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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Flour, Flour, Flour - what to use in our low-carb baking instead

White, wheat flour was a staple in my home, ironically, when I was developing my two Splenda Splendid Desserts cookbooks for people with diabetes or people who were following low calorie diets.

When it came to developing low-carb recipes, I wanted an easy substitute for white flour in my recipes. I didn't want to guess at what would work with every single recipe I tried of our old favorites. How could I possibly guess correctly each time as to what low-carb ingredients would make an old, favorite recipe taste similar, familiar and not noticeably low-carb? I didn't have the time (I was home schooling the boys) nor the money to constantly retry recipes. I needed a low-carb bake mix that I could make in bulk occasionally and conveniently keep on hand all the time (on the shelf in cooler countries and in the refrigerator or freezer in tropical climates). I needed a low-carb bake mix that would work reliably most of the time, if not all of the time.

This is why my cookbooks contain bake mixes for all occasions and even a Bisquick substitute, that although not perfect, is not bad for several applications and definitely very low-carb and tasty with no aftertaste.

The low-carb bake mix is very low-carb (3.3 grams carbs per 1/3 cup) and on this blog I have shown how easy it is to substitute ingredients people may prefer, so it is very versatile - as are almost all of the different bake mixes for which I give several variations. There are some that are cup-for-cup substitutions for white flour (8 grams per 1/4 cup) and will be especially super in maintenance for occasional, very special desserts, however, the low-carb bake mix is no slouch. Vikki, a new and special blog friend, of Vikki's Low-Carb Kitchen and Welcome to My Low-Carb Kitchen made my pound cake using the low-carb bake mix and said nice things about it. To be honest, that pound cake is quite plain (great for trifle though), so Vikki, if you're reading this, you're in for a surprise if you try some of the more exciting recipes. :-)

When it comes to versatility, think about this: soy flour, whole wheat pastry flour (not whole wheat flour), and oat flour have more or less the same number of carbs. Oat flour can be certified gluten free (Bob's Red Mill makes gluten free oats - a good, powerful blender or food processor will turn the oats into flour in two-two's). Then not to mention coconut flour, ground flax seeds, ground almonds, walnuts, pecans, whey protein powder, vital wheat gluten, etc. for really low-carb fillers. I have a nut-free cup-for-cup bake mix for those allergic to nuts, there is a gluten free bake mix on this blog that can substituted in my recipes and it goes on like that. Sure one can substitute ground almonds in recipes for white flour, but my experience is that the baked product is often times inferior and tastes low-carb - not to mention the fact that sometimes it just plain old doesn't work and flops!

A few people have moaned that once they've made a bake mix of mine and have no further use for it, that it could go waste. Why? I find the bake mixes are great to use up in burgers, meat loaf, microwave crackers (volume 2, Splendid Low-Carbing for Life), for breading meat, fish, chicken, chayote squash, eggplant, etc. Add appropriate seasoning to the bake mix, or maybe stir in a little Parmesan cheese and skip the salt.

Some of the bake mixes are more suitable for breads and tortillas and pizza crusts, as well as desserts, but, thankfully, the really low-carb bake mixes work wonderfully in low-carb desserts.

In addition to the bake mixes, I also have a thickening agent recipe that works really well to thicken sauces, puddings, stews and soups. My friend, Linda Parsons, from Atlanta, Georgia, thinks it is a wonderful recipe.

The bake mixes have made my low-carb life easier and made producing cookbooks a breeze compared to what it may have been like. It was the rare time that I had to retest a recipe and then it was usually to perfect it. It never failed though to give me a high of sorts when a new recipe worked first time and tasted great and received praise from my husband, family and friends. That was basically what kept me going - approval, creativity and knowing that I was making our lives more fun on the low-carb lifestyle and that I was helping other people too - that and it was a big distraction for me from the sadness and tragedy in my life with regard to my birth family.

In the comments, there is an in-depth discussion of how to simplify life - i.e. which 2 bake mixes will be the most useful. Simple: Only two bake mixes are required to really enjoy all my recipes without resorting to making too many of the bake mix options - Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix and Vital Ultimate Bake Mix.

Jennifer Eloff
www.low-carb.us

12 comments:

Former Donut Junkie said...

Jennifer, here in the South we breaded everything we ate [almost] when I was growing up. And of course we always had biscuits and cornbread. I've not yet tried your recipes or bake mixes but I plan to in the future. Thanks for the excellent info. Ron, aka The Former Donut Junkie

Jennifer said...

Now you can do all those things again - legitimately. I have cornbread, a few biscuit recipes (including 2 Red Lobster-style)and "breading". Sometimes what I do is use a bake mix, Parmesan cheese and ground almonds combined and use that mixture to "bread" things.

