Gluten-Free Baking Tips

Tips for cooking without wheat and gluetn.

Healthy Fare

Gluten-Free Baking Tips

Mmmm, muffins

-Carol Fenster,

So, your doctor says you shouldn’t eat wheat. What now? Well, join the millions of Americans who follow wheat-free and gluten-free diets due to food allergies, autism and other special diet situations – including Celiac disease, a genetically transmitted condition in which the gluten in wheat prevents absorption of nutrients in the small intestine.

You can live very well without gluten – a protein in wheat and related grains – if you follow these tips:

1. Beginners should choose a cookbook specially designed for gluten-intolerant persons. This assures early success and builds confidence. You can convert your own recipes to gluten-free later, when you’re a pro.

2. Replace wheat flour with a blend of flours, not just one flour. Choose from a wide array of flours to suit your preferences – rice, bean, soy, sorghum, potato, tapioca, corn – then combine according to recipe directions.

3. Measure flour by fluffing it up first with a whisk. Then loosely spoon it into the measuring cup. Level the top with the flat side of a knife. Don’t “round” unless specified in the directions and never pack the flour down.

4. Use dry measuring cups to measure dry ingredients; liquid measuring cups for liquid ingredients. The difference? Liquid measuring cups have spouts; dry measuring cups nest or fit together.

5. Use more spices, herbs and flavorings to compensate for the loss of wheat flavor. About 1/3 to 1/2 more than normal should do the trick.

6. Use special ingredients such as xanthan gum or guar gum, which compensate for the lack of gluten and improve texture. Without gums, baked goods crumble and fall apart.

7. Choose baking pans wisely. Use smaller, non-stick baking pans instead of one larger one. Generously grease before using. Bundt cake pans distribute heat more evenly.

8. Take advantage of modern appliances and aids. Invest in a bread machine. Use a food processor or heavy-duty mixer for thorough mixing of dough and heavy batter. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, Teflon sheets or Silpat liners to avoid sticking.

Here’s a great recipe for some gluten-free muffins you can try.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins
-reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free 101 by Carol Fenster (Savory Palate, 2008)

Use this easy recipe as the basis for other flavor combinations; replace the lemon zest and blueberries with orange zest and dried cranberries or cinnamon and raisins.

Dry Ingredients:
2 1/3 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend (see below)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup milk of choice
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling on muffins

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Generously grease standard 12-cup non-stick standard muffin pan.

2. Whisk or sift together dry ingredients in large bowl. In separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients thoroughly until smooth.

3. Make well in dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Combine until just moistened. Gently stir in blueberries.

4. Divide batter evenly in pan and sprinkle with sugar. Bake approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until muffin tops are lightly browned. Makes 12.

Gluten-Free Flour Blend:
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch or cornstarch
1 cup tapioca flour

Combine and store in a dark, dry place.

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