Have you or a loved one gone gluten-free recently and discovered the many challenges associated with GF baking? Fear not — there are a few easy hacks that will help elevate your gluten-free culinary game.
Some people complain that gluten free goodies just don’t taste the same, and this is a valid concern — everyone who’s gone gluten-free has had their share of baked goods that don’t capture the same flavor as the gluten version. It all comes down to science: gluten is often what gives your treats their chewy, soft nature, and gluten-free goodies need a different approach. That doesn’t mean they can’t be just as delectable as their gluten counterparts – it just takes a little more planning and a few good substitutes.
1. Get a Little Flour on Your Hands
Vanilla Almond Macaroon Nests / One Green Planet
Taste can break down into two categories: flavor and texture, and this tip is the first because it has such a significant an impact on both. EVERYONE should try making their own batch of gluten free flour to experience the difference — and to understand how flour impacts the taste of the final product.
Different flours bring strengths and weaknesses, and one of the keys to baking is to work out those pros and cons. Are you making something with a delicate, sweet flavor like Vanilla Almond Macaroon Nests (pictured above)? Try an almond flour-based mix to play up those elements. Almond flour is simple and delectable without being gritty, like rice flour.
Choosing the right option can make your macarons trés bon. Want to try out some mind-blowing Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches? Give a few cups of oats a whirl in the blender and try out oat flour in order to better concentrate the nutty flavor. Take a look at this breakdown of gluten free flour options and educate yourself — there’s so much to learn!
2. Don’t Overuse the Chickpeas
Chickpea Flour Quiche / One Green Planet
Ah, chickpeas — basically a miracle food. As many cultures around the world have long known, they provide a versatile flour when ground. When crafting savory concoctions in the kitchen, like Chickpea Flour Quiche (pictured above), Peacefood Cafe’s Award Winning Chickpea Fries, or the dough for this Chia and Fennel Green Pizza With Kale Pesto and Hummus, chickpea flour can be an amazing and flavor-packed binder.
However, chickpea flour can be overpowering in baking, and if too much is used in a sweet recipe, the finished product can wind up with a bitter aftertaste. Try chickpea flour in recipes with strong flavors, like these Banana Chocolate Lavender Bars, and stick to sweeter flours when baking something delicate.
3. Experiment with Big Flavors
Cranberry Lemon Bites / One Green Planet
When you first go gluten-free, it’s impossible not to notice every little difference in taste in your favorite baked goods. After all, food can be comforting, and even the smallest differences can feel frustrating. One great way to get around this issue is to make recipes with explosive flavor like these Pumpkin Almond Butter Cookies to override the differences in the flours you use.
Feel like snacking? Try out one of many amazing commercial gluten free breads with this Cheesy Four-Ingredient Garlic Bread. Do Cranberry Lemon Bites (pictured above) float your boat? Maybe Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Cream Cake is more your style. Try out bold flavors to focus on the incredible food you can make gluten-free.
4. Try Out a Thickener or Two
Gluten-Free NYC-Style Bagels / One Green Planet
One of the biggest challenges in gluten-free baking is getting the texture right. Depending on the ratio of ingredients, cooking time, and even temperature, results can vary quite a bit. A surefire way to get the texture of a baked good up to par is to choose the right thickener. Unlike gluten-based foods that are chock full of gluten proteins, gluten-free foods rely on thickeners for their chewiness or crunch.
Thickeners enable gluten free baked goods to soar — just check out these Gluten-Free NYC-Style Bagels (pictured above) or this delicious Power Bread With Sunflower Seeds, Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds, and Pumpkin Seeds. There are dozens of thickening agents available, like agar agar, coconut flour, chia seeds, and arrowroot powder and each has its own benefits. When experimenting with flour mixes, give thickeners a chance, too — you’ll be surprised what results you’ll get!
5. Give it a Rest
Toffee Apple Pancakes / One Green Planet
Gritty. Extra-thin. Too dense. Every gluten-free baker has been there — you follow the recipe down to every last detail and yet somehow, something goes wrong. It might surprise you to find out that these types of issues actually have little to do with following directions and much more to do with the chemistry that goes on inside the oven. For example, grittiness can be an indication that dough needs more time to rest before baking.
Next time you whip up a batch of Coconut Molasses Ginger Cookies, try letting the dough sit in the fridge for an extra half hour. This solution can also help if cookies seem to spread too thin on the baking sheet. What about when your favorite pancakes turn out too dense and rubbery? Lower the temperature of the griddle and let your pancakes cook longer so your Toffee Apple Pancakes (pictured above) come out perfectly! As it turns out, the issues you might run into while baking have all been encountered before, so don’t be discouraged! Check out this helpful baking cheat sheet and get down to business!
If you love gluten free recipes like these No-Bake Chocolate Coated Peanut Butter and Jam Doughnuts, try downloading the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Don’t feel restricted or bored with your food – check out now!
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