If you are just learning to bake gluten–free (GF), it will help for you to know some basic pointers. When I first started baking GF, I assumed it would be an easy transition since I have been baking most of my life. Not so, my GF baked goods came out either too moist, too crumbly, burnt and/or the flavors often taste off. So I set out to find out the secrets to successful GF baking. After many failed attempts, I started to get the hang of it. Once again, I love to bake and enjoy the process. These suggestions will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made. Have fun exploring the world of GF baking.
1. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and often oats. (Gluten-free oats are okay). Gluten is the substance in baking that allows breads and baked goods to become sticky, expand, rise and become light & fluffy.
2. If you are converting a gluten recipe to a GF recipe YOU CANNOT substitute one gluten flour for a GF flour. In order to have a success GF baked good, it will take a combination of GF flour, starches and gums.
3. Gluten-free flours can lack nutrient and fiber, so learning to play around with healthier flours such as almond, hazelnut, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and sorghum flour (there are many more options but these are the standard flours) can add the fiber and nutrition lacking in white and brown rice flour. Many of these flours have a distinct flavor so use them as an addition to white and/or brown rice flour. For every cup of flour, I often substitute ¼ cup of the flours mentioned above.
4. Gluten-free fours made from legumes or nuts such as almond flour or garbanzo bean flour need to go in the refrigerator after opening or it will go rancid.
5. All gluten-free flour mixes need starch such as potato starch (not flour), tapioca starch or arrowroot. The ratio is usually 70% flour to 30 % starches. These starches are necessary for consistency and texture.
6. Next, the recipes will need a gum product such as Xanthan gum (derived from corn) or guar gum. They can be used interchangeably in most recipes.
7. Most baking powder contains corn, so if you are avoiding corn you can purchase FeatherWeight Baking Powder by Hain Pure, which is corn free.
8. Measuring all ingredients exactly is essential. You cannot eyeball the amount of flour etc or the recipe will not come out as intended.
9. Allowing the flours to warm to room temperature will help the equality of the end product.
10. I have found that the pans you use can make a big difference in the quality of the baked goods.
a. Aluminum or tin pans allow the product to brown evenly by reflecting the heat away for the product. (Though, I don’t recommend cooking or baking with aluminum or tin due to leaching into food)
b. Glass pans conduct heat and will brown the product quickly, so the product will be denser. Reducing the heat by 25 degrees will help.
c. Non-stick pans also require a lower heat to prevent the product from getting too dense and dark.
11. If using a cookie sheet, line it with parchment paper to prevent the product from sticking and the bottom of the cookies from burning.
12. Take your GF baked goods out of the pan after it is done as soon as possible to prevent moisture from increasing and the item from getting mushy.
13. Gluten-free baked goods can only be left on the counter for 24 hours. Putting it in the refrigerator does not work for GF baked goods, especially bread. It changes the texture and moisture content. It has to be frozen, so I cut the items in individual sizes and use wax paper or parchment paper to divide them. This way you can take out one piece at a time if you wish.
14. Just a side note: GF flours are denser than gluten flours therefore have more calories.
Baking is fun, so relax and enjoy the process.
This is an excerpt from my book “Gluten-Free Living 101, A Step By Step Guide”
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