Hi, I’m Nicole Hunn from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. I’ve been a gluten free blogger and cookbook author since 2009, and I love to share great gluten free recipes that really work.
If you’re new to baking gluten free or you’ve been at it for a while, but without a ton of success, I’ve got some answers for you!
To bake traditional baked goods, just without gluten, you need two things you might not already have:
1. An all purpose gluten free flour blend; and
2. A solid gluten free recipe.
My gluten free recipes, published on my blog and in my cookbooks are painstakingly tested and perfected. So we’ve got that part covered.
So let’s talk about flour. We’ll begin by talking about wheat flour.
When you make basics things with wheat flour, you only use one component: all purpose wheat flour. It’s not perfect for every single thing, but it’s pretty good for “all purposes.” Well, to make things as simple as possible for good gluten free baking, we want to do essentially the same thing—just without gluten. And we can! We just can’t use one single gluten free flour.
Now let’s talk about gluten free flour.
No one gluten free flour can do the work of an all purpose wheat flour, no matter the strength of the recipe. Wheat flour is super versatile, and can be combined with different ingredients and handled in different ways (work it more, work it less) to make most anything. Gluten free flours need to blend together to achieve the same goals. But all blends are NOT created equal! The gluten free recipes that I create are designed to work with a few different all purpose gluten free flours, but some of the off-the-shelves blends simply won’t work.
Why some blends just won’t work: There are two main reasons why these unacceptable blends simply won’t work to create really good gluten free baked goods:
1. One, they aren’t properly balanced. All purpose gluten free flour blends are based on rice, but if the blend has way too much brown rice flour, it’s like baking with whole wheat flour in a recipe designed for white flour. It’s too heavy and “earthy.” Maybe it has white rice flour, but doesn’t have any starch, or it has too much starch. An unbalanced blend is very, very common. And remember that just because a blend is on every grocery store shelf doesn’t mean that it’s the best. It often just means that the company making the blend is itself a well-established brand in other markets and can pay for that sort of market penetration. King Arthur is a perfect case in point.
2. Two, they use low-quality ingredients, often including a gritty rice flour blend. Superfine rice flour is considerably more expensive than traditional rice flour. And it’s harder to source, too. Most brands just don’t bother. And a gritty rice flour will not only make your baked goods have a gritty texture, but the recipe often won’t work at all even if the blend is otherwise balanced because the larger granules just don’t incorporate with the other recipe ingredients as well.
What if this is all just too much and you just want a gluten free muffin or cookie NOW, for heaven’s sake?
Try baking flourless!
Some may define flourless baking as baking without a conventional flour (which would make ALL gluten free baking flourless), or gluten free baking without an all purpose flour. I take it further than all of that!
For me, flourless baking is baking without ANYTHING ground into a flour. So nut flours like almond flour, coconut flour, even oat flour that you grind yourself from whole oats? ALL FLOUR.
By now I have a whole category of flourless baking on the blog with about a dozen recipes that are all truly flourless (LINK). And I do it by using another ingredient entirely for structure. Sometimes the base is a nut butter, like peanut butter or cashew butter, sometimes it’s black beans (but I promise with my recipes nothing actually tastes like beans unless we want it to!), and sometimes it’s cooked teff or quinoa. I know! Go figure.
So if you don’t have a proper blend or the ingredients yet to make one, you can still eat great to-DAY!
Be sure to keep an eye out for the next video. I’m going to tell you all about what the different flour blends are good for, what flours can be substituted and what can’t, and how to get started baking with them as easily as possible. Until next time!