5 Gluten-Free Baking Tips From a Celebrated Chef
1. You Don't Have to Blend a Bunch of Different Flours
And you don’t have to settle for the mushy, gritty, or starchy results that are often associated with the words “gluten free.”A single flavorful flour — such as oat, corn, buckwheat, teff, sorghum, or chestnut — can be the starring ingredient and main flavor in dozens of brand new desserts; none of which will taste like health food, punishment, or a poor substitute for what you really want. Regardless of whether or not you eat wheat, these flours are new and delicious ingredients that belong in every curious baker’s pantry.
2. Start Off Simply
The easiest way to get acquainted with the flavor and texture of a new flour is to simply makeyour favorite pancake or waffle recipe! Use a new flour instead of the all-purpose flour you would normally use. Some of the most delicious flours to start with are oat flour, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, or corn flour. Adjust the consistency of the batter by adding a bit more liquid if it is too thick, or a bit more flour if too thin. You can even whisk the ingredients together vigorously. There is no need to stir gently or briefly because there is no gluten in the flour that would toughen the pancakes. If your family is adamant about white pancakes or wary of new flavors, start with white rice flour — it’s the most neutral of all. Arguably it is also the least interesting and has fewest nutrients, but if your family is wary of change, white rice is a good start! Brown rice flour is still quite pale in color, but has a much more interesting, delicate, almost caramel flavor.
3. 'Binders' Aren't Always Necessary
Baking with non-wheat flours does not necessarily require using unfamiliar binder ingredients such as xanthan, guar gum, psyillium powder, or strongly flavored flaxseeds. Nor do you have to use ingredients that have flavors that you don’t like. You can start with flavors that you already know and love. Take corn, for example: Most of us love popcorn, cornbread, and corn on the cob. Now imagine a light, fluffy, delicate and flavorful chiffon cake (plain or with a lemony glaze), or a buttery crunchy tart crust, or topping for a fruit crisp — all with the sweet flavor of corn. If you love oatmeal cookies, you are likely to love oat-flour sables (shortbread cookies) or a soft and tender oat-flour sponge cake with strawberries and cream. If you don’t care for the assertive flavor of buckwheat, you don’t have to use it — but you can take a chance and find out that buckwheat has some unexpected and delicate flavors when you use it to make a sponge cake, sour cream soufflé, or linzer cookie. Regrettably, some flours don’t sound nearly as good as they taste. Brown rice flour might sound like health food, so you wouldn't know — that is, until you taste it: What a flavorful and tender cake it can make!
4. Baking With New Flours Doesn't Have to Be Hard
In fact, it can be easier than baking with wheat. Baking with non-wheat flours (sans gluten) usually requires fewer, less fussy, steps than traditional wheat-based baking! That's because old-fashioned baking techniques often involve finicky mixing steps designed to work with (or around) the gluten in wheat flour (either by kneading it for chewy delicious breads or out-foxing it to prevent hard cookies and cakes). Hello new flours, goodbye fussy mixing steps!
5. Always Follow the Recipe
Baking with non-wheat flours is not intuitive, even for a seasoned baker. Different flours have different characteristics and perform differently from one another. For this reason it’s best to follow a good recipe, exactly as written, the first time you make a certain item. Don't make substitutions or changes, regardless of how harmless they may seem. Accurate flour measurements get the best results. Use a scale for any recipes that give measurements in weights, especially if the author makes point of having weighed ingredients while developing the recipes.
Alice Medrich has been honored with two James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year Awards and the 2011 IACP Best Baking Book Award for Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. She received her formal training at the prestigious École Lenôtre in France and is widely credited with introducing the chocolate truffle to America. Medrich shares her latest culinary breakthrough in her 10th book, . Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Video: Gluten Free Chocolate Cake & Fudge Frosting Recipe | Moist Gluten Free Baking - Birthday Celebration
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