Wednesday, December 29, 2010

About Baking Gluten Free

So this post is mostly in response to a comment I received from Kelly a few days ago.  But she doesn't have a blog or email address listed so I cannot contact her directly.  And figured a few others might be interested too.

She mentioned that one needed to double the liquids when using GF flours.  I am not sure where you read that Kelly, but I would strongly advise against that.  Strongly.  Drastically changing the ratio of liquid and dry ingredients will also drastically change the chemistry of the end product.  For most recipes, the dry and liquid ingredients should remain the same.  Or close to the same.  I say most because I have found that GF bread recipes do need more liquid in them.  But cookies don't typically need a significant change in any one area.

Kelly also mentioned that GF flours do not rise like gluten-full flours do.  That's because they are lacking gluten.  Gluten gives things elasticity and allows them to rise.  Take it away and you are playing trick the dealer.  That's why so many (read: most) GF recipes have an ingredient list a mile long.  With things like sorghum flour and potato starch and potato flour and brown rice flour and sweet rice flour and peanut flour and so on.  And most recipes also call for a teaspoon or two of xanthan gum.  I am not a scientist so I will let those interested look up (google is your friend) all those ingredients on their own.  But it is about sort of faking the properties of gluten.  I like to think of it as the difference between butter and margarine or Coke Classic and Diet Caffeine Free Coke or ice cream and fat free frozen yogurt.  The alternative tastes gross until you adjust your palate and get used to it. 

But you will never get the exact same rise on a loaf of bread from gluten free flours as you will from regular gluten-full bread flours.  Until scientists decide to tackle this issue with gusto, you will need to do a lot of your own experiments to figure out what works best for your needs.  I love Better Batter all purpose flour for a lot of things.  But I also have a pantry exploding with more than a dozen other GF alternative flours that I use too.  As I have only been gluten free (with a lot of ooops! mistakes and a few cheat days concerning apple pie) since somewhere around the end of August, I am still very much in the learning stage myself.  It often still feels like a mystery to me.  I am gluten intolerant, not celiac though.  So I have a bit more flexibility in my diet.  I do have the freedom to allow myself a slice of pie on a holiday.  I can certainly tell the difference the following day but it does not have me doubled over in pain as it would others.  I can function, albeit feeling crampy and bloated and itchy. 

The last part of her comment that I want to address is the texture of the GF flours.  Yes, they are often more coarse than bread flours.  I have read that you can purchase some that are more finely milled.  I have also thought about maybe running mine in my food processor for a bit to maybe break it down to a finer grain.  But to date, I've just live with them all as is.  Some are finer than others though.  I've found that both potato flour and potato starch (not the same thing) are very fine.  The rice flours I've been able to purchase thus far are coarser.  I think that's part of the reason most recipes and GF flour blends have a combination of flours.  To give you the closest possible taste, rise and texture to gluten-full flours.  But again, it's about the fake out.  It will never be identical to gluten-full flours.  But I've come pretty darn close!

I do actually have a second blog, that is dedicated to gluten free everything.  I let it totally slide and it's a sad sight right now.  But I have BIG plans and the best intentions for 2011.  But I will direct you towards it now because I also have a list of fantastic gluten free bloggers on the side.  They have great recipes and tips and lists of hidden glutens and everything else you want to know about living gluten free.  I will be back next week with (what I hope will be) good blog posts and recipes on How To Bake A Crocodile.  But until then, visit the other GF bloggers for much more information that I could possibly offer.


Buford Betty said...

You are such a pro, momma! I keep the Bisquick GF pancake mix in my pantry and it is super fine. It says you can use it for baking other stuff but I haven't tried yet. I've also tried one GF flour but I forget what it was... I'm so not a baker. So I just live vicariously through you! :-)

Kelly said...

Thanks SO MUCH for this post! Im the Kelly that you are referring to. I figured if I posted on my Google account it would give you access to my email address. Sorry about that! If you need to reach me its

About doubling the liquid - Im 99% positive I read that on the side of my Better Batter Box, something about if you are substituting it for regular flour in a recipe. Ill double check when my new order comes in, but I thought I saw it right on the box. I used normal liquid measurements for baking and it turned out pretty normal (as normal as GF can be =o) ) but only really had the issue with breads. It is still by far my favorite GF flour though. Their brownie mix is incredible. I have a box of the pancake mix as well, but have not tried that yet.

Ill definitely start following your other blog, thanks for the link!

Kelly said...

Just came across this while ordering. Loaf breads are double the water and shaped breads are 1.5

Haven't tried it yet though. If your methods work I'll try those first :o)


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