Thomas Keller GF Products: A Review & Recipe

When Williams Sonoma sent out an announcement for new gluten-free products from Chef Thomas Keller –  GF Cup4Cup flour mix (here)  and Bouchon Bakery GF Chocolate Chunk Cookie and ad hoc GF Brownie mix, I was almost the first in line at my local store. 

But the price is slightly staggering even for a Keller creation – $19.95 for a Chocolate Chunk Cookie or Brownie Box-Mix (makes one dozen cookies or 16 brownies).  The $19.95 Cup4Cup (C4C) 3-pound bag of GF flour measures about 10 cups.

Ad hoc pancake/waffle mix yields 8 pancakes for $17.95 – (not reviewed here).

And nowhere on the boxes does it indicate that the GF mixes are manufactured and packaged in a certified gluten-free facility. When I asked Williams Sonoma to elaborate, they did and it is good news:

“Hi Lisa, Our Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour is made in a dedicated gluten-free facility ensuring that the Cup4Cup gluten-free flour meets the FDA standard of less than 20ppm (parts per million) of gluten in the food. Bouchon Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix, Ad Hoc Gluten-Free Brownie Mix, and Ad Hoc Gluten-Free Waffle/Pancake Mix are all produced in a facility that is GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative)/SQF Level 3 certified at their highest level of third party auditing for best food manufacturing practices. The manufacturer has established gluten-free protocols at their facilities in order to meet the requirements of the Food Safety Quality Management System and ensure safe production of food. This practice exceeds the FDA gluten-free standards by guaranteeing less than 10ppm of gluten in the food being produced.”


Review: Bouchon GF Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix

The GF and AP Bouchon Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix package look almost identical to one another.  Be sure to look for the GF symbol on the front of the box.

Inside the box, each ingredient-component comes in its own packet and matches up with the instructions so there is no guess-work. The ingredients are top-rate. The chocolate is Callebaut. It says it yields one dozen cookies (it does) and the nutritional information panel says it serves 22. Um, really?

After buying butter and eggs, plus the $20 Bouchon Mix, I could buy similar quality ingredients at the market and have enough to make way more than 12 cookies. But if I were not a baker and wished to impress someone with a dozen stellar cookies, this would be a win. They were tasty.

Review: ad hoc GF Brownie Mix

Like the Cookie Mix, all the ingredients are in packets that match up with the directions. Bouchon brownies were slightly cakey to me.  The chunks of (Guittard) chocolate all sank to the bottom of the pan.  I may have over-baked it because I was following the directions which said it was done when a toothpick comes out clean. You actually want  the toothpick to come out with a few gobs of gooey chocolate for brownies – and as it cools they come together. The mix makes 16 brownies but says it serves 19. Seriously?

Brownies are easy to make using just a few ingredients and I’d rather spend the money on really good chocolate. While these were better than most GF brownie mixes, I’d probably not buy these again.

Review: (Keller) GF Cup4Cup Flour (and a recipe)

I am a big fan of weighing the dry stuff for the best baking result. You cannot go wrong weighing your flours. But you can go very wrong substituting cup for cup and since this stuff says that is exactly what you should do – I thought it worth testing. I went into this a skeptic.

C4C flour contains cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch and xanthan gum. That is more starch than I would consider using in any general GF mix.

Milk powder means the product is off-limits to people who are gluten-free and dairy-free.

To test the premise of cup for cup, I made two recipes side by side using volume measures with the C4C GF flour and the other using my typical GF mix of flours by weight. My flour mix is made up of superfine brown rice flour, superfine white rice flour and a small amount of tapioca flour. No gums.

 

The first recipe was Rugelach (recipe to follow in December). Both doughs were treated exactly the same way. Each was filled with identical ingredients. Both rolled up nicely. They were baked at the same temperature, rotated midway and came out at the same time.

The batch that was made from my GF flour mix baked up nicely with some typical cracking on the tops (no gums).

The C4C flour batch was looking very pretty as it was baking. That is, until some filling melted out as it was nearing the end of the baking time. The fats in the dough seem to seep out and it almost seemed like the C4C Rugelach were sautéing on a baking sheet in the oven.  I was worried but it turned out fine. The C4C batch had no cracking on the top at all and browned nicely (milk powder).

The difference in the texture and flavors was subtle. The C4C batch had that distinctive starch, x-gum mouth-feel that I don’t like very much, but I know other people don’t mind that at all. They had a nice snap but the overall texture was just the tiniest bit gritty (rice flour). Overall, it made a very respectable and pretty Rugelach.

The batch made with my GF (weighed) flour mix reminded me of a nice pâte sucrée that was cooperative in that it didn’t crumble or fall apart though it had no x-gum and very little starch. While they tasted great, they did not look nearly as pretty as the batch made with C4C.  We like to call them rustic.

