Gluten-free baked goods can be as crave-worthy as their gluten-containing counterparts — you just have to know some of the more important rules when it comes to baking in this style. Familiarize yourself with these tips and tricks, then grab a recipe you trust and head to the kitchen to whip up some treats you can be proud of.
1. Experiment with different brands.
There are loads of gluten-free flour mixes available at the grocery store these days, giving many an easy path into gluten-free baking. Since they vary brand by brand, your best bet is experiment with a few options to find one you like. If you're looking to take your gluten-free baking to the next level, consider making your own blend and adapting the ratios to your taste.
2. Don't be completely afraid of xanthan gum.
Just the words "xanthan gum" seem scary, but if you're really serious about gluten-free baking, they are words you should understand. The ingredient is a stabilizer that has binding and thickening properties that make it useful when using certain gluten-free flours that need help mimicking some of the stretching and structural characteristics of gluten in order to achieve something that's closer to a conventional baked good. You don't need a lot, though — just a little in your gluten-free rolls or pie crust will do the trick.
Read more: What's the Deal with Xanthan Gum?
3. Look to lesser-used gluten-free flours for inspiration.
It's not all rice flour and tapioca starch when it comes to gluten-free baking. Nut flours like almond or hazelnut, legume flours like chickpea, and coconut flour are all gluten-free and easy to work with. Nut and coconut flours also come with the added benefit of lending their sweet flavor to baked goods.
4. Be aware of ingredients that might seem to be gluten-free, but aren't.
Check all the labels of the ingredients you're using to ensure that they are really and truly gluten-free. Some brands of powdered sugar, for example, may include a starch that has gluten in it.
5. Wipe down all work areas before you start baking.
Just like the tip above, if you're baking for someone who strictly follows a gluten-free diet, you need to take all precautions not to risk contamination. Wipe down your kitchen counters with soapy water before baking to ensure that there is no gluten lingering from other cooking projects.
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What are some of your tips for gluten-free baking?