Ask the ChefsDec/Jan 2012 Issue

In the Kitchen: Favorite Recipes, Coconut Milk, Ingredients in Medicine and More!

Beth Hillson answers your questions about special-diet baking.

©Thinkstock/Photodisc

©Thinkstock/Photodisc

I’m new to gluten-free baking and I’d like to convert my favorite recipes to gluten free. When do I use a single gluten-free flour to replace the wheat flour and when do I use a flour blend?

Generally speaking, if you’re replacing less than ¼ cup flour in a recipe, you can use a single gluten-free flour, such as white rice flour. Examples of this would be dusting fish or meat, making a roux to thicken a soup or sauce, or adding a little starch to a cheesecake. A flour blend is required in most gluten-free baking recipes. For items such as cakes, cookies, breads, pastries and pizza crusts, no single gluten-free flour will effectively replace wheat flour. For a variety of wonderful flour blend formulas. Don’t forget that most gluten-free baked goods also require xanthan gum or guar gum for elasticity. Note the suggestions on page 58 for appropriate ratios of gum in your flour blends.

I can’t tolerate coconut in any form, including regular and lite coconut milk. Can you suggest a substitute for 1 cup coconut milk? Can I use Lactaid whole milk or Vance's DariFree? If so, how much?

You can use Lactaid (lactose-free milk) or DariFree (potato milk) as a one-for-one replacement for coconut milk in most recipes—except if the coconut milk is used to make a whipped topping.

Is there a good substitute for soy sauce?

If you’re avoiding gluten, San-J (san-j.com) produces gluten-free soy sauce or try Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (bragg.com). If you’re avoiding soy, Coconut Secret (coconutsecret.com) makes a new soy-free seasoning sauce called Coconut Aminos. It’s also gluten free and dairy free.

Where can I (or my doctor) check the ingredients in prescription medicines for gluten? I’m newly diagnosed with celiac disease and diabetes.

There are two excellent sources that you or your doctor can consult: glutenfreedrugs.com and Physicians Desk Reference or PDR. The PDR lists active and inactive ingredients for every prescription drug and also includes a customer service number, which your doctor can call to inquire directly with the drug manufacturer.

I’d like to replace the potato starch in your recipes. I’m avoiding potato and corn because of sensitivities so cornstarch isn’t an option. 

Baking starches are pretty much interchangeable. Replace potato starch or cornstarch with an equal amount of tapioca starch/flour or arrowroot—or even kudzu starch. If your recipe calls for more than one starch, replace with more than one if you can. Each starch contributes slightly different baking qualities to the overall product.

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