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Rubbery From-Scratch Cobbler Topping. Newbie, Please Help!
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Hi! Boy am I relieved to have found this forum. I need help! I just started playing with baking totally from scratch (no mixes) and decided to attempt cobbler topping. Even though I thought I did everything according to the recipe and ratio instructions online - from reputable sources like gluten-free Goddess - it did not come out at all like I'd hoped. What I was picturing was crisp/crumbly on the outside and soft/tender in the middle. It came out kind of dense and very rubbery/gummy. We all know how time consuming and expensive these experiments are and I'm also dealing with severe chronic Lyme so I can't just whip up another batch. Any help would be really appreciated!

I haven't been able to bake in a long time and really missed it. Then I discovered that if I break recipes into segments, over a few days, and do a lot of the work from bed I can do a project once in awhile! It's such a joy for me. But each project is such a production I can't do more than one every month or 2. So I really want to maximize my efforts and get a recipe as good as I can before I put all that precious energy in. Sorry for the long story, just wanted you to understand my world a little :-) 

So here's what happened (if anyone's still reading ;-))... I found gluten-free Goddess' cobbler recipe and was going to basically follow that, using the flours & starches I had on hand. There's also an article on her blog that describes how to make your own flour blend, what ratios to use, etc. She says 40% whole grain and 60% starches and gives a list of what falls into which category. But, her cobbler recipe did not match this ratio so I wasn't sure which to follow! I ended up going by the 40-60 rule. I also decided to bake the topping separately from the fruit because I've had trouble in the past with it getting soggy after a couple days.

Topping recipe I created following the "rule":

40% sorghum and almond meal

60% tapioca starch and cornstarch 

So for flour mix, used:

1/2 c sorghum & 3 Tbl almond and 1 c tapioca & 2 Tbl cornstarch

1/2 c coconut palm sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/3 tsp baking soda

1/2 c butter, cubed

1 egg

Splash vanilla

1 c milk 

I mixed dry ingredients together, cut in butter using food processor. Separately whipped egg, added vanilla and milk. Stirred all together til just combined. Batter was wetter than expected, sort of between biscuit dough & pancake batter. Poured into 9x13 and baked at 350 til done.

Now here's her original recipe (which doesn't follow 40-60 rule):

1 cup sorghum flour or brown rice flour

1/2 cup almond meal 

1/2 cup tapioca starch 

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1/2 cup organic cane sugar 

1/2 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons of light olive oil or melted vegan butter spread

1 egg replacer (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer)

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk, or hemp, almond, or rice milk

Thanks so much for your help!! I really appreciate any and all input :-D

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Leave out the xanthan gum. That's what gave you the rubbery/gummy.

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Ok...here is my best advice:

Ditch the gluten-free recipes -- use your favorite recipes or google "reg" recipes and adapt.

I spent close to a year trying to perfect "gluten-free" baking and other cooking. I knew how to cook before diagnosis -- just needed some fine tuning.

Crazy part is most recipes -- just replace "flour" with gluten-free all purpose and you are done -- sure my cookies are a touch flatter -- but have never had someone say "EWWWW" - yet

For cakes...I go with Bob's Red Mill - add a large cup full of choc chips with the choc or a teaspoon of lemon extract with the vanilla.

Betty Crocker's gluten-free brownies are ok -- again, add a heaping cup of choc chips and they are great!

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ps...i make a great apple crumble pie...if i forget to provide recipe....remind me

i also use the same crumb topping on yellow cake for "coffee cake"

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Leave out the xanthan gum. That's what gave you the rubbery/gummy.

All of the gluten-free recipes I've seen call for xanthan. How do you know when to skip it? I also read somewhere that tapioca starch can make it gummy. Was it maybe the combination of the tapioca & xanthan?? There were also air pockets in the finished product, like instead of filling the space it stuck to itself while baking.

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I made this recipe a few weeks ago. I used Pamela's . You can't really " sprinkle" it on top. We just sort of glumped it.

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I think baking it apart from the fruit probably had an effect on it too.

Maybe stick to easy mixes for now?

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All of the gluten-free recipes I've seen call for xanthan. How do you know when to skip it? I also read somewhere that tapioca starch can make it gummy. Was it maybe the combination of the tapioca & xanthan?? There were also air pockets in the finished product, like instead of filling the space it stuck to itself while baking.

Xantham gum will stick things together for you, so if you are baking cookies or cake I would add some. I wouldn't bother if you want it to be crumbly like an apple crisp topping. I never add the full amount they tell you to either. For any recipes that I used before gluten free I make a blend of brown rice flour, tapioca flour, and potato starch. Bobs red mill flour blend is also really good... I experiment alot with other flours but it does get very costly, I just ordered teff flour, because my new recipe book uses it in everything, so I am excited to see how that works...

