You may not know that I’m gluten-intolerant. I post a lot of naturally gluten-free recipes and generally prefer not to substitute gluten-free flour blends for white flour in recipes. I like to use oat flour or almond flour to make healthy muffins, pancakes and cookies, but I don’t generally use any store-bought gluten-free flour blends because I would rather not eat the results of such attempts. All of the gluten-free flour blends I have used in the past, other than a homemade blend that only works well for certain baked goods, have a vapory/chemical after-taste. It may be from the sorghum flour and/or the xantham gum (which most claim to be flavorless), and it’s not just super-tasters who can detect it. I took a cake decorating class a few years ago and used a Betty Crocker gluten-free cake mix so that I could decorate a cake I could eat rather than a piece of styrofoam (some people actually brought frosted styrofoam shaped like a layer cake to decorate). I brought the beautiful cake home and when my husband tried a piece (I didn’t tell him it was gluten-free) he asked why the cake tasted like diesel fuel. True story. My husband likes almost everything I make – including almond flour muffins and garbanzo bean cakes – so you can imagine how bad it tasted for him to independently make such a comment.
When I heard about the gluten-free flour blend made by Lena Kwak, the pastry chef at Thomas Keller’s famous west coast restaurant, The French Laundry, I was intrigued. At $20 a bag, cup-4-cup flour seemed excessive for experimentation, given the let-down of so many other gluten-free flour blends. I haven’t had gluten in 8 years so I wasn’t exactly in a rush to try it, but I’m glad I finally did.
To live up to the hype, I decided that the flour would need to stand up to a recipe that didn’t have other ingredients to mask the lack of gluten. I decided to make a batch of beloved popovers – a childhood favorite of mine. If you haven’t had a popover you should make a batch immediately. They are light and airy with a hollow and slightly custard-like eggy center. With an ingredient list consisting of white flour, eggs, milk and oil, there is nowhere for a gluten-free after-taste to hide. I’ve tried this same recipe with other flours and flour blends, such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour and white whole wheat flour, and they were not only a disappointment, but barely edible.
As I made the batter for the popovers with the cup-4-cup flour blend I was a little concerned because the batter looked almost gelatinous – more like a pudding than the typically thin popover batter. I proceeded with low expectations, but the result was way better than expected. Although they didn’t rise quite as high as traditional popovers, there was little to no trace of the typical gluten-free-ness after-taste. I served them to a table of particularly sensitive taste-testers (my in-laws – who do not generally like my healthy baked goods/desserts), and they unanimously enjoyed them. While I continued to think there was perhaps a slight after-taste, no one agreed with me and after making a second batch to taste again, I decided that there is no after-taste from the cup-4-cup flour.
The final test for this flour was making a batch of chocolate chip cookies. It’s been years since I’ve had a decent cookie and they’re one of the glutenous foods I most miss. The cookies were delicious – moist and chewy with no after-taste. The texture was slightly different than a regular chewy chocolate chip cookie (a little grainer, as my husband noted, but still very, very good). The cookies made with cup-4-cup flour did harden faster than the same cookies made with all purpose white flour; they were still chewy a day later but they weren’t as soft. They were definitely best fresh from the oven, but aren’t most cookies?!?
I do want to note that cup4cup flour is not dairy free. The list of ingredients is as follows: cornstarch, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, milk powder and xanthum gum. Many people who can’t tolerate gluten are also sensitive to dairy so cup-4-cup flour is, unfortunately, not an alternative for those that are gluten and dairy-free.
I’m thrilled to have found cup-4-cup flour. The fact that it can be used as a replacement white flour for an equal amount in any recipe makes it easy to use, and the taste is truly uncomparable to other gluten-free flour blends. I love that I can now make some of the special recipes that I’ve been unable to enjoy for years. That being said, for the nutritional value (pretty much the same as white flour, in my opinion) and the price ($20 per lb.) I will save it for special-occasion baking.
Have you tried Cup-for-cup flour? What have you made with it? Did you love it?