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Here, best-selling author (and IACP award-nominee!) Alice Medrich shares her current favorite flours for baking.
Pastry guru Alice Medrich is up for a coveted International Association of Culinary Professionals award for her Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Flours. Here, she shares her favorites for baking.
I love working with ingredients in new ways. The idea for Flavor Flours was to create delicious new recipes, mostly for cakes, tarts, cookies, and desserts, using flavorful non-wheat flours. Some of my favorite flours turned out to be corn, oat, buckwheat, chestnut, and teff, because each has loads of flavor and personality. Ironically, these very distinctive flours are often mixed with other flours and lots of starch to create neutral flour blends to replace wheat flour in gluten free baking. Instead, I wanted to use these gorgeous flavorful flours as individual hero ingredients—to celebrate instead of downplay their individuality, and to explore new desserts using them. This new approach required endless experimentation, problem solving, tasting, and leaps of imagination. It required finding flavor affinities for the flours and learning all kinds of ways to produce structure in the absence of gluten. It required an open mind and all of my skills as a baker and pastry chef and the very same from my co-author and collaborator, Maya Klein. I loved the process and the new thinking it required. I also loved finding out that corn flour could produce a stellar chiffon cake, that the flavor of buckwheat can be earthy and assertive in a spicy gingerbread or pumpkin bread or delicate and floral in a butter cake or soufflé, that teff makes great brownies, and that the simplest sponge cake made with oat or chestnut flour is so delicious that frosting is not necessary. Thrilling new recipes are possible with these delicious flours. I have no doubt that flavorful flours will become a part of mainstream baking. I know that I am not done with them!