By SHERRI KRAMPF
IU Health Goshen Hospital
Learning to bake gluten-free can be tough at first, but gluten-related illnesses can be serious, so prevention is worth the time and effort. Beginners should choose a cookbook specially designed for wheat-sensitive persons. This assures early success and builds confidence. You can convert your own recipes to wheat-free later when you have more experience.
Here are a few tips:
• Replace wheat flour with a blend of flours, rather than using just one type of flour. Choose from a wide array of flours to suit your preferences — rice, bean, soy, sorghum, potato, tapioca — then combine them according to recipe directions. A blended-flour recipe is below.
• Always use xanthan gum or guar gum. They compensate for the lack of gluten and improve texture. Without them, baked goods fall apart. Use 1 teaspoon per cup in breads, and 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon per cup in other baking. Guar gum is best used when yeast is not required.
• Use a bit more spices, herbs, and flavorings to compensate for the loss of wheat flavor. Feel free to experiment a little, but about one-third to one-half more than normal should do the trick.
• Store baked products in plastic bags while still warm.
• Freeze baked products to minimize loss of moisture and flavor.
• Add more egg or oil to increase moisture.
• Use soy flour to make baked products moister; shorter baking time since products brown faster.
• Bake in small portions at a lower temperature for a longer time.
• Use dull or dark pans to absorb heat for better browning.
Breads and rolls:
• It is not necessary to let gluten-free bread rise twice as there is no gluten to develop.
• Place a pan of water in the oven during baking.
• Gluten-free bread doesn’t require kneading.
• A teaspoon of vinegar or dough enhancer helps the yeast to work.
• Whipping the eggs or egg substitutes gives a better texture.
• Unflavored gelatin adds spring to the texture of the bread.
• Use buttermilk in place of regular milk for a lighter texture.
• Let non-yeast dough rest for 30 minutes before baking.
• Use crumbled sliced almonds, flaked rice, brown rice cereal, flaked gluten-free cereal or textured soy protein to replace oatmeal.
• Rice bran and rice polish add flavor, fiber and nutrition.
• Use buckwheat flour to give cookies an incredible texture.
• For delicate butter cookies, choose a flour mix with more starch (tapioca or potato) and sweet rice.
• Adding chips, nuts and dried fruits improves the flavor.
• Gluten-free pastry does not toughen when rolled repeatedly.
• When mixed, pastry should be very moist.
• Wrap in plastic and chill several hours until cold and firm.
• Use white rice flour to flour the surface for pastry rolling.
• Cornstarch and tapioca can be used to thicken fruit pies.
for Wheat Flour
4 c. rice flour
1 c. soy flour
1 c. corn starch
1 c. tapioca starch
Mix together. Replace this flour mix in the same amounts to all recipes except bread.
For bread one needs to add ¼ c. potato starch.
This flour mix will use more liquid to get the right consistency.
Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1 c. sorghum flour or garbanzo/fava flour or brown rice flour
2/3 c. potato starch (not potato flour, which makes baked goods heavy and dense)
1/3 c. tapioca flour
Mix together. Refrigerate in an airtight container and use within two months. Be sure to add xanthan gum (approximately one-half to three-fourths teaspoon per cup for flour blend) to all baked goods or they will crumble and fall apart.