Gluten-Free Flours for Scone Follow-up

A while ago we posted a delicious gluten-free scone recipe developed by Gina at Gluten Free Gourmand. In that post, since Gina didn’t post a specific flour mix, we tried it out with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour (that’s a mouthful, huh?) We enjoyed the resulting scones, although it turned out that the Bob’s Red Mill flour mix is kind of bean-flavored and we needed to use less liquid than Gina’s recipe called for. At the end of the post, I speculated whether or not it would be a good idea to try the same recipe with Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix (click the link to see our review of this product for making gluten-free pancakes.)

Gluten-free scones

In the comments, we had a bunch of people agree with us that the Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour mix was too heavy on the bean flavor. We also heard from Sea at Book of Yum, who recommended that we avoid the Trader Joe’s mix.

So a few weekends later we tried the same scone recipe with the main flour mix recipe from Gluten-Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine by Annalise Roberts. Since we reviewed the book, we’ve been very happy with the flavor and quality of the gluten-free breads we’ve been able to make (although they don’t rise as much as we would like.) The scones I made with that flour mix were PERFECT and AWESOME. They tasted delicious and they stored really well. Obviously, they were at their best straight out of the oven! I would share the gluten-free flour mix recipe, but I don’t think it would be honest of me to post it here. This book can be bought from Amazon, here.

But I still had the nagging question in the back of my mind: “What would these be like with the Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle mix?” So last weekend I decided to give it a try. Although with the Annalise Roberts gluten-free flour mix batch, I did the recipe exactly the same, this time Sienna requested that I leave out the lemon zest. Also, since the Trader Joe’s mix includes salt and baking powder, I omitted those. Otherwise it was the exact same recipe.

The Trader Joe’s mix scones were a disaster. First, the Trader Joe’s mix contains xanthan gum. This isn’t normally a bad thing, but in this case it was a problem. Xanthan gum imparts elasticity to gluten-free dough, which is good because the gluten in wheat flour is what makes regular dough elastic. The problem with xanthan gum is that if you get too much in a flour mix, it will absorb a lot of liquid and make a mix too runny. Then the baked result ends up being tough. So the dough ended up being too wet from the get-go. I kept adding more of the flour mix in, but it didn’t help. I finally gave up. Here’s how the scones made with the Trader Joe’s gluten-free mix ended up looking.

Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Mix Scones

So they sagged all over and then puffed up as they baked. I also had to bake them about twice as long as the recipe called for. The bad news is that they ended up way too sweet. They also did not keep well at all. Three days later they were kind of tough.

The good news is that they taste EXACTLY like sugar cookies and have the same texture. So yeah, if you really miss traditional white sugar cookies, here is a gluten-free, vegan recipe that is an excellent facsimile. I’m posting this half-jokingly, but I’m sure someone could take this recipe and make some awesome cookies with a little bit more experimentation.

1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix
1 cups of the “cream” spooned from the top of a can of coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Some lemon zest if you like it in your sugar cookies.

Mix everything. Add more coconut milk if the mixture is too dry. Form the cookies and sprinkle sugar on top. If you like them sweet, you might try upping the sugar to 1/2 cup. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

And there you have it!

New Cascadia Traditional Bakery New Location

We finally got a chance to visit the New Cascadia Traditional Bakery on Saturday. At around noon we got on our bikes and rode down to their new location. It’s at 1700 SE 6th Ave at SE Market. So that’s on 6th, just two blocks south of Hawthorne. I was a little unfamiliar with where it was. It’s over in the slightly industrial area down between SE 7th and SE Grand. It’s around the Paper Zone but a little further south.

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New Cascadia Traditional Bakery

They look like they’re still moving in and working on making the place more comfortable. The great thing is that they’re offering coffee and espresso drinks, so now you can sit down and have a nice gluten-free treat with a drink. They will also be setting up outdoor seating very soon. Like their NW outlet often was, there was a line to get to the counter.

Gluten Free Baked Goods

Gluten-Free Coffee Cake

Most of the items have signs letting you know if they contain any common allergens. For instance, the gluten-free coffee cake here contains butter, eggs, and nuts. We both got lattes. Sienna got a regular latte and I got a soy latte. They were both awesome. We also got a scone and a piece of coffee cake. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any cinnamon rolls left. Since my last review of one of their gluten-free cinnamon rolls was less than enthusiastic, I wanted to try one that was fresh from the source.

Delicious Latte

Gluten-Free Currant Scone

Gluten-Free Coffee Cake

My coffee cake was awesome. It was crumbly, sweet, and had the right amount of cinnamon. We also both liked the scone. I normally don’t like anything even resembling a raisin in any kind of baked good (especially cookies) but was able to put that aside for the sake of this review.

