Saturday, November 13, 2010

Food substitutions unlimited

OK, the bagels didn’t turn out so well.  Maybe because I didn’t stick to my plan to use only water and one other ingredient…

I made rice flour bagels, but the recipe I tweaked said I needed yeast, which I didn’t want to use; it also included xanthan gum and I know you can substitute xanthan gum for yeast in some baked goods, so I tried just adding extra xanthan gum.  I also started to wonder how flat or crumbly the bagels would come out if I didn’t use the egg in the recipe, or the oil, so in the end I used both.  The resulting bagels weren’t terrible, in fact they looked nice and golden and were the right shape, but their puffiness in the oven quickly fled (like a deflated soufflé!) once they cooled, and the consistency was more chewy than desired.

A learning experience, definitely, but a setback, no – I’m going to try again but sticking to just water and one flour (I’m thinking water chestnut, corn, or chestnut).  Oh, and despite my concerns about boiling bagels, what I’ve read and then found in practice is that boiling them ever so briefly (30 seconds per side) seems to help them set right when baking.  A little compromise will be well worth it if the bagels come out well – and I’m glad to say, for the first time in a long time my daughter did get excited about eating breakfast, when she knew there were new (gluten-free) bagels to try.

It so happens that this experiment coincided with the work I’ve been doing on my “substitutions mini-cookbook” (which is where the idea to add xanthan gum came from), and I wanted to share with you a few surprising but very helpful substitutions that I’ve come across – please also check my “Substitutions” page on this blog, where I will be adding to the list regularly.

Among the helpful substitutions that I have found for allergenic foods:

Baking powder            1 tsp. = ½ tsp.  tsp. cream of tartar + ½ tsp. arrowroot

Butter                           ½ c. = ½ c. coconut oil (always keep at room temperature)
                                            = ⅓ c. rice bran oil or canola oil
                                    (Interesting fact: lard, though less commonly used in cooking these days, is actually healthier than many butters or oils, as it contains no hydrogenated fat)

Cornstarch                   1 Tbsp. = 1 Tbsp. arrowroot or 2 Tbsp. wheat flour

Egg white                    1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. agar powder dissolved into 1 Tbsp. water, beaten, chilled for 15 minutes, then beaten again

Maple syrup                 1 c. = 1 c. fruit syrup (made by boiling pure, unsweetened fruit juice such as pear or apple until about ⅓ to ¼ original volume)

Nut topping                  Substitute toasted rolled oats or toasted rice cereal, toasted shredded coconut, toasted seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame), or grated dried mochi (rice cake)

Sour cream                  1 c. = 1 c. yogurt (and I’ve discovered that there are a variety of yogurts available made from things other than cow’s milk, including: sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, buffalo milk, coconut milk, soy, arrowroot, potato, rice, hemp, and various nut milks!)

There really is an unlimited number of options for safe substitutes to allergenic foods, and I'm discovering more each day.  If there is a food substitute that you have been looking for, let me know – I might have what you need.  And if you have any to offer, that would be great too!!

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