12 Tips for Fool-Proof Gluten-Free Baking

Anyone who has ever tried to apply the principles of traditional wheat baking to gluten-free baking quickly learns the hard way that there are few similarities at all. I’ve been baking gluten-free for several years and here are some of the things I learned (that I wish I knew when I started):

1. Gluten-free baked goods do not require kneading. Kneading is the means by which gluten in wheat-based baking is activated. Because there is no gluten in grains used in gluten-free baking you can skip this step altogether.

2. Gluten acts as a glue and imparts elasticity to hold traditional baked goods together and allow bakers to work with the dough, cutting or molding it into different shapes. In the absence of this gluey substance, baked goods tend to crumble unless some other form of binder is added.

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3. Not all gluten-free binding agents were created equally. Some of the typical binding agents used in gluten-free baking include: eggs (which you’ll obviously want to avoid if you’re vegan), xanthan gum (more on this substance momentarily), guar gum, flax or chia seeds (when mixed with water or other liquid ingredient) and even flours like arrowroot and tapioca offer some binding properties, albeit less than the other binding agents when they are baked. To learn more about guar gum, check out my blog, “What Exactly is Guar Gum and Is It Safe to Eat?

4. While xanthan is frequently touted as a healthy and safe option, I can hardly support that claim. Xanthan, or xanthan gum as it is also known, is a carbohydrate that is secreted by bacteria known as Xanthomonas campestris. These bacteria, which cause disease in plants, are mixed with fermented sugars, which are usually sourced from corn or sugar beets, lactose (the sugar present in milk), wheat or soy to form a gummy substance. Not only is this source likely to be from genetically-modified ingredients, there is also the possibility of contamination if wheat is used in the process. Most of my clients who have used xanthan in their baking or eaten prepared foods containing it find that hours later they are bloated, gaseous and experiencing abdominal cramping. For more information about xanthan check out my blog “What Exactly is Xanthan Gum and Should You Eat It?

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5. While wheat, rye and barley contain gluten, there are many other excellent flour options available for your gluten-free baking, including: brown rice, buckwheat (despite the name, there’s no wheat in buckwheat grains or flour), white rice, sweet rice, sorghum, millet, oat (there is no gluten in oat grains but sometimes oats can become contaminated with gluten if the farm or production facility has wheat so check the label), quinoa, teff, almond, hazelnut, chestnut, chickpea, soy and coconut.

6. While these flours can be used interchangeably, they do change the texture, moisture and density of the finished baked good. Coconut flour is an excellent example: it is highly absorbent of moisture and can throw off the dry to wet ratios in most recipes. So unless you’re working with a recipe created for use with coconut flour, you might want to wait until you’re experienced with gluten-free baking to start using this flour.

7. You’ll probably want to use a blend of flours to obtain the consistency of baked good you’d like. Flours like brown rice, buckwheat, sorghum, millet, oat, quinoa, teff, almond, hazelnut, chestnut, chickpea, soy and coconut tend to increase the density of a finished baked good (similar to whole wheat). Flours like arrowroot, corn, potato, white rice, sweet rice, sorghum or tapioca tend to offer softness to the texture of baked goods (similar to white flour). You’ll notice that sorghum appears twice. That’s intentional as it can add lightness or density depending on how it’s milled. Keep in mind that foods made with some of these flours, such as corn, potato, white rice and sweet rice are quite similar to white flour in that they can cause blood sugar levels to spike so beware of overusing these options if you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, prone to depression or watching your weight.

8. You can increase the amount of protein in your gluten-free baking by choosing the options like almond, hazelnut, buckwheat and quinoa flour. Quinoa flour has a bold flavor and you might want to use it in moderation as it imparts a strong flavor to any baked goods made with it.

9. While it’s fine to use some flours like arrowroot, tapioca and sweet rice to add softness to your baking, cut these flours with other types to prevent the final product from being gummy.

10. Choose a gluten-free baking powder since most commercial baking powders tend to be a source of gluten and can be a problem for celiacs or those individuals who are highly sensitive to gluten.

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11. Pureed fruit, such as applesauce, can add moisture to gluten-free baking, preventing it from drying out.

12. For ideal bread baking, you’ll want a thinner texture of batter than you normally would use with wheat breads. Cookie batter can spread quickly once it is heated so you may want to chill it first.

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international-best-selling and 18-time author whose works include Healing Recipes.

99 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Cabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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federico bortoletto

Grazie.

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Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper1 years ago

Noted

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Jennifer Grant
Jennifer Alvarez1 years ago

Thank you.

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Janet B.
Janet B1 years ago

Thanks

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Sen Heijkamp
Sayenne H1 years ago

ty

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen1 years ago

Thank you

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Feather W.
Feather W1 years ago

thanks..

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Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se1 years ago

ty

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Dt Nc
Dt Nc1 years ago

Danke

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