Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Fine Line Between Too Soft & Too Hard

When it comes to cooking Gluten Free there are always a lot of factors to take into consideration. Obviously the first is taste but then there's texture.

Betty Crocker thankfully makes several Gluten Free Baking Mixes and I use a few of them A LOT. When we first started making the box mixes though they just weren't that great. The brownies & cookies were both crunchy & I just really did not care for the cake we made.

Then everything changed when my Mom told me about this bakery that makes almost everything in it's store Gluten Free. She told me I needed to look BabyCakes up online & see about getting their cookbook. I finally listened to her & checked out their website & then saw that there were 2 cookbooks that I could buy on Amazon. So I went ahead and bought BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York's Most Talked-About Bakery and BabyCakes Covers the Classics: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes from Donuts to Snickerdoodles

The funny thing is that "I" haven't even actually made anything out of either of these cookbooks yet. I read through both of them, looked at every recipe & read all the info that she wrote about different techniques etc. I planned out which recipes I wanted to try to make & made a spreadsheet to keep track of which ingredients I would need for which recipes. I have most of the major ingredients now, just haven't gotten around to making anything yet. I will say that my Mom made me the Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes for my baby shower & they were very, very good. Nobody knew that they were gluten free.

But so even though I haven't made a single item out of either of her cookbooks yet I still learned something amazing. Almost every single recipe called for unsweetened applesauce. The few that did not already called for pumpkin. It suddenly made perfect sense to me why. It's used to keep the baked item moist. I'd already seen how fruit keeps it moist when I made the Banana Cupcakes with Browned Butter Frosting-Gluten Free. They were the 1st gluten free thing I had made that you really couldn't tell were gluten free.

Another thing we had already made that was a good example was something I still have to post the recipe for. I'll have to make sure I take pictures the next time that we make it so I can share with everyone. It's a chocolate cake made with a can of pumpkin in it. It's sooo good & moist, no one I have shared it with has ever known it was gluten free until I told them. Only one person ever said anything negative about it & that's just because she doesn't like pumpkin haha.

So now we put applesauce in all of our baked items unless it already contains pumpkin or bananas, etc. We kept buying jars of applesauce & wasting most of it because we wouldn't bake something again before the applesauce spoiled. So I had a brilliant idea to stop buying jars of applesauce & just buy cups of applesauce. It kind of worked out perfectly because now when we are going to bake the brownies or cookies with the Betty Crocker mixes we add one cup of applesauce & it's just right. We throw in a handful of chocolate chips to the brownie mix now too.

Now I personally LOVE soft gooey brownies & chocolate chip cookies. I'm not sure if everyone does but I like mine that way. Especially after having eaten so many crispy or stale tasting gluten free baked goods, a gluten free baked good that's moist always impresses me.

The thing that prompted this whole question of the fine line between too soft & too hard is that a friend sent me a text a few weeks ago & asked if I'd ever tried a gluten free carrot cake. I told her that I hadn't so she said she would bring some by for me to try. Her boss had made one & brought it in & she said it was really good so she'd bring the rest of it by for me. Some other friends were here & later tried the cake & spit it out right away. They told me it was horrible so then I really had to try it. I was the only one who didn't spit it out. I thought it was actually pretty good. Their complaint? The texture. It was too moist for them.

I had only had a small piece of it until a few mornings later. While I was waiting for my coffee to finish brewing I pinched off a pretty good sized piece to eat & then I kind of got a bit overwhelmed. I realized that whereas I didn't think it was too bad to spit out, it really was TOO moist.

But really the problem then is how do you know? It really is a fine line when it comes to gluten free baking because if it's not moist it will taste bad but if it's too moist it will taste bad as well. So far our success has come from just using a cup of applesauce for most recipes. You might have to experiment a few times until you get just the perfect moisture for you & then hope that anyone else that eats it thinks that's the perfect moisture as well. My friend that brought me the cake thought it was delicious.

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