Gluten-free baking recipes work differently than traditional baking recipes. They certainly are a lot trickier to handle to. This article provides a better understanding of gluten-free goods and the ways to bake gluten-free goods successfully, so they look and taste amazing.
There are several reasons as to why some people might want to try going gluten-free. Whether it is for health reasons, or wanting experiment something else in their diet, let us understand what gluten is.
Understanding what Gluten is
Gluten is the general term used for a group of proteins that can be found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. The presence of gluten is essential as it acts as the “glue” that holds the grain together and allows it to keep its shape. Typically, gluten is present in a lot of foods more than we can imagine such as doughs, breads, pastas, cereals, and some baked goods. Other more unsuspecting places would include cross-contaminated oats, fried foods, soy sauce, condiments, salad dressings, cheeses, deli meats, supplements, cosmetics, medications, and so much more.
Take a trip through almost any grocery store aisle and you will find that it has never been easier to be gluten-free. With the increase in readily gluten-free products in grocery stores brings good news for people with celiac disease and some other medical conditions, and it also a driving force to make other people to consider trying gluten-free goods too.
Having said that, we have also seen home-bakers alike trying to experiment with gluten-free baking at home. While it is not possible to produce delicious gluten-free goods, baking gluten-free goods can have its fair share of challenges. From being too dry, or not rising, or tasting plain (and in some cases, unpleasant), it can be frustrating when the results are not what you had hoped for. There is plenty to learn about gluten and how it interacts with other baking ingredients, so to switch to a non-gluten free recipe, that would require some adjustments. As such, here are the some of the ways to bake gluten-free goods successfully.
The flour you use plays a key role in the gluten-free recipe. Often, bakers tend to make some flour-related mistakes that make their baked goods dry.
5 Flour-Related Mistakes that Lead to Dry Gluten-Free Baked Goods
- A newcomer mistake would be substituting a single gluten-free flour for gluten-filled flour in recipes. It does not work that way. Instead, you should use a balanced gluten-free flour blend.
- Another huge mistake that a baker would make too is to directly substitute gluten-free flour 1-for-1 for gluten-filled flour in traditional recipes that they intend to convert to gluten-free.
- Using gluten-free flour will not help much if there is too little protein. If there is too little protein, your baked goods will not have the proper structure and stability they need.
- Even when it is not called for in the recipe, some bakers would make the mistake of adding more gluten-free flour to the batter when it appears too thin to them. In truth, most gluten-free batters tend to be runnier and less thick when compared to traditional batters that contain gluten.
- Not accurately measuring the dry ingredients too also can cause issues.
The Way to Get Moist and Fluffy Gluten-Free Baked Goods
And those are some of the problems that causes the freshly baked gluten-free goods to be dry, crumbly, and falls apart. You now have some ideas on what the pitfalls are so here are some of the ways for to get moist and fluffy gluten-free baked goods.
Here, we will list down specific flours and starches. As such, you can explore the options and choose those that you can safely consume, especially if you have an allergy or intolerance to a specific ingredient.
- Never use a single gluten-free flour. You should never use a single gluten-free flour for any baked goods. Using a blend of two or more gluten-free flours where at least one of them contains a good amount of protein, and a starch.
Examples of gluten-free flours include but are not limited to white or brown rice flour, certified gluten free oat flour, sorghum flour, amaranth flour, quinoa flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour, teff, bean flours (like fava or garbanzo beans), coconut flour, nut/seed flours (like almond flour and chestnut flour), and soy flour.
Examples of gluten-free starches include but are not limited to arrowroot, tapioca, potato starch (not potato flour), and corn starch.
2. Gluten-Free Flours require special measuring techniques. Most home-bakers use the dip-and-sweep method when measuring flour. This method however will not work properly with gluten-free flours and starches.
Since gluten-free flours and starches are finer than wheat flours, it is difficult to have them be evenly and consistently packed into a measuring cup. Because gluten-free flours are also mostly sold in small bags or boxes, this makes it more challenging to use the measuring cup inside the package to evenly pack the cup with gluten-free flour.
One of the ways to get by this is to use a scale and the weigh the gluten-free flour accurately instead of using volume measurements that can fluctuate. Hence, it is highly recommended to use a scale for gluten-free recipes. However, if you really need to use measuring cups, here is a way to get uniform results:
- Place a sheet of paper towel on a flat surface (kitchen counter or table) and set a measuring cup in the center.
- Spoon the gluten-free flour into the measuring cup, occasionally shaking the cup to settle flour, until flour is mounded over rim. Whatever it is, just do not tap the cup or pack the flour.
- Then holding still the measuring cup, use the back of butter knife to scrape away excess gluten-free flour to level.
- Whatever excess gluten-free flour that is left on the paper towel can be used to funnel it back into a bag or container.
3. Incorporate protein into the gluten-free flour blend. Examples of high-protein gluten free flours: Amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, teff, bean flours and nut/seed flours. Finding these ingredients may be difficult depending on where you live. If such is the case, you can order prepared flours online.
4. Always test your gluten-free recipe first. Typically, a gluten-free batter will not be as thick as a traditional batter made with wheat flour. An example would be that some gluten-free bread dough is so thin that it must be poured into a pan. Adding more flour and starch will simply cause it to be a crumbly disaster. So, do not fall into the trap of adding more gluten-free flour or starch to the recipe until you have first tested the recipe that is provided, even when your batter appears thin to you.
5. Use an oven thermometer and a timer as visual cues are not always reliable. It is a tricky task to tell when a cake or bread is done and ready to be out of the oven (we do have an article for the ways to tell if your cake is done). This rings true for gluten-free baking because the traditional methods such as the toothpick method or pressing on top of the cake will not be accurate indicators for gluten-free baked goods. Because even when a gluten-free baked good is cooked thoroughly, they can still appear undercooked (such as being slightly wet inside and feel soft when touched). It is only when they are set to cool, then the starches will begin to set and firm up.
Hence, having accurate timing is more a concrete way to determine a gluten-free baked good’s doneness more so than relying on visual cues. Keep in mind that the baking times are only as accurate as the oven you use; always use a reliable oven thermometer. To sum this one up:
- The best way to know when your gluten-free baked good is done is to use an accurate timer.
- For a successful gluten-free baking, it is important to have a well-calibrated oven. Ideally, use a good oven thermometer too and have it placed as close to the centre of the oven as possible for an accurate temperature reading.
Wrapping Everything Up
With all this information, we hope you will find these tips to help you in understanding and even re-learning on how to bake gluten-free goods. Baking uses the same creative imagination as any art form to create unique sensorial products. However, it also needs understanding of how ingredients interact with one another, the order of addition, and the exact baking times and temperature. The pride of sharing gluten-free baked goods with the larger mass can be made possible when we start understanding this and be able to share those inspirations and possibilities around the world.
Nothing brings people together quite like great food. The aromas and flavors; the shared enjoyment of every mouthful and seeing the smile on the faces we love, it is beautiful. If you like what you are reading so far, feel free to explore our recipes and products (available in baking ingredients stores, RICH’s e-shop, and Shopee) for more inspiration—start sharing your favorite food moments with us.