First Adventures in Gluten Free Baking

When we first began eating gluten-free we ended up eating healthier in general, as before we were eating more ready meals which tend to have additives and refined ingredients. We ate roasted vegetables and chicken instead of pasta Alfredo. I think the food I missed the most was bread. I would eat toast for breakfast and gluten-free bread, though it toasts well, tends to make a drier toast than I like.

I found myself missing baked goods in general, since alas by nature most of them are traditionally made with gluten. If I wanted something baked to eat, which wasn’t dry, tasteless, or full of crumbs, then I was going to have to bake it myself. Unfortunately, at first, what I baked wasn’t much better than what I could buy. I thought, erroneously, that I could just pick one flour and use that to replace the flour in my favourite recipes. What a mistake. Brown rice flour was too gritty, buckwheat flour had too strong a flavour, and sorghum flour, the best in general, still didn’t raise the way it was supposed to. My baked goods were flat, gritty, and if they weren’t dry already they dried out quickly. I turned to the Internet, to see if perhaps those who had gone this route before had some better ideas.

Most sites that I visited suggested using a flour blend. I can’t remember the first one I tried, but it had bean flours in it. Though my baked goods were raising beautifully now, I didn’t care for the taste of beans that many of my cakes were coming out with. More research! Everyone had their favourite flour blend that they swore by. I picked white rice flour, white sorghum flour, and potato starch. This worked better. The taste wasn’t bad, though I still found the texture a bit gritty and despite others saying they didn’t think the sorghum flour had a strong taste, I found myself tasting it more than I liked. Sometimes my cakes even tasted of potato. One site I read, and I can’t find it again :( , said they were surprised more people didn’t use cornflour (cornstarch) and sweet rice flour in their blends since they greatly improved the texture, taste, and crumb. I used the cornflour to replace the potato starch and the sweet rice flour to replace the white rice flour. One day, on a whim, I saw gluten-free oat flour and couldn’t resist, since I love oats and missed eating them. I replaced the sorghum flour with the gluten-free oat flour and this is the blend I currently use: 1/3rd gluten-free oat flour, 1/3rd cornflour (cornstarch), and 1/3rd sweet rice flour to replace the flour in the recipe. If you can’t tolerate oats, even gluten-free ones, then the sorghum flour is still good but I find the oat flour is sweeter and less gritty.

I haven’t tried amaranth or Teff flour, though I would like to. Neither have I tried almond meal, despite the claims that it adds so much to cakes especially. I tried millet once and didn’t care for it; I found the taste too strong. I suspect the same would be true for quinoa. I don’t care for tapioca, probably since my first taste of tapioca bread had a texture akin to Styrofoam. I’ve heard good things about coconut flour but the prospect of adding extra liquid is not appealing and I generally do not eat coconut. I still don’t mind experimenting, that’s part of the fun of baking after all, but at last I’ve found a blend that works for me in taste and texture.

I’m now able to bake just about anything that tastes as good as or better than the gluten-filled alternative. I never thought I’d be baking as much as I do now and I’d do more if we could manage to eat it all. Gluten-free baking, though it has its challenges, can be just as rewarding as gluten-filled. So, with spoon and bowl in hand, I’m ready for another baking adventure.


    2 Comments to “First Adventures in Gluten Free Baking”

  1. on 08 Dec 2007 at 9:29 am Sheltie Girl

    You might want to try out arrowroot to replace the cornstarch. It has more nutritional value than cornstarch and does almost the same thing…there are a few differences.

    Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

  2. on 08 Dec 2007 at 11:34 am Willa

    Thank you for the comment :) . I’ve heard of arrowroot but never tried baking with it myself. I’ll have to give it a go.

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