Before getting started, a few things to watch out for:
- A mixture of gluten-free flours tends to work better than one single type of flour because each has its own properties—flavour, texture, water-solubility, etc.—so a blend of them gives a better substitute for wheat flour. Most blends contain a combination of flours and starches.
- There are several pre-mixed gluten-free flour mixes available on the market but if you would rather make your own blend, you can find a recipe for a standard gluten-free flour blend by clicking on the following link for the Living Without website.
- The flours and starches required for gluten-free baking can be found in most health food stores and some grocery stores. Asian markets are also a good (and often less expensive) source for some of the flours and starches.
- Look for gluten-free products in specialty aisles of your regular grocery store, at natural foods stores or from producers. It’s best to make your own baked goods, when it’s feasible, so that you can control the quality and amount of fat, sweetener, grains, etc.
- Any whole grain can be ground to fresh flour using an electric coffee bean grinder. To prevent rancidity, always store whole grains and flours in the refrigerator or freezer.
- It’s important to mix the dry ingredients thoroughly but not to over mix when combining the flours with the wet ingredients in a recipe because this can destroy the delicate air bubbles in the mixture and will result in a heavier product.
- Gluten-free flours are easiest to use in baked goods that don’t need to rise, like pancakes, waffles, cookies, and flat breads.
- Certain bean flours, particularly garfava and chickpea, as they impart an aftertaste that some people find unpleasant. Offset the taste by using less than 30 percent in a flour blend in recipes that contain brown sugar, molasses, chocolate or spices. Bean flours are not well suited to delicately flavored goods, like sugar cookies and biscotti.
- If you’re new to gluten-free baking, start with recipes that have only small amounts of flour, like pancakes, and substitute the gluten-free flour mixture of your choice.
- Environmental factors can affect your baked goods. Things like the temperature and humidity of ingredients as well as the temperature and humidity in your kitchen can have an effect on the various flours. Elevation can also play a role. The recipes posted on this blog are tested at sea level in a coastal city that has fairly mild temperatures year round.
- When it comes to Gluten Free baking, you should trust your intuition. Add the liquids to dry ingredients slowly, if the dough or batter appears too thin or moist, don’t add all the liquid. As for oven temperatures and cooking times, I know that my oven cooks at a temperature that is a few degrees lower than set. Therefore, I tend to set my baking temperatures a bit higher. Also, if you are at a higher altitude, you may have to increase your baking time by a couple of minutes per 1000 feet.
While visiting my parents in the interior of the province, I had some first hand experience with the afore-mentioned environmental factors. I live at sea level in a coastal city that has fairly mild temperatures, my parents live at about 2000 ft above sea level in a fairly hot, arid part of the province. While I was at their place, the dough in almost every one of my baking projects turned out be too soft and a loaf of bread that would take only 40 minutes to cook at sea level, cooked for over an hour and still came out doughy. My cookies that always turned out so beautifully at home in the Fox Kitchen, ran like a puddle all over the pan and melded into one big thin cookie at my parent’s place.
My flops never go to waste though, I froze slices of the bread and the big cookie puddle for use in some unknown future baking projects. The bread flops (yes, that is plural…sigh), eventually turned into lovely gluten free bread crumbs that keep in a zip-lock bag in the freezer until I need them and the giant cookie that happened at my parents place, well, it resulted in some delicious cookie crumbs that formed a gluten free base for some cheesecake squares.