Weedy Ways

... for a better you!

Recipes, Tips N Tricks  ~ Wealth of information can be found through the links included ~  Suggested substitutions for allergen free cooking/baking, recipes as well as 'tips n tricks' .

Many recipes included and I will have new ones added as time permits, please check back often for great new additions ~ Have fun cooking and Enjoy!  

Grab a cup of herbal tea and relax while you plan your next meal or treat!

Breads, Cakes & Pies

Cookies

Flour Mixes

Quickes, Snacks, Dips, Rubs, etc...

Main Dishes, Soup & Side Dishes

 

Please note the recipies thoughout this website are my personal recipes that I enjoy making as well as recipes from support groups shared thoughout the year and at our annual holiday feasts.

 

 

Flaxseed Meal Flaxseed meal has a robust nutty flavor.  2 Tbsp. added to a cold or hot cereal, pancakes or waffles, or baked into breads, muffins or quick breads brings to you amazing nutritional value as flaxseed meal has been studied as a powerful natural cholesterol controller and possible reducer.  Ground flaxseed meal can be subsituted for oil or shortening in recipes on a 3 to 1 ratio. For example: 1 1/2 c. of flaxseed meal can replace 1 c. of butter, margarine, or oil in a recipe.  Baked goods will brown more rapidly with this substitution.  

 

 

       .          Substitution Suggestions for Allergen Free Baking:

Wheat flour is one of the toughest ingredients to substitute successfully. The problem is that no single alternative flour works as well.

Holiday baking can be frustrating when you have to relinquish the comfortable precision of tried and true recipes to bake with substitues.  If your experiences in the kitchen have turned out badly in the past you're in good company! 'Door-stop' breads, rock hard or gushy cookies, flat and soggy cakes are all familiar ~ don't be discouraged! You can be successful with substitues if you first spend a little time understanding the function of ingredients and follow the recipes with some basic guidelines.


Understanding the Basics: Baking is basically all about science.  The final product is simply the end result of reactions or combinations that occur between the ingredients under certain conditions such as:  oven temperatures, rack level, baking time, pan size, pan type and color, and kitchen as well as weather temperatures and humidity levels.  Oven temperature affects texture, consistency, appearance, and baking time.  The amount of heat absorption or reflection depends upon pan color and material, rack position, and product size and shape.  These factors also affect the total baking time.  Atmospheric pressure and humidity determine how much liquid and leavening agents a.re needed and also impact the total baking time.    

 

.Most of the information needed to understand substituting ingredients is right in your home.  Many cook-books provide a wealth of information somewhere in their binding offering text and tables to explain many of the basic measuring concepts, functions of common ingredients, and food substitutions.  In addition, your six senses (smell, sight, taste, touch, hearing, and intuition) can help guide your with your choices.  Your senses and instincts can provide valuable clues to how much and which substitutes are best, based on taste, water content, melting point, texture, and ability to absorb moisture and heat.

 What function do ingredients serve in baking, beyond overall taste and nutritional value?  Specific ingredients and amounts are chosen to create a final crumb texture, structure, and mouth feel (literally how the product feels in your mouth).  Most recipes and mixes include one or more of the following ingredients:

  • whole (3.3 to 3.7 percent fat content) cow's milk.
  • large chicken eggs (where 1 egg = 1/4 cup liquid).
  • real butter, corn oil, or solid shortening (i.e., Crisco).
  • wheat flour.

When you cannot eat one or more of these ingredients, substitutions become necessary.  And these substitutes have unique properties that differ from the real counterparts and affect baking specification and overall product outcome.

Wheat flour is one of the toughest ingredient to substitute. The main problem is there is no single alternative that works well. Wheat flour give the structure and bulk to recipes including the crumb texture, determines moisture absorption and elasticity expecially in breads and doughs through the vital gluten protein. Think of gluten protein as a waffle that can trap air inside its cell structure and stretch like a rubber bank. This elasticity helps provide the chewy texture.  The waffle like structure allows levening gases to be traped causing the product to rise. Wheat-free/Gluten-free flours differ from wheat flour in starch content, texture, taste and ability to absorb moisture.  Since no single wheat-free flour has all the attributes of wheat flour, the trick is to blend several together by using the final product texture as a guide. 

 

 For example, if a lighter end product with softer crumb is desired (like for cakes), use a higher ratio of starchy, lighter, refined flours.  For a heavier, heartier crumb texture (like for breads), use less of the starchy flours and more of the heavier, grittier flours. Bette Hagman, a pioneer in gluten-free baking, provides a good basic flour blend in her cookbooks that can be used in equal (1:1) substitution for regular wheat flours.  Her gluten-free flour blend suggests that for every 3 cups of flour, use 2 cups white rice flour plus 2/3 cup potato starch plus 1/3 cup tapioca starch well blended with the appropriate amount of xanthan or guar gum.  Once you're comfortable with this blend, you can further refine it using the principles discussed above.  Any additional protein that can be added, such as milk, egg or gelatin, helps offset the lack of gluten protein.

