There was a point in time when I was completely obsessed with gluten free baking.
I’m not sure how it all started really, but I was inspired to do so and spent a small fortune acquiring every gluten free flour known to the universe.
My cabinets were stuffed to the brim with brown rice flour, white rice flour, millet flour, almond meal and almond flour- I could build a small sand castle out of this stuff.
Speaking of sand, initially, everything I baked tasted weird and gritty.
The culprit, as I quickly learned was the rice flour. For best results, you’re supposed to blend GF flours for best texture, say rice flour with oat flour or something like that. But honestly, I was just so confused and put off by my failures that I gave up and inevitably went on a gluten binge.
And then, Alanna wrote a cookbook.
Alanna is the uber talented voice and photographer behind The Bojon Gourmet.
Her work is so inspiring (and delicious!) she could make a pile of dirt look like an edible sunset. Seriously, hop over to her blog and see for yourself.
PS- I had the opportunity to spend time with her recently and I felt like I was in the company of the elusive lioness… beautiful and unique.
Her new book, aptly titled ‘Alternative Baker’ showcases over 100 recipes with gluten free grains and flours. But get this- no rice flours! Sand haters rejoice!
I always knew there was more to GF baking than rice flour, but wasn’t quite sure how to get there. Alanna takes the time to show you, as the pages are expertly written and photographed. There’s even a short section on recipe recommendations if you’re a newbie to GF baking- love that.
The only dilemma I encountered, was what recipe to make first. Good grief, I took that book to bed several times and would literally drool over what to make.
We all love brownies in our house, and I knew her squidgy chesnut version was a good place to begin.
The recipe starts out by melting good quality chocolate and butter together.
When you combine this mixture with the rest of the ingredients (while still warm), you’ll get those crackly crinkled brownie tops, according to Alanna. So clever.
And here’s something I found really interesting: there’s no leavining agent in this recipe. Right, so no baking powder or baking soda. The trick is to whip the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy to naturally give the brownies a small boost. It’s actually fun to watch the mixture morph from orange and sludgy to pale, creamy yellow- that’s how you know it’s done.
Then, pop the whole thing in the oven and find something to do for the next 25 minutes. I’d suggest licking the bowl.
To finish, I scattered fresh raspberries and pomegranate over the top, because berries and chocolate happen to be my personal fave.
But trust me when I tell you, these beauties are totally fine without it.
I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.
Perfectly sweetened with light notes of nuttiness from the chestnut flour, these brownies score some serious points. My boys LOVED them. We fought over the corner pieces.
The boys also loved her GF scones by the way, which I’ve made for them previously and they were devoured with gusto (they soften like cake on day two!).
If you’re looking for a wonderfully inspiring book on GF baking, or perhaps know someone who would be over the moon with their very own copy…. guess what?!
I’m giving away Alanna’s gorgeous book!
Just leave a comment below and tell me about your experience with GF baking. I’ll pick one lucky winner! Contest is open to US residents only- thank you & good luck!
UPDATE: GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED!
- 6 tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter
- 8 oz (230 g) 60-70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 1½ cups)
- ½ cup (50 g) chestnut flour (you can also use almond flour)
- 2 tbsp (15 g) tapioca flour
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- handful of raspberries
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- Adjust your wire racks to fit the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F (175 C). Line an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate together over very low heat. Stir often to prevent burning. Once melted, remove from the heat and keep warm.
- Sift the chestnut and tapicoa flour into a small bowl. You might be tempted to skip this step but chestnut flour can get clumpy! It takes 2 seconds.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the eggs, sugar and salt. Whip on medium-high speed, with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. You'll know it's ready when the mixture turns pale yellow in color. Reduce the speed to low, and add the vanilla and warm chocolate.
- Add the flours and mix briefly to combine. Remove the bowl from the base and give it one final stir with a rubber spatula, making sure none of the flour has settled at the bottom.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth out the top.
- Bake for about 24-30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out with moist crumbs attached.
- Cool completely before cutting into squares (dip your knife in hot water in between slices for clean cuts). Top with raspberries and pomegranate seeds before serving.