The real star of the show, however, was the service. Everybody was friendly and enthusiastic. When we asked about sitting outside, our barrista offered to help carry a table out for us. We bought a pizza crust (review coming later) and accidentally ripped it while putting it in our bike bag. When we took it back inside to ask them if there was a way to fix it, they gave us a new one for free, which was amazingly generous.

We’ve been reviewing a lot of places that might be a little risky for people who are really seriously gluten-intolerant, so it’s nice to be able to recommend a place without reservations, because it’s totally gluten-free and the facility is gluten-free. You should go check it out! Go here for more New Cascadia Traditional Bakery reviews.

Restaurant Review: Sweetpea bakery

Beware! Since we published this review we’ve received a lot of feedback about the place, most of it negative. Also, we’ve had a few people say that they’re sure they “got glutened” by eating the baked goods there. We’ve found that when we ask their staff questions, we get different answers depending on who we ask and what day of the week it is, which makes us worry. We’re going to investigate further and will report back what we find, but in the meantime I think the best advice is to be careful and maybe ask lots and lots of questions before you get something there. End Later Note.

Later Note – January 2010 - We’ve corresponded with the owner of Sweetpea. They have done a lot of research on baking gluten-free goods and maintain that their gluten-free options really are gluten-free. At the same time, they stress that they are a bakery that uses wheat in a shared area with their gluten-free products. They say that they are very careful about avoiding cross-contamination, but as an end result, folks who are very sensitive to gluten should probably stay away. we haven’t been by to check them out again, but will post about it when we do. – End later Note

It’s a little premature to call this a “restaurant review” because they’re not on our restaurant list, and they’re more of a bakery, AND we’ve only ever had their muffins, BUT they’re in Portland AND they’ve got gluten-free stuff and thus we’re covering it. Regular readers may remember that we posted about Sweetpea Bakery having a gluten-free brunch on this past Father’s Day.

Sweetpea Baking Vegan Spot

Sweetpea is down on SE Stark on the corner of 12th Street. It’s in a little vegan ghetto right next to Herbivore and Food Fight!. Did we mention it’s a vegan bakery? I don’t know about anybody else, but I love vegan bakeries and here’s why: Vegan bakeries have attitude. Since they’re a vegan bakery, they feel like everything they make has to be awesome so that people don’t think vegan food is terrible. And thus most vegan baked goods are way better than anything you’re going to get at a regular bakery.

Gluten-Free Cupcakes at Sweetpea

This is certainly not as fetching as the case at Pix Patisserie, but the goods are pleasing to the eye. When we went, they had one kind of gluten-free muffin, gluten-free brownies, one kind of gluten-free cookie, and these here cupcakes. In the interest of full disclosure, we didn’t ask them what steps they take to prevent cross-contamination. (It’s a new goal of mine to always ask that and report it here.) We did, however, ask about the gluten-free muffins. The muffins are different flavors depending on the day. This particular day, the muffins were coconut.

Gluten-free muffins at Sweetpea

These muffins were awesome! They were fluffy, moist, and delicious. In fact, they were almost like the perfect love child of a cupcake and a muffin. We plan on going back to Sweetpea on one of their gluten-free brunches and giving a full report.

We want to know: OK so we really want to know, how do you gluten-free people feel about buying baked goods from a bakery that uses wheat? I have to say I feel a little nervous. Have you been to the Sweetpea for their gluten-free brunch? We want to hear from you. Let us know in the comments.

Times we have visited: 1 (so your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: kind of expensive.

Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger: Vegan Lemon Coconut Cream Scones

This post is part of a gluten-free blog event that Sea over at the Book of Yum put together. For this month’s Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event, I’ve adopted Gina at Gluten Free Gourmand. I was intrigued by her Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cream Scones. Like us, Gina lives in Portland, Oregon. She also sells photography on Etsy.

I have to admit that I was more intrigued by this recipe because it used coconut cream than I was by the fact that it’s vegan. The scones are very easy to make. Once you get your flour mix together, it’s just a matter of five other ingredients and getting the moisture content right. Gina’s recipe just specifies that you use your favorite gluten-free flour mix. I emailed her and asked if a bread mix would work. She said that just about any mix would work, but said that it’s better if the flour mix doesn’t have xanthan gum.

We have a bread mix we like, but I decided that it would be interesting to try this with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour. Here are the ingredients: Garbanzo Bean Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour, White Sorghum Flour, and Fava Bean Flour. A quarter cup of the mix has 100 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of dietary fiber, and 3 grams of protein. On the plus side, it doesn’t have any xanthan gum. On the minus side, I figured that the Garbanzo and Fava beans were going to impart a lot of flavor into the mix. I debated trying Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix instead, but decided to stick with the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Mix.

Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix

(I bought a beautiful artichoke today.) Gina’s recipe calls for coconut cream. Specifically, you get a can of coconut milk and scoop the fatty cream off the top. By the time you get to the bottom of the cream, you’ll have about as much as the recipe calls for. Mmmmmm. Coconut. Here I’ve added the orange zest.

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Did I also mention that I decided to make half of the batch with Gina’s Kumquat Glaze? Here are some kumquats and lemon juice in an orange bowl.

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We ran into trouble with the amount of flour needed. The first time I made the dough disk to cut into scones, the disk literally sagged out of shape. I had to fold in a whole cup more flour to get the right consistency, which Gina specifies as “barely holding together.” I was panicking too, because I think with scones you’re supposed to mix as little as possible. I was actually kind of careful measuring the coconut cream out, so I’m thinking that the unexpected wetness of the dough was due to using a different flour mix.

We got it together, though.

Gluten Free Scone Pile

Here they are fresh out of the oven, eight minutes later.

Gluten Free Coconut Creme Scones

Lucky for us, the scones still turned out wonderfully light, flaky, and crumbly. They are really awesome broken into pieces with jam. As I expected, they do have a slight beany aftertaste, which does go OK with jam, but isn’t so hot when you’re eating the scones by themselves. (For the record, Sienna doesn’t notice the bean aftertaste, and between the two of us, she usually has the more discerning palate.) I think that the Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour would be a lot more appropriate for use with savory foods. So something like a dinner biscuit or a crust for a meat pie. Maybe I’ll try them again with the Trader Joe’s mix. As for the recipe, I think it’s very clever to come up with the substitution of coconut cream for butter and cream. We’ll be enjoying these scones all week.

We’ll definitely try more recipes from Gluten Free Gourmand in the future. Gina just posted a pancake recipe. Everybody here should know how much I love gluten free pancakes. I would definitely recommend both her site and Book of Yum to anybody on a gluten free diet. Thanks to Sea at the Book of Yum for putting this blog event together!

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Banana Waffles

In the interest of full disclosure I think it’s only fair that I admit that I’m not really all that crazy about waffles. If good waffles are put in front of me I will eat them, but I don’t really seek them out. I think this might be the result of eating too many bad quality waffles over the years. It seems to me that a bad quality waffle is much worse than a bad quality pancake. They have more of a problem with uncooked batter and also lose their crispness too easily.

This is totally a side note, but one of my favorite Simpson’s moments is when Homer makes waffles. He mixes up the batter (his recipe includes a whole package of caramels,) pours it onto an iron with the batter overflowing. Then he runs a finger around the sides of the iron and eats all the batter that has overflowed. (“Mmmmm… Waffle runoff”) When the waffles are done (they’re all burnt, of course) he wraps one around an entire stick of butter and puts it on a toothpick. I love that scene.

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Banana Waffles

So getting back to waffles in general and Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Banana Waffles specifically, as with their frozen gluten-free pancakes, they get points for making a great gluten free product, but they lose points for lots of packaging. Each box has eight waffles and the box is big enough that the waffles kind of flop around in it. They also lose points (as with the frozen pancakes) for having a lot of salt. A serving is two waffles and two waffles have 440 mg of salt in them.

Trader Joe's Frozen Gluten Free Waffles

On the plus side, they’re fast and easy. Also, I think they taste exactly like regular frozen waffles, so if you’re a frozen waffle fan, you’ll like the Trader Joe’s Frozen Gluten Free Banana Waffles. As a butter and maple syrup delivery system, they get the job done and they’re better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

I’m actually amazed at how many gluten-free products Trader Joe’s has. Here’s a link to the current Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Product List (pdf.) We’ve reviewed a few. Click here for our Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix review. Click here for our Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Frozen Pancakes review. We’ll have to do more because there are a bunch of other gluten free products that we eat that I just realized we’ve never reviewed.

We want to know: Is there a good place to get gluten free waffles in Portland? Do you have a favorite Trader Joe’s product? Let us know in the comments.

Times we have visited: several (So we feel confident about our score.)
Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Lodging Review: Shasta MountInn Bed & Breakfast

We’d like to say that we found the Shasta MountInn Bed & Breakfast by doing a search on Gluten Free Bed and Breakfast places. Instead, we were just looking for a place to spend a night in Mount Shasta, California, on our way back up from Los Angeles. The last time we’d been to Mount Shasta was a disaster, because it was a Sunday morning and we couldn’t find anything that: A) Was open, and B) Looked like a place we would want to eat. They have a health food store there, but the selection is basically deli food.