 

Depending on the product and its reliance on the gluten structure, a substitute binder for gluten will be needed.  Breads rely heavily on gluten for structure, cakes to a lesser extent, and cookies almost not at all.  The more starchy and/or more refined the crumb, the less the need for gluten.  Most wheat-free/gluten-free recipes rely on xanthan or guar gum as a binder replacement.

Here's a quick rule of thumb for how much binder to use:  For every cup of wheat-free/gluten-free flour, use 1 tsp. xanthan or guar gum for cakes, 2 tsp. xanthan or guar gum for breads or pizza, and 1 tsp. or no xanthan or guar gum or most cookies.

 

Wheat/gluten-free flour dough will be stickier, heavier, and softer than regular wheat flour dough.  There is little to no elasticity to the dough.  For these reasons, use a batter beater, not a dough hook, and a heavy-duty stand-up mixer to beat extra air into the dough and blend it thoroughly.

 

Milk provides mouth feel, flavor, moisture, richness, protein, and a creamier, softer crumb texture to baked goods.  Most milk substitutes available today work well in baking if you account for how they differ from whole milk and modify accordingly. Milk substitutes differ in water and fat content, sweetness, and ability to color the baked goods.  For example, rice milks, powdered milks, skim milk, and juices all contain more water than whole cow's milk.  Rice milk and juices tend to be sweeter and, therefore, may affect the final taste of baked goods.  Soy milk tends to brown baked goods prematurely, while a potato-based milk tends to whiten products. Milk is the least crucial ingredient in baking, so if you need to cut back somewhere on liquids, start here.  As you experiment with recipes you may find that some milk substitutes are easier to work with than others. For example, when using rice milk it may be beneficial to use 2-3 tablespoons of extra oil to help offset the watery consistency in the dough.

 

Eggs:  Most baking problems start when substituting eggs for fats.  Eggs are a challenge to substitute.  In baking, eggs provide richness, color, protein, and tenderness.  When beaten, egg whites provide extra volume and air.  Eggs also create leavening/rise and binding.  The trick is figuring out the purpose the egg serves in your recipe - is it binding, leavening or both? A general rule of thumb is to look at the number of eggs required in the recipe.  If the recipe calls for 1 egg, typically it serves as a binder.  In this case, almost any egg substitute will work.  Some possibilities (for one egg substitution) include the following:  

 

  

  • 1/4 cup ground soft tofu.
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored, unsweetened gelatin plus 3 tablespons warm water.
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed plus 3 tablesppons warm water (stand 10 min.)
  • 3 tablespoons pureed fruit or applesauce + 1 tsp. baking powder.
  • 4 tablespoons silken tofu + 1 tsp. baking powder.

If the recipe uses 2-3 eggs or more, the eggs provide leavening.  Several good substitutes (for one egg) include:

  • 1 heaping tablespoon Ener-G Food Egg Replacer® plus 2 tablespoons warm water.
  • 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon oil plus 1 tablespoon warm water.
  • 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon cider or apple vinegar plus 1 tablespoon warm water.

When in doubt, assume that eggs are in the recipe to provide leavening, and use the second set of substitutes.  More than 3 eggs may be difficult or impossible to substitute successfully.  And in some cases (e.g., angel food cake and some brownie mixes), only real eggs will work, so check the recipe box for details.

Sugar: Sugar can easily be substituted with honey, agave or maple syrup. If a recipe calls for up to 1 cup of sugar they can be interchanged equally.  Over 1 cup, substitute 2/3 cup for each cup called for. A good rule of thumb while substituting honey, agave or maple syrup in any recipe is to reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup, plus add 1 tsp. baking soda and reduce the baking temperature by 25 degrees.

 

Fats: Although fats often get a bad rap, they are important in baking.  They give a product flavor, richness, mouth feel, tenderness or crispness, and prolonged shelf life.  Fat substitutes have different water and fat percentages and display different characteristics under high temperatures than real butter or solid shortening.  These differences become most problematic when making cookies (particularly cut-out cookies) and pie crusts. Many fat substitutes are not designed for baking ~ Typically high in water content, they will cause the product to become too gummy.  Check the package label to see if it specifies where the fat will work well in baking and how to modify the amount.

