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?

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  1. I grind my own flours when I can (I buy sorghum flour), and find that it grinds up so fine, I don’t need starches in my baking mix. My personal blend, which nearly always works in a 1:1 ratio for white flour in quick-raised goodies (not yeast-raised), is 2 parts brown rice flour, 1 part sorghum flour, and 1 part quinoa or millet or other flour, depending on the taste you want. 1 use 1 teas. xanthan gum per 2 cups of flour, but I’m sure that could be tinkered with if xanthan is an issue for someone. I don’t know if it’s my grinder (a Whispermill) or just the fact that I don’t expect Wonder-bread consistency, but this blend really works for me. Non-GF people rave about how soft my cookies are and how “you could never tell these are gluten-free!”

    Another idea for goodies that turn out gummy; slice thin and toast on a dry fry pan. Even the crumbles can be toasted. They’ll be less gummy that way, and being in a pan it won’t matter how much they fall apart.

  2. Marie Jensen says:

    I just wanted to add some information regarding GF flours and starches that I have seen in my own baking but haven’t seen anything noted online.

    I used a flour blend that included potato flour and potato starch from a very nice professional-looking website. I didn’t have very good luck with any of the recipes that had beautiful pictures. Any time I have used this blend, the mixture turns to a mushy glue. Anyone who has boiled potatoes and turned them off and let them cool too much knows what I am talking about, mashed potato glue. And no amount of liquid with fix it.

    If you use potato flour and potato starch in your GF flour blend, make sure all liquids/oils are room temperature or warmer. This includes milk, water, eggs, margarine, butter, oil. Myself, I’m going back to my flour blends I used previously that didn’t have any potato in them at all. I had a lot better luck with everything I made.
    Thanks for your time.

  3. I wish to make gluten free cookies & bread with a blend of Sorghum, White rice, Finger Millet, Soy, Corn Starch & Chickpea flours as these are very easily available in Indian market. Kindly suggest best ratio of the flours for baking cookies and bread.

    Regards

  4. Loved reading your tips, and I’m wondering if you can help with a dilemma. My GF breads all seem to come out fine right out of the oven, but by day 2 they are crumbly. I am storing them in airtight containers, so I don’t think it’s that. I use a bread machine, I have several tasty recipes from a cookbook I found, and I’m having fun experimenting with those recipes. But, each one gets crumbly about 24 hours after cooking. Now, I am converting the recipes to GF/DF by using almond milk because my mother with MS has developed pretty severe allergies, and I’m wondering if by taking the milk out and making the substitution has anything to do with this crumb issue. Do you have any suggestions? Can I add a little more veg. oil to the recipes that call for oil to counteract the crumbs? I feel like that won’t work, and could cause the bread to collapse. What do you think?

    • Thanks! Are you using a GF blend or just a single flour?
      If your flour isn’t a true cup for cup flour you might need to weight them instead. I don’t typically do this b/c I’m too lazy (:)) but that can help.
      You might need more protein in your flour like flours from: Amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, teff, bean flours and nut/seed flours.
      Are you following the recipe as written or adding more flour in b/c you think it’s too thin?
      You might be putting too much flour in as you measure….spoon the flour in and smooth off w/ a knife instead of scooping it into a cup.

      Does that help?

      • I always follow the recipes as written, but admit that I measure and don’t weigh. I don’t use blends, I use the individual flours. Can I just substitute one flour for another? I would think that could change the outcome dramatically, and I’m not experienced at the GF stuff enough to make too many adjustments or tweaks. I have been buying GF for 10 years, but didn’t like the texture of the breads, so I wanted to start making my own. I was taught to always spoon flour (GF or not), so I’m not just dipping in. Would an egg make a difference, or maybe just the yolk to add that little bit of extra fat? I really don’t want to give this up, the crumbly nature has me questioning whether I want to keep trying. All those crumbs make it hard to eat.

        • I sub all the time but I am not a GF Iron Chef at all. A blend seems to be imperative in my opinion. You can find different flour’s qualities on the internet but I know I would probably just copy someone else’s blend if it were me :).

  5. Catherine says:

    I have started using psyllium husk instead of Xanthan gum. The later is from corn, which is probably GMO, but they won’t specify.

  6. 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!