Monday, September 10, 2018

Vegan Month of Food 2018 Day 10: Gluten Free Baking

Pardon the lighting.
I should do my videos in the daytime, really.
This is a gluten free vegan white cupcake with
gluten free vegan cream cheese frosting and
gluten free vegan silver stars.
Recipe from The Vegan 8.
It's bad ass.

Of all the challenges I've had since working the Deer Run vegan kitchen, gluten free vegan baking was the biggest for me. I was on my own way back when I started my own quest for high quality gluten free vegan baked goods. I had no professional training that covered gluten free, there was very little support was on line, and what I did find often wasn't vegan. I finally found a very obscure blog by someone who had Celiac disease as well as dairy sensitivity. Basically someone who was vegan, but not really by choice. She wrote about her life and how horrible it had been until she was finally diagnosed as having Celiac along with a dairy sensitivity (surprise, she's not a baby cow...) She included her stories about her hospitalizations due to severe and frequent illness, as well as her progression to reclaim her health via learning to cook and BAKE gluten free once finally diagnosed. Her recipes did not always work for me, probably because of my climate down here. But as I got more experienced I began to figure out more and more what DID work down here without gluten. Years, I'm telling you, years of work went into the gluten free vegan recipes I now use. It's one of those things that unless you find yourself in the situation of NEEDING to remove gluten, most people don't give it a second thought.  I've come to realize that although I do not have Celiac, I do have a sensitivity to gluten. It causes inflammation for me, which makes my life more difficult at times. I'm still  not 100% gluten free, but more and more I do kick it to the curb completely from time to time. When I do, I feel so much better. Also, since more companies are finally producing true gluten free vegan products that actually taste good it's much easier to be gluten free in my opinion.

Let's get back to the baking issue. Vegan baking has no eggs. Gluten free vegan baking has no gluten. Eggs provide moisture and binding in recipes (along with a heavy does of torture and cruelty), while gluten provides elasticity in baking which helps the dough's condition. It also provides protein, but who the heck do you know that eats a cupcake for protein anyway? Besides, gluten free flours provide levels of protein anyway. Damn, the last thing I ever want to hear is where do I get my protein... it's NOT in a cupcake. Removing those ingredients means we have to substitute other ingredients that will mimic the same or similar functions of the other ingredients. I have developed my own gluten free baking recipes that are fully adapted to the extreme humidity we have year around, as well as the heat which also compromises baked goods. Because my issues aren't your issues, today I'm linking you to a recipe from Brandi at the Vegan 8. She is a master recipe creator, all vegan, all gluten free and best of all her concept is all recipes have 8 ingredients or less. She has a cookbook out now too, I don't have it yet but it's one I am longing for. You can go to her blog and find tons of recipes, she is so generous with her own recipes.

I made you the Vegan 8 gluten free white cupcakes. She also provides a recipe for frosting, but I simply used a little of the leftover vegan cream cheese frosting I had from Mahogany cake day. The frosting happened to be gluten free. Also, I used gluten free vegan silver stars as decoration, my preferred sprinkle shop is Sweetopolita on Etsy, although now there are also finally more and more vegan sprinkle companies popping up too.

This is the link to the recipe I used

When you bake gluten free, unless you are buying a premixed blend of flours, you will have to keep a variety of different gluten free flours on hand. For me I tend to rely on more light flours than most other people would consider because the conditions down here are so extreme that it's bananas to bake with heavy flours. It's also bananas to use bananas or too much applesauce in tropical gluten free baking, they too are typically far too heavy for baking down here. I have almost every egg replacer you can name always on hand including aquafaba, EnerG egg replacer, the Vegan Egg, applesauce, tofu, flax, chia just to name a few. They are all gluten free, but not all are appropriate for every application. Trust me, gluten free baking is more challenging, but it's so rewarding. I do remember the time I made a gluten free vegan cake for someone who had not had a birthday cake in over a decade. She cried because she was so happy. I know I know.... cake cannot solve the problems of the world, but life is hard enough as it is, surely cake can brighten any day. 

As you start to bake gluten free, just give yourself the latitude to make mistakes, and then keep going forward. You'll get the hang of it thanks to great recipe creators like Brandi at the Vegan 8.


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