In a few hours I will be attending the wedding of a friend who has Celiac Disease. Her wedding will be a gluten-free picnic and all the guests will bring something in this theme.
I know very little, almost nothing about what I call “alternative baking.” Luckily for me crisp topping is not really considered baking. There are no eggs, no chemical leaveners, no attempt at expecting something to rise in the oven, no faerie-dust finesse needed in the mixer. I need to put a bunch of gluten free flours together with various sugars and spices and butter, and hopefully, voila! Crisp topping baked onto glorious Pacific Northwest berries galore.
“Alternative Baking” is tricky business. Little has been written about the properties of these new flours as they relate or translate to what we know of wheat flour. Although wheat has not always been a year-round crop, almost all American and European baked goods start with it.
Celiac Disease is not the only major food allergy gaining momentum today. With the prevalence of soy and corn and wheat in almost everything consume, whether we know it’s there or not, we are developing allergies to ingredients we are eating far too much of. Baking, cooking and eating that is considered “alternative” today may well be considered normal/standard/conventional in a dozen years or less.
Books like Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking have helped me to understand new flours like Mesquite, Teff, Sorghum. In her beginning chapters, she gently and thoroughly explains the nutritional, taste and baking properties of many of these almost mysterious new things.
But, like all new ingredients, one must experiment until one gets what tastes good to them. Because crisp topping has no dangerous raw ingredients you can taste it, and adjust according to taste when it looks ready.
Follow instructions for the crisp topping I made last year near this time. It is exactly the same.
Here is what I put together for today’s gluten free challenge. I used a scale so I could check proportions better. And I wrote it all down as I went along, tasting a tiny bit of each flour first to check texture and flavor. All these flours are ground to a different consistency, so measuring them in cups would have been dangerous. Some are heavier than others. (All Purpose unbleached (white) wheat flour generally weighs 5-6 oz. per cup)
2.5 oz Teff flour
4 oz. Sorghum flour
5 oz. Sushi rice flour
1.25 oz. Tapioca flour
1.75 ounces Mesquite flour
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamon seeds*
3 oz. raw sugar
8 oz. Dark brown sugar
1 pound unsalted butter
All of these flours can be found at Rainbow Grocery. If you have a friend who is gluten-free, I hope you get the chance to make this for them!