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Review of The How Can it be Gluten Free Cookbook and a Giveaway

The How Can it be Gluten Free Cookbook with recipes developed by the team at America’s Test Kitchen is the cookbook I have been waiting for.   

 

If you are serious about being not just a good, but also a great GF cook, and you are willing to learn some new techniques and ingredients, then this is the one cookbook you should buy. 

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First I want to say thank you to America’s Test Kitchen for sending me an advanced copy of this cookbook.  Read to the end of this post for your chance to win a copy! 

 

Good gluten free baking can be tricky, but the team at America’s Test Kitchen has the resources and time to put together a collection of reliable recipes for your gluten free cooking needs. 

 

In the past, you would be lucky to find a good bread recipe in one cookbook and then maybe another cookbook with good dinner suggestions, and then a third or fourth cookbook for gluten free dessert ideas.

 

This cookbook puts it altogether with quality recipes for everything from bread, cakes, cookies (which can be surprisingly tricky), piecrust, pizza dough, weeknight dinners, and even fried chicken.

 

This cookbook is beyond basic – it is for the GF cook who wants success and is wiling to put in the extra effort and time to get really good results.  For example, the bread recipes call for physllium husks that seem to be the hot new ingredient in GF bread.  This ingredient produces great results but you have to be willing to go out and find it. 

 

As if the reliable recipes were not enough, the cookbook includes so many details on gluten free cooking that it is like a Gluten Free 101 textbook.  The cookbook includes very detailed directions on the science of gluten and tips to guarantee success in the kitchen, such as: 

• Let cookie dough and muffin batter rest before baking: Because GF flours are so starchy; resting muffin batter and cookie dough for 30 minutes is key. The starches have time to hydrate before they go into the oven, which eliminates grittiness—a common pitfall with GF baked goods.

• Yeast breads need a second leavener: Since GF flours are lower in protein than wheat flour, yeast breads don’t rise as well and their texture can be leaden. Adding baking powder (or soda) gives the yeast the boost that it needs to produce tall loaves with a light crumb.

• GF flours often need alternate fats: GF flours don’t absorb butter all that well and the end result can be very greasy. The solution: Cut down on the butter and replace the lost richness with more stable fats, such as cream cheese, sour cream, and white chocolate.

 

What is America’s Test Kitchen?

 

America’s Test Kitchen is a 2,500 square-foot kitchen located just outside Boston. It is the home of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines and is the workday destination of more than three dozen test cooks, editors, and cookware specialists. Their mission is to test recipes until they understand how and why they work and arrive at the best version.

 

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Why did the test kitchen do this book?

 

JACK BISHOP: Our test kitchen is committed to helping people become more successful when they cook at home. Over the past few years, we have received a chorus of requests from readers who want gluten-free recipes. They wanted us to reengineer favorite dishes. Our test kitchen methodology is designed to solve problems just like this. We test various ingredients and techniques in order to develop recipes that work. And we have the resources to test as many times as needed. If we need to make 500 blueberry muffins to perfect this one recipe, we will. (And we did.)

 

Who worked on this book and how did they set goals for developing recipes?

 

JACK BISHOP: Two members of the test kitchen team that worked on this book have gluten-related health issues, so they were particularly excited to work on this project. The rest of the team often cooks for people who can’t eat gluten. Our goal was simple: Develop recipes that are good enough to serve to everyone—including those who can eat wheat. We focused on recipes that are the hardest to get right without flour—lasagna, pizza, apple pie, fried chicken, banana bread—as well as recipes that rely on naturally gluten-free grains and noodles that may not be all that familiar to people, such as oat berries, millet, quinoa, and soba noodles. Recipes had to meet the same standards for quality that we use for all the test kitchen’s work.

 

The recipes in this cookbook are made with the America’s Test Kitchen Gluten Free Flour Blend (The ATK Blend).   It is a pretty simple blend, but because not every baker wants to make a homemade blend, the recipes include directions using two commercial blends, King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill.

 

American Test Kitchen has given me permission to share their basic gluten free flour blend. 

 

The America’s Test Kitchen Gluten-­Free Flour Blend

Makes 42 ounces (about 9 1/3 cups)

 

Be sure to use potato starch, not potato flour. Tapioca starch is also sold as tapioca flour; they are interchangeable. See notes below about shopping for rice flours and substituting soy milk powder.

 

  • 24 ounces (4 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup) white rice flour
  • 7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cups) brown rice flour
  • 7 ounces (1 1/3 cups) potato starch
  • 3 ounces (3/4 cup) tapioca starch
  • 3/4 ounce (3 tablespoons) nonfat milk powder

 

Whisk all ingredients together in large bowl until well combined. Transfer to airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 months.

 

Buying Rice Flours:  We used rice flours made by Bob’s Red Mill during our testing process. We found some rice flours (including those made by Arrowhead Mills, another widely available brand) to be a bit coarser, which can negatively impact the texture of baked goods. We strongly recommend that you buy Bob’s Red Mill white and brown rice flours.