Fortunately, we found the Shasta MountInn Retreat and Spa just through a web search. It has a five star rating on all the hotel review websites and we weren’t able to find anything but rave reviews. So we called them up and while making arrangements to spend the night, mentioned that I was gluten free. The person we were talking to, Dave, said that he had just been to Trader Joe’s and he could make me some gluten free pancakes. (!!!!) I’m sure that we just got lucky and if you want to book a stay at the Shasta MountInn, you should let them know ahead of time if you have any special dietary requests.

Shasta MountInn Bed and Breakfast - Gluten Free!

The house is a Victorian which has been modified to be a B&B. So for example all the rooms have their own bathroom. There is a relaxation room on the top floor with books and movies. They have a sauna, a hot tub, and also offer massages.

Room at the Shasta MountInn B&B

Here’s one of the rooms at the Shasta MountInn. This one has kind of an unusual bathroom layout in that the shower is behind one door and the bathroom is behind the other. The beds are all Swedish Tempur-Pedic® and have a top layer which is that strange “Memory Foam” which makes them very comfortable. For pillows they also have memory foam pillows, but also plenty of conventional ones too. Our room also had two separate heaters.

(I had never slept on one of these Tempur-Pedic beds with the memory foam so it was very interesting. Since the foam molds itself to your shape, you end up feeling kind of like you’ve burrowed into the bed.)

Here’s the view from the room we stayed in.

View of Mount Shasta, California

When our host Dave mentioned that he could make me some Trader Joe’s Gluten Free pancakes, I was thinking that he had the pre-made, packaged kind. Instead it turned out that he was making them using the Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix that I reviewed here. It also turns out that he makes a much better pancake than I do, which is really saying something, because I’m a pancake pro. They were also served with home fried potatoes. Did I get a picture, you ask? Why yes I did.

Gluten Free Pancakes

When the subject came up, Dave seemed to be aware of different food allergies, and it seemed like he would be able to accommodate a wide variety of diets given enough notice.

We want to know: Have any Bed and Breakfast recommendations for weekend trips around Portland Oregon? Do you find that most places are at least gluten free friendly? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Shasta MountInn Retreat and Spa
www.shastamountinn.com
203 Birch St., Mt. Shasta, California 96067
(530) 926-1810 / (530) 926-6600

Product Review: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Bread Mix

This isn’t going to be the fairest of reviews because I used this mix for something it wasn’t designed for, and it didn’t do the greatest job. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of pancakes and lately I’ve been working on finding the best gluten free pancakes. Recently I reviewed Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix. Before that I had reviewed Trader Joe’s packaged Gluten-Free Pancakes. I also tried the gluten free oatmeal pancakes at Francis Restaurant on Alberta Street here in Portland Oregon.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

I started with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix. Here are the ingredients: Whole Grain Cornmeal, Potato Starch, Whole Grain Sorghum Flour, Evaporated Cane Juice, Whole Grain Corn Flour, Tapioca Flour, Baking Powder, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum. To make gluten-free cornbread with this mix, you need: 1 1/2 Cups milk (rice, soy, dairy); 1/3 Cup oil or melted butter; and 2 Eggs.

I figured this mix would make good pancakes. I don’t know if anybody reading this has been to Vita on Alberta, but they make these amazing corn pancakes that I used to love back when we ate there a lot. I heard recently that they’ve made these corn pancakes gluten-free, but haven’t confirmed it. They are one of the places in town you would expect to be gluten-free friendly and do appear on our gluten-free restaurant list. At one point I was making my own corn pancakes with oat flour and spelt, but eventually I had to stop eating spelt and haven’t come up with a good gluten free recipe for them.

The problem with the Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix is that it contains too much xanthan gum to make pancakes. Xanthan gum is an ingredient used in gluten-free cooking which is good for replacing gluten. It helps make things stick together like gluten does. Unfortunately, it can end up making batter too thick for certain purposes, and when making pancakes, you want the batter to be thin enough to pour. I ended up having to add four times the amount of liquid specified by the menu just to get a batter that was kind of OK. I actually stopped because it seemed like I was pouring liquid down a black hole instead of into some batter.

I also added some vanilla, which goes really well in corn pancakes. Here are some pancakes from when I finally got the batter so it would pour, even though it was still too elastic.

