A couple of weeks ago, we listed a bunch of gluten-free cooking classes, and decided to take one or two ourselves. So we signed up for the “Gluten-Free Baking with Tiff Mumma!” class at Bob’s Red Mill. Click here for their current class list (note that most of their classes are not gluten-free). Here’s the blurb for the class, which was two hours.
Let’s face it gluten-free baking can be a challenge, knowing which flours to blend and what to use as replacement for gluten can be frustrating. Tiff an avid gluten-free baker, is back to help put an end to your gluten-free baking challenges. Whereas many people view their diagnosis as the beginning of “living without” Tiff sees the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle as an opportunity to expand her diet to include a variety of grains. Her class menu will focus on: Banana Cake, Cinnamon Rolls, Potato Bread, Pumpkin Bread and Zucchini Bread. Come enjoy an evening filled with fabulous instruction and priceless baking tips!
As the title mentions, the class is taught by Tiff Mumma, who was diagnosed with celiac disease several years ago, and who also has family members with various food allergies. Tiff is a very enthusiastic instructor, and you can tell that she cares a lot about food and nutrition, as well as health. Each student was given a handout with recipes, a survey about the class, a Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free product brochure, and a complimentary package of their “Sweet” White Sorghum Flour. Sorghum flour makes up a large part of the flour mix that they prefer, which is Carol Lee Fenster’s flour mix. (Carol Lee Fenster is the author of 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes and Gluten-Free 101, among other books).
The classroom is large, and our class was full. It is set up for doing demonstrations. So there is a long cooking island at the front of the class with cameras set up over it. Two large monitors on either side of the class show what is on the island. They also have microphones and a speaker setup so there’s no problem hearing the instructor.
During the class, Tiff Mumma went through a demonstration of making four recipes from the recipe handout. These were gluten-free pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, cinnamon rolls, and banana cake. She noted that all of the recipes in the handout can be made without eggs. The handout also included recipes for cinnamon roll toppings, a cinnamon icing, and an old-fashioned potato bread.
It’s really wonderful to watch an experienced person bake and listen to their cooking tips. Our class was very inquisitive and a lot of people had questions for Mumma. Things we learned:
- Before you stir everything together, make two separate mixes: One mix with all the sugars and wet ingredients and a second mix with the rest of the dry ingredients.
- Ingredients should be room temperature.
- Agave makes a good sweetener for quick breads, but is sweeter, so you need less. Start with about half and adjust for taste.
- Let baked goods cool ten minutes in the pan and then additional time on a rack. This gives time for the texture to set up.
- You can use applesauce as a binder in quick breads to substitute for eggs.
- Another egg substitute is 3 Tbsp water and 1 Tbsp flax meal
- Gluten-free flours should be stored in a dark place in airtight containers (although there is some debate that flours belong in the fridge).
- Ever needed to flatten some gooey gluten-free dough? Pour dough onto a sheet of wax paper that has been heavily dusted with white rice flour. Dip your hands into cool water repeatedly as you spread the dough out with your fingers.
- Gelatin is good in yeast breads for promoting a spongy inner texture and crisp outside.
- Green pea flour is good for making cookies.
- When making yeast breads, use an instant cooking thermometer to make sure your water is 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Guar gum and xanthan gum work better when used together – the tricky thing is getting the right proportions.
- For a flaky gluten-free pie crust, substitute three tablespoons of vodka for one tablespoon of water in the recipe. The dough will be drier and easier to handle, and the alcohol will evaporate out.
An added bonus in our class was that we were sitting with a bunch of like-minded people who shared their own tips and experiences. A good time was had by all. During the class, samples of the breads and cinnamon rolls were handed out to everyone. The breads were really amazing (our one complaint was that the cinnamon roll seemed undercooked and needed way more cinnamon). Just when we thought the class couldn’t get any better, they had a drawing and gave out more gluten-free mixes.
It should be added that there are a lot of interesting products at the Bob’s Red Mill store. For gluten-free folks, they have baking mixes, flours, and oats. They have a full shelf of gluten-free cookbooks. The gluten-free mixes I saw were: brownie mix, shortbread cookie mix, chocolate chip cookie mix, pizza crust mix, chocolate cake mix, and a few bread mixes. The amount of stuff they have there is staggering. They even have bread machines (it would appear that they favor the Zojirushi and Breadman). This is a little off-topic, but it bears mentioning that Bob’s Red Mill has a separate area for making their gluten-free products to prevent cross-contamination, and also batch-tests their products.
They are planning to have two more gluten-free classes in the coming months. One in April and another in June. The class in April will be taught by Carol Lee Fenster. If you think that you might be interested, we recommend that you go for it. We’ll post more information on these as soon as we get it.