I’m going to try to keep this brief and not ramble. The kids are home (again). Again. Did I already say that?
My kids don’t go to school for a full week ever. I’m not exaggerating. Ever. This week, school is cancelled for Hurricane Michael. Then, tomorrow is Parent-Teacher Conferences (which, in the 80s were just held after school and in the evenings). Monday my husband was home from work due to a holiday.
The idea that housewives have heaps of time to just sit around and drink coffee while pondering cakes to bake is quaint, no?
Wait. Did I just ramble?
Listen, I don’t eat gluten-free foods. There are two reasons for this.
They rarely taste good. They may taste okay, but they never taste like the real thing, and if I’m going to have cake, let it be a soft-crumb, moist (but not gummy) piece of sheet cake (preferably at a glamorous wedding). And then let me have another piece. Do not serve me a crumbling mess of dry, cardboard-esque gluten-free cake cobbled together with various ‘flours’ I’ve never heard of or a soggy heap of brick-dense cake that I have to gum to death and has been slathered in frosting to hide the fact that it’s not real cake.
I think gluten-free foods are equally difficult for the ol’ digestive system as gluten-laden foods. I don’t think we’re supposed to be eating rice flour, xanatham gum and whatever else is in those concoctions.
So, that was my bad attitude.
Then, a friend suggested Cup4Cup, a gluten-free flour made/inspired/created by Thomas Keller. I’m not sure the whole backstory, but it started at The French Laundry.
I got some.
I baked two things: this fabulous Food 52 Abraco Olive Oil Cake and banana bread, using a classic recipe I’ve made for years.
I loved both recipes. The olive oil cake is right up my alley, not too sweet, a cake to be eaten with coffee, hints of orange. Honestly, it’s delicious.
The banana bread is a little bit like eating candy. Somehow the sugar rises up in the muffin pans (I made mini muffins) and hardens around the edges. I ate about 7 mini muffins before stopping myself.
It’s not like real banana bread or olive oil cake.
There is an aftertaste. And there is a slightly gummy texture. I made the olive oil cake first, and since it was my first time trying that recipe, I didn’t know if it was the recipe or the flour. So, I tried the banana bread. It was good. I obviously liked it enough to eat 7 muffins, but after each muffin there was a slight taste in my mouth, sort of like I’d just brushed my teeth with baking soda.
The texture was slightly moist or chewy, gummy (as I’ve said probably 37 times now).
I’m going to try some chocolate chip cookies today, since the kids are home (did I mention that?) and we’ve got hours of rain ahead of us.
But overall, I am not a huge fan. I am not obsessed with baked goods, and I don’t miss it very much as part of my diet. I substitute chocolate and ice cream for sweet treats, and there are enough naturally-gluten-free cakes (made with almond flour or chocolate) that suffice when I need a treat with coffee.
So, for me, I won’t buy this (or any other gluten-free flour) again unless absolutely necessary. We do like orange-scented sticky buns for Christmas. I may try it again then, assuming the icing will offset any chemical flavors hanging around after the last bite.
I do sometimes miss eating flour-based treats. I ate a piece of my daughter’s pumpkin cake a few weeks ago. About 36 hours after eating it, I had a RAGING migraine. So, though I do enjoy treats, it’s not worth it at this age.
I’ll report back on the chocolate chip cookies, fingers crossed but hopes not absurdly high.
Having said all of this, I’m going to pass along the easiest, tastiest banana bread I’ve ever tried. It comes from those fabulous Best American Recipes cookbooks I’m always raving about.
I’ve adapted the recipe for the refined tastes of this picky crew (nobody appreciates nuts around here), so if you want the original version, dig around on Amazon for this gem of a book. It’s worth it. There is even a spoon bread recipe in here. Great Food Without Fuss: Simple Recipes From the Best Cooks.
8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon milk (I use half-n-half)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and butter a loaf pan (9x5x3 inch is what the book calls for; I have no idea the size of my pan and I sometimes make mini-muffins or regular muffins and bake for 30 minutes).
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy and then add eggs, one at a time.
In a bowl, mash up the bananas and add the milk; stir together.
In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture, and then add the dry ingredients. I do this in alternating steps, adding some banana, some dry, some banana, some dry, until it’s all mixed. Do not over mix, obviously, or it becomes dense.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven.
Seriously. It’s so simple. No sour cream. No odd measurements. Just simple ingredients for a banana bread that seriously tastes like banana.
Have you tried any gluten-free flours? Is it love-love or like-love or love-hate?
I think I’ll just stick with gluten-free food that comes by it naturally, recipes that don’t have to be tweaked too much. I’ve got a nice little repertoire that I’ll have to post one day.
Until then, it’s raining steadily outside. Sandy refuses to go out, which means she’s got the bladder of a kindergartner.
I’ll be reading, actioning cookies, cleaning the house and trying to cajole my kids into games of Parcheesi. They taught me how to play that over the winter snow-storm holiday, and I love it. They really wish they’d not opened up that Pandora’s box.
Let me know if you bake the bread. I think comments are back on but who knows?