Gluten Free Cooking: 101

One of the more popular questions about changing to a gluten free diet is how to go about cooking gluten free baked goods. Some of the people that I talk to used to love to bake their own bread, cakes, and pies, while others want to learn how to avoid having to buy all of these products.

The good news is that it’s really not that hard to learn to bake gluten free. You can find many recipes for gluten free baking on my blog, but let’s discuss some general tips for gluten free baking.

Gluten Free Baking

The most common ingredients used in gluten free baking are brown rice flour, corn starch (or tapioca starch), and xanthan gum. Brown rice flour and corn starch are pretty easy to figure out. They will provide the main ingredient in many gluten free baked goods. Availability of these ingredients may vary in your area. I’m able to find them at supermarkets pretty easily in my area, but you can get them online at Amazon if you can’t find them in your local stores.

Amazon Links:
Brown Rice Flour
Corn Starch

Xanthan gum is something that you might not have heard of if you are new to a gluten free diet. It is the ingredient that takes the place of gluten in GF bread and baked food. As I said in a previous article, gluten provides elasticity to wheat bread, allowing the bread to become light and airy instead of doughy. Xanthan gum does this same thing for gluten free bread. Xanthan gum may be a little bit harder to find in your area, but you should be able to find it if you look. It’s also available online if you prefer to have it shipped to you.

Amazon Link:
Xanthan Gum

Getting Started Baking

The easiest way to get started in baking gluten free is to take a recipe that you like and simply substitute gluten free flour and some xanthan gum for the gluten-containing ingredients. You might not get things exactly right the first time, but that’s OK. Find gluten free recipes on the web for the item you’re baking to get a feel for how much xanthan gum to add for that type of recipe.

Don’t be alarmed if the dough doesn’t have the texture that you’re used to with wheat flour. Things will most likely be different than what you’re used to, and it will probably taste a bit different as well. This is totally normal and to be expected.Now that our taste buds are acclimated to gluten free flours, we find that we enjoy our gluten free baked goods more than those made from wheat flour or the gluten free baked products available at the store.

Another good tip is to experiment with different flours and mixes to find the ones that you like the most. Following someone else’s recipe can help get you started, but branching out on your own is the only way to find out what you really enjoy.