Thursday, July 15, 2010

Allergen-Free Baking Errors

While I usually share stories of baking projects that the entire family loved, today I am opening my kimono and sharing some of my failures. After all, part of the process of learning to bake allergen-free is to make mistakes, right? And it’s even better if we can figure out how to fix those mistakes. So here goes…

Mistake example one:

I recently used a free sample of Orgran vanilla cake mix to make some chocolate chip cupcakes. I have mentioned before that I love the fact that Orgran puts the substitutions for the allergen-free ingredients right on the box – no guesswork. In this case, instead of 5.5 oz. water, 2 eggs, and 2.1 oz. margarine, I was to add 8.4 oz. water and 15g vegetable oil.

I mixed up all my ingredients and popped my cupcakes into the oven. During baking, I smelled some burning and took them out early. They looked very greasy. I let them sit and there was oil seeping over the edges of the tin. I took them out of the tin and tried to ‘drain’ them on paper towels, wondering what I had done wrong – and then threw them in the trash.

It turns out I should have paid more attention to learning metric conversions in math. What did I do wrong? I added 15 ounces of vegetable oil rather than 15 grams. I was actually supposed to add less oil than the recipe with eggs. 15 grams would have been something like ½ an ounce – a very small amount of oil – and instead I ended up opening a whole new bottle of canola oil.

Lesson learned – pay attention to the details.

Mistake example two:

I was excited to try King Arthur’s gluten free brownies. I had received a sample from them to review, but sadly (and this is no reflection on the product), my experiment failed.

I substituted Earth Balance for a stick of butter, and used EnerG egg replacer instead of the two eggs. I melted the Earth Balance, combined everything together and baked the brownies. Instead of a fudgy brownie with a nice crust (like the picture on the box), I had a mess that resembled burnt chocolate sugar. (In case you’re wondering, it was edible but not servable.)

I am still trying to figure out what I did wrong with this one. I had a similar problem when I tried Trader Joe’s brownies a few months ago – but in that case I used applesauce to replace the eggs. After some research I have a suspicion that my error was in melting the earth balance and adding it piping hot to the replacement eggs. If I had used room temperature Earth Balance would this have worked?

Does anyone have a solution for this problem? If not, I’ll keep working on it until I figure it out.


Col said...

I have yet to make a successful brownie that is gluten, egg, and dairy-free. The Betty Crocker GF brownie mix explicitly says not to bother making their mix without eggs. I haven't tried it yet, but the brownie recipe in Cybele Pascal's "Allergen Free Baker's Handbook" claims to solve the problem.

Colette said...

Yes, I've noticed that recipe in Cybele's book, and will need to try it. One mix I have tried that does work is Pamela's Brownies.