 

Using Milk Powder:  If dairy is part of your diet, we strongly recommend adding the nonfat milk powder. (We use nonfat, rather than whole-­milk, powder because it is more readily available.) If you prefer, use an equal amount of soy milk powder. You can omit the milk powder altogether, however baked goods won’t brown quite as well and they will taste a bit less rich, especially in recipes without a lot of fat.

 

What did I make?

 

Using the ATK Flour Blend, I made Lemon Pound Cake and English Muffins.  Oh my, is all I can say.  They both turned out beautifully.  

 

The pound cake was a melt in your mouth delight with a light golden brown crust.

 

 

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It went perfect with our traditional Valentine’s Day Fondue.  

 

We have not had English Muffins in years, but these brought back memories of our pre-gluten free days.  They required a little work, but were so worth the effort. 

 

Having made many GF flops, I was willing to put in the effort with the knowledge that this recipe had been tested multiple times and would bring us great results.  And it did! 

 

Even better yet, America's Test Kitchen is letting me share this recipe with you!

 

America's Test Kitchen Recipe for Gluten Free English Muffins

 

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Why This Recipe Works: Our Classic Sandwich Bread proved to be a good starting point for this recipe—the dough has the necessary flavor and richness—and the classic technique worked well. We portioned the dough into rough balls and let them rise on two rimmed baking sheets until nearly doubled in size. The dough was rather sticky, and we had trouble dusting them with cornmeal (which helps create the distinctive crunch on the exterior of any good English muffin). We found it easier to sprinkle the rimmed baking sheet with cornmeal and then sprinkle more cornmeal over the top of the risen dough rounds. In order to create their distinctive shape and crumb, it’s necessary to flatten the dough rounds both before and during griddling. While some classic recipes cook the muffins entirely on the stovetop, we thought the crusts became much too hard. One minute of griddling per side was sufficient. We then transferred the muffins to a baking sheet and finished by bak‐ ing them in the oven to ensure they were cooked through but not overly browned. Do not substitute soy milk powder for the milk powder in this recipe, as it will negatively impact the flavor and structure of the English muffins.

 

MAKES 10 MUFFINS

 

  • 3 3/4   ounces (3/4 cup) cornmeal 
  • 2          cups warm water (110 degrees) 
  • 2          large eggs 
  • 2          tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
  • 14       ounces (3 cups plus 2 tablespoons) ATK Gluten-Free Flour Blend
  • 4          ounces (1 1/3 cups) gluten-free oat flour 
  • 1 1/2   ounces (1/2 cup) nonfat dry milk powder
  • 3          tablespoons powdered psyllium husk
  • 2          tablespoons sugar 
  • 2 1/4   teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2          teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2   teaspoons salt
  • 3          teaspoons vegetable oil

 

1. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cornmeal evenly over 2 rimmed baking sheets. Whisk water, eggs, and melted butter together in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour blend, oat flour, milk powder, psyllium, sugar, yeast, baking powder, and salt together on low speed until combined. Slowly add water mixture and let dough come together, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium and beat until sticky and uniform, about 6 minutes. (Dough will resemble cookie dough.)

 

2. Working with 1/3 cup dough at a time, shape into rough balls using wet hands, and space at least 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared sheets (5 per sheet). Cover loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

 

3. Adjust oven rack to lower‐middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic and, using greased metal spatula, press dough balls into 3/4‐inch‐thick rounds (about 3 1/2 inches in diameter). Dust tops of muffins with remaining 1/4 cup cornmeal.

 

4. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12‐inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Wipe out skillet with paper towel, leaving thin film of oil on bottom and sides of pan. Carefully lay 4 muffins in pan and cook until bottoms are just set, about 1 minute, occasionally pressing down on muffins with spatula to prevent doming.

 

5. Flip muffins and continue to cook until set on second side, about 1 minute longer. Transfer muffins to clean baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and remaining muffins in 2 more batches, wiping skillet clean before each batch and transferring muffins to same baking sheet.

 

6. Bake until golden brown and firm, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Transfer muffins to wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes before splitting with fork and toasting. Serve. (Once cooled, unsplit English muffins can be stored in zipper‐lock bag for up to 2 days.)

 

Freezing tips: Let English muffins cool completely, then wrap individually in a double layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil before freezing. A single English muffin, wrapped in a paper towel, can be microwaved for 20 seconds, then split and toasted.

 

PRINTABLE VERSION

 

Order The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook from Amazon

 The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook will be released March 1st.  You can pre-order it now from Amazon.  

 

 

Enter Giveaway to win a copy of The How Can it be Gluten Free Cookbook.

 

Thanks to America's Test Kitchen one person will win a copy of the The How Can it be Gluten Free Cookbook.

This giveaway is open to:

  •     Residents in the contiguous United States.
  •     The giveaway begins now and ends on 2/28/2014 at 12:00 am Pacific Time.
  •     One winner.

 

 

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