Several weeks ago I read about a new flour that had been developed by the masterminds at the French Laundry (Lena Kwak, in particular). She set out to make a gluten free flour that could be substituted cup for cup for all-purpose flour, without sacrificing flavor or texture, and Cup4Cup was born. I was seriously doubtful-most wheat free or gluten free baked goods I’d eaten were, frankly, pretty nasty. Fast forward to me being told by my doctor to lay off the wheat-not an allergy or anything severe but something I could do to just generally feel better.
Being an avid cook and baker I had to get my hands on this flour and give it a try. It’s sold only via Williams Sonoma and the first shipment instantly flew off the shelves. It was finally restocked last week and I rushed out and bought a two pound bag. The stuff isn’t cheap and, if you have severe food allergies know that it does contain dry milk (it’s predominately cornstarch, rice flours, and potato starch).
My first experiment was a batch of buttermilk scones. They were good, not outstanding but definitely tasty. I thought the texture was a bit fine and the scones didn’t rise as much as they usually do but the taste was very similar to my original recipe (and my son ate them up as he would a normal batch). Next I tackled Cook’s Illustrated’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. This is a killer recipe with AP flour. My cookies tasted amazing but spread out a bit more than usual. This could have been the weather or the flour, jury is still out on that one. I’ll be giving those a shot again just to be sure.
The last recipe I tackled was my favorite Sour Cream Coffee Cake. The recipe calls for cake flour so instead of substituting C4C 1:1, I used 7/8 cup (1 cup minus 2 tbs) of it plus 2 tbs cornstarch for each cup of cake flour in the recipe. It was fantastic. As you can see, the cake was light with a tender, fine crumb and the crumbly topping was just crisp enough. I didn’t tell anyone it was gluten free until after breakfast and jaws dropped. Trust me, amazing
I’ll keep playing with the flour and let you know about what works and what doesn’t. I’m secretly glad it’s so spendy otherwise I’m afraid I’d have every cake stand and cookie jar in my kitchen stacked full!
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
(adapted from the Ahwahnee Resort in Yosemite via Gourmet)
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tbs sugar
1 cup C4C (or all purpose) flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups C4C flour plus 1/4 cup cornstarch (or 2 cup cake flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
To make the topping, beat together the butter, brown sugar and regular sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about one minute. Add the flour and cinnamon and mix on low speed until just combined. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. and butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.
To make the cake, whisk or sift together the flour, cornstarch (if using C4C), baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Beat together butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about three minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Add sour cream and mix until just combined. Add remaining flour mixture and mix until batter is just smooth.
Spread batter in a buttered 13 x 9 metal baking pan, smoothing top. It may look like a thin layer but don’t worry, it will rise a lot while it bakes. Crumble topping evenly over batter and bake in the center of the oven until top is golden and a tester comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Do not overcook as the cake will end up too dry. Cool completely on a rack. Note: cake can be assembled with the topping and refrigerated, covered, to be baked the next day.