Baking Tips for Gluten-Free Goodies
For health-conscious people with sensitivity to gluten or celiac disease, gluten free is not just a diet – it’s a way of life. Luckily you don’t have to sacrifice great taste for your good health. Cookies, cakes and even bread can all be made without gluten.
Sure you can buy gluten-free food at a natural foods store. But homemade sweet treats are tastier and can be healthier – because you know exactly what’s inside.
So what does “gluten-free” baking entail? Mostly, it means avoiding the use of wheat, barley and rye (or any combination of them) as well as the type of wheat known as spelt and malt which is comprised of barley.
The key ingredient is obtaining great gluten-free flour and knowing when to use each type. Here are some that are commonly used:
All-purpose Gluten-Free Flour – This all-purpose blend found in natural food stores attempts to mimic the properties and performance of standard flour as much as possible. But since it’s not standard flour, you need to test it first to find out how it will perform in your recipe.
Soy Flour – This whole bean flour is known for making baked goods lighter – such as pizza dough, cookies, banana bread and cakes. It’s often used as a substitute for regular all-purpose flour.
Gluten-Free Oat Flour – Oats are naturally gluten-free, but look for a brand labeled as such to be sure they were processed on equipment not used for foods containing gluten. Oat flour is very delicious, especially when used in our Gluten-Free Oatmeal Toffee Cookies; however, it doesn’t mimic standard flour in most recipes when used alone.
Gluten-Free Brown Rice Flour Blend – You can make this blend yourself and it is delicious in our Gluten-Free Fudge Brownies our Gluten-Free White Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting and our Gluten-Free Pizza Crust.
Gluten-Free Brown Rice Flour Blend Recipe:
- Combine 5 cups finely ground brown rice flour (or half brown rice and half white rice flour), 3 cups potato starch (NOT potato flour) or corn starch, 1 cup sorghum flour (or more brown rice flour), 1 cup tapioca starch and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum.
- Whisk well and store in a sealed container.
- Stir before using in recipe.
You can also make a recipe without using any type of flour. These recipes are formulated as such that the recipe does not require flour. They are usually very moist or even wet and most often they are thickened or set by using a large percentage of eggs or egg whites instead of flour.
In our Gluten-free Apple Breakfast Cake, the oats replace the need for flour and absorb the moisture. The addition of applesauce makes this cake very moist.
In our Gluten-Free Chocolate Chewies recipe, cocoa powder is used as a starch/setting agent in place of flour. (We also use egg whites as a setting agent.) Dutch cocoa powder is darker and deeper in flavor than regular cocoa powder.
What is Xanthan Gum? Xanthan gum makes dough elastic in place of gluten. Since there is no structure forming ingredient in recipes without gluten, xanthan is used to help form the structure building in breads, cakes and cookies like this recipe for Gluten-Free Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns.
Sometimes you will see baking powder and vanilla extract without gluten called for in a recipe such as our Gluten-Free Peach Cobbler. While these ingredients do not usually contain gluten, they may be manufactured in a facility where standard flour is used so they can be contaminated. To be sure you are truly gluten free, look for products marked as such.
Check out our wide variety of recipes without gluten that are tasty as well as healthy for those with gluten sensitivity.