Monday, December 03, 2007

Wheat-free cookie baking for a friend...

We had a friend with a wheat intolerance ask us if we could make her some cookies recently and when I asked what kind was her favorite - she said peanut butter, but she didn't like the sandy texture that some of the flour-less recipes have. She grew up on ones that were a little more substantial and less crumbly as their family version had some flour added to the dough.

I've not baked much with rice flours before, but I came across a recipe for Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies that called for brown rice flour and the rest of the ingredients looked like it would work out for our friend. I bought the brown rice flour in one of the local natural foods co-ops in their bulk section, but later noticed it in the regular markets around town too. The great thing about these cookies is all you need is a big bowl and a sturdy wooden spoon to make the dough!

This recipe made about 20 good-sized cookies dotted with chunks of dark chocolate. The cookies did not spread too much when they baked, so they benefit from the dough being flattened a little before going into the oven. They have a fairly strong peanut butter flavor with crisp edges and somewhat soft texture in the center - I did noticed when they were still warm that the dark brown sugar left a sort of grainy texture. However, after cooling, I found that it was not noticeable anymore. While there was only 1/4 cup of the brown rice flour used, it added just enough dimension to the cookie that it brought back the memories our friend was after while they happily chomped away.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip CookiesAs our friend does not bake at all, we assured her she could make this simple recipe - to give her a head start, I placed the cookies inside a big mixing bowl with the recipe tied to a heavy wooden spoon and a tin of the brown rice flour.

We quite enjoy steel-cut oatmeal and have it once a week, usually on Saturday morning. We had to eat dinner a little early tonight as we had some errands to run and I wanted to make us something for dinner that would "stick to our ribs" and keep us warm as the high was only 15 today! Instead of making the same basic oatmeal again, I made us a pot of this Multigrain Breakfast Porridge instead.

There are a few textures that make this porridge more interesting than others - the first comes from wheat berries. Normally wheat berries cook for an hour or so, but this recipe cooks them long enough so they are just tender, but they still have quite a bite to them. Old-fashioned rolled oats are added to the wheat berries after about 20 minutes - 12 minutes later, a few tablespoons of quick-cooking grits are tossed in to tighten up the mixture. At this point, the porridge was still somewhat soupy - the original recipe called for adding 3/4 cup milk to be added, but I thought that would have make it very liquid-y. I added just about 1/4 cup or so to give it some flavor and a creamy edge.

Multigrain Breakfast PorridgeRather than using plain sugar to sweeten the porridge, pure maple syrup is added for a richer flavor. After a couple minutes, the mixture ended up with a consistency that we thought was good - it will continue to thicken as it cools. We opted to top the porridge with a chewy mix of dried golden raisins, cranberries and cherry - if you prefer a crunch, add some chopped toasted nuts instead. After a few bites, we did end up adding a sprinkle of brown sugar on top to add a touch more sweetness.


  1. Those cookies look great! It's almost hard to believe they're wheat-free...


  2. So did it have any semblance to oatmeal? It sounds good. I've been away from food blogging for about 6 months, and yours was one of the first sites I visited when I came back. And you've moved again! I hope this change is a good one for you and Jeff - I plan to go back in your archives and see your posts about it. But I'm back to cooking new things again, with recipes from you on the list!

  3. You are so nice to bake for your friend! Have you ever tried baking with spelt flour? I find that it is a little better in terms of graininess (if that is a word...) in baked goods. In fact, I really like using it! If you are feeling experimental or ever bake for your friend again...


  4. Joe,

    I absolutely LOVE that oatmeal recipe and my 'tweeks' were pretty similar to yours. I did find a way to simplify the recipe by using pre-cooked wheat berries.

    Eating Well did a article about a year ago? on these tasty little grains so I now cook up a batch and freeze it in 1 cup quantities. So I can make the multigrain recipe in about 1/2 the amount of time (basically however long it takes to cook old fashioned oats).

    I found a bag of frozen Door County Cranberries in our local Cub those are such tasty morsels to add to cooking oats. A nice change from dried.

  5. Wheelers - Thanks!

    Cyndi - I think it was a little more "mushy", but not in a bad way. The oats just break down a bit more due to the longer cooking time.

    Courtney - I have - in fact, we have a few recipes posted that use it!

    Kristin - I made the chili from that article and it was fantastic! Good to know that this recipe can be simplified using the pre-cooked wheat berries! I'll have to look for the cranberries at Cub!

  6. Rice flour is traditionally used in Scottish shortbread. I bet the cookies were great!