Do you or a family member suffer from gluten sensitivity experiencing digestive upset or uncomfortable bloating? Or maybe you just don’t feel well after eating your favorite bakery treat. If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease and feel limited in your choices, here’s some good news: you don’t have to bid farewell to your favorites!
According to a study published in Jama International Medicine, “about 2.7 million Americans avoid gluten in their diet, but 1.76 million have celiac disease.”
And the numbers are increasing.
With a heightened demand for gluten-free flours and baking products, availability is much better, but not without its challenges. Here are my top five tips for newcomers to the delicious world of gluten-free baking. Yes, you can have your cake, cupcakes, and pancakes and eat them too.
1. Be open to a new way of baking
After multiple kitchen experiments, I quickly learned that simply swapping out 1 cup of white or whole grain flour for 1 cup of gluten-free flour is not the best approach. This method can result in dry, crumbly, dense, or just plain inedible, results. Gluten-free baking requires a different set of ingredients and the raw batters often look different than what you are used to seeing. For example, gluten-free bread dough often looks like a very thick batter rather than a dough you’re used to kneading with your hands.
2. Get to know your gluten-free ingredients
Stocking your pantry with new ingredients can be a challenge if you don’t know what you’re looking for. There is a whole world of nut flours, grains and grain-like seeds to choose from such as amaranth, buckwheat, millet, brown rice flour, sweet glutinous rice flour, almond flour, hazelnut flour, sorghum, corn flour, quinoa, white rice flour, tapioca flour and the list goes on. (For more information, here are 8 alternative flours for gluten-free baking.)
Feel the texture of the different flours between your fingers. Some are very fine and some have a course texture. Many commercially ground rice flours have a gritty texture. If this is not what you are looking for, then a superfine grind may be a better choice. When you smell the flour, you’ll notice some are subtle and others like buckwheat and quinoa have a more pronounced aroma and flavor. Each of these ingredients has distinctive characteristics and work differently when you are baking. Get to know these flours by experimenting on your own!
3. Choose a recipe that translates well to gluten-free
Smaller, quicker cooking baked goods like quick breads, muffins, pancakes, brownies and cookies tend to translate well from traditional recipes and result in a finished product that looks and tastes like what you are used to. Until you get more comfortable with gluten-free baking, choose recipes designed using gluten-free ingredients and follow it through exactly before making substitutions.
4. Set yourself up for success with a gluten-free baking mix
Not ready for mixing and blending? Take advantage of wide variety of gluten-free flour blends and baking mixes. Choose from a light-and-fluffy pancake mix, muffin mix, cookie mix or pizza crust.
5. Have fun!
Like anything in life, the more you practice, the better at it you’ll get—and so will your baked goods. And if you’re anything like me, be ready for some mistakes along the way including not-so-pretty looking muffins, dense pancakes and crumbly cookies.
Ready to put your gluten-free baking skills to the test? Check out our FREE gluten-free recipe e-book for more than a dozen recipes for cookies, muffins, pizza & more!