Gluten-free! Baking

The thought of gluten free (GF) baking used to send me into a panic.  When going GF 20 years ago there were no resources and no Google, so I had to completely give up ever enjoying a cake or cookie again.  Now, I enjoy them but I also look at them differently. I think about what they are made of, are they low in sugar, higher in fibre etc. And here is a new key part of my new thinking, how do I feel when I eat them? Do I feel good, satisfied or do I feel that hit of refined carbs that leaves me feeling drained and yucky.

I have improved my skills at gluten-free baking, making recipes that fool my family and friends. I have also made my recipes healthier which makes me feel better. 

Here are a few tips to help you out if you are new to GF baking or if you are just so darned frustrated you have given up.

Breads

  • First don’t despair if your bread had turned out dry and crumbly.  Throw it in the food processor, break it up then toast the crumbs to make bread crumbs, I have lots of bread crumbs I totally meant to make ‘wink, wink!’
  • Croutons are another way to use that ‘disaster loaf’.  Cut it in cubes, brush with olive oil mixes with your favorite herbs and spices and toast.  Voila, perfect croutons!
  • Use higher protein flours when making bread as they tend to have more structure which is needed in making bread
  • Starch to flour ratio should be about 30:70 meaning 30% starch to 70% flour
  • Adding 1 tsp of gum, gelatin, or agar-agar per cup of GF flour will help to add elasticity to your bread
  • Give up the expectation of baking a bread that is identical to Wonder™ Bread, this is just not going to happen.

Baked goods

  • GF flours have come a long way! Cakes, cookies and muffins can be made to be tasty and closely resemble their gluten-loaded cousins. They are far easier to make than breads too!
  • Lower protein flours work well in baked goods that are more delicate than bread
  • Adding about 25% more baking soda or powder will help cakes rise a bit more as GF flours tend to be slightly heavier than wheat flour (multiply by 1.25 is the easiest way of figuring out how much you will need)
  • Gums are what helps to hold things together and mimics the gluiness of gluten.  Love them or hate them they can be essential as to whether your baking turns out or not.  Rule of thumb is Add 1/2 teaspoon gum, gelatin, or agar-agar per cup of gluten-free flour used. 

Cup per cup flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour is a great alternative to blending your own. Typically they have been tested for best results.  Many new all-purpose flours don’t require the use of gums so if you are gum-shy try Kathy Smart’s new Smart Flour, our favourite around here. It is awesome for any baked goods, coating mixes and batters.  Breads are a bit more difficult but then again GF bread has been my nemesis for many years. There are gluten-free bread flour mixes out there (Bob’s Red Mill comes to mind) but if you are trying to eat clean and low glycemic they can be problematic. You may want to consider learning to like denser ‘breads’ that are whole grain/seed/nut. I have been enjoying a recipe called Life Changing Bread by My New Roots. It is delicious toasted for breakfast or used as the bread under healthy open-faced lunch sandwiches.  It makes a delicious afternoon snack too! Happy Baking!

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