Gluten-Free Baking Tips

Wondering how to make your gluten-free baked goods turn out well? Baking with Gluten-Free Flours can be tough. These 9 Gluten Free Baking Tips make it easier for your gluten-free baking to turn out right!

Whether you have celiac disease, or are off gluten for other health reasons (like a sensitivity, an autoimmune disease, or for healing from autism), you’ve likely figured out that baking with gluten-free flours can be a bit of a challenge.

From figuring out what flours to use, to wondering about gums, leavening and starches, gluten-free baking does require some know-how.

Today I’m sharing some of the most helpful tips I’ve found for baking gluten-free.

My family went gluten-free about 5 years ago when my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger’s is a form of autism and there’s a lot of evidence that a gluten and casein-free diet can help and even heal those with autism.

We didn’t notice an immediate healing, but we did notice improvement in our son’s symptoms upon removing gluten from his diet.  (He had been casein-free since infancy due to a life-threatening allergy to dairy.)

Going gluten free was a big deal for me.

I was a whole grain baking “maven”, with a whole wheat bread in my repertoire that a baker’s daughter told me I could easily sell.

We loved it.  And loved wheat, kamut, and spelt.  A lot.

But you can still make tasty whole grain gluten-free treats for yourself and your family.

These tips can help you do that with a little more ease.

gluten free cookies

Gluten Free Baking Tips 

1.  Increase Leavening Agents

When adapting a recipe to make it gluten free, increase the amount of baking powder and baking soda by 25%.  (The quick way to do that on your calculator is to take the amount called for and multiply it by 1.25.)

2.  Smaller is better! 

Since gluten-free baked goods tend to crumble easily, making all baked good smaller tends to improve their quality and keep them “sticking together” more.   Think mini cookies, mini muffins, and small loaves of bread.

3.  Blend Different Flours Together

Just as with alternative sweeteners, it is best to use more than one flour when making gluten-free baked goods.  It helps prevent just one flavor or texture from dominating the final product and also helps with texture.  I tend to use about 1/2 sweet brown rice and then make up the rest with whatever flours I have on hand (typically that’s buckwheat, brown rice, amaranth, and millet.)

4.  Add Starch to the Mix

This is one tip I share with hesitancy.  I personally almost never use starches in my baking since we deal with digestive issues (including gut dysbiosis, which is just too much bad bacteria and not enough good.)

Anyway, most gluten free baking “connoisseurs” recommending using a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of starch to whole grain when baking to give the baked goods a fluffy texture reminiscent of baking with all purpose flour.

For me, our intestinal health is more important than having the perfect baked good around so I prefer to bake only using whole grains.

The only exception is when I am baking cupcakes or cakes, particularly when making them for others and the “sagging in the middle” thing is a concern.  Then I will go “light” on the starch and maybe use a 1:3 ratio of whole grain to starch.

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5.  Some Sticky Help

Gluten is the part of wheat that gives it its “stickiness”.  So when you bake gluten free, by definition, you are going to have a “less sticky” final result.

There are some things you can do to make up for some of that, however.

– Use sweet rice (glutinous) flour as part of your baking mix.

I use brown sweet rice flour for about half of my gluten-free baking mix, with the rest being a mix of whatever I have on hand.  Sweet rice is called glutinous rice (it’s the kind used in Japan) and it doesn’t have gluten but is a little “sticky.”

There’s been quite a bit of information in the news recently about arsenic in brown rice.  For now, we’re not switching off rice or to white rice (because of digestive concerns.)  We are also buying California rice, which is less of a concern than rice from the southern part of the U.S.  I plan to write more about this in the future, but for now, you can check out this link.

–  Add gums (like guar and xanthan), gelatin, or agar-agar to your dough.

I tend not to use the gums as they can cause digestive upset.  There’s even a new study apparently linking infant deaths to xanthan gum.  I haven’t looked into this enough yet to know what I think.

However, I really like using gelatin for its health qualities, and I recommend Great Lakes Brand.

Here is a general usage guide for these ingredients:

  • Breads and pizza doughs: Add 1 tsp of gum, gelatin, or agar-agar per cup of GF flour used
  • Cakes, muffins, quick breads, cookies and bars: Add 1/2 teaspoon gum, gelatin, or agar-agar per cup of gluten-free flour used (source)

6.  Gluten-Free Flour List

Safe whole grains for gluten-free baking include brown rice flour, sorghum flour, millet flour, amaranth flour, and teff flour (a fairly high-protein grain).  The grain-seeds, buckwheat and quinoa, have a higher protein value.

White rice flour is safe but I prefer not to use it due to our being a whole grain family.

Bean Flours can be used, but I highly recommend using de-gassed beans and then dehydrating and grinding your own–or you might not be (ahem) happy with the results.

Oat flour can be used, but there are a lot of cautions regarding oats.  Some gluten-free folks can’t tolerate oats.  Others are fine with gluten-free varieties like Bob’s Red Mill.  The oats from our co-op were testing at “gluten-free” levels for years despite their not being certified.

For an extensive list of gluten free flours and their characteristics, check out this post at Whole Intentions.

7.  Don’t waste your “mistakes”

There is a use for botched kitchen experiments.

