Flour Power

Yes, Halloween is over, but some would say that there is still a scary villain in your pantry: Wheat flour! It has been blamed for our round bellies, our mushy brains, our indigestion and our obesity. (Check out The New Yorker comprehensive article “Against the Grain” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/03/grain) So, guess what? I am a wheat eater. I know – how terrible. However, I did hear that one of my Favorite bakers, Alice Medrich (alicemedrich.blogspot.com) is coming to town, courtesy of Cooks of Crocus Hill, talking about her book Flavor Flours. In it she explores new ways to bake with non-wheat flours.

Our local food celebrity, Sue Zelickson moderated the conversation with Medrich, with her familiar humor and deep knowledge. Sue asked how this book might differ from other non-wheat books. Medrich, who was funny, smiley and warm, explained that rather than seeking to mimic wheat flour’s behavior in baking, she explored the different flours inherent flavor and texture. She explained that the recipes were developed to utilize and highlight the specific characteristics of each of the flours.

In the gorgeous Roth Distribution teaching kitchen (http://www.rothliving.com/showrooms/minneapolis), Medrich proceeded to prepare a lemon cake made with corn flour. A couple of great tips she shared (which I use quite often) was how to use cream of tartar to stabilize whipped egg whites and how whipping sugar with the egg whites creates firm and glossy results.

We were then treated to 3 samples: Lemon cake made with corn flour, ginger cookies made with oat flour and a plain cake made with wild rice flour. The latter was a challenge presented to Alice Medrich by a local Mill City Farmers’ Market vendor of artisanal flours – That was my favorite! Nutty and light, the cake was delicious.

So, What is my take away? Interesting flavors and textures – I will try some of these recipes since I have had quite a few requests for gluten free baked goods. However, bottom line is that these recipes still use good-old granulated sugar. Gluten free they might be, but those who are seeking a healthier version of sweets, might not be satisfied. My personal point of view is that I’d rather eat a tiny sinfully delicious, buttery and sugary treat than a whole pan of … you know what. But, I am moving with the times…