ABCs of Baking: G for Gluten

Even now, after a huge increase in conversations around gluten, some of you are likely still wondering, “What is gluten, anyway?” Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains that helps foods maintain their shape by acting like a glue that holds them together. A lot of the most delicious foods contain gluten, which can be a problem since more and more people have developed gluten sensitivities in recent years. Thankfully, there are some amazing alternatives to wheat flour that give you incredibly tasty treats that you would swear contain gluten. Let’s dig in!

To replace the gluten in recipes, you simply need a magical combination of gluten-free flours that are a combination of whole grain gluten-free flour (such as sorghum or rice flours) and starch flours (such as cassava or tapioca flours). A general guideline is that you want to have 2 parts whole grain and 1 part starch. And, to mimic the binding nature of gluten, you’ll want to add a thickener. There are several options for this including xanthan gum, ground chia seeds, psyllium husks, and ground flaxseeds.

The great news these days is that if you don’t feel comfortable mixing your own gluten-free flour combination, there are several really great options on the market that are a 1:1 substitute.

One final tip is that when you’re mixing your gluten-free batter or dough, give it an extra 30 seconds in the mixer. Contrary to regular baked goods, you don’t have to worry about overmixing and making your product rubbery. In gluten-free baking, the longer you mix, the more structure that gets built and the closer your treats will be to the original recipe.

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