After Chef Karen Morgan was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002, she slipped into what she describes as a culinary depression. The resources available to her were outdated and ill-fitting; she was surrounded by old cookbooks and supposedly "all-purpose" gluten-free flours that simply weren't. Rather than resign herself to a life of rice pasta and hedonistic fantasies of wheat, Morgan took it upon herself to discover if, and how, the textures and flavors of well-loved gluten-dense foods could be replicated. It took years, but the results were spectacular.
So what's the secret? Six custom flour blends, carefully developed to serve as the foundation for their own series of savory and sweet recipes. For example, mixing up a batch of "Pie & Pasta" blend means you can serve chicken and dumplings with a berry galette, both gluten-free, and both made with the same flour. There's a blend for cookies, cakes, bread (and pizza!), even biscuits and donuts. All of Morgan's hard-won efforts have been distilled into The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free, a book that contains all the secrets to making gluten-free versions of your favorite foods.
It's no mean feat to bend starches to your will. Morgan found that where an extra tablespoon of AP flour might go undetected, the same excess of another starch, in combination with other gluten-free flours, changes the texture of a baked good from "tender crumb" to "wet cardboard." Seven years of trial and error coupled with a mad scientists' determination and ingenuity were what eventually produced results. Some ingredients will be familiar, like potato starch and tapioca flour. Others, like guar gum and sorghum flour, are less so. But all of them are needed to make things like Le Pop Tart, an adult ode to childhood, stuffed with fresh fruit and iced with buttercream. Other treats, like Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies and Marble Chocolate-Cheesecake Brownies, get their start with the "Cookie Jar" blend, which is responsible for the crumbly bite of the former, and the soft chew of the latter. It seems like wizardry, but it's just science at work. For those less adventurous, the flour blends used in the book are sold online through Blackbird Bakery, the company Morgan founded after going gluten-free.
Though there are a finite number of blends and recipes, the variety contained within each group is staggering. There's no way you could get bored baking from this book. From weeknight dinners to major occasions, The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free covers all the bases. For those of you who cannot consume gluten, or have a friend or loved one with celiac disease, we hope the recipes featured will bring you together over something sweet.
Win A Copy!
Thanks to the generous folks over at Abrams, we are giving away five (5) copies of The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free this week. All you have to do is tell us which dessert you wish came in gluten-free form.