Thomas Keller's Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour Put to the Test

Categories: Gluten Free

C4C_bag_.jpg
​Thomas Keller has jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon. Everything that Chef Keller touches turns to gold, so it is no surprise that his new flour has created quite the buzz among the gluten-free community. And the TV food world, too: Here he is cooking on Martha Stewart's show this morning:

Cup4Cup was created by French Laundry R&D chef Lena Kwak in an effort to accommodate diners with dietary restrictions. The flour is a blend of cornstarch, rice, milk powder, tapioca, potato starch, and xantham gum. It is being sold at Williams-Sonoma and Bouchon Bakery for $19.99 per three-pound bag.

Most gluten-free bakers make their own flour mixtures, blending different ratios of ingredients for different types of baked goods. I was excited yet skeptical to hear the company's claim that this one product could replace all-purpose flour in most recipes.

I tested the flour using a very basic pancake recipe, something that most people could relate to. I made two batches, one substituting Cup4Cup in place of the flour and one using Pamela's Gluten-Free Baking Mix (available for $15 for a four-pound bag at Whole Foods).

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photograph by Heidi Ladendorf, food styling by Marla Simon
​Neither mix performed exactly like traditional wheat flour would. The batter made from the Cup4Cup was a little gummy when wet and was slightly more difficult to blend together. The Pamela's batter mixed together easily, but had a gritty texture that nevertheless disappeared when cooked.

The pancakes made with Pamela's were lighter and fluffier, while the Cup4Cup brand was denser and chewier -- just slightly closer to a version made with wheat.

Both pancakes turned out well and are excellent alternatives for anyone suffering with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. To say that you won't notice the difference at all, though, would be a bit of a stretch. The proteins in gluten that cause an allergic reaction in some people are the same proteins that give bread and pastries their distinctive, chewy bite. Gluten-free products have come along way and it is great that there are alternatives like this available, but there's no need to rush out and spend the extra money on gluten-free flour unless it is a necessity.

Marla Simon is a San Francisco-based chef, food stylist, and food writer. Follow her on twitter at @Marla_Simon Follow us at: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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9 comments
gluten free foods restaurants
gluten free foods restaurants

While mostly everyone else is eating bread, and you are searching for news about their gluten free credentials from their chef your are starting to feel emptier and probably more frustrated. If you feed yourself before you leave or take some snacks with you, you will be ensured of being able to take your time at the gluten free restaurant.

Joe
Joe

You really need to point out that there is no scientific evidence of a "gluten allergy." Celiac disease, yes. Gluten allergy, totally unproven.

So spend a fortune on gluten-free flour to satisfy irrational fears. But don't call it healthier than wheat flour. 

(I know I'll get some angry responses but, in my experience, everyone I know who has claimed an allergy to gluten has had major issues with food in general.)

Robina Madsen Lyons
Robina Madsen Lyons

Joe, I refer you to... Eat Right for your Blood type, by Drs. James & Peter D' Adamo (father  and son) and you will find the answer to your point"..no scientific evidence of a gluten allergy," and that will also have an  explanation for your broader statement.."has major issues with food in general." This is not an angry response, my friend, just open minded discussion with open minded consumers.    Life is too short to live in anger...

UrbanUndead
UrbanUndead

While I'm no fan of overwrought substitute foods like this, and would hesitate to call it a full-blown gluten allergy, wheat absolutely bloats me up and punishes both me and anyone unfortunate enough to wander into my radius of gassy miasma. Plus, when I dumped it as a significant part of my diet a decade or so ago, I spontaneously & permanently lost 10 lbs.

This guy insinuates that it's the Monsantoization of the wheat available these days that's jacking people up, but really, who knows? http://boingboing.net/2011/10/...

Sw1964
Sw1964

Stool samples are the best way to detect gluten/dairy/soy/egg allergies.  That's a lab test, not a "food issue."

Lindsay
Lindsay

Gluten free flour mixes are great - but most of us have dairy allergies/intolerances to accompany are lovely gluten allergy. Minus 1 for milk powder. 

lumpynose
lumpynose

Everyone should rush out and buy it; eating gluten free is a wonderful fad.  (No offense intended to those who really have Celiac disease.)

John P.
John P.

It actually sucks quite a bit that a lot of people DO think of this as a "bandwagon" or fad- they think it's the next big diet craze, and it throws everything off for those who actually do deal with the disease on a day-to-day basis. Servers at restaurants, for example, don't take a request for Gluten-Free as seriously because they think it's just a dietary preference, not a necessity. It's too bad.

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