Friends. We know gluten-free baking can be tricky. But, if you have no other choice than to be gluten-free, you gotta figure it out, right?
Here are 12 tips and tricks that you can use to help your journey into the world of gluten-free baking be a little less rocky - we hope.
1- Make sure you avoid contaminating gluten-free items with ingredients containing gluten if you are baking in a kitchen that isn't gluten-free. Tools and equipment / appliances can hang on to little gluten bits super easy. Toasters are big on this.
2- Look for recipes that are high in moisture to begin with, such as items made with coconut, carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, etc. Breads and cakes that are moist are good options to try to make gluten-free.
3- Sugar holds moisture very well, so trying a low sugar or sugar replacements might not be the best idea. Natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or banana can be used instead of processed white sugar.
4- Though moisture is super important, gluten-free foods can be a little gummy if an incorrect ratio is used with the flours OR if there is too much moisture. Heads up, friends. Heads up.
5- Xanthan gum is typically used to do all the fun things that gluten traditionally does, like add volume, structure, and viscosity—it also stabilizes and emulsifies. BUT: if too much is used, you'll get a very gummy product that is super sticky and heavy. Also, it’ll lose its gumming properties the longer it’s mixed, so only mix as much as you need to.
Note: xanthan gum is derived from corn, so guar gum can be used instead if corn allergies are an issue.
6- Again, gluten-free batter and dough can be gummier and stickier, so make sure to scrape the sides of your bowl down well as you mix and blend.
7- Properly grease or line pans with parchment to ensure your foods don’t stick to baking pans. (Cookies tend to work best on a parchment-lined baking sheet).
8- Gluten-free items need more leavening than fully glutenous items, so you might need to use more baking powder and baking soda than you normally would. You may need to experiment with this, but a good starting point is to increase the amount by 25%. And on that note:
9- Be sure to use a gluten-free baking powder! In fact, while you're at it, check the labels of other ingredients such as vanilla and chocolate chips, as these are not always gluten-free. The same goes for vinegars and mustards in your other cooking and / or baking.
10- Watch out for oats—they can be sneaky AF.
Although oats are technically gluten-free, cross-contamination with wheat, rye and barley in the fields or the mill may happen, so be sure to purchase oats that are certified gluten-free.
11- Popular gluten-free flour options include amaranth flour, arrowroot, brown and white rice flour, buckwheat flour, cornmeal, chickpea / garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour and teff flour.
Keep in mind that many of these flours are not ideal to use on their own, which is why gluten-free baking usually works best if you’re using blends. Mixing a variety of gluten-free flours together results in a better-tasting and better-textured product!
12- Potato flour and potato starch are two very different things. The starch gives great binding strength, with a neutral flavour - but can gum things up pretty quickly if too much is used. The flour is just dried potato, ground into a flour. It works just like other gluten-free flours, and is best used in a blend. It works well in breads and cakes.
If you’re using these two ingredients and getting frustrated, it may just be using the incorrect one for the product. Try swapping them around and see if that helps!
And that’s that! We hope these tips and tricks help you make all the delicious things for all your delicious loves in your lives.
The Polly Fox