This is the first of two posts about wheat-free baking. I had intended to focus primarily on the aspect of baking techniques when using alternative flours. However, after a recent amazon review concerning ed&bv's wheat-free recipe designations, I have decided to give some basic wheat-free information first.
When I wrote TEV, I had people ask me for recipes that used other flours than wheat, which is how I began creating recipes with alternative flours for Vive and ed&bv. I discovered that there are many alternatives to wheat flours, but some are gluten-based while others are gluten-free.
Gluten-based flours and grain alternatives: kamut, spelt, oat, barley, and rye.
Non-gluten flours and grains include: rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, and starches including potato, tapioca, and arrowroot.
People that cannot tolerate wheat can often tolerate other gluten flours, including spelt and kamut, as well as barley, oats and rye. However, if gluten cannot be eaten, then only non-gluten flours and grains may be used in the diet. Spelt and kamut specifically are ancient 'relatives' to wheat, and so are sometimes referred to as containing wheat. But, many wheat-sensitive individuals can use spelt and kamut.
It is important for me to clarify this, because in this amazon review, my indication of "wheat-free" recipes has been deemed deadly, which troubles me. These recipes aren't labelled as gluten-free. Only wheat-free. Plus, not all of my wheat-free recipes only utilize spelt. Many use barley or oat flours as the replacement, which are still gluten-based flours. And, when I have made a recipe specifically gluten-free, it is designated as such.
It is terribly disturbing to read that my recipes could be 'deadly' if someone with Celiac disease were to make one of my recipes that used spelt flour because it is identified as 'wheat-free'. Spelt flour may be fine for an individual with a wheat sensitivity to use... but since it is not gluten-free, it is not suitable flour for someone with Celiac to consume. If a recipe is labelled as 'wheat-free', this is not the same as 'gluten-free'. Gluten-free IS wheat-free, but the reverse is not true.
I suspect, and hope, that anyone with food sensitivity or allergy issues is working with a physician to identify which foods are okay to consume. When discussing recipe-related nutritional issues with people, I always specify that people should talk with their physician and/or dietitian, since I am neither.
My next post about wheat-free baking will focus on some of the techniques needed to replace the common all-purpose, or whole-wheat flour, using gluten flours such as spelt, barley, kamut and oat, or non-gluten flours including rice, and millet. For now, it is important for me to clarify some of the basics about gluten and non-gluten flours and to encourage anyone with food allergies, regardless of the type, to educate yourself first with your physician and/or dietitian.
That's all from me until after Christmas. I'll be away for a couple of weeks to regroup, and to share in the festivities of the season with family.
Enjoy your Christmas and holidays...