over the past couple of years i have investigated (and tried my fair share of) gluten-free baking recipes. it is not out of necessity but rather curiosity, as gluten-free treats tend to have a lackluster reputation. the good news is that gluten-free baking has come a long way, and the most creative bakers out there are getting inventive with alternative baking ingredients so that the gluten-free brownie you see in the bakery’s case doesn’t taste like cardboard.
my coworker george recommended i check out the book alternative baker, as his wife swears by its recipes. i quickly placed my order on amazon and once in my eager hands, i started at the beginning to read all about the author’s outlook on alternative ingredient baking and how to use the book. alanna taylor-tobin presents her recipes in a welcoming manner and includes charming backstories to each which, to no surprise, i just love reading. i have put my own baking skills to the test with near perfect success on several recipes, and although i’d like to take the credit, i must give it to alanna. she has meticulously tested different ingredients in different amounts over and over again to ensure that the recipes in this book will make anyone come across like a seasoned baker. and besides the fact that they taste incredible, my treats have always come out looking exactly like her pictures. exactly. i mean it! there might be nothing more satisfying, at least today. 🙂
in a recent baking mood, i came across a recipe for loaded chocolate chip cookies that required chestnut flour. i looked high and low at the local grocer for chestnut flour with no luck and then resorted to calling the specialty food stores in town. still, no chestnut flour to be found anywhere in the greater atlanta area. not ready to give up, i went back to the recipe, which actually referenced two suggested brands of chestnut flour. next thing i knew, i was in contact with sandy bole from ladd hill orchards in sherwood, oregon who so kindly helped me order one pound of chestnut flour.
with the primary ingredient in hand (thank you again, sandy), phillip and i got to work toasting pecans and chopping chocolate and sifting flour. the dough came together nicely, don’t you think?
we patiently waited 15-18 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. the smells from the oven were cozy and warm as the cookies baked to perfection. once slightly cooled, we took a gooey bike, taking in the rich chocolate, tart cherries, crunchy pecans, and nutty chestnut flour. here is one of the best parts about these cookies (and most everything in this cookbook), unless you tell someone they are gluten-free, they should have no idea because the quality, flavors, and combination of ingredients is so thoughtful and delicious they have no reason to believe otherwise. the bonus? you learn about new options, and if you are not learning, you are not growing. 🙂
so, here is what you need to take away from this post:
- gluten-free baking is not scary or difficult. with the right ingredients, you’ll be a booming success.
- this cookbook is incredible. please. go order it. now.
- for all your chestnut product needs, give ladd hill orchards a ring. they couldn’t be kinder. tell them alanna taylor-tobin and kelsey davis sent you.
next up from the cookbook? i’ll try my hand at some rich chestnut brownies and am betting they’ll be a hit at book club this month.
One thought on “chestnut flour – who knew”
This sweet post absolutely made my day! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book and recipes and learning about new alternative flours. There are so many out there worth exploring. Please let me know how you like the brownies if you give them a go! I don’t believe I’ve tested them with the Ladd Hill flour, which is a bit more coarse than the Italian variety, so they may take a bit more time to bake or want a little extra flour in the batter. Happy alternative baking!