The 2nd recipe, World Peace Cookies from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Book here and her blog here are sable cookies. I added a pinch of espresso powder and mini chocolate chips for both batches.

The batch I made using my typical GF flour mix (and using the weight measurements from Dorie’s blog) came out like sables should – with the round shape and edges retained. They were delicious.

The batch that I made using volume measures and Cup4Cup flour were slightly different. They spread slightly and the distinctive sable cookie edge was lost. Their bottoms were a little more crisp than the tops.  Overall they were very tasty but didn’t look like a sable cookie.

Then I went a little bit crazy and made a few other recipes using volume measures and C4C and each result was similar. C4C does seem to be a very successful cup for cup substitute for AP flour in everything I tested. I made regular old Toll House Cookies using the recipe on the back of the package. Perfect. Actually, more than that. Stunningly delicious.

I made my favorite Alton Brown English Muffin recipe (that I previously converted successfully to GF  here). The dough was a bit too thick  – and though they were very tasty the recipe needed a bit of adjustment. I’m venturing a guess here, but perhaps milk powder in the C4C mix and Alton’s instruction to add milk powder might have made it too thick and prevented it from rising easily and filling the muffin rings? And I suspect too much xanthan gum contributed to the problem, too. But they did have a nice neutral flavor that resembles commercial English Muffins.

The result?

If you are a fan of GF baking mixes, and like measuring by volume and don’t mind the addition of milk powder or xanthan gum, then this is a fabulous product.  Cup 4 Cup works just about exactly as promised.

If the price drops, and it becomes available more widely – it could be a very handy GF product for busy families who bake gluten-free.

C4C The Good and the Not so Good Stuff:

Good Stuff:

  • Looks like cup for cup works for most everything which means you can make almost anything GF from a regular recipe
  • The mix ingredients make for nice browning of the baked goods
  • 10 cups might not seem like a lot, but it goes a long way
  • The mix bakes like it contains top quality ingredients (little grit, some nice superfine quality and no huge aftertaste)
  • It is a complete GF baking mix
  • It can be purchased at Williams Sonoma, but is also available mail order

Not so Good Stuff

  • Mighty expensive at almost$6.65 per pound
  • Contains milk powder
  • Contains (too much) xanthan gum
  • 3 parts starch to 2 parts grain (potato, tapioca, corn starches and white/brown rice flours)
  • slightly gritty
  • Available at Williams Sonoma or mail order only
  • Package labeling could be more informative
  • Some recipes might need extra accommodations to get a good result

 


World Peace Chocolate Cookies, Gluten Free using Thomas Keller's C4C Flour
Print
Author:
These are easy to put together and the dough must be refrigerated. You can make the dough one day and bake over the next few days - slice and bake. The Cup4Cup flour will make the cookie spread slightly so I've reduced the butter and baking time. Don't let the room temperature butter get too warm or they will spread into lace cookies. Keep the mixing to a minimum just to get the job done and handle as little as possible.
Ingredients
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, barely room temperature and more cold than warm
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt (I used flaked salt)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond flavoring
  • 1 and ¼ cups Cup4Cup GF flour (Thomas Keller for Williams Sonoma)
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa (I use ScharffenBerger)
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Instructions
  1. In a stand mixer using a paddle, beat the butter for about 20 seconds. Add the sugar, salt, flavorings and beat, scraping down the sides as needed for about 1.5 minutes. Using a fork or a whisk, mix the flour, cocoa, espresso powder and baking soda together. Add to the butter/sugar mixture all at once and mix on low just until incorporated. Turn mixer up a bit and mix just until it forms a ball. Add the chocolate chips to incorporate. Give it one more turn with a spatula. Split dough in half. Roll into log with your hands - about 1.5 inches in diameter. Seal in plastic wrap or parchment and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and even better - overnight. Repeat with 2nd half of dough.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Preheat oven to 325. Slice cookies at ½ inch intervals - they will look thick which is fine. Place about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake about 6 minutes and rotate. Bake 5-6 minutes more and remove from the oven. They will look a bit underdone. Let them cool until you can handle them and remove to rack to cool completely - if you can wait that long.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. This is a good review! I have some experience with gluten-free baking, and this looks like a decent product. Would not pay $6 something a pound though. Steep!

  2. Have you tried King Arthur Gluten Free Flour blend? This is all I can find in my local grocery without ordering or driving. I am trying different types, I will let you know how it comes out.

  3. I found a way to add to life back into the old chocolate chip cookie. What I did was easy. Simply buy a chocolate chip cookie mix or make your own. I did:) then I just add some craisins and walnuts ! They came out great.

