Gluten is a protein found in wheat. It is the “glue” that makes your dough stretchy and gives it shape. However, if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance, this protein can be detrimental to your health. We’ve compiled a list of tips for baking sans gluten to make your life easier!
1. Use a scale to measure flour more accurately
Gluten-free flours like amaranth, buckwheat, sorghum, millet and rice flours are finer than typical glutinous flours, making them difficult to pack evenly into a measuring cup. This can lead to inaccurate measurements. We recommend using a digital kitchen scale to achieve uniform measurements. King Arthur Flour has provided a weight chart that can help you convert your measurements.
2. Make your own gluten-free flour
Combine 40% whole grain flours (brown rice, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, sorghum flour) with 60% white flour or starches (arrowroot or potato flour, cornstarch, potato starch) to make your own gluten-free all-purpose flour.
For cakes especially, we recommend using 60% Japanese sweet rice flour, which is gluten-free and stickier than most. This will help make up for the “glue-factor” lost in the gluten. It’s easier to find at the grocery store than you might think!
3. Increase leavening agents
Leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda can help your gluten-free goods rise more. Simply increase the amount of either agent by 25% when converting a recipe.
4. Add gums to help with volume
For breads, cakes, and other baked goods that need volume, add half a teaspoon to one teaspoon of guar gum or xanthan gum for every cup of flour the recipe calls for.
5. Mix batter longer to provide structure
Normally, we are cautioned against over-mixing to avoid building up excess structure and rubbery baked goods. However, gluten-free batter can actually benefit from more mixing to make it less crumbly and activate rising ingredients.
7. Let batter rest
Before baking, let your batter sit for 30 minutes, covered. This will allow the the flour and starch with time to absorb the wet ingredients and soften before baking. This resting period also gives it time to thicken and rise.
8. Increase baking time
If you add extra liquids to compensate for the dry texture of your flour, make sure you add baking time to avoid gumminess. Many people insert a toothpick into baked goods to see if it comes out clean as an indication of doneness. We suggest adding up to 20 minutes of baking time after your toothpick check when baking goods with additional liquids.
9. Make smaller loaves of bread and cakes.
The crumbly nature of gluten-free baked goods lends itself better to small portions. Think mini muffins, cupcakes, and small loaves of bread!
The key to remember when you are new to gluten-free baking is that you’ll have to switch up a lot of your techniques and routine to accommodate for different ingredients and the way they react. Just remember that these new techniques will only make you a more well-versed baker!