 

Here's a simple, quick test to determine whether a fat substitute like butter will work in your recipe:  Put a small amount of the fat in a microwave on high power for 15 seconds, and examine the end result.  Does it separate or burn?  Does it look and behave like real butter would under similar conditions? A frequent baking error is substituting butter or oil in recipes that require solid shortening.  Solid shortening melts at higher heat than butter, and the two are not necessarily interchangeable.  Even if tolerated, texture can be compromised.  Shortening produces a softer, thicker, chewier end product.  Butter produces a crisper, thinner end product.  Generally, substituting oil for solid shortening in cookies doesn't work, but it can be done successfully in some cake and muffin recipes.  The wrong fat will cause your cookie dough to flatten and spread like pancakes, make your cut-out cookies or pie crust dough way too sticky to roll out, and turn your pie crust or cookies hard as rocks when cooked. Always check the package or recipe directions for proper fat substitutes.  If oil or butter can be successfully substituted for shortening, typically you need to use less to account for the added moisture.

 

One of the few successful soy-free, corn-free solid shortening or hard butter substitutes on the market is food-grade coconut butter ( not cocoa butter).  Solid shortening and butter can be successfully substituted with 3/4 the amount of coconut butter in most recipes (by reducing the amount of coconut butter, you are accounting for the extra water content in it).

 

More About Leavening: When incorporated in a recipe, baking powder and/or yeast create leavening by giving off carbon dioxide gas that gets trapped in the dough.  Without a mechanism (like a gluten structure) to trap the gases, little to no leavening can occur.  Hence, the "door stop" bread. Any baked goods that use yeast can be successfully created with an appropriate amount of baking powder instead.  What you give up is the yeast-like taste. If you use wheat-free/gluten-free flour, you need to create a mechanism in the dough to trap the leavening gases.  That's where a high-powered, stand-up mixer with a batter beater attachment comes in.  Beating air into the dough gives the leavening agent a place to release the gases and makes the dough rise.  If you're sensitive to corn and can't use commercial baking powder, make your own.

 


So what are the basic rules to follow in food substitutions?

  1. Measure carefully.  Use the correct measuring tools (glass measuring cups for all liquids, plastic measuring cups for all dry ingredients).  Measure liquids at eye level, looking at the meniscus (the lower part of the curve).  Level off flours with a flat knife, and don't pack them down.
  2. Use all liquids (including eggs) at lukewarm or room temperature.  This is particularly important with dough consistency.  If the ingredients are too cold or warm, they will give you a false idea of true batter or dough consistency and may activate (or kill) the yeast permanently.  Batter/dough consistency is your only true guide to determining how much more liquid to add and whether all ingredients are truly blended.
  3. Use a high-powered, stand-up mixer of 220 watts or greater and the batter beater, not the dough hook.  The stiffer and stickier the dough, the more mixer power is required to ensure proper blending. 
  4. Follow the recipe or package directions carefully.  Yes, it's confusing when every bread machine, cookbook and recipe give you different baking instructions, but each recipe was tested using those specific instructions for success.
  5. Remember that baking times are only estimates.  Ovens and bakeware vary, which can affect final baking time.  Changes in ingredients can also affect baking time.  Use proper tests for doneness, according to package or recipe directions.  When using soy milk, fructose, gluten-free flours, and some other ingredients, color may not be a good indicator of doneness.  These substitutes often cause products to brown before they are done.  If this happens, cover the baked goods loosely with aluminum foil until the inside tests done.  This helps drive the heat back down to the center way from the outside crust.  Sometimes modifying the rack position up or down accordingly or varying the bakeware can help, too.
  6. There can be a domino effect in food substituting.  One change can be significant; two can be a disaster.  Each step affects the end product, and changes in any one step can affect the outcome.  It may help to do a small, scaled-down version of the recipe first, making the necessary substitutes one at a time.  

A good way to bake with multiple substitutes is to start by adding the egg and fat substitutes first and half the amount of milk or water.  Blend the batter well, and check the dough consistency.  If it is too dry, add more of the reserved liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, blending well in between until the correct dough consistency is achieved.  Always add liquids slowly in this way.  If using a bread machine, thoroughly pre-blend all the ingredients (including the yeast) in a stand-up mixer before spooning it into the bread machine pan.  During the end of the first knead cycle, continue to add the reserved liquid slowly until the dough forms a nice ball around the knead paddle(s) and moves away from the sides of the pan, making definitive swirls on the top of the dough.

A substitution for cornstarch is equal amounts of potato starch, tapioca starch, tapioca flour or arrowroot powder. A substitution for cornmeal is brown rice flour reduced by 2 Tbsp. or equal amount of almond meal.

 

Keep Trying!! When all else fails, remember that recipes are the success stories, the end results of many tries and failed attempts ~ even the experts have failures.  It's what they learned from their failures that helped them make a successful recipe,  so don’t ever give up .. reuse the failed attempt elsewhere or freeze until a use arises ~ Make it fun and enjoy!