Learning how to bake gluten-free is overwhelming when starting out. The selection of flour varieties and how to create a flour blend that mimics regular wheat flour can be so confusing! We choose to be grain-free and don’t eat legumes or starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes, which limits the alternatives available and makes things even more challenging.
Unlike baking with regular wheat flour where all you need is an all-purpose flour, gluten-free baking usually requires a blend of at least two flours or starches, such as arrowroot powder, tapioca starch or xanthan gum to help build the binding, texture, and structure that gluten typically provides.
Arrowroot powder can be used as a one-for-one replacement for cornstarch in thickening soups, sauces, puddings and gravies. It has no flavor of its own and is the easiest starch to digest. It is an excellent ingredient for gluten free baking or breading and creates a softer and lighter texture to cakes and breads.
Tapioca starch is favored to use in baked goods as it lends a springy texture, promotes browning and makes crispy crusts. It is a starchy and slightly sweet flour that is especially good for thickening soups, sauces, pie fillings and puddings. Tapioca starch and tapioca flour are interchangeable.
Almond Flour is simply blanched almonds that have been finely ground. It is gluten free, a good source of fiber, and it can be used in place of regular flour for low carb or gluten free baking, or as a breading for meats and vegetables. It lends a moist texture and rich, buttery flavor to cakes, cookies, muffins, sweet breads, and a host of other desserts. Almond meal and almond flour are also interchangeable.
Coconut flour is a delicious, healthy alternative to wheat and other grain flours. It is very high in fiber, gluten free, and it lends baked goods a rich texture and a unique, natural sweetness. I find that you need to use much less coconut flour, usually only 1/4 cup of coconut flour compared to a cup of other flours. Coconut Flour’s high fiber content makes it very absorbent. If your batter seems too runny, the coconut flour will absorb much of the liquid during baking.
Xanthan gum is an excellent all purpose thickener for dressings, gravies and sauces. It’s unique ability to hold small particles of food together makes it the ideal substitute for gluten, which binds food together, in gluten-free baking. You only need a small amount in your recipes, so it goes a long way.
Date sugar is made from dehydrated, ground dates and is used as you would brown sugar.
Coconut Sugar is a wholesome alternative sweetener that can be used in many recipes as a one-to-one replacement for white sugar or brown sugar. The mellow caramel flavor is perfect in cookies, cakes and quick breads.
I have made a lot of mistakes along this clean eating journey with baked goods and I hope this post helps you along your journey.
Blessings to you,