My interest in gluten free flour was re-kindled when I received a text from Marco Canora asking about gluten free pasta recipes for the machine. We had previously formulated a recipe for a rice noodle, which I happily shared. I noted that the texture was good, a slippery style noodle, but it was not an exact replica for traditional Italian style extruded noodles. Here is the recipe.
1000 grams brown rice flour
800 grams white rice flour
200 grams tapioca flour
26 grams xanthan gum
13 grams salt
800-850 grams water
Put the brown rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum and salt into the pasta machine and mix to distribute in the hopper. With the machine running, drizzle the water into the machine. Mix the dough for 6-7 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough after four minutes. It should begin to resemble course streusel. Squeeze the dough together in your hand. Break the dough apart. If it breaks cleanly the dough has enough water. If it crumbles add additional water in 20 gram increments. After the dough is kneaded, let it rest for ten minutes for ideal hydration. You can begin to extrude at this point as well.
(Cavatelli Made with What Iif Flour)
His query got my brain buzzing again on gluten free flours and noodles. As luck or coincidence or awareness would have it I followed up our texts by stumbling upon a small letter in Cooks Illustrated magazine in the “notes from readers” section. The letter was on Thomas Keller’s Cup 4 Cup flour. I had remembered reading about this flour before and was impressed not just with the idea, but also with the name and his ingenuity in creating a “flour” blend that would replicate the actions of traditional all-purpose flour. Unfortunately the cost, roughly 20 dollars for 3 pounds, had me think twice about buying it. I read the Cooks Illustrated piece that mentioned the ingredient list for his flour: mostly cornstarch, tapioca flour, white and brown rice flour, milk powder and xanthan gum. These ingredients were nearly identical to the pasta dough recipe. The addition of cornstarch as a textural and bulking agent and the non-fat milk powder as a protein source also caught my attention. With the elements in front of me I quickly scribbled down what I thought would be a good blend. After looking at the numbers I made a few adjustments, which is the blend below.
When I returned from the trip we dove back into book mode. Finally, one morning I woke up early enough and put together my “flour” blend. I waited for Amaya to wake up before blendering (an in house technical term) and then we set about testing. My first test was pasta dough; I used the miso noodle recipe from our book. Low and behold the flour and the recipe worked really well. The pasta was a bit short and tender before cooking but was incredible once cooked. Then I handed the flour to Aki and she made her brownies, and brown butter cake with cherries and pecans. Unbelievably both cooked up perfectly and were absolutely delicious. Then I took the flour back and mixed up our no-knead brioche recipe from our book and Aki’s chocolate chip cookies, the recipe is in The Kitchen As a Laboratory. The no-knead brioche was beautiful and I used it to make cinnamon rolls and Craquelin inspired by Francisco Migoya. Everything worked. At first, the cookies spread quite a bit in the baking but I resolved that issue with a few ring molds and now have perfectly round cookies, something I had not previously thought of. The Craquelin were delicious and the little pocket where the sugar cube melted was a delightful surprise.
This flour changes what is possible in our kitchen and we hope that it will change the kitchens of the many people who have been without the benefits of wheat flour in theirs. No longer do you have to ask what if.
What IiF Flour
700 grams cornstarch
450 grams tapioca starch
450 grams white rice flour
200 grams brown rice flour
200 grams non-fat milk powder
20 grams xanthan gum
Put the cornstarch, tapioca starch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, milk powder and xanthan gum into a large bowl and whisk together. Put the blended powders into a blender in small batches and turn the blender on low and increase the speed to high. Use the blender to pulverize the powders and uniformly grind them. After each batch of powder is pulverized put it into a large bowl. This will take 6-8 times if using a large commercial blender. Once the powders are all finely ground stir them together one last time in the bowl and then put the “flour” into zip top bags for storage.