Baking Tips for Gluten-Free Goodies

Elizabeth Marglin

by | Updated: December 4th, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

Getting on the gluten-free train requires commitment, motivation and a fair degree of mastery—especially when you’re trying to make indulgent baked goods in your own kitchen. But with a few tips, a willingness to make mistakes and a good sense of humor, you can create gluten-free treats that may actually be mistaken for store-bought fare.

Baker, beware: there is truth in the trepidation. Making muffins, cookies or even pancakes without gluten can be challenging, because gluten contributes important properties to baked goods. One of the biggest pointers is to incorporate a wide variety of gluten-free flours, starches and baking aids to compensate for the absence of gluten.

Gluten-Free Baking Tips

Each gluten-free flour has its own personality. Gluten-free grain flours include amaranth, teff, quinoa, brown rice, white rice and certified gluten-free oat flour. Nut flours, such as almond, hazelnut and peanut flour, are packed with protein and especially good in cookies. Other “safe” flours include coconut, chickpea and soy flour. Experiment with different combinations and ratios to discover which ones give you the best taste and texture for your creations. Here are some more key tips to get you started:

Boost nutrition

You can also buy many pre-made gluten-free, all-purpose flour blends that have already done all the work of finding the best ratios.

  • Combine a variety of gluten-free flours to enhance nutrition.
  • Use whole grain or enriched, gluten-free flours.
  • You can also substitute up to 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds plus 1/4 cup water for 1/4 cup flour in a recipe. Note: flax absorbs more moisture.

Maximize moistness

Gluten-free baking can often be dry, so it’s important to add moisture.

  • Add gelatin, extra egg, butter or oil to the recipe.
  • Honey or brown rice syrup can help retain moisture.
  • Brown sugar often works better than white.
  • Add fruits, such as pears, applesauce or canned pumpkin.
  • Dough enhancers improve tenderness and help prevent your goodies from becoming stale too fast.

Pump up the flavor

  • Try doubling or even tripling the spices or vanilla in a recipe.
  • Upgrade the recipe by adding sweet or salty mix-ins, such as chocolate chips, dried fruit or raw nuts.

Keep it light

  • To add lightness, increase the baking powder and/or baking soda in the recipe by 25 percent.
  • Sift flours and starches prior to measuring. Combine and sift again after measuring to improve the texture of your baked good.
  • Keep gluten-free dough in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour (up to overnight) to soften and improve the final texture of the product.

Slow cooking

Baked goods that are gluten free tend to brown faster on the outside, and cook slower on the inside. Lowering the baking temperature by 25 degrees and extending the cooking time by a third is a good rule of thumb, but of course you need to keep a watchful eye.

  • Bake in smaller-than-usual portions, such as small loaf pans instead of standard size; use mini-muffins or English muffin tins instead of large muffin tins.

Remember that gluten-free baking is a trial-and-error process. Keep at it—and keep your sense of humor, too! When life does give you a not-so-great loaf of gluten-free bread, you can always turn it into breadcrumbs. Baked sweet “mistakes” can be crumble toppings or eaten as cereal.