Gluten-free baking can sound very complicated and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! We know that there is nothing scarier than finding out that you (or someone you love baking for) can no longer eat gluten for all the baked goods fans out there.
Unfortunately, gluten is a crucial ingredient for most dishes, but there is no reason why gluten intolerance must prevent you from enjoying baked goods! Nowadays, there are plenty of gluten-free alternatives to your favourite desserts that you can choose from, and the ingredients needed to bake on your own are available in almost every grocery store. Learning how to master the art of gluten-free baking can be a wonderful and creative experience. No matter the reasons for switching to a gluten-free life, either that be due to allergies, or if you are simply trying to cut down on your gluten consumption, there will always be plenty of options available for you to choose from.
What is gluten and gluten free?
To put it simply, gluten is a protein found in wheat, and that includes all the less-known species of wheat like einkorn, kamut, spelt, barley, rye, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Gluten gives baked goods the delicate crumb-feel that we all love, and is one of the main reasons why bread is so chewy. It’s important to know that gluten activates when you add liquid to flour or stir batter or dough with a lot of vigour.
Most pastry chefs adore gluten as they can make their cakes light and fluffy, but it can come out harsh if they put too much of it. This is the main reason why some cake recipes specify in their instructions ‘don’t over-beat’.
Interesting fact? Most bakers knead bread to activate gluten further, and to increase their elasticity.
What issues are there with gluten?
Unfortunately, many people can’t digest gluten properly, especially those with celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder). Ingesting gluten by a gluten-intolerant person means that they will have many issues with their small intestines, which will prevent their bodies from taking in vital nutrients from foods. Therefore, they must completely cut gluten out of their diets.
Research states that 6 out of every 100 people suffer from gluten intolerance while not having full-on celiac disease. This means that eating out in most restaurants can become quite tricky, and buying food can be problematic, as most products are processed in factories alongside wheat or other gluten-containing items.
Most common symptoms of gluten-free intolerance are acne, skin rashes, fatigue, bloating, depression, and mood swings. Some people avoid gluten just so they can lose weight faster, and to feel generally healthier. To remember is that wheat and gluten are not the same things, however, wheat is one of the most significant gluten sources.
Key ingredients for gluten-free baking
One of the most significant adjustments when starting to bake gluten-free is understanding the vast array of flour options, and figuring out when and how to use each of them. Most beginners in gluten-free baking prefer to stick to an all-purpose gluten-free mix, however, as you’ll become more skilled, you can start playing around with combining your favourite wheat-free flours. To put you in the loop, there are many gluten-free flour options on the market, plus a lot of key ingredients to bring your recipes together that you must search for.
1. All purpose gluten free mix
2. almond flour
3. Rice flour
4. Coconut flour
5. Quinoa flour
6. sorghum flour
7. Tapioca flour
8. Xanthan gum
9. guar gum
Gluten free baking tips & tricks
● Tip 1 – Separate the eggs and beat the whites until they form soft and fluffy peaks, and then fold them into the batter. By doing so, you will have a lighter baked goodie.
● Tip 2 – Use buttermilk instead of regular milk to give your final product an airy and delicate quality.
● Tip 3 – Add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to any gluten-free recipe that has baking soda or powder into it.
● Tip 4 – Combine different types of flours, and don’t forget to add xanthan gum or guar gum to mimic gluten in your recipes. But in case you have gluten-free intolerance, make sure to keep an eye out on flours bought from bulk bins, as they might contain wheat-covered scoops in them by accident.
● Tip 5 – Start with gluten-free desserts, such as muffins, cookies, cakes, bread and brownies. This is purely because it’s effortless to swap between almond, oat, and barley flour for a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe!
● Tip 6 – Stick to the recipes to start with. As you’ve just begun your gluten-free baking journey, begin by strictly following recipes that are made to be gluten-free. By doing so, you will understand what ingredients and ratios you must use, and once you are confident enough, you can start getting more creative.
● Tip 7 – Buy a kitchen scale, as when it comes to measuring gluten-free flours, each variety acts differently. In this way, you will be able to measure your flours by weight, rather than volume. As a rule of thumb, for every cup of flour, substitute 140 grams of your gluten-free flour blend.
● Tip 8 – Get friendly with failing, as sometimes you will have to play around with the ingredients before you get it right. Accept that some of your gluten-free baked goods won’t end up as expected, and use that as a motivation and dedication to doing better next time.