I hope you will try my recipes some day.

Senorita said...

Your post has opened a whole new world of bake mixes for me. I never thought I could have access to so many low calorie flours. I had almost given up baking as I could not eat much of what I baked. But now I I’ll get back to baking with a new zeal. I think it is time to go and get some cookbooks of yours and get down to some serious cooking. Thanks a lot for making life easier with your low carb, convenient bake mixes.

Jennifer said...

Senorita, they are low-carb, but not necessarily real low calorie.

Ranaesheart said...

Wow! This is amazing find Jennifer.
Thanks for all these wonderful baking ideas..Now off to make my oven ready!

Hugs and Sunshine Wishes

Ranae

Jennifer said...

Hi Ranae - great to see you here! :-)

If you do try the low-carb bake mix on this blog, remember it is not a cup-for-cup substitute for white flour. It is best to sub 1 1/4 cups per 1 cup of flour - so a little extra. Have fun with your baking! It is healthier to have low-carb treats, if we're going to have treats, but treats should be occasional. Remember even when high-carbing, treats should be occasional. I don't take my own advice unfortunately.

Vikki said...

Oh I'm reading and you betcha I'm going to be trying some of the others. But don't sell your pound cake short! It's wonderful and is sure to be a staple at our house. Cake is one of those things we miss, and we love pound cake in particular. You can eat it like is, are warm with a few berries and whipped cream, top with chayote fried "apples" or layer with berries, chocolate sauce and whipped cream for something completely decadant. But of all the choices, just plain pound cake warmed in the toaster with a little butter is still my favorite.

Thanks again for more exciting information. I'll be making and using these bake mixes for years and years to come.

Jennifer said...

Thanks, Vikki. There is a pound cake in More Splendid Low-Carbing that I prefer on page 74. I think I need to fill in the gaps and send you the remaining cookbooks for reviews next year. :-)

ethyl d said...

How interchangeable are all the bake mix variations that are listed in your cookbooks? I have all the low-carb ones and have been trying some of the recipes (no disappointments yet), but am a little overwhelmed by all the different bake mix options. If I try a recipe for the first time I feel that I should stick to the exact bake mix you recommend (otherwise how would I know, if it didn't turn out, that it was because I used another bake mix?) but I am ending up with several different bake mixes on hand and small amounts of each left over. It's getting a little overwhelming and to have so many and to keep straight which one to use for what. I would prefer if there were just one bake mix that would work for everything. Your advice is appreciated.

Jennifer said...

Ethyl, thank you for writing. Your query might help others too. I don't have time just this moment, but I will comment later.

Jennifer said...

I posted a comment earlier but for whatever reason blogger lost it!

Jennifer said...

Ethyl, first of all, lump all your leftover bake mixes together in a container, seal and freeze. Use whenever needed to bread things as mentioned in this post or as a binder in hamburgers and meatloaf. Also, you can use it to "flour" the surface when rolling out dough.

Your best bet (to prevent possible problems) is to choose two bake mixes. One of them should be a Vital Ultimate Bake Mix (Cup-for-Cup substitution for white flour) and the other my Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix.

Splendid Low-Carbing: Replace all bake mixes with a Vital Ultimate Bake Mix of choice (there are several variations). In breads, muffins or loaves a little more liquid may be required (not necessarily) to achieve the right consistency. Bread while mixing should neither be too stiff nor too moist, but smooth - nice and elastic. Cookie dough is stiffer than, say, muffin and loaf batters.

More Splendid Low-Carbing: A breeze - substitute the two low-carb bake mixes offered in this book with Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix. It should work beautifully.

Splendid Low-Carb Desserts: Easy!
Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix is predominantly used with one or two recipes requiring a Vital Ultimate Bake Mix.

Splendid Low-Carbing for Life, Volume One: Occasional use of a Vital Ultimate Bake Mix in this book.

Splendid Low-Carbing for Life, Volume Two: Mostly used Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix and Biskmix (variation of the former) and occasional use of a Vital Ultimate Bake Mix.

Thankfully, most of the low-carb desserts work really well with the Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix. It is possible to substitute the Vital Ultimate Bake Mix for the Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix in desserts (add 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup extra), but it is a little trickier doing it the other way around for breads, etc. -i.e. substituting the Low-carb bake mix for an ultimate bake mix. I cannot guarantee the results in breads (as I've not tested that scenario), so I can't recommend it.

Simple: Only two bake mixes are required to really enjoy all my recipes without resorting to making too many of the bake mix options - Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix and Vital Ultimate Bake Mix.