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Tips on going gluten-free for less

Addie Broyles

Earlier this year, a friend at work mentioned that she’d recently cut gluten from her diet but was frustrated that her grocery bill suddenly went through the roof.

“All I eat is rice and corn,” she said. “That can’t be healthy, right?”

Karen Morgan knows the feeling. The owner of Blackbird Bakery and author of two books, including “The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free: 125 Savory and Sweet Recipes Using 6 Fail-Proof Flour Blends” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.95), which comes out this month, had the same struggles when she first started eating a gluten-free diet, and over the years, she’s figured out quite a few ways to cut down on the costs of eating well while also eating gluten free.

A big part of that is making her own flour blends, which she sells at some local grocery stores and retail outlets. (Those blends cost $8 each, but in the new book, Morgan gives away the recipe for each of them.)

In today’s food section, Morgan shared some of her tips on going gluten-free on a budget, as well as one of the most versatile blend recipes in the book, this biscuit blend, which can be used for the Parmesan Sage Rolls, whose recipe follows.

What other cost-saving tips do you have for going gluten-free? Leave your ideas in the comments or over on the Relish Austin Facebook page.

If you want to hear more from Morgan, she’ll be speaking at a free event at 7 p.m. Monday at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd., that will feature cocktails from Tito’s and Morgan’s gluten-free baked goods.

Biscuit Blend

The Biscuit Blend was engineered for everything that is made at the beginning of the day, and it combines flours and starches with both quick breads and yeast-risen pastries in mind. Raised either with baking powder and soda, or with yeast, the flours play together to give the ideal physical characteristics for everything that screams “Breakfast.” But this workhorse blend has the greatest range of all the blends I make, working as well for biscuits as soft dinner rolls and hot dog buns.

Here, the brown rice and glutinous rice flours contribute a lightness commonly achieved by using cake flour. Together with the sorghum flour, they ensure that the finished baked good will have the texture of a quick bread, not a brick bread.

— Karen Morgan

1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. (220 g) glutinous rice flour

1 cup plus 1 1/4 tsp. (126 g) cornstarch

1 cup (125 g) extra-fine brown rice flour

1 cup (108 g) tapioca starch

1 cup (108 g) sorghum flour

6 tsp. (18 g) guar gum

Place each ingredient in a large bowl and whisk well. Sift the flour and then whisk again to thoroughly combine flours. Store in an airtight container for up to two years.

— From “The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free: 125 Savory and Sweet Recipes Using 6 Fail-Proof Flour Blends” by Karen Morgan (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.95)

Parmesan-Sage Pull-Apart Bread

The basic dough recipe can be used for both sweet and savory baked goods, but in this variation, Morgan adds Parmesan cheese and sage for a brunch-friendly monkey bread. The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, so be sure to plan ahead. You can easily turn this into a more traditional sweet monkey bread by rolling the balls of dough in butter and then a cinnamon sugar mixture instead of Parmesan cheese. Feel free to crumble up the sage leaves as you assemble the bread, or if you’re making the sweet version, you could add raisins.

6 cups (624 g) Biscuit Blend, plus more for rolling

2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

3 1/2 tsp. gluten-free active dry yeast

1 1/2 Tbsp. meringue powder

1 cup whole milk, divided

4 large eggs

1/4 cup honey

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

4 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing bowl and pan, if needed

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

10 fresh sage leaves

1 cup shredded Parmesan

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the Biscuit Blend, sugar, yeast and meringue powder and mix them on low for 30 seconds. Turn off the mixer.

In a saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of the milk over low heat. When the milk begins to steam, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup milk. The mixture should be a bit warmer than bath water, but not hot — otherwise, it will kill the yeast.

Add the milk along with the eggs, honey, oil, and 10 tablespoons water to the dry ingredients and mix on high speed for 1 minute. Add the salt and continue mixing on high for 3 minutes more. Finally, add the softened butter and mix on high until you can no longer see any lumps of butter. The dough should be quite thick at this point, sticking to the sides of the bowl and the paddle.

Lightly butter a bowl. Set the dough into the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for 4 to 6 hours. (Note: Letting this dough rise for more than 8 hours can lead to a raw flavor.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a plate with paper towels and butter a Savarin pan, a 9-inch Bundt pan, a loaf pan or a nonstick pan.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter. When it foams, add the sage leaves and sauté until they are just beginning to brown on their edges. Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the leaves to the lined plate and reserve the butter. Place the Parmesan on a small plate.

Lightly dust your work surface with Biscuit Blend or glutinous rice flour. Lightly coat the dough with the blend or flour and form the dough into a disk. Working on the dusted surface, fold the dough toward you and press down and forward, gently stretching the dough outward without tearing it. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat, folding and turning, maintaining a smooth disk. This makes one “turn.” Knead the dough until it is very smooth, but give it no more than eight turns.

Divide the dough into 24 pieces, each roughly 2 tablespoons in volume or 50 grams in weight. Dust your hands with Biscuit Blend or glutinous rice flour and form each piece of dough into a ball, and roll the balls of dough in the sage butter and then in the Parmesan until they are well coated.

Place each ball in the pan, lining the bottom in a single layer. Dust them with salt and pepper. Repeat until all the dough has been used, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes (40 minutes if you are using a loaf pan), until it has risen and the Parmesan is golden brown. Unmold the bread onto a serving plate and enjoy pulling it apart!

Serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze them for up to 1 month.

— From “The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free: 125 Savory and Sweet Recipes Using 6 Fail-Proof Flour Blends” by Karen Morgan (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.95)