Gluten-Free Baking Tips

by Maggie on February 17, 2010

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It seems more and more people are adopting a gluten-free lifestyle these days.

When we began eating gluten-free and baking gluten-free, I didn’t have any blogs to help me through it.

I immediately bought two of Bette Hagman’s books and tried a few of the recipes.  But for some reason I just didn’t like having 3 or 4 gluten-free flour mixes in my house.  I wanted something easier.  I wanted to be able to open a cookbook and bake anything immediately!  So for years I did this by simply using a couple of different gluten-free flours and gluten-free oats.  It worked just fine.

Over the years though, I have learned a lot!  And I am still learning so much.  It’s incredible and I love it.

I thought these tips might help my readers, and I thought we might be able to help each other.  Please leave a comment.  Tell us about something that you have learned in your gluten-free escapades!  Or ask a question and I’ll turn it into a tip if I have a good answer for you!

This is a list that will grow and evolve, much like my Pantry Essentials list .

1.  Add Extra Flour: Always be prepared to add extra flour to your batter, especially if you’re converting a gluten recipe to gluten-free.  Sometimes your batter will be too runny (say, if you’re making pizza dough or cookies) and you’ll need to bulk it up a bit.  I do this with flour or oats, depending of course on what I am baking.

2.  Xanthan Gum & Guar Gum: Use xanthum gum or guar gum in pretty much every recipe you make.  You can use Guar Gum almost 1:1 for Xanthan.  Test it out for a few recipes and then come up with a ratio that works best for you.  Guar Gum is better for you so I recommend giving it a try.  It’s also cheaper than Xanthan Gum.  I usually make my first attempt at a new recipe with Xanthan and then I try it with Guar Gum.  So far so good!  When converting a recipe from gluten to gluten-free, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of your preferred gum and then judge it from there.  The gums replace gluten so they’re pretty important.

3.  Chia Seed & Flax Seed: Chia seed and Flax seed combined with liquid can be used as binders (chia forms a firm gel, flax forms a softer gel).  Use less (or none) xanthum if you’re planning on using chia or flax as binders.  Too much binding going on.

4.  Sugar: Please don’t ever use white sugar again!  Go with cane sugar first if you’re transitioning away from white!  I’ve never had a problem replacing white sugar with cane.  If you’re using a liquid sweetener (like maple syrup or agave) make sure you add less liquid somewhere else.

5.  Replacing Eggs: I use ground flax and water to replace eggs (2 & 1/2 tablespoons of ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water) and this has worked in all of the recipes I’ve tried it in.  I have used egg replacer with success too.  I just don’t like to add more ‘white stuff’ to my baking so I always try the flax mixture first.  I also use 3 tablespoons of applesauce to replace one egg – usually in something sweet that doesn’t need to rise too much.

6.  Replacing Dairy: This is pretty easy, just use your preferred milk and replace it 1:1.  I find soy milk works best for most recipes, and luckily we’re all able to handle soy in moderation. You can even make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to your preferred milk.  All of our milks are the unsweetened kind – I don’t know why on earth they think almond, rice, soy, etc… milk needs to be sweetened!  Like we need more sugar in our diets.  Always buy the unsweetened kind.

7.  Replacing Butter  – When replacing butter with oil (i.e. coconut oil) always use a little less oil.   Butter tends to evaporate in the oven. Oil doesn’t evaporate so when you use it try something like 3 Tbsp to every 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) of butter.

8.  Buy a Cake Tester: This will become one of your most used tools!  A knife works fine too of course.  Gluten-free goodies can be gummy so you really need to make sure you test them before pulling them out of the oven (especially the bread).

9.  Batter & Dough: Don’t expect your gluten-free batters and dough to look like gluten batters and dough!  It won’t!  Possibly ever!  And don’t expect it to taste the same either.  The days of eating cookie dough out of the bowl might be over – unless you find that perfect flour combination (and Babycakes cookies are pretty darn close).  I used to make gluten-filled cookies just to eat the cookie dough (I know you’ve done it too).  I LOVE cookie dough!

10.  Try to Avoid Packaged Goods: Try to find time to bake gluten-free goodies yourself.  I find that most of the packaged cookies and other baked goods are full of things that aren’t very good for us.  It doesn’t take long to make a batch of muffins or cookies.  Just plan it out.  I always take all of my ingredients out ahead of time (sometimes the night before) so everything is within reach – it’s much faster this way.

11.  Don’t Get Discouraged: Mistakes happen!  And sometimes out of a mistake, something really yummy is born!  Regardless, there’s always something to learn from failure (sorry I’ll stop; this one sounds like the beginnings of a motivational speech…).

Now it’s your turn!  What can you add to my list?  Any questions?

P.S. One of my readers inspired this post!  Thanks for the question, and thus the post!


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Aubree Cherie February 18, 2010 at 8:08 am

Thank you SO MUCH for this post! I’ve struggled with a lot of these elements and you’ve hit some solutions right on the head. I’ve picked up tips and methods from my flops and other blogger recipes, but to have a list of different tips is great. Thanks so much for taking the time to post this. Love it!

~Aubree Cherie

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Danielle February 19, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I agree with you Ms Cake on almost everything in life…however: I disagree with your point that we should not buy sweetened milk. Vanilla soy milk in my coffee gets me out of bed in the morning, it’s such a creamy yummy sweet treat! Come on, surely you can see that being a benefit a vegan with a sweet tooth? Especially when “milks” in general make me gag….

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Shannon February 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Thank you so much for this!!!

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Maggie February 20, 2010 at 4:46 pm

You’re welcome Shannon! Your questions were my push to get this post out! So thank you too!

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Jyothi October 13, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Thank you very much for these tips.My son is also having several food allergies,and your tips are very helpful for me.

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Dina July 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Hi – I just finished making a flour base that consisted of 4 cups garbanzo-fava bean flour, 4 cups sorghum, 2 cups potato starch and 1 1/3 cups of tapioca starch. I used this base to make some cookies and the batter was very runny. The cookies stuck to the pan and broke into pieces. It was a nightmare. I’m very new to baking gluten free and I am at a loss of what to do. I’m not sure if its the base or something else I did wrong. Any suggestions would be helpful.

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