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I've used Pamela's for years and love it but it's not great for all things. I discovered that the site I get my vitamins from (Swanson) has a bunch of different Bob's products cheaper than my health food store so I decided to try these new flours. Next time I make it I'll try making a tiny batch and omit the xanthan. Thanks for the help everyone!

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All of the gluten-free recipes I've seen call for xanthan. How do you know when to skip it? I also read somewhere that tapioca starch can make it gummy. Was it maybe the combination of the tapioca & xanthan?? There were also air pockets in the finished product, like instead of filling the space it stuck to itself while baking.

You have passed the first apprentice test.

...was it the tapioca & xanthan??

We will have to initiate you into the Secret Recipe Reader's Club. Once you have the password, you can activate the app for the secret decoder ring, which you wave above the recipe- if it glows red, take out the gum. Green, you're okay. ;)^_^

Tapioca is this weird stuff, and I say this having used it as the base ingredient since I had to come off anything with oat cross contamination. You used a recipe with about 13/16 th regular grain to tapioca, aka nearly 3/4 cup crumbly/starchy to tapioca, and if you add xanthan gum AND almond meal to this, you're going to get rubber. Besides tapioca, the other gluten free flours which tend to not need as much, or no, extra gums are almond, buckwheat, and amaranth, and sometimes cornmeal (think about what cornbread does). A classic combination of flours which need no gum is 1/3 each buckwheat, potato starch, and garbanzo bean flour, and you can make pancakes out of this which don't even need egg, although you can sub some almond or amaranth in there, too. Straight tapioca with just egg and cheese ("Chebe" brazilian breads) don't need gums, either.

Both soaked flax and soaked chia seed can be used as gum substitutes, as well.

Adding as teaspoon of pure apple cider vinegar seems to help this sometimes. So I would just re tweak this and use more cornstarch or almond or other gluten-free grain, less tapioca, so it is just 1/3 of the mixture, and half the gum, or just skip the gum altogether, and keep the rest the same.

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You have passed the first apprentice test.

We will have to initiate you into the Secret Recipe Reader's Club. Once you have the password, you can activate the app for the secret decoder ring, which you wave above the recipe- if it glows red, take out the gum. Green, you're okay. ;)^_^

Yay! I look forward to receiving it in the mail! ;-D

Tapioca is this weird stuff, and I say this having used it as the base ingredient since I had to come off anything with oat cross contamination. You used a recipe with about 13/16 th regular grain to tapioca, aka nearly 3/4 cup crumbly/starchy to tapioca, and if you add xanthan gum AND almond meal to this, you're going to get rubber. Besides tapioca, the other gluten free flours which tend to not need as much, or no, extra gums are almond, buckwheat, and amaranth, and sometimes cornmeal (think about what cornbread does). A classic combination of flours which need no gum is 1/3 each buckwheat, potato starch, and garbanzo bean flour, and you can make pancakes out of this which don't even need egg, although you can sub some almond or amaranth in there, too. Straight tapioca with just egg and cheese ("Chebe" brazilian breads) don't need gums, either.

Both soaked flax and soaked chia seed can be used as gum substitutes, as well.

Adding as teaspoon of pure apple cider vinegar seems to help this sometimes. So I would just re tweak this and use more cornstarch or almond or other gluten-free grain, less tapioca, so it is just 1/3 of the mixture, and half the gum, or just skip the gum altogether, and keep the rest the same.

Very helpful - thanks so much!!

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In case anyone is still following this, I wanted to give an update! I decided to save myself some energy & keep things a little simpler for now. So I used my trusty Pamela's Baking Mix and adapted the drop biscuit recipe, which I've made many times so I know how good & easy it is. I'm pleased to announce it came out awesome! I made the topping like little biscuits so they'd have that golden crunch on the outside & softness inside. And I can keep them separate from the fruit so they don't get soggy!

Here's my recipe in case anyone's interested...

Cobbler topping:

1 1/2 cup Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar

1/3 cup butter, chilled & cut into chunks

1/2 cup milk

Tiny splash vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together, cut in butter using food processor or pastry cutter until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in vanilla and milk until just combined. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheet like making little biscuits. Cook at 375 for 10 mins or until golden brown on top. When cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature. When ready to serve, warm them in toaster oven or under broiler to crispen them up again.

*In case of substitutions, note that coconut palm sugar is much less sweet than regular cane sugar.

Peach Berry Cobbler (filling):

4 10-oz bags frozen sliced organic peaches (partially defrosted)

1 1/4 cup frozen organic blueberries

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar

1/3 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp ginger (dried ground)

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp frozen orange juice concentrate

2 tsp cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine spices, lemon juice, orange juice and cornstarch, stirring until cornstarch is fully dissolved. Stir in peaches, blueberries and palm sugar. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Make sure to scrape sides of bowl so you get all the juice and spices into the dish. Bake in preheated oven for about an hour until fruit is tender. When completely cool, store in the fridge. Warm before serving.

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