Gluten-free baking is now easier than ever. Many companies have begun producing gluten-free pre-mixed baking flours that are readily available on the market. It’s important to remember and accept that gluten-free baking items will most likely be different in taste and texture than what you are used to. You may find that you like this new taste and texture even better than the conventional baking item. Once your palate gets used to a gluten-free diet, taste and texture of gluten-free baked goods will seem “normal.”
Converting favorite recipes to a gluten-free version is not always just a matter of switching conventional flours to gluten-free flours. The ingredients will act differently in terms of texture and flavor. Batter texture will differ from conventional batter, usually being thinner in consistency. Remember that you’re adjusting a major ingredient in the recipe (flour) so manage your expectations. You’ll eventually get used to baking with gluten-free ingredients as you learn what to expect.
If you choose to not use a commercial gluten-free baking mix, you can mix one on your own. Gluten-free baking mixes are usually comprised of more than one type of flour to get the best baking results. It’s recommended that, like professional bakers, measuring of flour is done by weight and ratios rather than cups and spoonfuls.
Understanding how ratios work in recipes, baking and cooking will help you substitute workable ingredients and amounts. A great chart that is helpful in gluten-free baking is by Michael Ruhlman (http://ruhlman.com/the-ratio-chart/). The chart would be helpful when you’re adapting a conventional recipe to gluten-free. The chart is also helpful in gaining an understanding of how to bake by weight and ratio, in general.
For the most part, basic baking and cooking, such as pancakes, quick breads, and muffins are easily adapted to gluten-free baking by switching the regular flour for a gluten-free variety. However, yeast-based baking will require that you add a binder and thickener to ensure that it bakes properly. Flours have different properties and qualities to them that will impact how they will work in a recipe. For example, coconut flour tends to hold liquids; therefore, you’ll need to add extra liquid so your final result doesn’t bake into a dry mess.
Trying different combinations of flours and mixes is the best way to see what will work well for your particular recipe. Try the conventional flour swap for gluten-free and see if that works. If not, try making your own mix using various gluten-free flours. Popular choices are rice flour, oat flour, millet flour, potato starch and sorghum flour. Using a combination of flours will yield a better result. Make sure you store your flours and mixes in a cool, dry place, such as your refrigerator or freezer.
Learning to bake gluten-free requires a little patience as you try various mixes and flours. Make sure and notate what works for you so you can replicate it again the next time you bake!