One thing I had a hard time with after going gluten-free was baking. I’ve always loved making cookies and brownies and baked very frequently. However, I quickly discovered that no matter how careful I tried to be, I always ended up eating some dough on accident. Even something as simple as licking batter off of my finger without thinking is enough to make me sick. So for a while, I didn’t bake at all.
Eventually I got tired of that and did a little research on gluten free baking. To my disappointment, most recipes I found seemed complicated and involved strange expensive ingredients that I had never seen at a grocery store and would need to be ordered online. Really, if you’re new to being gluten-free, who has ever heard of xantham gum?!
Eventually, after some trial and error, I picked up some simple tips that I now use to bake easy gluten-free desserts. Now that I have these, I can bake as often as I like using simple recipes. Hopefully these tips can also help you to be able to make the foods you love.
Gluten Free Baking Tips
- Locate gluten-free flours at your grocery store. In my area, HEB has the best selection, but I can also find gluten-free flours at Walmart. I use Bob’s Red Mill flours because they are readily available.
- Realize that in many recipes, gluten-free flours can just be substituted for regular flour. You don’t have to search for complicated recipes that are specifically gluten-free. My favorite chocolate chip cookies come from a recipe that I’d been using for years in which I simply replaced the regular wheat flour with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour after going gluten-free.
- Extra add-ins aren’t always necessary. Many recipes that are developed specifically for gluten-free baking call for xantham gum to improve the texture. However, I’ve found that when substituting gluten-free flours for wheat flour, it is often unnecessary. In fact, I have never used xantham gum and have always had good results. Don’t just take my word for it though; feel free to experiment. It may be that I just don’t know what I’m missing without adding xantham gum. However, just realize that you can get satisfactory, tasty results without it.
- Experiment and discover which flours go best with which recipes. Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour contains bean flour, and can give your baked goods a bean-y taste if there is no other strong flavor to mask it. I generally use this flour only for chocolate baked goods or chocolate chip cookies. White Rice flour, used in a sugar cookie recipe that calls for powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar, will produce soft, flaky sugar cookies like you can buy at the grocery store. Brown rice flour produces an effect similar to that of whole wheat flour.
- Play around with your recipes. Because of the differences in the densities of the flours, a recipe that calls for regular wheat flour may need slightly more or less of a gluten free flour. Use common sense here. If your cookie dough looks more like brownie batter, add more flour a little at a time until you get the right consistency. Be sure to record how much flour you ended up using for next time.Also, watch your baking times. White rice flour can tend to burn easily. Start out with the lowest recommended baking time and go up from there. Again, be sure to record any modifications for baking in the future.
I hope these tips have helped you to realize that being gluten-free doesn’t mean going without foods you’re used to. By broadening your horizons and going a little out of your comfort zone, you can discover new ways to enjoy the foods you’re used to.