Cooking and baking can be a daunting task when you’re preparing food for anyone diagnosed with Celiac Disease – whether it’s for yourself or for your family and friends. Some common questions that arise are: What flours and ingredients do I use? How can I bake a gluten-free dish without it tasting like cardboard? How do I get that nice ‘chewy’ texture without using wheat flour?
The key to successful gluten-free baking is using a combination of flour and starches. Ingredient lists might look long, but once you have a pantry supply of flours, baking will be a walk in the park. Below are a few suggestions for how to use gluten-free ingredients in your baking.
Rice flours are the closest to wheat flour in behaviour. They are made from either white or brown rice, and each has its own characteristics. Rice flours are ideal for preparing brownies, carrot and banana cakes.
Ground flax meal gives a “whole-wheat” texture and is ideal for making multi-grain breads. Sorghum and teff flours add texture and are also included in many
multi-grain bread recipes. Ground almonds add moisture, flavour and texture so they
are ideal for baking chocolate-chip cookies (just and example).
Oats are considered gluten-free. Be careful though as cross-contamination with gluten is common in traditional oat products, look for pure, uncontaminated, certified gluten-free oats.
Yellow-corn flour and cornmeal are both gluten-free. The difference is that yellow-corn flour has a much finer texture than cornmeal (almost like a starch). Use cornmeal in products like pizza dough. Cornstarchand tapioca starch add a pleasant fluffy texture.
Be careful though as too much starch can make baked goods hard and heavy.
Xanthan Gum is a corn-based product that is used gluten-free cooking to replicate the ‘chewy’ texture of wheat flour. It can make a remarkable difference in your baking and a little goes a long way. We highly recommend adding some to your pantry.
Buckwheat flour is high in fibre and available in light and dark varieties. Dark buckwheat is more mineral-rich and nutritious and is ideal for pancakes.
If you have any gluten-free cooking advice or tips that you would like to share please post your comments below.