Do you fear that going gluten-free means giving up your favourite baked goods? These gluten free flours will help you make light and fluffy scones, moist banana bread, and chewy chocolate brownies!
Many people have said to me over the years that they have tried to bake gluten free, only to discover that the results were less than satisfactory. They ended up producing “rocks” or small round hard inedible offerings. Is this you? Are you new to this whole gluten-free thing? You may be one of many who is unsure how to substitute the wheat flour in your favourite recipe. This page is made for those who would love to bake gluten free yet have failed in their attempts.
Once you begin to think and cook gluten free, only then will gluten-free cooking become second nature. It is honestly no big deal. The key is to keep things simple, and the way to achieve this is to utilize basic gluten-free baking and pancake mixes in your recipes. You can purchase these from your local health-food store, and be sure to keep a few on hand so that you can create instant gluten-free flour blends for various recipes. A good gluten-free baking mix can even be used to thicken sauces and soups and you will find so many uses like in quiches, muffins and even delicious pancakes.
If you are looking for a more specialty mix, such as dairy and gluten-free as well as nut-free and sugar-free baking mix then I’d highly recommend that you pay a visit to a larger health food shop, preferably one which stocks a wide range of organic produce and health foods in general.
When substituting plain or high grade wheat flour in your old favourite recipes, I would recommend you try using a gluten-free self rising baking mix or pancake mix generally, you will be surprised just how good they turn out. The only glitch is that gluten-free flours often need a boost as far as the leavening is concerned, and xanthum gum is what you will find top be is the thing to use to give you the desired effect. A major advantage of using a gluten-free baking or pancake mixture in your gluten free recipes is that the correct amount of xanthan gum (which is required for the binding and texture) is already in the commercial mixes. You can read a lot more about xanthum gum on our web page entitled Gluten-Free Bread Recipe And Pizza Bases.
Always remember to read the labels on any gluten-free baking mix packets carefully, this is important if you want to avoid any additional problematic ingredients. Those of you with lactose intolerance, casein, soy, legume or nut allergies, please note that some gluten-free mixes may actually contain dairy, soy, bean flour, sugar or nuts and this is because these allergenic products may well be produced in the same factory, utilising the same machinery they use to pack foods containing potentially allergenic foods!
Corn is a wonderful grain and it is gluten-free. But did you know that not all starch is gluten-free? Make sure again that you read the label or check with the manufacturer.
Rolled oats are not strictly 100% gluten free, and oats are often sticky issue for those with celiac disease because widely available oats are problematic for a few reasons – they contain a small (the tiniest) amount of gluten, and oats as a crop is often cross contaminated with a wheat crop.
If you are fussy like me and want to avoid the cross-contamination but love oats, you will find that there are the smaller, independent organic farmers that are now growing and stone milling rolled oats which are virtually gluten-free (apart from the slightest trace). Oats contain such a tiny amount of gluten, I have really not found them to be a problem with my gluten-free patients, especially those who bake with whole and rolled oats.
The good news is that a few small, independent farmers in Australia and New Zealand are now growing and milling certified gluten-free oats, and if you ask you local organic health foods supplier, you will be able to track down a manufacturer and supplier of certified gluten-free oats, a company which mills gluten-free products in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Whole grain oats are high in fibre, protein and iron and are great news for those living gluten-free. Just be 100% sure the oats or oatmeal you are purchasing are “Certified Gluten-Free”.
If you have a very touchy digestive system, the high fibre in oats may take some getting used to for those with very sensitive tummies. My advice to those is to start nice and slow, like a half a cup of oatmeal twice in one week and see how you handle them. Gradually, you can add more into your weekly menu as your body grows used to the oats, and in addition to drink plenty of water. Taking a good probiotic will certainly help as well.
Keep on smiling, a great sense of humour is essential when you start out gluten free baking. Yes, you will make the inevitable hockey puck (biscuit) boat anchor (loaf of bread) and maybe even a 12 inch record (pancake), we have all been there and done that. I’ve thrown various failures into the compost and garbage after even the dog turned his nose up to my attempts at going gluten-free. If you are interested in mixing your own gluten-free flour mix from scratch, here is a basic guideline, but remember – it is a guideline which you will need to adapt to suit.
The flours which blend in best in smaller amounts are almond, buckwheat, coconut or quinoa as they are heavier and denser in general. Start with a third of a cup and do experiment to find the formula and texture you like best, it really is all about personal choice I find. Once you get used to mixing the flours and get used to the tastes and textures, you will be able to work out if you like more or less.