Most of the time, I'm perfectly content to be a gluten-free vegan. But every once in a while... I just want to gorge myself on that-which-is-forbidden. Equally tempting is the urge to describe, in-detail, the thoughts and sensations that necessitated today's guiltless baking experiment. But I shall resist, and share instead my comfort food solution: carrot cake.
The recipe calls for chestnut flour, which I don't have. And being indecisive, I took advantage of my grand GF selection by splitting the batter into four parts and comparing how each turned out.
I felt like Goldilocks: "This one is too firm... This one is too soft... This one is just right!"
1) Arrowhead Mills GF All-Purpose Flour
Batter was the consistency of cookie dough. It did not rise at all. Top colour was golden with some dark gold peaks. Inside was moist and gumlike, but firmer when cooled.
2) Namaste Buscuits, Piecrusts, & More Mix
Batter was porridge-like, rose slightly with an evenly golden top. Inside was moist and sponge-like: might need more baking time.
3) Bob's Red Mill Garbanzo Flour
Batter was the consistency of regular muffin batter. It rose to a beautifully round, golden puff. Inside was dense and smooth, and just a touch on the dry side, a bit like cornbread. Baked 35 minutes.
4) Almond Meal
Batter was soupy and sunk in the middle during baking. Inside was still extremely wet: perhaps longer bake time at a lower temperature? Flavour was good, but you'll need a spoon. One advantage to vegan baking is that you don't have to worry about under-cooking :)
It's hard to say which one was "best," since every person has different preferences. Sister likes 2, Brother likes 3, Mother likes 4, and I'm torn between 1 and 3...
And of course, no carrot cake is complete without cashew cream cheese frosting! (Real Sustenance's frosting has coconut in it.) I used 1/4 c water to get the right consistency... Now I need to find another GF cake recipe, because I have five times more frosting than I actually need (a very good problem).
So, why such a difference? Every grain, pseudo-grain, and legume has distinct characteristics: flavour, density, moisture, self-rising properties, etc. That's why GF recipes and all-purpose blends often have complicated mixtures of flours, starches, and gums. That's why one flour makes great muffins but horrible pancakes or pasta. The GF all-purpose I see most often in recipes is Bob's Red Mill, but I've never tried it myself. Experiment, and see what works for you.