Traditional baking depends on wheat gluten for flavor and consistency. So how can you make a gluten-free version of these foods without sacrificing quality?
While some wheat-based recipes cannot be precisely duplicated, most of the time you will be able to come up with a gluten-free alternative that is just as satisfying and delicious as its glutenous counterpart.
These 11 tips and tricks will help you coax the best results out of your gluten-free baking adventures.
- Thoroughly beat your eggs.
Eggs are essential for your gluten-free baked goods because they bring a structure into the mix that can maintain moisture and encourage lift. To get the maximum effect, add some air to your eggs before combining them with your batter by beating them thoroughly.
- Add baking powder.
When substituting a non-gluten flour mix for the traditional flour, it’s important to add ingredients that help your baked goods rise. Baking powder is an excellent leavener that will bring your baking to new heights. Add about 8 grams, or 2 teaspoons, of baking powder per cup of your gluten-free flour mixture.
Most baking powders are made with corn and are, therefore, gluten-free. However, you might occasionally find one made with wheat starch. Be sure to read the label.
- Add gums.
Most gluten-free recipes will include xanthan gum or guar gum. These ingredients mimic the behavior of gluten by creating a chewier texture. Start with about 2 grams of guar gum or 4 grams of xanthan gum per cup of flour for sweet products like cookies and cake. You can use nearly twice as much when baking bread.
Be careful of using too much, however, because it can cause the result to be too gummy.
- Add bubbles.
Using carbonated water instead of regular water in just about any gluten-free baking recipe is an excellent trick that will immediately improve your finished product. That is because those lovely air bubbles provide lift and structure to your creation.
- Add protein with eggs.
When converting a traditional recipe into one that is gluten-free, substitute some of the water with beaten eggs. That will give your recipe extra protein, which helps hold moisture and will create a more pleasing texture.
- Bring ingredients to room temperature.
Even in traditional baking, it’s helpful to start with ingredients that are not too hot or too cold. That is especially important in gluten-free baking where the fragile chemistry involved can increase the risk of mishap. Just take your ingredients out of the refrigerator or freezer and let them come to room temperature before using them.
- Weigh your ingredients.
Baking can be entirely scientific, and your ingredient ratios matter even more when baking without gluten. Unfortunately, measuring cups can let you down because flour and other dry ingredients may compress. The best way to be sure you are using the proper amount is to weigh it on a kitchen scale.
- Proof your yeast.
Getting gluten-free dough to rise correctly can be tricky, and the yeast is often the problem. Make sure your yeast is doing its job by proofing it before you add it to your recipe. You can do this by heating the water or milk in your recipe to about 110 degrees. Add the yeast and about a teaspoon of sugar. After about five minutes, you should have a bubbly mixture that smells like baking bread. If that’s the case, your yeast is good and ready to add to the recipe with the liquid.
- Use parchment paper.
Gluten-free dough is sticky. Because it can be challenging to work with, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration if you bake on parchment paper.
- Rise only once.
You can easily ruin gluten-free dough by punching it down after it has risen. Shape your dough before it rises, and let it rise once in a warm place. Resist the urge to mess with it again after that.
- Cool on a wire rack.
Gluten-free products need to cool quickly and evenly to avoid developing a gummy texture, so don’t let your precious creation cool in the pan. Instead, transfer it to a wire rack where it will get maximum airflow.
Baking without gluten can be a challenge, but there are many ways of improving your chances of an excellent result. Use these 11 tips when you are baking gluten-free bread and treats, and you will find yourself successfully creating baked goods that everyone will enjoy.