Food editor Beth Hillson presents can’t-miss gluten-free recipes from expert chefs at or from the Culinary Institute of America.
[Updated July 9, 2018]
For those who love every aspect of food, life doesn’t get much better than spending a weekend at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the prestigious culinary and pastry arts college. Only one thing tops it—a gluten-free weekend at the CIA. From a four-star dining experience to an all-day gluten-free baking class, this was a veritable busman’s holiday for someone with celiac disease (like me).
I started my culinary adventure on Friday night with dinner at CIA’s American Bounty Restaurant, a working classroom for professional culinary students. Here a team of attentive students doted on me, arriving in pairs to present the evening’s specials, wine recommendations and a special list of items that were gluten free.
As I savored the gourmet meal of foie gras and king salmon with spring glazed vegetables, I looked forward to my cooking class the next day, a course on gluten-free breads taught by Richard Coppedge, Jr. Chef Coppedge serves as the CIA’s professor of baking and pastry arts and has been teaching gluten-free baking for the past seven years.
The Kitchen as a Classroom
Early the next morning, I returned to the well-manicured campus with its rolling hills, brick dormitories, classrooms and restaurants. I’ve been a cooking teacher and food writer for many years but I was as jittery as a schoolgirl. It had been a long time since culinary school and I was about to study with a pro.
As I joined the class of 12 other students, the professional kitchen began to awaken, like an orchestra tuning up for a big performance. Chef Coppedge and three assistants rotated from one station to the next, dipping, turning, reaching, whisking and blending. We picked up the rhythm, forming donuts, piping pizza dough and preparing a wide variety of breads. The room hummed with melodic efficiency.
While we worked, master baker Coppedge transformed into a maestro, barking directions, tossing a whisk here, grabbing a baking sheet there.
“Can you get me the multi-grain slurry?” he hollered. “Where’s my timer for the sourdough bread?” he shouted. “Your breads are ready to come out,” he boomed. And then without hesitation, he leapt across the classroom to rescue a pan of breads from the proofing box.
After a while, we were summoned to the deep fryer to watch, cook and taste a batch of gluten-free donuts the chef was making.
“One student ate about eight of these donuts in just ten minutes,” Coppedge chuckled. “She kept saying she couldn’t believe she was eating a‘real’ donut.”
I knew how she felt. Eager to sample, I fished a warm donut out of the stash. The smell, the texture, the look … it had been a long time. As the first morsel passed my lips, I nearly cried.
By the end of the day, we had baked hundreds of mini loaves of bread (mock rye, onion, multi grain, sourdough, challah, and French), cinnamon buns and Naan (Indian flat bread). All delicious!
That evening, I left with an armload of baked goodies and delicious memories of my culinary adventure. I also brought home renewed enthusiasm for gluten-free baking, which inspired the following recipes.
MAKES 24 3-INCH DONUTS.
Whip up warm, delicious donuts in your own kitchen with this recipe, adapted from the CIA classroom.
1¼ cups white rice flour
1 cup granulated sugar
7/8 cup potato starch
½ cup tapioca starch
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon chickpea flour or soy flour
4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
7 ½ teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 ¼ cups warm milk of choice or water
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups vegetable oil (or more)
– Extra sugar, powdered sugar or cinnamon, optional
1. Place rice flour, granulated sugar, potato starch, tapioca starch, chickpea flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and dry yeast in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat briefly to combine.
2. Add milk, melted butter and eggs to dry ingredients. Beat for 5 minutes at medium speed.
3. Let dough rest for 20 minutes in a warm, draft-free area.
4. Cut 5×5-inch squares of parchment paper. Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with the widest tip or use a plastic bag with the bottom corner cut to create a ¼ to 1/2-inch opening. Pipe a donut-shaped circle* onto each parchment square. Set squares on baking sheets and let proof for 20 minutes in a warm, humid environment. (See sidebar on creating a proofer at home.)
5. In a deep skillet or electric fryer, heat oil over medium heat until oil reaches 350 degrees. Gently slide 3 or 4 donut sheets into the oil and fry 4 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the paper and gently turn donuts. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a tray lined with several sheets of paper towels.
6. While still warm, sprinkle donuts with sugar, powdered sugar or cinnamon, if desired.
*To help form the donuts, shape them with plastic wrap that’s sprayed with vegetable oil.
MAKES 8 MUFFINS.
This recipe is adapted from one by CIA graduate Dave DeCesare, chef/baker at Taste Budd’s Café in Red Hook, New York.
1¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons potato starch
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg
11/2 cups milk* of choice, warmed
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted, or oil of choice
1/3 cup dark raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (400 degrees convection).
2. Combine potato starch, brown rice flour, guar gum, salt, dry yeast and sugar in large mixing bowl.
3. In separate bowl, combine egg, milk and butter.
4. Blend wet into dry ingredients and combine until smooth.
5. Thoroughly mix in raisins. Gently swirl in cinnamon.
6. Scoop dough into well-sprayed muffin tins or English muffin rings.
7. Allow to proof for 30 to 45 minutes.
8. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until done.
*TIP: You can use any type of milk—skim, 2 percent, soy, almond or even buttermilk (for a tangier flavor). For more lift, use sparkling water.
MAKES ABOUT 24 COOKIES.
This recipe, adapted from one by Chef Dave DeCesare, makes shortbread cookies that are crumbly and buttery-sweet.
1 cup white rice flour
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon potato starch
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter,* cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large egg or egg replacer
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– Egg wash (1 egg, lightly beaten) or water Sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine rice flour, potato starch, cornstarch, sugar, xanthan gum
3. Add butter, egg and vanilla.
4. Mix by hand or with a mixer with paddle attachment until combined, about 3 minutes.
5. Wrap dough in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
6. Cut dough in half. Roll one half out to ¼-inch thickness and place on baking sheet. Repeat with second half.
7. Score dough into wedges or strips. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sugar.
8. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
*TIP: You can use non-dairy spread or margarine instead of butter. Cut it into pieces and freeze before adding it to the mixture.