Gail presented two (non-gluten free recipes) for a chocolate cranberry walnut babka and an espresso almond biscotti.
Elizabeth (whom I was delighted to meet in person for the first time!) presented a rustic apple pie (otherwise known as a galette) with my favorite granny smith apples, pumpkin whoopee pies with a wonderfully gooey marshmallow filling, and an easy-but-delicious chocolate bark that I am planning to use for my annual cookie swap with the girls! Of course, we got to try samples, which were delicious! (Confession, I brought my samples of Elizabeth's recipe home so that I could share them with my celiac husband - while everything was delish, we were both especially impressed by the pumpkin whoopee pie - I must try this recipe at home).
We did find out some good tips - at least, tips that I hadn't really known about beforehand. I was Tweeting a few of them during the event with the hashtag #BakeWithPC but here are some of the tips for you in blog form:
- Dough scrapers are a useful little gadget - used both for molding dough if you don't want to use your hands or cleaning off surfaces. I must pick one up.
- Whisks are recommended to thoroughly mix blended flours before processing (SN: I already do this, but I use the whisk attachment of my stand mixer rather than a hand whisk).
- Never, ever use liquid measuring cups (with a spout) for measuring solids!
- Sugar gets clumpy because it's hydroscopic - that means that is absorbs water from the air. Is that a Words with Friends word or what?
- The Niskayuna Price Chopper recently had a grand re-opening and have expanded their line of gluten free products.
- The crumbs at the bottom of the stand mixer are NOT to be ignored (what I usually do). Make sure to mix them in by hand, halfway through the stand mixing process, for better baked goods.
- Gluten free all-purpose flour is NOT recommended for high quality gluten free baked goods (That said, some mixes are better than others. Betty Crocker/Bisquick mixes and King Arthur Flour are higher quality than many others).
- Food processors can be used to mix all flours, etc. before baking. Interesting!
- Never replace butter or other solid fats with oils when making pie crust or other doughs.
- Tapioca starch, potato starch, and corn starch are pretty interchangeable in recipes.
- While tapioca flour and tapioca starch are the exact same thing, potato flour and potato starch are notably different!
- Many gluten free recipes are over-aggressive in their use of xanthan gum. Too much gum can make food gummy - and cause gluten free bread not to toast!
- "Imitation" flavorings are legally required to be gluten free since they're derived from a synthetic rather than organic source. (Organic in the chemistry sense here...)
- Don't ever use a wet sponge or paper towel to clean up spilled xanthan gum, as the moisture will result in a slimy mess.
- Corn starch will not thicken sauces or other goods unless it comes to a full boil.