Erin McKenna explains ingredients and techniques for gluten-free baking.
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Female: For most people, having a slice of bread or cookie or even a bowl of barley soup is one of life’s little pleasures but for Erin McKenna and millions of others who are sensitive to gluten, these foods are strictly off limits. What exactly is gluten Erin? Erin: Gluten is the protein that’s found in wheat, barley and rye and it’s what gives all of those things a nice texture and elasticity and really great mouth feel. It’s in so much and these are the really obvious things here, wheat bread, pita, bread sticks, macaroni and even our old friend, ramen noodles. Female: The staple diet of most college students. Erin: Exactly, it was a staple in my college before I knew. It’s in so many things that are really obvious but it’s also on a lot of things that are hidden as well. We have yogurt. Female: Who would have though yogurt? Erin: I know, in gravy, soy sauce, hotdogs have modified food starch, it’s really pretty crazy how it slips in sometimes. Female: It’s really unassuming, you’d never even imagine. Erin: Even lipstick can have gluten in it so you’ve got to be really careful when you’re buying a product to make sure that it’s completely gluten free. But there’s really good news and a lot of different companies have developed products that are gluten free, totally safe for people with gluten sensitivities to indulge in. Female: So what of grain bases are usually used for those products? Erin: The spaghetti right here is made with --, it’s gluten free grain. This waffle here is made with white rice flour, brown rice flour on the pasta, brown rice flour again on these pretzels and these crumb cake is made with white rice flour. Female: So you’re a baker, how have you adjusted to a gluten free life? Erin: It was absolutely devastating when I found out that I couldn’t have gluten anymore and I felt robbed and it was really nice to find products like these in the stores that I could just have at the ready but wasn’t satisfied and I really wanted to be able to make really fresh and delicious desserts that I myself would love to eat and that would really match that memory that I had of muffins and cookies and brownies that I was really missing. Female: So what are some of your favorite flour blends? Erin: So I’ve tried them all and I must say that my top two favorite base flours are the garbanzo fava bean flour and the brown rice flour. Both of these you mix with potato starch and arrowroot and it’s going to give you a great base but the key is to add xanthan gum. It’s going to add viscosity. It’s going to bind it and it’s going to do everything that gluten does and if you don’t do it, you’re in trouble. Female: So will you describe to me the different types of flours you use with all of these? Erin: Sure. In these double chocolate chip cookies, we use garbanzo fava bean flour but we cut it with flax meal to add nutrition and a great graininess. The corn bread is made with cornmeal and corn flour which is naturally gluten free. Female: What’s your favorite way to serve that? Erin: I like to toast it and add jam. But it’s great to bring to a barbeque of course and these are the blueberry muffins which I sweetened with agave nectar and there’s fresh blueberries in there. They pop up really nice and we’re going to get really excited about that one. Then finally, the cinnamon sugar tea cakes which I make with applesauce. Female: I want to try that one, a nice sugary piece. Erin: Yes, the applesauce gives it so much moisture. Female: This is really light. Erin: The crumb is really nice on that one right? So it’s not about really depriving yourself but just taking charge, being informed and then you can have a lot of fun with baking. Female: You’re definitely not living a deprived life if you get to enjoy foods like this. Erin: Thank you. Female: Thanks for joining us, check out Erin’s recipes on the website.