Converting recipes to gluten free – raisin, choc chip & oat cookies
We are going on a train trip tomorrow to see the marchés de Noël in Strasbourg – reputed to be the best in France. Part of the excitement is the train trip itself, a few days away in a new place and the chance to drink vin chaud and eat cookies at unreasonable hours of the day (and night).
Sometimes it’s nice to look up an old gluten-filled favourite and accept the challenge of converting it to an edible gluten free version. I know it’s something that a lot of people struggle with so I thought I’d show you how I go about it.
I was in the mood for something wholesome on a purely superficial level, so I opted for this recipe of Katie Stewart’s – rolled oat and raisin cookies, from her 1990 book ‘Entertaining with Katie Stewart’, an oldie but goodie. Oats, dried fruit, butter and enough brown sugar to slay a reindeer at fifty paces. That will do nicely.
The original recipe calls for :
100g SR wholemeal flour
100g rolled oats
50g seedless raisins
25g chopped walnuts
100g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp water
What I did:
1. Sub the flour.
Add 1 tsp GF baking powder per 125g of four flour blend to make it self-raising.
So for this recipe using 100g flour, I added a scant 3/4tsp of GF baking powder to 100g of my four flour blend.
2. Replace the gluten. We need to add a binder, either xanthan gum, psyllium husk or pixie dust, so our cookies don’t fall apart.
If using xanthan gum I add it in roughly the following amounts:
Cookies 1/4 tsp per 125g flour
Muffins and cakes 1/2 tsp per 125g flour
Breads up to 1 tsp per 125g flour
If I am using psyllium husk I use 2-3 times the amount of xanthan gum.
If I’m using pixie dust as a binder then I use the following amounts:
For cakes, muffins and cookies 1/2 tsp xanthan gum = 10g pixie dust
For breads 1 tbsp xanthan gum = 30 – 40g pixie dust
There are no hard and fast rules about which to use when. I’m a firm believer in trial and error, but also an advocate of keeping a kitchen journal so you know what worked and what didn’t. Personal preference also plays a role – I am trying to do away with as much xanthan gum as possible as I simply can’t tolerate it.
In this case I decided to use psyllium husk, 1 tsp.
3. Make any personal changes depending on what you have to hand. I have two types of GF oats at the moment. Some from the UK which are quite fine and traditional in type, and also some jumbo (coarse, old-fashioned oats). I decided to use 50g of each.
I had also run out of soft brown sugar so used 80g of soft brown and 20g of white sugar. I find a mixture often works well in cookies. Brown sugar gives colour, taste and a bit of chew, white sugar adds crispness.
I personally don’t like nuts in cookies. But I do like chocolate and happened to have some mini GF chocolate chips in my cupboard that I wanted to use up, so I subbed the same weight, 25g of choc chips for nuts.
I omitted the water, as I felt it wasn’t necessary. Why add a binder and then more liquid for the binder to work on?
4. Bake a few as a trial. The recipe says to roll the dough into balls and bake like that. My first cookies stayed very thick and I prefer them to be thinner, so I flattened the balls before baking. Check the baking time for the size of cookie you are making – consider weighing them as you make them so they are uniform. I made slightly larger cookies and found a longer bake at a lower temperature worked best.
5. Taste test. Personally I find these a little sweet and perhaps a tad too buttery.
6. Take a note of what you might try next time. I might reduce the butter and sugar by 20g. I think I might add a little vanilla too.
So here is my current GF version of Katie’s recipe, with the caveat that **next time I would reduce the butter and sugar slightly and add vanilla extract**:
Raisin, choc chip & oat cookies
based on a recipe by Katie Stewart
3/4 tsp GF baking powder
1 tsp psyllium husk
pinch of salt
100g oats (half rolled, half jumbo)
75g seedless raisins
25g mini chocolate chips
80g soft brown sugar*
20g granulated sugar*
2 tbsp honey
*please read the comments above!
1. Combine the flour, baking powder, psyllium, salt and oats in a bowl. Add the raisins and choc chips.
2. Meanwhile heat the butter, sugar and honey over a low heat until just soft enough to be liquid and combined. Do not allow to get hot.
3. Stir the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Set aside for 10 mins while preheating the oven to 160C (140C fan).
4. Line a baking sheet with a piece of baking parchment. Take teaspoonfuls of the mixture (about 24g) roll into a ball then flatten onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20 mins. Allow to cool for 5 mins then place on a wire cooling rack.