Tips for Gluten-Free Baking
For those coping with Celiac disease, wheat sensitivities, Autism spectrum disorders, autoimmune disease, and many other concerns, a gluten-free diet can offer incredible benefits. If you have taken the plunge and adopted a lifestyle without wheat, you have likely noticed that baking is a completely different challenge.
Foregoing wheat, however, doesn't mean you have to give up on all of the delicious sweet treats your family loves. Making delectable gluten-free treats is possible as long as you know the tricks. Use these tips to prove to yourself and your family that baked treats can be gluten-free without being indulgence-free.
• Try combining several different gluten-free flours to create custom baking mixes for maximum flavor and nutritional content
• Unlike wheat dough, long beating times is essential to preventing tough, overly elastic dough. Gluten-free dough requires extra beating and kneading to provide the ideal aeration for a soft, light dough.
• Remember that gluten-free dough is wetter and stickier than traditional wheat dough. Make sure your hands are well-oiled when handling the dough to make it more manageable.
• Conventional recipes using cake flour are easily adaptable to gluten-free flours because cake flour contains lower amounts of gluten. This makes it easier to balance the texture of the finished baked good.
• With a few exceptions such as white rice flour, keep gluten-free flours in the refrigerator to prevent rancidity caused by the higher fat content of the flour.
• Experiment with different flours to find your favorite flavors so you can create your own mixes for cookies, brownies, cakes, breads, and more. Store these mixes in labeled containers so you can use them whenever the urge to bake strikes.
• When adapting recipes you already know, make sure to increase the amount of leavening to keep your finished products from being too dense and heavy. A good rule of thumb is to increase the amount by 25%.
• If you desire a fluffier texture in your gluten-free goods, add some starch to the recipe. This provides extra structure within the mix that supports the air bubbles for that airy, soft texture you expect in baked goods made with regular all-purpose flour.
• If you have difficulty with your finished goods crumbling or falling apart, try adding some agar agar or xantham gum to the recipe. These gums solidify liquids, which provides additional structure, essentially acting as a binder.
• Experiment with creating your own flours using dehydrated beans, almonds, garbanzo beans, amaranth, and more. Making your own flour allows you to adjust the coarseness to fit with the recipe you want to use.
• Gluten-free baked goods are often dry. Try using brown sugar instead of white or replacing the sugar with agave syrup, honey, or rice malt syrup for added moisture and flavor. For moisture that doesn't impact the flavor, add an extra egg
Mastering gluten-free baking is a matter of trial-and-error. Enjoy the experimentation and get creative with your recipes as you try to find the perfect balance of ingredients to make your delectable breads, pizza crusts, and sweet treats. If you happen to create something that doesn't stand up to your expectations, find a way to incorporate it into a new recipe, such as transforming too-dry bread into breadcrumbs to top a casserole or make oven-fried chicken.
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