Do you see that? That’s a brownie. Yes, it’s gluten free, but if I didn’t tell you and you ate one you would never know. Doubt if you will, but make them and you’ll be a believer. Just about four months ago we found out the The Boy was going to have to go on a gluten free diet. I’ll admit it threw me for a loop. I desperately wanted the transition to be as easy as possible for him so that the wouldn’t feel deprived and frustrated that so many things he loved (and really the staples of his diet) were being taken away from him. Bread, crackers, bagels, pancakes, pasta, pizza… these things were really hard for him to give up and so I compensated by giving him as much as he wanted of anything he loved that didn’t contain gluten. I confess he ate a lot of ice-cream during that phase.
I spent a lot of time buying gluten free products, making a game out of “taste tests” with the kids, testing out various gluten free flour mixes, and experimenting with recipes I found on other blogs dedicated to gluten free cooking. But, I also spent a lot of time frustrated. Many of the things I baked came out close, decent, basically fine. As an adult, I could tell it wasn’t the same but it would pass and I could live with it. Not so much for The Boy at age 3 and his sister.
Shauna at Gluten Free Girl and The Chef broke me out of my funk with some recipes for cookies that came out so well I had trouble keeping them in the house they were gobbled up so quickly: genuinely good, not “gluten free good” as Adam had started categorizing things. I even made an awesome chocolate cake that a classroom of pre-schoolers and a classroom of first graders gobbled up and then asked for more. Things were rolling along. But, not so much for brownies.
I made a bunch of attempts. In the end only some of them were even edible and they were all weird. Pock marked, oozing butter or oil, simultaneously eggy and yet dry, crumbly, too cakey, and the weirdest one which was crisp on the outside like a potato chip and chewy on the inside like a Starburst candy while also being greasy. So, I bought the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix which is good enough for the kids to eat but… well… not homemade, which is what I wanted. I wanted to bake the brownies I used to make… the classic brownies from Smitten Kitchen. Just look at them, seriously, go look at them, I’ll wait. Don’t they just scream “I am the perfect brownie”? They do because they are the perfect brownie… of course, unless you have a gluten intolerance and can’t eat regular AP flour.
I pined for them. And then the Christmas holiday rolled around and I actually had some time on my hands and I spent a lot of time reading about gluten free baking. I learned a lot. From here, and here, and here, and here. I recommend all of it. The most important things I learned were that 1. you need to mix together different kinds of flours depending on what you are making to get the texture that you want 2. those different types of flours need to have different types of textures and serve different purposes 3. you have to measure by weight not volume when you are doing flour conversions and 4. you’ve got to just try stuff and see how it works, translation: don’t be scared!
So, after making a batch of wheat filled brownies for a friend last week I went into overdrive and had to make an attempt at them gluten free. This time, I measured by weight (thank you Deb for also including weights on your recipes!) and I mixed up my own flour mixture based on what my growing intuition was leaning towards. I’m not going to tell you how great they are. I’m not going to bore you with and further ramblings. I’ll just say two things: 1. If I could take pictures the way Deb can my brownies would look just like her’s and 2. Adam said they were really good, NOT “gluten free good”. Oh, and we ate nearly half the pan the first day.