Karen Morgan: Everyday Art of Gluten-Free

Karen Morgan

If there is Art – and not simply Craft in cooking, then the same is true for Patisserie – and for Gluten-Free Patisserie. The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free: 125 Savory and Sweet Recipes Using 6 Fail-Proof Flour Blends (Abrams 2014) by Blackbird Bakery‘s Karen Morgan supports that Art. It’s a smartly organized book that tackles groups of savory and sweet recipes by grouping them together by flour blend: from Biscuit Blend to Bread &amp Pizza Blend. Alton Brown takes the same tack in his cookbooks as do other writers – and it works here because each blend actually calls for different flours. So, making a large batch of a blend means you can make different recipes with the mixture.

Everday Art of Gluten-Free by Karen MorganThe Biscuit Blend is extremely versatile and a good place to start:

Raised either with baking powder and soda, or with yeast, the flours play together to give the ideal physical characteristics for everything that screams “Breakfast.” When I was able to master both quick breads and yeast-risen pastries with this blend, however, I realized it was silly to stop at breakfast, so I included some classic soft dinner rolls and hot dog buns to show you that this blend is quite the workhorse.

The blend contains six ingredients: glutinous rice flour, cornstarch, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, sorghum flour and guar gum. Karen shuns xanthan gum because it comes from a toxic bacteria, so she uses guar gum instead: “I call guar gum the magic rubber band of gluten-free baking because it replaces the elasticity of the gluten protein.” Use the blend to make Cottage Cheese Pancakes (p. 19) that keep well in the refrigerator – both as batter or as already cooked flapjacks. Super Chef is always in search of a good waffle recipe – so Karen’s Waffles (p. 25) sound irresistible – especially because they have both sour cream and buttermilk (albeit in dry form) as well as seltzer to give crispness. Try the nifty recipe for All-American Ice Cream Cones (p.28) flavored with citrus and vodka. The photo of Blackbird Bakery’s Classic Cinnamon Rolls (p. 38-9) by Knoxy Knox shows giant cinnamon rolls dripping with glaze. You make the dough the night before and chill the yeasty mixture in the fridge to allow a slow rise before finishing them off in the morning. There is plenty of butter, sugar, and cinnamon in them as well as meringue powder, potato starch and gluten-free yeast.

Each of the blends has both savory and sweet uses – for the biscuit blend, that means Parmesan-Sage Pull-Apart Bread (p. 36) Laura’s Ball Park Dog (p. 41) and Lobster Rolls (p. 42) that are served in the hot dog rolls. She even includes her take on James Beard’s Fourth of July Hamburger (p. 45) in that hot dog bun. Master this biscuit blend and you’ve got plenty to get started on, while you take on the rest of the book. Anyone whose got a guest coming for dinner who is gluten-free or a member of the family with celiac disease can make excellent breads, pastas, cookies and sweets that will pass muster for the rest of the crowd. You can buy all six blends – but with this cookbook – there is no excuse not to make your own. Get a stack of containers – make all six and you are set.

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