You can use savory baked good mistakes for breadcrumbs (just put in a food processor, run it for a bit and store the crumbs in the freezer), and sweet baked mistakes can be crumble toppings.  Both can be used for cereals.  Just top with milk or Homemade Coconut Milk or Almond Milk and enjoy!

8.  Lower Baking Temperature
I haven’t used this tip much, but perhaps I should.  A reader shared that GF baked goods tend to brown more easily so lowering the oven temperature by 25 degrees is a good idea.

9.  Put Perfectionism to Rest

I gave up trying to be the perfect gluten-free baker a long time ago.  Well, I still feel bad sometimes about my failings, but for the most part I’ve accepted that I am aiming for health–not perfect replication of fake-food goodies.

Case in point:

The other day, I made gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.  Not sure what went wrong with these.  They were kind of gritty (I’m now wondering if my Blendtec didn’t really get the flour so fine after all :-(.) and they fell completely apart after baking.

The ones I let cool longer in the pan held together better, but still–we’re talking crumb city.

Anyway, I’d made them for a charity dinner function we were going to so the “men” in my family ate them up regardless of the fact that they were crumbs (I was a little embarrassed as they ate crumbs at our table.  It was a casual event–but still :-).)

The Homemade “Almond Joy” Bars I made the next day are disappearing faster than the “crumble cookies” but they’ll be eaten at some point.

They weren’t the greatest, but that’s OK ;-).

Ready to use your new Gluten-Free Baking Techniques to make some Gluten-Free Goodies?  How about trying:

Recipes Featured in the Top Photo:

Easy Drop Biscuits
Chocolate Chip “Cheesecake”-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Soft Pumpkin Cookies

 

Other Great Gluten-Free Recipes:

 

Buckwheat Wraps / Pancakes
–  Baked Oatmeal Cake (Two Ways)
Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts
Focaccia Flax Bread 

Do you have any gluten free baking tips to share?

This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclaimer.

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.

Comments

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  1. Hi, I recently bought a bag of almond flour, which is very delicious! I thought it said can be used 1:1 in recipes to replace all purpose flour. I haven’t tried to do this yet. I don’t see almond flour in your post, I’m wondering if you have any experience with it? It sounds easier to me, but perhaps I’ve misunderstood. Thank you!

    • You can do that but you might find you need to cook a little longer at a lower temperature b/c it burns easily. You also might need more egg and a little more raising agent like I mentioned in the post. It may or may not work but worth a try!! Let me know how it turns out if you have time!

  2. Hi,
    We have been doing a gluten-free casein free diet for our son (22 years old with UC) for the last 3 years. I was interested in your blog because of all your wonderful tips and especially because of the essential oils. Reading the ingredients that you use in this post makes me want to let you know that you are in the wrong diet. Please check the “specific carbohydrate diet” or the “GAPS diet.” These diets will give you the real results you want. We have used the specific carbohydrate diet, which has been the only way that put our son in remission and took him totally off from all medication since 2.5 years ago. There is a yahoo group with a wonderful support for parents like you and me! This diet works for many autoimmune diseases and it has the connection with autism, in fact, the GAPS (gut and psychology syndrome from doctor Natasha Campbell-McBride) is especially formulated for autism and was born from this diet (SCD diet). The principals of this diet is to eliminate sugars, starches and yeast, which includes rice, potatoes, wheat, sugars (we use Honey), guar gums, baking powder (we use baking soda), etc.
    Oat is gluten, so oat flour is not a healthy ingredient for your son. If you want to help your son and make him be a total normal child, please check the pecanbread.com or bctv.com.
    I am just a mother of an single child with an autoimmune disease that is being reversed and understand the suffering from a mother who is trying to help their child.
    hope this helps and good luck

    • Hi Silvia. Thanks for commenting. I have looked at SCD as well as GAPS and we have actually tried going grain free with him for quite awhile w/ almost no changes noticed at all. Our son doesn’t tolerate honey well – his candida doesn’t do well with it. We actually haven’t had oats in almost a year I would suspect and he is eating almost no starches quite frequently. The problem w/ GAPS is plenty for him as he can’t have dairy or eggs, but we are considering our next steps. We just started w/ a new practitioner who specializes in detox, methylation and more and are starting a new supplement this week to see how it goes. Thanks for your suggestions, though, and I am for sure not ruling them out. Have you heard of folks who don’t get healed on these diets? I have heard of some – I guess that means that something else is going on that hasn’t been determined as of yet. It sure is tough.

      Take care.

  3. Karen Gianni says:

    So many recipes are GF now. My family is not GF. How do I convert those great recipes to regular flour, etc? Thank you.

  4. Dina Desimone says:

    Hi! I’ve been playing around with gf white cake recipes for an upcoming family party. I’ve found a recipe that is fantastic and I found that just swapping out the reg flour for gf flour worked best but I also added a tsp of lemon extract and actually think I may want to add more. Now although the cake was nearly perfect it didn’t rise in the middle the way I think it should have. I did a lil research and came up w this.. maybe by adding the lemon extract I made the cake more acidic which I’m my research I found might be able to be counteracted by maybe adding more leavening … since this recipe only called for baking powder in wondering if adding a small amount of baking soda as well may help with the rising? Any suggestions or does this make sense? Thanks in advance

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