Cooking with Sorghum
When you ask most people if they have ever heard of celiac disease, the answer is generally no. What many people do not realize is that one in every 133 people in the United States has celiac disease—an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system. When a person with the disease consumes gluten, the disease targets the villi that serve as a lining of the small intestines, compromising it from absorbing vital nutrients. Wheat, barley and rye all contain gluten, and these ingredients are found in a large majority of the foods we consume. Sorghum, however, is a viable gluten-free alternative.
When I decided to try cooking with sorghum flour, I decided to make something I thought would be simple and enjoyable. It made sense to make pizza—a food I love. I found my recipe for pepperoni pizza in the book 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster. The recipe book is full of recipes that use sorghum as the main ingredient.
I am definitely an amateur cook but quickly realized cooking with sorghum flour was easy. At a local grocery store I purchased the pizza crust ingredients: xanthan gum, potato starch, tapioca flour and sorghum flour, which appears to be slightly grainier than wheat flour and typically off-white in color. When I blended together the additives with the sorghum flour, it created a texture comparable to wheat flour—soft and slightly uneven.
After mixing together the sorghum blend, I added it to my wet ingredients, blending it with my hands.
Next, I added my seasonings and then olive oil and vinegar, which was the turning point for my dough. Adding the extra moisture to the sorghum blend made it easy to handle. I was able to form it into a solid ball, and it no longer fell apart. I kneaded the dough until all the ingredients were mixed throughout. The dough was thick and had a texture similar to cookie dough, rather than the light stretchy texture of wheat flour dough. At this point, my dough was ready to be pressed out onto the pan.
As I flattened the dough onto the pan, I tried to avoid creating any holes to make sure it maintained an even thickness across the pan. I toasted the crust in the oven before adding the toppings to make sure it was cooked thoroughly. The pizza crust was thin, and after being cooked, was perfectly brown and crispy.
After placing all the toppings and cooking the pizza, it was time to try it. The pizza was great! It was easy to slice and had an amazing texture. Maybe all the effort put toward cooking made me unusually hungry, but I thought it was every bit as good as a typical wheat flour crust. There is a common misconception that all sorghum flour products are grainy, but this particular pizza proved that theory untrue. I feel like my first cooking experience with sorghum was a success, and I will be using it more often from now on.
As you can see, sorghum is an excellent gluten-free alternative that can be used in almost anything. Cookies, cakes, cornbread, pie crusts, biscuits, muffins and pancakes are just a few of the many food items with sorghum-based recipes I have found. Not only is it easy to cook with, but it’s also healthy for you . . . and it tastes good, too!
If you’re looking for more gluten-free recipes, visit www.HealthySorghum.com. The site also has nutritional information about sorghum and a list of sorghum flour sources.