Whether it is for a family celebration, holiday, school bake sale or just for the fun of it, baking is a great activity. Plus, we all know there are few better smells than the scent of fresh baked cakes, breads or cookies filling the house. This enjoyment can seem out of reach for those who have to stick to a gluten-free diet. Have no fear! I am here to help you “sift” through some of the guidelines to gluten-free baking.
There isn’t really a 1:1 ratio of an individual gluten-free flour to substitute for flour in baking. In fact, the majority of gluten-free flours available in stores are mixes of different flours. All flours have their own flavor profile and physical make-up that works best when combined with a group of flours as opposed to alone in a recipe.
The gluten-free flours vary greatly in origin as well. Amaranth flour comes from the seed of African Spinach and is very high in protein. Brown/white rice flours are created by drying and grinding grains of rice. The rice flours by themselves can create a heavy grainy textured product.
There is Buckwheat flour, which despite its name, isn’t actually made from wheat at all but the seed of a rhubarb plant and may add a bitter taste. A commercial gluten-free flour mix currently on the market combines garbanzo bean, fava bean and tapioca flours and is recommended for any baked good. Cornmeal is gluten-free but not easily substituted for wheat flour and wouldn’t be recommended for cakes or pastries where a lighter texture would be desired.
Soya flour, potato flour and cornstarch (also known as corn flour) are used less for baking but recommended to add flavor or as a thickening agent to sauces or other recipes. To alter any recipe from fried chicken to chocolate chip cookies, you can use the same homemade or store-bought gluten-free flour mix. To decide which flour mix to use would be based on what final flavor profile is desired.
Here are a few examples of flour mixes that work well together.
- 2 cups rice flour, 2/3 cup potato flour, 1/3 cup tapioca flour.
- 2 cups white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch flour, 1/3 cup tapioca flour and a teaspoon of xanthan gum.
- 2 cups rice or millet flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour, 1-2 tsp. of xanthan gum.
Adding a gum (either guar or xanthan) to a flour mix will make for a chewier finished product. Gluten being the protein in the flour adds the elasticity and texture to breads, pizza dough, and other baked products. To obtain a similar texture substitute 1/2 cup of water with egg or liquid egg whites.
Once you have your baked your delicious gluten-free treat, it needs to be decorated! Wilton has many colorful items that you could use to decorate your masterpiece that do not contain gluten.
- Add some bling with Cake Sparkles™ or Sparkle Gel.
- Enhance your treat with any of our flavors including a comforting vanilla or lemon extract.
- Use icing decorations to add color and detail for that special holiday or themed event.
- Sugar Sheets! Edible Decorating Paper are great for any treat including cupcakes, brownies, cakes or cookies.
- Make vibrant colored icing with Wilton Icing Colors.
- Need favor ideas – Our favor candy and Jordan Almonds are great additions to any party!
These are just a few of the fantastic items Wilton has available for that gluten-free baker!
As you feel more comfortable with gluten-free baking, begin experimenting with your favorite recipes. You will be surprised at how many delicious and beautifully decorated baked treasures you can make!