Wheat-Free Baking Tips
Wheat-free baking can be overwhelming. I’ve found that it’s the recipes that make creating a decent wheat-free cake or other baked goods a nightmare. I would probably rather drive in Nashville rush hour on a rainy day on a Friday with a dead iPhone for company than use a recipe that calls for 3 types of flours and at least 2 ingredients I don’t recognize. Xanthum gum? I think I bought a pack of that in Japan once? Nope. It’s not an exotic chewing candy, but just one of many ingredients that tend to terrify the novice wheat-free baker.
I mentioned in a post some months ago that I’ve been wheat-free for 17 years. Before it was hip, I suppose. Back in the day (when my mom still cooked for me), it was impossible to bake a wheat-free cake without having to mail order the ingredients from the north pole, visit a shaman in the forest for the conjuring up of a non-existent recipe, followed by at least 10 attempts to make that recipe not taste like a box of tissues.
I get asked a lot about how I make my wheat-free recipes, because most people can’t tell the difference between the WF and the regular. Some I make up on a whim and some I get from standard recipes that I modify. I’ve put together some tips and ideas and I hope they help you avert the truly disgusting and tragic wheat-free cooking errors I’ve made.
Wheat-Free Baking Tips
1. Have a box (or bag) of all-purpose gluten-free flour in hand; one that doesn’t require the addition of xanthum gum. (For example, Bob’s Red Mill is expensive already without having to purchase the xanthum gum required to use it.) I like Glutino All Purpose Flour.
2. Pick recipes that naturally don’t require a lot of flour. For example, one of my favorite desserts is apple crisp. There isn’t a lot of flour in most recipes for apple crisp, so it’s an easy substitution. Usually just a tablespoon or two for the apple mixture and roughly the same for the topping, maybe a bit more. And if you want to avoid modifying at all costs, you can not fail with a flourless chocolate cake.
3. Make it easy on yourself and use your favorite recipes. You don’t have to spend hours researching recipes (unless, unfortunately, you have other allergies that make baking near impossible) that fit the wheat-free mold. Simply replace the flour in your favorite recipe with an all-purpose GF flour. If you want a red velvet cake? Use your favorite recipe and subsitute the flour. That has been a no-fail method for me so far.
4. Use pre-made mixes when you can. For example, I make wheat-free lemon bars and use a pre-bagged sugar cookie mix for the base. (Pamela’s Products, found in most grocery stores.) That makes the process much easier. And since you already have the GF flour on hand, you’ll have what you need to make the filling which usually (depending on which recipe you use) only calls for a tablespoon or two. The same goes with brownies. I use a basic wheat-free brownie mix then add whatever into it that I feel like at the time. Toffee chips, peanut butter chips, mint chips and nuts are all things I’ve added.
5. If you find that that what you’re making is a bit dry, it’s ok to add a tablespoon of water. Or when appropriate a few tablespoons of prepared coffee.
6. Make sure to grease or non-stick spray the hell out of your pan when baking wheat-free.
7. Don’t be afraid to experiement and fail.
I’d love to know more tips myself, so if you have some, please share!