There are many reasons that people start baking with gluten free recipes. They (or someone in their family) may have celiac disease, a gluten allergy or sensitivity, or perhaps just want to see if restricting gluten from their diet has any impact on how they feel or on their energy levels. Regardless of the reason for baking gluten free items, it’s worth following a few simple tips when you’re just starting out.
Understand What Foods Contain Gluten. You probably know that bread has gluten, but did you know that there is also gluten in most types of cookies, muffins, cakes (since all of these usually contain white flour), as well as in beer, pasta, oats, rye, barley, salad dressings, lunch meats, hot dogs and even soy sauce? If you’re going to bake gluten free items, it’s essential to identify each and every ingredient that contains gluten. You can also start by using a gluten free cookbook or finding recipes on a website dedicated to gluten free cooking.
Start With Easy Recipes. Many home bakers find that gluten free baking can be a bit of an adjustment from what they’re used to. Gluten free doughs and batters look and feel different from the doughs and batters that use white flour or other ingredients containing gluten. It’s easiest for new gluten free bakers to start with recipes that are easy to make, and that are going to turn out similar to their traditional gluten counterparts. For example, some gluten free muffin recipes have a very similar mouth feel to muffins made with all-purpose flour.
Get the Right Ingredients. Some gluten free recipes call for ingredients that might not be easy to find. Almond flour, for example, is a common item in many gluten free recipes, but you might not be able to pick it up at your local grocery store. Another common gluten-free baking ingredient is flour made from grains other than wheat. Common types of gluten free flour include rice flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, potato flour, and millet flour, or some combination of them. If you have trouble finding any of these ingredients in your local supermarket, go to a specialty or health food store if you have one in your area. If not, you can always buy them online from specialty vendors or even from Amazon.com. While you can make your own flours by grinding them like almond, brown rice, or pumpkin seeds, a lot of people don’t have the time, and would rather just buy it already done for them. If you are looking for a gluten free line of flours with a variety of baking options, I like Bob’s Red Mill brand. He has gluten free options as well as regular flour options (that contain gluten) but only made with organic ingredients (no GMO’s). Most health food stores carry this brand, and I have scene conventional grocery stores adding it to their organic/gluten free shelves too!
Adjust Your Expectations. Some gluten free baked goods simply aren’t going to taste the same as those containing gluten. Gluten has a unique mouth feel that is very difficult to recreate in a gluten free recipe. Try to appreciate the differences, rather than focus on how something you just baked doesn’t taste “like it should.”
Some Things Are Better Left Uncooked. But adjusting your expectations doesn’t mean that you’ll be satisfied with every single thing you make. As you gain experience with gluten free baking, you may notice that you’re not particularly fond of a certain item or two. That’s fine; just don’t bake those items again. It’s definitely something to play around with as you will find new things to try in the world of gluten free flours. You’ll make dishes that you never experimented with before, and many of them you will find mighty tasty! Once you create hearty earthy delicious treats from raw ingredients, it’s hard to go back to the conventional white flour stuff. nature’s flavors are so much more robust!
Gluten free baking can be a rewarding experience for those with dietary restrictions, as it can let them continue to enjoy a wide range of baked goods.