Whether you’re in the kitchen for you or a close friend, these gluten-free baking tips will help you navigate the road without wheat flour. Gluten-free baking can be really tricky since gluten is what gives dessert its structure. Follow these tips to simplify the process and have more success in the kitchen. Gluten-free desserts can be just as delicious as the real deal. It just takes a little bit of grit, determination, and lots of good music.
First of all, what is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale – wheat being the most prevalent. It’s commonly found in bread, pasta, and cookies, but also hides in plenty of ingredients like soy sauce, sour candy, and seasonings. Some of the places it’s found are downright surprising.
Flour is one of the most essential ingredients for baking and thus can make gluten free baking quite the challenge. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease six years ago and now I avoid gluten like it’s a big red ant pile.
Read on for some great tips that I’ve learned on my gluten-free journey.
- Don’t substitute flours unless you’re okay with a possible fail.
- Always follow the recipe the first time.
- Use a good gluten-free all purpose flour.
- Check and recheck all the ingredients.
- Experiment with your favourite dishes.
- Keep an eye on the oven.
- Utilize your freezer.
- Try baking with quick cooking oats (gluten free of course!)
- Xanthan gum is necessary for most recipes.
- Join a facebook support group.
1. Gluten-free all purpose flour blends are just that – blends.
They contain flours, starches, and usually xanthan gum to create a flour that imitates the flour made from wheat. Each brand is different and some are much better than others. When you first start out, I recommend using the brand of flour the recipe calls for. This will minimize baking fails, which can be a bit depressing when you are making a significant lifestyle change.
2. This is similar to the point above, but more specific.
Unless you are a seasoned baker, avoid making substitutions for ingredients in a gluten-free recipe the first time around. This will do one of two things. For one, it will tell you if the recipe is delicious or not. And two, if you do decide to make it again with substitutions and it fails, you will know it’s not the recipe.
3. Gluten-free all purpose flour.
Find a delicious gluten-free all purpose flour you like the taste and texture of and go from there. As I said above, they’re all different, and even though grocery stores only stock a couple of brands there really are many to choose from. My personal favourite is Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. Walmart, grocery and health food stores carry it, plus you can buy it on Amazon too. All of the gluten-free recipes on my site are currently made with this brand. You can also check out their Instagram page or website for more delicious recipes!
4. Remember to check all your ingredients for sneaky gluten.
When in doubt, look it up. Usually, brands will tell you on their websites if it contains any gluten and whether it’s made in a gluten free facility. Remember that oats should be labeled gluten-free since they’re processed around other gluten-producing grains.
5. You don’t have to throw all your old favourite recipes in the trash.
Several of my family recipes worked great with Bob’s Red Mills 1:1 All Purpose Flour in its place. Just remember not all of them will work and that’s okay. You won’t know if you don’t try!
6. Keep an eye on your treats in the oven.
Overbaked treats are never good, but especially in gluten-free baking where a good and fluffy texture is harder to achieve.
7. Most baked goods freeze well (with the exceptions of fried desserts).
I love to freeze all my baked goods so when I am in the mood for a treat I don’t always have to get in the kitchen. This is also great if you are meeting up with a friend at Starbucks or a coffee shop and want a sweet treat to go with your coffee. You get to eat something you enjoy with no risk of zero gluten-free options or worse getting glutened by cross-contamination.
8. Baking with gluten free quick-cooking oats.
If you find gluten-free all purpose flour has a strange taste, then you’ll dislike trying recipes with gluten-free quick-cooking oats in its place. This doesn’t work for all recipes, but quick cooking oats absorb more liquid than old fashioned oats and taste great in crisps, crumbles, and cookies. I do that in this triple berry crisp recipe and it tastes incredibly delicious.
9. Xanthan gum is necessary.
If you do purchase a gluten free all purpose flour, make sure it includes Xanthan gum. If it doesn’t, you will need to purchase it separately and make sure to add it to your recipes. It mimics gluten and provides structure to your treats.
10. There are several Facebook gluten free support groups.
In these groups, people share their favourite recipes and gluten-free brands and recipe books. The gluten-free lifestyle can be hard on the wallet. It’s always nice to know a brand tastes great before purchasing. It’s also great for emotional support, questions, and a community of like minded individuals who understand the struggle.
These tips to conquer gluten-free baking have helped me tremendously over the last six years and I hope they help you too. Happy Baking!
Formerly a pastry chef, Carolyn is the writer and owner of Caramel and Cashews – a gluten free food blog that delivers tested gluten free recipes that taste delicious. She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease six years ago and since then has transferred her avid love of baking to a love of gluten-free baking. She is now determined to provide others who have Celiac disease or Gluten Intolerance with equally delicious treats.