BAKING!

This heat is driving me crazy, for many reasons, but what I’ve been preoccupied with recently is my inability to bake. I want to try out a new pizza crust recipe, make some of my famous pumpkin muffins, or even just throw together some cornbread from a mix I have. But it is too hot. Our downstairs AC is insufficient to the task of cooling the living area even when no one is cooking.

Now you may remember from my post on Asperger’s that I don’t eat gluten or casein. This means that among the foods I avoid are wheat flour (white or whole), barley, spelt, milk, butter, and cheese of all kinds. Complicating my list of ingredients further, my husband has a rice sensitivity. Also I try to keep my sugar intake fairly low and my grain intake as rich in whole grains as possible.

You can see why I like to do my own baking. There are quite a few options available free of gluten and casein, but they tend to be full of white rice, sugar, and other empty carbohydrates, like tapioca and potato starches. These make a very nice poofy-white-bread type pastry, except for the grainy texture of the rice when it’s cold. But in any case, that’s not what I’m looking for. The baking that my mother does, and which was my comfort food, is full of whole grain wheat and fruit and honey.

I’ve done a lot of experimenting, and I’ve got my muffin recipe pretty much down. I use a blend of sorghum and amaranth flours, and sometimes some gluten-free oat flour. The sorghum stands in for the rice as the base flour, and the amaranth stands in for the tapioca as the gluier element that stops the muffin from falling apart. The oat flour balances the sweet nutty flavors of the other flours in case I want a more neutral base flavor, like in a blueberry muffin.

The creation of a pizza crust recipe is proving more difficult. It’s easier to find a blend of flours that will support the flavor of blueberries than one that will meld well with tomato sauce and soy cheeze. I wasn’t sure if I should put too much corn into the recipe, but what I discovered with my first experiment was that the flavors of quinoa and whole potato flour were the wrong things to balance it with. Next I’m going to try Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten free blend. It has some starches and things in it that I’d prefer not to use, but I received some from a friend and I figure I might as well try it. It has fava bean flour in it, and if it works well I might add that to my repertoire.

I appreciate that a lot of Bob’s Red Mill mixes don’t have rice in them. The nice white fluffy pancakes I make may not be nutritionally optimal, but everyone likes them and they’re not bad cold. The cornbread mix is good too. The hearty whole grain mix is really strange, but it’s very nutritious, and next time I make beef stew I might see if they go well together. But that will be in a long time. It’s too hot to make stew.

I’m also trying to formulate a sushi recipe that will be nutritious and that my husband can eat without throwing up. The first grain formula worked out surprisingly well.  I boiled pearl quinoa with a little whole amaranth, then added white vinegar and a little agave nectar and salt. The flavor was all right with the grilled chicken we put in the first rolls, but the quinoa won’t go so well with other fillings. I’m considering adding some millet. I don’t particularly like the flavor of millet and I don’t use it any more in my baking, but whole millet just might be neutral enough to be better in sushi than quinoa. Also the mixture wasn’t quite sticky enough, so next time I might try something like 1/4 amaranth, 1/4 pearl quinoa, and 1/2 millet.

I would be much more enthusiastic about this project if I knew how to get sushi quality raw fish, but I guess I will have to make do with cooked and vegetable sushi for now. I would make it today except I don’t have any whole millet.

So anyway I’m really antsy to try out some of my new ideas, but it is way too hot to bake and it is making me crazy. I’m going to go have some corn-quinoa pasta salad.

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