Here’s a tip to help people feel appreciated and welcomed.
Like most of us, I have friends and guests with sensitivities to wheat and/or gluten. So I always have a range of grains on hand so I can easily make something they will feel comfortable eating. If you don’t have a mill, I encourage you to buy small quantities of flour you know your friends or neighbours can eat, and store them in your freezer. These might include spelt, heritage wheat, oat, barley, or pea flours.
During the past week, I have had many opportunities to bake for a visiting friend who cannot eat wheat. However, she is fine with spelt, and spelt works well for bread as well as for baking with baking powder or soda in biscuits, cookies, scones, etc. I also used oat flour as a straight substitute for wheat in brownies and a strawberry cobbler. In most cases you can simply use recipes you already use and like, and substitute the kinds of grain. Have fun with your experimentation!
I just had a taste of a rhubarb cake made with freshly milled soft white wheat flour, which is relatively low in gluten and relatively neutral in flavour. I expect oat flour or barley flour or perhaps some others would have been great as well. The cake is amazing, so thought I’d share the recipe. Unfortunately I was in experimental mode and didn’t measure things exactly, but here is an approximation:
3 c. finely chopped rhubarb, mixed with 3T brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 large free range egg
2 1/2 c. soft white wheat flour (whole grain, not sieved)
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c butter
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 F. and butter a 9″x13″ glass baking pan.
Mix butter, sugars and egg; mix thoroughly, ideally with electric beater until light and fluffy.
Mix in the flour/baking soda alternating with the buttermilk. Stir in the rhubarb. Spread in the prepared pan.
In a separate bowl mix the butter, sugar and cinnamon. I flattened bits of this and put it all over the surface so that the surface was almost covered. Bake for about 50 minutes.
I thought the sweet/tart mix was perfect, but my husband wasn’t so sure!
Whole grain rhubarb crumble
It is rhubarb season here on the west coast. That provides another opportunity to experiment with organic whole grains, and give treats to neighbours who try to eat organics and local foods as much as possible. That said, this is a pretty decadent dessert and I did use refined sugars, which I generally avoid.
- 3 cups whole grain flour (today I used soft white wheat, but have also used barley)
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups oat flakes
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup melted butter
- about 10 cups sliced rhubarb
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 4-5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the dry (first four) ingredients and mix until crumbly. Press half this mixture into the bottoms of lightly greased ovenproof dishes.
Slice rhubarb onto this oat base.
In a saucepan, combine water, sugar and cornstarch, bring to the boil, and boil for a few minutes. Take off the heat, cool slightly, and add vanilla. Pour this mixture over the rhubarb.
Crumble the remaining oat mixture on top. I had about a cup of leftover porridge and decided to mix it in with the topping. It reduced the sweetness (which I liked and my husband didn’t) but I didn’t find the texture quite as good as the last time when I made a similar dessert with barley flour.
Bake at 350 F. I baked this in four containers: one large 9″ deep dish pie plate and three small casserole dishes, each containing two good sized servings. I baked the small dishes for 40 minutes and the large one for 55 minutes.
All the grains were–of course–from Vancouver Island Grains and Milling.
When I started to focus more on personal health–including use of whole grains–I decided I would not buy white flour. I used to use white flour daily; I kept it in a handy, large, stoneware crock on the counter. If I had had it in the house, it would have been too simple to use it.
A customer was getting her monthly order of whole grain flours and cereals today and I mentioned my white flour ban. She told me she hasn’t had white flour in the house for 10 years, and she is also very selective about the types of sweeteners she uses. I found this quite amazing and quite inspirational. When I mentioned that this morning’s breakfast was maple walnut pancakes made with freshly milled oat flour, she said she is very impressed by the slightly sweet flavor of the oat flour we are using. There is so much to learn. The experimentation feels good: support for organic farmers, great taste and good health.
I didn’t photograph the pancakes, but will share how I made them. Sorry — I didn’t measure a thing! All measurements are approximate.
2 c. [freshly milled] oat flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. milk or almond milk
2 T. melted butter (or oil for vegan pancakes)
2 T. maple syrup
3/4 c. chopped walnuts, gently toasted in the oven or in a frying pan
2 fresh, free range eggs (use blended flax and warm water for vegan pancakes)
Add milk or almond milk to flour to moisten and let sit for 1/2 hour (optional). Add all remaining ingredients, adjusting liquid/dry ingredient balance to get the thickness you want. Fry in butter or oil. Top with maple syrup.
“What can you do with it, other than put it in soup?” I’m often asked.
We are rather limited in our thinking about barley in this part of the world. I was once invited to a friend’s home for an evening with Tibetan delegates, who were in Canada learning about First Nations communities. I wanted to help them feel welcomed, so I tried to make momos: a traditional Tibetan steamed dumpling dish. Instead of roasted barley flour, I used white flour, and I may have adjusted some of the filling ingredients as well. It was pretty labour-intensive, but their eyes lit up when they saw the steaming tray come into the room. Part way through the wonderful evening, I asked the translator if the momos were like the ones at home. I saw a hint of hesitation, and assured him I really wanted to know. “No,” he said. We both belly-laughed.
I am now using barley and barley flour in many ways, and especially enjoy being able to share barley baking with people who cannot eat wheat or gluten. I’ll share more about that later, but for now, here is a site I really like for the variety of barley recipes and facts that they present: