Gluten is the term used to describe protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Basically, it holds baked goods together.
Gluten cross-contamination occurs when ingredients are processed with the same milling equipment and stored in the same silos as wheat. Look for certified gluten-free labels if this is something you’re being conscious of.
Here are some gluten-free baking tips you can use.
1. You need both dry ingredient and liquid ingredient measuring cups for gluten-free baking. Dry measuring cups are filled level with the top. They are made from stainless steel and fit inside each other. Liquid ingredient cups have additional space above the full measure mark to avoid spillage. Be precise with your measurements. With other types of cooking (e.g. savoury) you can easily customize a recipe and add a little more. This is not true when it comes to baking, especially gluten-free baking. Alternative flours and liquids need to be measured accurately in order to work together. The ratio has to be precise.
2. Use culinary measuring spoons, not the kind you use to stir your tea or coffee. Accuracy is very important, especially when using alternative ingredients.
3 .Many gluten-free recipes ask for coconut oil. Melt your coconut oil before measuring for the best results. 25 seconds in your microwave or on top of your stove is enough.
4. Use parchment paper; it’s indispensable for lowering unnecessary fats.
5. Plastic squeeze bottles are great for drizzling any sauce over a cake or pie.
6. Some popular ingredients that are used for gluten-free baking are:
Gluten-free all purpose baking flour, cocnnut flour, arrowroot, xanthan gum and guar gum.
2 popular gluten-free flours to bake with are:
1. Garbanzo fava bean flour. This is a gluten-free flour mixture that allows your baked goods to rise well. It can have a strong flavour, so make sure your measurements are precise.
2. Brown rice flour. It’s made from finely ground un-hulled rice grains and has a dense, grainy texture.
For frostings, you can use coconut flour. It serves as a great thickener. Arrowroot is also a very good thickening agent that can be used instead of wheat flour. Xanthan and guar gum are thickening and binding ingredients necessary to hold gluten-free baked desserts together. They lend elasticity.
7. Not all baking powders are gluten free, so read your labels.
Widely-used additives that contain gluten include: caramel colour, MSG, starches, dextrin, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
Alternative flours are amaranth, arrowroot flour or starch, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, chickpea, potato, quinoa, almond, hazelnut, coconut, chia, flax, hemp, sorghum, soy, tapioca, teff, and white rice.
8. Alternative flours are expensive so you don’t want them to go to waste. Store unused portions in the refrigerator in airtight containers. Allow cold flour or starch to return to room temperature before using.
9. Baked products made with gluten-free flours have no preservatives and become stale rather quickly. They need to be wrapped well and stored in airtight containers or self-seal plastic bags. Freeze within 2 days if not eaten or they will lose flavour and moisture.
10. Thaw frozen baked goods at room temperature. Microwaving causes rubbery textures.
Gluten Free Flour Mixture
1 ¼ brown or white rice flour
¾ cup potato starch
½ cup arrowroot flour
½ cup chick pea (garbanzo) flour
Combine the rice flour, potato starch, arrowroot flour and garbanzo bean flour in a large bowl. Mix well until combined. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to use. Will keep for a maximum of 4 months in the fridge.
Nettie Cronish is a Natural Foods Chef, Culinary Instructor and Cookbook Author. She is a vegetarian and has 3 children who want to eat meat. Her latest cookbook, Everyday Flexitarian, is about cooking one meal 2 ways.