  4. Hi, Lisa,
    I’m glad to see you did an honest, straightforward review of the flour and mixes. I haven’t tried any of them, but I know some whose opinion I do trust who likes C4C very much so far. I dunno.
    I don’t really see how C4C can really be considered an “all-purpose” blend, though, since as you mentioned it contains milk powder. Why not just add milk powder to recipes where it’s useful? It can be very helpful in some recipes as an added protein, but in others (as you experienced), the end result will suffer for it.
    Anyway, thanks for doing all that hard work. Now I don’t have to! ;) Good thing, ’cause I’m way too cheap for that stuff.
    xoxo Nicole

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hey Nicole, hi! Glad to help : ) It really is expensive for a GF mix, but so far it is the only one that does a fair cup for cup sub. Agree about the milk powder – and for me it has too much starch. I’ve been trying to use more grain than starch but some stuff is fine with that but other stuff needs the lighter starch touch. Thanks for coming by!

  5. Diane Grace says:

    Lisa,

    I appreciate the review of Cup4Cup. I have used it and like it. My concern is the cornstarch listed as the first ingredient. Doesn’t that mean that there is more cornstarch per measurement, or by weight than the white rice or brown rice flour? Also, is the cornstarch that makes the cookies brown so quickly as compared to other GF flours?
    Thanks, Diane

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Diane. Yes, indeed. Ingredients are listed in order of appearance. That is one of the reasons I am not using C4C as an AP flour. I bake a lot and want to make sure we at least are getting some whole grain goodness in the result so I do use lots of brown rice flour and way less on the starches. The cookies brown because of the dairy in the C4C mix. Milk powder is a nice addition if one can tolerate dairy because it does help create that nice golden brown look. Good questions!

  6. Hi Lisa – I am trying to make my own flour and wanted to get some advice. I like your recipe of ‘My flour mix is made up of superfine brown rice flour, superfine white rice flour and a small amount of tapioca flour” but I am not allowed white rice flour. Could I substitute buckwheat and quinoa flour for the white rice flour? Could you recommend measurements for making a flour with these ingredients? thank you!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Suzann – I haven’t experience with baking any recipes (mine or others) using those two flours. I do know, however, they would alter the outcome because the recipes were developed with the superfine white rice properties in mind. My suggestion would be to explore some Paleo recipes because I think you’ll find most of those would not use rice flours. A good start would be to explore Elena’s Pantry and go from there. http://www.elanaspantry.com/

  7. Ruth Hollander says:

    You mention the cost of Cup4Cup, and it definitely is pricey, but the superfine rice flour is also pricey and hard to obtain. Have you found a good source for acquiring it?
    Thanks.

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Ruth – As a cost comparison, superfine flours are much less expensive per use and are slightly better for you because the ingredients begin with 2x brown rice flour – a whole grain rather than starch. I mail order the superfine flours because I can’t get them locally – Whole Foods or other small independent stores might carry it. C4C also contains dairy and x-gum and I prefer to add those only when needed rather than use them for everything. Authentic offers discounts for bulk ordering – 5% and 10% off are common. I buy enough to make up a few batches that will last a few months at a time. Hope that information helps.

      • Ruth Hollander says:

        Thanks so much for your prompt reply. I will look at the Authentic site for the discount, since I bake fairly frequently.
        By the way, I had also made Rugelach with Cup4Cup for Hanukkah gift-giving previous to reading your blog, and it came out great!

  8. According to their facebook page the cornstarch in C4C is GMO, which is another big downside :(

  9. [email protected] says:

    Hi, I have a bakery and have been using Bob’s all purpose for awhile. I admit I do not like the taste but my GF customers love our product. Recently I personally made the switch to GF and thus started a quest to improve the flavor. I love love love the performance and taste of cup4cup compared to Bob’s but am definitely concerned about the cornstarch. I’ve experimented with some flour mixes with poor results. Do you have your flour ratios listed? I would love to try if you are wiling to share!

  10. [email protected] says:

    I found the answer! Sorry, I haven’t been on here before, was doing a search and clicked on a link so hadn’t even looked through the site yet. This is why I never post!!! Thanks!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Jody – not a problem. Good question. I prefer Authentic Foods flours b/c they are superfine and are sourced well, too. Our mix should be on the about flours page – it’s by weight – 2 parts brown to one part each white and tapioca. We like that it leads with 2x whole grain flour that is superfine. Helps mitigate starch, and is super smooth. Hope that helps.

  11. Thanks for your wonderful test & review here! I appreciate your straightforward approach and your experiment criteria. This saves me a ton of time, and stress for a cake I need to bake tomorrow. Rock on!

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  1. [...] Thomas Keller GF Products: A Review & Recipe [...]

  2. [...] dough – it won’t be a big chore. I made quick work of the dough using Keller’s Cup 4 Cup GF flour but you can also make this 3-2-1 pie dough [...]

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