Cooking and baking gluten-free can be quite trying until you learn the tricks of the trade. At one time gluten-free flours were limited but times have changed and we now have many more choices and options to make flavorful and delicious foods. Although it can be tricky since gluten in wheat what causes cakes to rise and pizza dough to stretch. Let me help you and give you some important facts about gluten-free flour power.
1. Commercial gluten-free all-purpose flour mix — These usually contain a balanced mixture of several flours and may contain ingredients such as xantham gum and arrowroot to mimic gluten’s effects. These are designed as a substitute for wheat flours. In my opinion your best choice is Bob’s Red Mill – it not only works well for almost any recipe but it is GMO-free, is certified organic, and all around healthy choice.
2. Protein content is important — Gluten is a protein. Different flours have a variety of protein content which you should definitely paid attention to. One way to increase protein is substituting egg whites for an equal amount of liquid in your gluten-free recipes. This normally works well in cake batter.
High protein flours work well in bread recipes, pie crusts, and pizza crusts. Lower-protein flours normally work better in cookies, dumplings, and souffles. The protein provides structure while the starch provides tenderness. If in doubt a good guideline to use is 70% protein flour and 30% starch flour for gluten-free baked goods.
3. Add small amounts of other flours to give an even texture to your basic mix:
- Buckwheat gives muffins a whole-grain feel and nutty taste.
- Organic corn flour will give your pancakes an inviting new texture.
- Organic almond flour and coconut flour is not only gluten-free but also grain-free. Almond flour can add a nutty flavor to cookies or brownies. Coconut flour is sweet and high in fiber. It is one of favorite flours that I use quite frequently and to me is very versatile. It’s great in macaroons and many other recipes.
4. Go Fruity — Pureed fruits and even vegetables as a healthy substitute can be extremely efficient and make delicious and nutritious food. Applesauce, bananas, and even avocado make moist, tasty, treats that are healthy.
5. Yogurt or Sour Cream — These can be used as substitutes in many desert or even pancakes and give a very moist texture. Organic Greek yogurt or raw yogurt are good chooses. As with any product check to make sure you are buying organic or at least know the source of the product and check labels.
6. Sugar substitutes — Sugars substitutes don’t always work in gluten-free cooking. There are times that some baked goods will lack structure so you might need to add organic light or dark brown sugar, organic raw coconut sugar or honey can also work quite well. When adding honey you usually add half the amount as according to sugar. For example 1 cup of sugar – only add 1/2 cup of honey. In many recipes you have to reduce amount of liquid accordingly.
I love using organic stevia but the sweetness power of stevia is so much stronger and you have to accommodate according. In fact this is the normal conversion ratio:
Sugar Powdered Stevia Equivalent Liquid Stevia Equivalent
- 1 cup 1 Teaspoon 1 Teaspoon
- 1 Tablespoon 1/4 Teaspoon 6-9 drops
- 1 teaspoon Pinch or 1/16 Teaspoon 2-4 drops
7. I don’t recommend Rice flour – It is dry flour and there is much controversy to the safety of rice. According to Natural News arsenic in rice is a real health concern for anyone following gluten-free diet.
8. Experiment — Try different types of flours in various amounts. Try throwing in some dried cherries, cranberries, dates, nuts and just be creative. Use various sweeteners such as organic maple syrup or black strap molasses. If you fail just try again until you get it right for you and your family.
Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread
- 3 Cups Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Organic Buckwheat flour
- 1 Teaspoon Bob’s Mill Aluminum Free Baking Soda
- 3/4/ Teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1/2 Cup Golden Raisins
- 1 1/2 Cup Organic Buttermilk
OR FOR — A Dairy Free substitute
Ingredients — ½ Tablespoon lemon juice, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar AND Enough dairy-free milk to add to the ½ Tablespoon lemon juice (or vinegar) to equal ½ cup total liquid
Instructions — Combine ingredients; whisk., Set aside 5 minutes, Milk will thicken and may separate, depending on the type of dairy-free milk you use. (This is fine, don’t worry!
Directions for Irish Soda Bread:
1. Preheat Oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Stir in raisins, add buttermilk or buttermilk substitute, and stir with fork until clumps form. Gather dough into a ball, and place on lightly floured surface. Knead gently until dough just holds together, about one minute. share dough into round loaf about 6 inches across and 2 inches high, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut a large “X” into top of loaf, about one inch deep.
3. Bake until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer to rack, and cool.
ENJOY plain or with your favorite topping such as nut butters or your favorite organic jam.
For a list of many other alternative gluten-free flours and help for living gluten-free check out “Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity – Facts And Diet!” Always make sure when you are baking or cooking gluten-free that all flours are manufactured in gluten-free facilitates where there is not chance of cross-contamination, look for certified organic, GMO-free, or make your own if possible.
Live natural, live green, live organically, and be healthy!