Monday, March 1, 2010

The Others - recipe added

One of the pleasures of gluten-free baking is learning the new flavors of "exotic" grains. Amaranth, Quinoa, Montina, and the Teffs (Dark, Ivory and Red) add unique and wonderful taste to baked goods.

The first three are from the Americas. Quinoa and Amaranth thrive in the cool high Andes and Antiplano, and Montina is a newly-cultivated cereal from the US high plains - Montana, in fact (hence the name).

Quinoa and Amaranth are noteworthy for their high protein and strong flavors. They can be found as whole kernels, flakes and flours. They're tiny grains, which means they cook quickly - a plus for adding to hot cereals. Mixed with buckwheat or rolled oats (I no longer trust oats, btw, they make me ill) they add crunch and tartness. Most bakers use only a small portion of these flours, but I've made some treats using only amaranth or only quinoa flour. The trick is finding a complementary flavor, such as chocolate or almond, then blending with several gluten substitutes that also have complementary flavors. (Look below for my Amaranth cookies)

A big plus for Quinoa is, it sprouts in about 4 hours. Sprouted quinoa adds a burst of protein to breads. Sometimes I mix sprouted quinoa into my "Wry" (fake rye). Just wet the grains and roll into plastic wrap and set out on the counter for an afternoon. It's fun coming back and seeing those white curly sprouts.

I'm not much a fan of Montina, which is available as an attractive-looking black-and-white flecked flour. It's very strong flavored, practically shouting "FIBER!" Montina does make a good additive to muffins, especially when mixed with cranberries and walnuts. I've tried it in breads, but rejected it every time. Still it is on my list for future discovery.

The teffs are from Ethiopia. They're an essential ingredient in traditional Ethiopian cooking, used to make injera, the spongy pancake-like bread served with spicy stews. Nutritional analyses I've seen suggest that teffs are among the most iron-rich grains in the world.

Teff is a big favorite around this house. I like cooking dark teff seeds with buckwheat hot cereal, they add a rich flavor and a bit of welcome crunch. Dark teff polenta is strangely wonderful - great with very hot pepper. However, the teffs shine most in breads. You can find flours at Purcell Mountain Farms. Bette Hagman has some great recipes; every GF baker should try her teff-and-sesame as well as her graham teff rolls. Sourdough ivory teff is highest on my list for future exploration. The first breads I've made have a unique fish flavor - not great, but not bad either. I'm thinking that once I work out the complementary flavors they'll be very savory.

I wish I could go to my kitchen right now and make one of my fave teff treats, sourdough raisin and nut dinner rolls. However, that room is being renovated. For the next month it's microwaved meals, sawdust for breakfast and no baking. Sigh. (Exception: my sourdough bread workshop in Portland, Oregon.)

Now to cover the house with tarps. More to follow.

.....and here is "more" (added 3/4/10)


1 cup Amaranth flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 360 F

Directions:            Using a food processor, combine dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cut the stick of butter into small squares and add these, then pulse the processor 8  - 10 times, until pea-sized pieces form. In a separate bowl, add ginger to egg yolks and mix. Add egg yolks to food processor and pulse 20 – 25 times, or until dough just comes together. Turn dough out onto countertop. Using fingers, pinch off and shape balls that are tablespoon sized, laying these out on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Leave about 1 inch on each side of each ball – cookies will spread. Bake for about 25’, or until edges are just brown. Transfer parchment to a wire rack and cool thoroughly.

Frosting suggestion: Banana

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