Gluten free baking

While making scones recently with my gluten free pudding flour, I realised that I am finally getting a grasp on some of the differences between baking with wheat, and baking without wheat.

  1. Know your flour. Each gluten free flour blend is slightly different, especially if you make your own. You will need to experiment several times with each blend to grasp it characteristics.
  2. Liquid. Be prepared to add up to twice as much liquid as you would do with wheat flour.
  3. Cooking time. Because of the extra liquid, you may need to add cooking time. This will have to be an experimental approach. Any small children (or teenagers) in your family are usually happy to help dispose of the failures!
  4. Leavening. You may need more leavening as there is no gluten structure to help lift the dough, and the binding agents (such as xanthan gum) have different characteristics to gluten.
  5. Thrash the dough. No, seriously. Wheat baking has taught you to just mix till it comes together: gluten free baking needs the dough to be thoroughly thrashed otherwise the complex mix of starches, flours, and gums may not come together and thus fail to rise, or you may end up with an oddly “gritty” texture.
  6. Resting time. I have no anecdata to back this, but it seems to depend on what you are making whether or not you need to rest the dough after soundly thrashing it. My gut feeling is that no resting time is needed except for pie dough, but my GF pie dough experiments have not filled me with confidence.
  7. Texture. I have discovered that the flour mix frequently results in a much more delicate, airy texture in quick breads and bakes and has resulted in a change in preference decisively towards the gluten free flour blend.

 

The key takeaway from my experiments is that flexibility is needed. You may wish to enlist experimental test subjects willing participants in your tests. Small children and colleagues are usually happy to help you in this endeavour!

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2 Responses to “Gluten free baking”

  1. 1

    Stuart, I’ve had great fun experimenting with GF flours and developing GF recipes for friends who went off gluten. I definitely prefer making my own blends for different things. And they always require more liquid, as you mentioned. Happy baking!

  2. 2

    I have your Garibaldi Biscuits recipe open. Going to work on making a GF version of that – thanks for the recipe!


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