It has been a while, but the first six posts pretty much covered all you really need to know about quickly getting your family to the gluten free (GF) balance needed. Though I have had great luck with Arrowhead Mills GF flour for all my fruit breads, cornbread, fried chicken crust and cream gravy, my famous chocolate chip cookies are still not as satisfying (look, texture & taste) as they were with traditional wheat flour.
I decided to do a cookie bake off with the 4 most commonly available GF all purpose flours, in the Dallas, Texas area. I wanted to test not only for the taste, but also lack of crumbliness, overall texture and cup for cup conversion effectiveness in the recipe. This last part, cup for cup conversion effectiveness, is a hard part of going GF, if you are not an experienced cook.
Early on I was always adding GF flour or liquid, based on the recipe, to get the right amount needed. They are not all exact cup for cup conversions to wheat flour, as their boxes claim. Also, on texture, gluten free flours are a fine but grainy powder compared to wheat flours which are more of a silky powder, so this is always part of the difference in texture over wheat flour versions of the same cookie. How much this adds to the crumbliness, is based on the other ingredients in the all purpose GF flour. For more on this see my earlier post – Getting Started.
If you don’t want to read all the getting there details below, the winning flour was Arrowhead Mills. But, after the testing batch, as I finished baking the 4 doughs, a tip was discovered….you’ll have to read the details to get to the tip.
I rarely stick to a recipe exactly, but did so this time, to insure an accurate comparison. Below is the recipe I used; my adaptation of a Better Homes & Gardens, New Cook Book, Bantam – 4th printing 1981, for Chocolate Chippers. This recipe is the same as it was in BHG New Cook Book-1963, the one I used growing up. My only change back then and still, is to swap the measurements of the brown sugar and white sugar…I just think the extra moisture in the brown sugar keeps the inside of the cookie softer. Interesting enough, I went to the BHG recipe website before starting this post and this recipe is not there but their new best Chocolate Chip recipe (which looks good) uses the swapped sugars measurements, as well.
Chocolate Chippers, adapted
1/2 C Shortening (I use Coconut Oil)
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1/4 C Granulated Sugar
Add and mix well:
1 Egg, beaten
1 t Vanilla
Add and mix thoroughly:
3/4 t Salt
1/2 t Soda
Add and continue mixing dough:
1 C GF All Purpose Flour
Finish the dough by adding:
1 C Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips or pieces (6 oz)
1/2 C broken Pecans (optional, but makes for a chunkier cookie)
I did not put the pecans in for the test batch. I wanted to easily determine the effect of the dough spread, when cooking. I rolled two cookie balls of each dough and placed them on parchment paper atop an insulated cookie sheet. My cookie balls are bigger than a quarter but smaller than a golf ball – whatever. By having all 4 on the cookie sheet I could insure exact cooking similarity.
Surprisingly, all four cooked evenly and were all ready at the same time.
I had my husband and daughter do the testing. And, they both agreed the Arrowhead tasted the best and most closely resembled my old wheat flour version of the recipe. Though it did not stop them from continuing to taste the four.
That all said, here are some of my notes with ratings of 1-5 with 5 being the highest rating:
Gluten Free Cafe: 2nd best, overall
Cooking Spread: 4
Cup for Cup: 5
This flour already has baking soda added, so this ingredient could probably have been eliminated.
Bob’s Red Mill: 3rd, overall
Cooking Spread: 3.5
Cup for Cup: 3.5, probably needed a bit more liquid but worked
Arrowhead Mills: Best, overall
Cooking Spread: 4
Cup for Cup: 5
Gluten Free Pantry: 4th, overall
Cooking Spread: 2.5
Cup for Cup: 2.5, (would need about 1/5th cup more to match 1 Cup of Wheat Flour)
However, to finish up the cookie baking, I mixed the remainder of the Arrowhead Mills- top rated, and the Gluten Free Pantry- bottom rated (added 1/5 C more GF Pantry flour after test), doughs together and added pecans. This combined cookie had a great texture, great flavor and made a thicker cookie (spread less while cooking). So, if going for the best looking and textured cookie, I would double the recipe of other ingredients and use 1C Arrowhead Mills and 1 1/5th C Gluten Free Pantry.
I also combined the remaining two batches -Bob’s Red Mill & Gluten Free Cafe, did not add pecans (my youngest is crazy and does not like pecans in his cookies), before cooking them. This mixture also cooked up better than the individual versions. But, did not taste quite as good as the Arrowhead Mills version or the Arrowhead combined with Gluten Free Pantry version. This really complicates the results and I’m all about simple.
I was kinda hoping to find one of the other flours worked better with cookies which traditionally don’t use milk or water in the recipes, like breads. But the results are in, though the combined flours produced a overall better cookie, I’ll probably stick to just using Arrowhead Mills for cookie baking. Also, after 20 months of GF eating. The GF versions of all these rare treats are tasting better and better.
In summary, Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Gluten Free Flour is the best cup for cup wheat flour substitute when baking cookies. I also like that most of the Arrowhead ingredients are organic.
Next Up: GF Beverage Adventures