be worthwhile.  I made them this summer for my GF sister and brother-in-law, and no one at the table missed the gluten.
Gluten Free Brownies 
adapted from Pragmatic Attic

6 tablespoons margarine (75 grams in Israel)
5 tablespoons canola oil
16 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I prefer Vered HaGalil for daily use, but check with your gluten-free person about what chocolates are okay for them - here, Carmit 60% seems to be considered the "cleanest", though many brands claim to have less than 20ppm, which is the gold standard) or semi-sweet, or a combination - whatever you favor
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons corn starch, called cornflour in Israel (or potato starch - kemach tapuchei adama)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
Line an 9x13 pan with foil then parchment paper extending over the ends for ease of removal after baking. Spray exposed foil with cooking spray.
Melt together the chocolate and margarine, either on the stove top over a very low heat, stirring frequently, or in the microwave on a half power setting. when the chocolate and margarine are melted, add in the oil, then the sugar, stirring well. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the salt.
In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, coffee powder andstarch to evenly combine. Add to the melted chocolate mixture and mix vigorously to evenly combine.
Mix vigorously until the batter is smooth and well combine.  Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula.Bake for about 35 minutes, checking beginning at about 25 minutes. Brownies are done when an inserted toothpick comes out nearly clean, with just a few moist crumbs.  Cool completely.  Use the parchment paper to aid in removal from pan, and cut into squares - these are very rich, so 32 brownies is a fair number.

Whether you avoid gluten or not, ENJOY!



Caryn said...

Your gluten free items are beautiful. My father has been a baker and bakery owner almost his entire age 40+ he developed Celiac Sprue and became a borderline diabetic. To top it off, he developed a terrible milk allergy. But he loved to bake. And he never gave it up...he taught himself to know the quality by texture and look. And he was an amazing baker constantly developing new recipes...I even sometimes got to be his taster! So I am glad your test results were good, but as you know there is a lot more to enjoying baking than to just eating the finished product. Although that is definitely a good part of it ;-).

Dvora said...

Thanks, Caryn. That is so interesting - and impressive! I think my great fear (probably with no basis in science) was that I would not be able to bake with flour, as the flour flying around could be a health hazard. I have no idea if that is a "thing" or not... And yes, I do enjoy the tasting, too, at least most of the time. Right now I think I may be desserted out. :-(

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