● Tip 9 – Let your batter rest properly so you can counteract the grainier texture of gluten-free baked goods. Let the batter or dough rest for at least 30 minutes before baking, as this will allow the moisture to be absorbed appropriately by the flours, preventing separation that results in graininess.
● Tip 10 – Cool your goodies on a rack, as some gluten-free goodies can result in a slightly gummy texture due to the xanthan gum and starch flours. Transfer your hot baked goods to a rack to allow them to cool from all sides.
● Tip 11 – Invest in designated bakeware, especially if you have a severe gluten allergy. Baking with gluten-free cookware will ensure that you will never have to interact with gluten, creating a safe and healthy eating experience for everyone in the household at the same time.
What to avoid when gluten-free baking
1. Avoid overtaking your goodies
Baking times can vary depending on the type of pan or oven you use, so make sure to check the manufacturer’s advice of the pan you are using (and use the pan that best suits the recipe you are making at that specific time).
Oven temperatures can also greatly vary, so make sure to tune or test them. You can do so by purchasing an oven thermometer and adjusting the temperature accordingly. A great tip for this is to place your baked goods in the centre of a preheated oven, whilst keeping a close eye throughout the baking time (be particularly careful at colours and textures) as they indicate doneness). As a general rule of thumb, gluten-free recipes call for longer baking times at lower temperatures than traditional recipes containing gluten.
3. don't overbuy ingredients
Most gluten-free grains and starches have a particular shelf-life, so our recommendation is to buy them in smaller quantities. In this way, you can store them in your refrigerator or even freezer to prolong their essential properties.
Some flours can even be made at home after buying the whole grains and then processing them with a coffee grinder.
4. Don't forget about moisture
A crucial aspect of gluten-free baking is moisture and making sure there is plenty of it in each recipe. In general, gluten-free recipes require pureed fruits, sour creams and yoghurts that can add an extra touch of moisture to your baked goodies.
If your recipes don’t require these ingredients, you can simply add some brown sugar instead of white sugar. Another great moisture enhancer is honey and agave syrup, but if you decide to use these two, you must cut down on the other liquids you are using in the recipes.
5. don't forget about the substitute ingredients
There are plenty of ingredients that you can use as substitutes for the traditional ones.
Butter – coconut oil, olive oil and silken tofu are all suitable substitutes, and combinations of these will work best to add an extra touch of taste to your recipes
Eggs – flax seeds, silken tofu, mashed bananas or figs can easily substitute regular milk (if you decide to use flax seeds, make sure they are milled and combined with hot water before using them in your recipes)
Milk – coconut, soya, rice and nut milk can be substituted for regular milk
Sugar – maple or agave syrup, brown rice syrup and brown sugar
gluten free baking recipes
Whether you are gluten-free or not, there are plenty of gluten-free recipes that can satisfy your sweet, salty and savoury tooth.
- Gluten-free scones are a must-have on any afternoon tea spread or party. You can make them with fruit (or without), and the gluten-free version involves using many gluten-free flours in combination, and xanthan gum.
- Gluten-free mince pies are a great way to spice up the traditional boozy mince pies, without having to compromise on flavours or textures.
- Chocolate truffle cake is a flourless, gluten-free chocolate cake with an extremely smooth consistency. In this unique recipe, what truly lifts the richness of the chocolate is the amaretto.
- Coconut-flour banana bread is a copy of the childhood version of traditional banana bread, made with coconut flour, and it’s straightforward to follow the recipe.
- Gluten-free apple cake is the perfect dessert to serve for an afternoon tea. It can be easily made with olive oil instead of butter and without any refined sugars.
- Gluten-free hot cross buns can spice up your dining table, and not only during Easter time.
If you genuinely want to start baking gluten-free recipes like a pro, you can start levelling up your skills by following these 21 gluten-free baking recipes we love from Taste Of Home.
However, if you are in need for tasty gluten-free baked goods, you can have a look at American Muffin Co’s gluten-free products or from Elvira’s Secret Pantry that you can choose from and get them delivered straight to your front door!
At Bakers Market you can easily shop for your favourite freshly baked products, and get them delivered to you in no time, so make sure to check out our wide variety of local bakeries, and what baked goodies they have on offer today!