Concakes for a gluten free diet

The good news is that my pancakes turned out nice and fluffy, which is how I like them. Also, the flavor of the mix is really wonderful. The cornbread mix ends up tasting rich and satisfying. I especially love corncakes with some butter and honey, and these are great served that way as well. But for corn pancakes, I’m going to keep looking. This mix would be perfect if it weren’t for the xanthan gum, which I’m sure is necessary for making the corn bread properly, but isn’t great when you’re making pancakes. Maybe next time I’ll try to come up with my own gluten free corn pancake recipe.

We want to know: If you have a favorite gluten-free pancake recipe, let us know in the comments. Also we’d love to hear from anybody who has used this mix for its intended use: cornbread.

Times we have visited: once (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars (for making pancakes)
Price compared to “regular”: Around same price.

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Bread Mix
Here’s the mix on Amazon.

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix

I think I’ve talked about pancakes before on this site. I don’t want to bore anybody but I love pancakes. They seem to add an order to my world. Pancakes are a great solution to an age-old problem: “What am I going to eat this morning?” Certainly there are other solutions to this problem, but none fits quite as well in extraordinary circumstances as pancakes. One thing that is also clear is that just because you’re on a gluten-free diet, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your pancakes.

Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix

Here’s the package and about everything you need to make some pancakes. I’ve made these twice now. Inside this purple bag is a plactic bag with the mix in it. The mix is not only gluten-free, but is also free of peanuts, tree nuts, milk & dairy, soy, and corn. So these are pretty seriously allergen free. Ingredients: sweet brown rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, rice milk powder, cream of tartar, xanthan gum, baking soda, sea salt, ground vanilla bean .

Gluten Free Mixing It Up

Today’s photos are going to feature cumquats. That’s because I ran out of lemons and oranges. The mix is really easy to use. You just throw the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl, stir them up, and then add in the contents of the bag and mix well. You have to add more or less water depending on how thick you want the pancakes to be. Once you get the hang of pancake batter, you’ll know the right consistency. I like my batter thin enough to pour.

Gluten Free Pancakes on the Griddle

The griddle temperature is important. You can test the heat by flicking some drops of water on the griddle. If the drops don’t sizzle, then it’s too cold. If the drops jump around and sizzle, it’s too hot. You cook pancakes on the first side until you have a good amount of bubbles coming up to the top, and then you flip them. Your first pancake will almost never turn out right. As the chef, it is your duty to eat this pancake and thus not cause suffering to others.

Warming the Plate

You might think that it’s time to throw some pancakes on a plate and either eat them or give them to your guest, but don’t forget to stop and heat up the plate first. To do so, run the plate under hot water for a while and then dry.

Wonderful Gluten Free Pancakes

Ah here they are. What can I say? The pancakes are good. For flavor and texture, I think I like the packaged kind better (see my packaged gluten free pancake review.) These end up being more economical and are fun to make (if you’re into cooking things.) If I had to complain about something it would be that the pancakes end up tasting very much like they’re made from refined flours. They would be more entertaining and hearty if they had some more texture and flavor.

Orange Butter

If you’re going to take the trouble to warm your plates, you should also bump it up a notch by making some orange butter beforehand. Here’s my recipe for Orange Butter at the bottom of the other pancake review.

We want to know: Which pancakes do you think are better? Have any suggestions on how to make the pancakes more flavorful? Let us know!

Times we have made them: 2 (So we feel pretty good about our rating.)
Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: At $2.99, it’s very reasonable.

Gluten-Free News Bites

Hi everybody I have a couple of quick news items:

Reminder: We’re in Blog for Food week 3. Please take a moment to donate to the Oregon Food Bank. To be part of the official Blog For Food tally, please enter “Blog For Food” in the tribute section on the OFB donation page. The Food Dude over at Portland Food and Drink is also part of the Blog for Food campaign and wrote a great post on it.

We just put up a new poll on the top right. We were delighted with how many responses we got to our last one. The new survey is: What breakfast item do you miss most? Breakfast is one of those meals where it seems like it’s kind of hard to get away from wheat. While some items have a lot of celiac-friendly substitutions available, there are a lot of others where there isn’t much out there, like donuts. *sigh* We want to know what you miss the most. Take a moment and cast your vote!

I found an interesting recipe for Chinese New Years Cake – Nian Gao at Gluten Free in Cleveland. The last place I lived in San Francisco was right next to Chinatown and I still have a lot of nostalgia for my favorite Chinese bakery and the treats they sold there. I especially miss lotus buns and mooncakes. I’ll have to give this recipe a try.

For those of you who may be wondering how our Gluten Free Valentines Day cake from New Cascadia Traditional Bakery was, it was awesome. It may be among the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had. And it was vegan. If I talk about them any more they’re going to have to start sending me free cookies.

That’s it. Happy Thursday!