Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
Do you have any dietary restrictions? It seems that many people do. Some dietary habits come about because an individual has made a decision to eat (or not eat) certain foods (for example, deciding to be a vegetarian or vegan). Others are necessary because of the individual’s intolerance to certain substances. One of these, that seems to affect many people, is the sensitivity or, in the case of those with celiac disease, the inability to tolerate any amount of gluten.
For those of you who might not know what gluten is, here is the definition, according to Merriam-Webster: ”a mixture of proteins not readily soluble in water that occurs in wheat and most other cereal grains. Its presence in flour makes production of leavened baked goods possible because the chain-like gluten molecules form an elastic network that traps carbon dioxide gas and expands with it.
What has all this information about gluten have to do with me? Well, I spend a lot of my time baking food for other people… and more than a few of them are gluten intolerant. And because I love to create good food that everyone can eat, I have made a concerted effort to learn how to bake cakes, cookies, and of course, pies, that are gluten-free. Sometimes this is not very hard to do, especially when there is only a small amount of flour in the recipe… and then there are times when things don’t quite work out as planned.
Once, when making a gluten-free cake, I tried to remove the finished cake from the pan, and it cracked and broke into pieces. The cake tasted good but it was not possible to put it back together, and so, instead of making a traditional layer cake, I made a trifle by layering bits of cake, fresh whipped cream, and berries. Do you think anyone minded that their cake wasn’t in the right shape? I don’t think so.
Just the other day, I was making gluten-free cookies and tried substituting coconut oil for the butter in the recipe. What happened? A few minutes after I put the cookies in the oven, they started to merge and by the end of the baking time, I had one huge “cookie.” I was pretty disappointed until I broke off a bit of the ginormous cookie and tasted it. It was delicious! My friends didn’t even seem to mind that they were eating bits of cookie instead of “cookies” and (bonus!) according to Cathy Guisewite, the creator of the comic strip, Cathy, broken cookies have no calories!
Next Tuesday I am scheduled to teach a gluten-free baking class at the Ashland Food Coop. During the class I will share tales (and recipes) of some of my successes (and also some of “oops” moments) about baking gluten-free. If you can attend, I’d love to see you there. Wish me luck!