How to bake without the gluten. It’s easier (and tastier) than you may think. Let us show you how to get started today!
Starting out on the road to gluten free eating can be frightening for some, frustrating for others, whilst some view it as a mild inconvenience. It’s important to remember that just because you can’t (or won’t) eat gluten, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of eating tasty food. It just means you need to go about things in a different way. This gluten free baking guide will hopefully get you up and running with minimal hassle.
You’re not alone on this journey
The team at Well and Good spend a lot of their year attending gluten free Expos and other similar events. When we get talking to the people there, many say they feel alone and don’t have the information they need to eat right. Well, let’s dispel that myth now. There are loads of resources online as well as community groups and organisations that can help.
A good starting point for information:
- Coeliac Australia – A useful resource with lots of information about coeliacs disease, fact sheets, info on eating gluten free. There is also a membership that provides support and lots more information.
- Dietitians Association of Australia – If you need assistance putting together a meal plan which is not only gluten free, but healthy and well balanced then visit this website to find a dietitian in your area to meet.
- Yum Gluten Free – Offers a fantastic selection of gluten free recipes as well as other gluten free related content.
- Gluten free lunchboxes – For parents that need ideas for kid’s lunch boxes, minus the gluten, this is full of lovely recipes.
- Gluten Free Scallywag – A big range of gluten free recipes for every meal time. The food photography looks stunning.
- 4 Ingredients – In a hurry? Check out this website for recipes that only use 4 ingredients and are quick to make. You can also purchase their book online.
Join the Community
Once you go gluten free it’s a good idea to become an active part of this community. This will provide you with lots of information and provide a real sense of community. You’ll notice that we are a very close-knit group who are very passionate about gluten free eating. A great place to join the discussion is on Facebook. You can do a search for “gluten free” and filter by groups. To get you started, a popular group here in Australia is Gluten Free and Friendly Recipes.
Facebook groups are just one option though. There are loads of other communities both online and offline. A very popular international forum where you can ask questions and learn loads is the Gluten Free Society.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein that’s in a lot of foods. It derives from wheat, rye and barley. A coeliac’s small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten which means they have difficulty in digesting food. Their immune systems react abnormally to gluten damage to the bowel results.
From a baking perspective, gluten is found in wheat based flours and is a very important part of the baking process – it provides structure and elasticity. Thankfully, there are other ingredients that can do a similar job to gluten without the nasty side effects.
Why Eat Gluten Free?
There are a range of reasons: Those that suffer from Coeliac Disease or gluten sensitivity need to cut gluten out of their diet or face health problems ranging from minor through to extremely severe. For others, a gluten free diet could be a dietary or lifestyle choice.
Where is gluten found?
It’s found in a wide range of foods so always check the label. Baking ingredients frequently contain gluten. In addition to wheat flour, other potential gluten containing products include baking powder, icing sugar, thickeners, as well as other ingredients like vanilla. Not all contain gluten so check the label for clarity. There are also some less common sources of gluten which may not always list gluten on their packaging. In some cases you may need to contact the manufacturer for verification.
How to bake gluten free
Option 1: Using baking mixes
This is a super easy option and anyone can use mixes. You can simply add the mix to a bowl with a few other ingredients like oil, eggs or water. Check out our range of baking mixes for a good selection of cakes, slices, breads and biscuits. You can easily use some mixes for several different recipes. For example, the sponge mix is perfect for sponge, custard slice and lamingtons.
A few of our most popular mixes
- Chocolate Mud Cake – This rich, indulgent mudcake is a chocolate lover’s delight. Great for a treat or for birthday parties. We assure you no-one will know its gluten free.
- Crusty Bread Mix – A gluten free bread that has a crusty exterior and soft white fluffy bread inside. The best part is you can use this bread for so many other recipes including hot cross buns, pizza bases and challah bread.
- Muffin Mix – You can create a huge range of baked goods including orange poppy seed cake, tea cake, waffles, and, of course, muffins.
Option 2: Baking from scratch
Baking with flour blends: Baking from scratch will give you a wonderful sense of achievement and allows you to have greater control of your nutrition. When you read baking recipes you’ll often see it calling for gluten free plain flour or self raising flour. This is referring to flour blends which include other ingredients like corn flour and natural gums. These extras are necessary as they do the job that gluten would normally do.
We offer a range of flours blends which include plain flour, self raising flour and pastry flour. It’s best not to find wheat-based recipes and then substitute the flour with gluten free. Instead, search for gluten free recipes and follow these. It’s best to do this because gluten free flour doesn’t always perform the same as wheat flour.
Baking with raw ingredients: If you’re looking to add some excitement and extra nutrition to your baking then you could look to use raw ingredients. They taste great and have lots of extra nutritional benefits like increased protein and fibre.
These flours have nothing added so you’ll often need to blend two or more flours together to get the result you’re after. This topic could have it’s own blog so if you’d like to know more then check out this flour guide infographic.
5 tips for better gluten free baking
- Increase the moisture: Cooking GF can cause your food to turn a bit crumbly and dry. Mixing equal parts of milk and yoghurt will help keep your final product less dry.
- Increase the butter: If you’re following a wheat flour recipe then consider increasing the butter content. This helps add more moisture to your baking.
- Add some protein: If water is used in the recipe, consider replacing some of it with an egg to help with the structure of the baking.
- Flour storage: If there’s room, store your gluten free flours in the freezer, Remember to remove from the freezer a little earlier to bring the temperature down to room temp.
- Be persistent: You’re likely to have some fails when cooking from scratch. Don’t let that put you off though. Be persistent and you’ll get there!
5 bonus tips for baking gluten free bread
- Hot Oven – for Gluten free Bread that’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, bake in a hot over for a short time.
- Use warm water to combine with the yeast. This is necessary to activate the yeast
- Use a wooden spoon and hand mix rather than using a mixer.
- Brush the dough with olive oil as the dough proves This helps keep trap the moisture and creates a lovely environment for the yeast.
- Cover your dough with a damp tea towel as this helps with the proving process.
Gluten free baking videos
If you prefer to follow recipes by watching a video then be sure to check out our Youtube Recipe Videos. We’ve compiled a large selection of recipes that even a novice can easily follow. Here’s an example video below which shows you how to bake an amazing chocolate mousse cake.
Gluten free safety
If someone in your household is unable to eat gluten, it’s important to maintain a safe kitchen. The safest option is to have a kitchen that’s completely gluten free – this avoids any cross-contamination issues. However, this is usually not practicable as other family members and guests will often want gluten-containing foods.
If you decide to have gluten in your kitchen then follow these steps to reduce cross-contamination of foods.
- Implement a storage system – a good method is to have a different colour code for gluten and non-gluten foods. Get some cheap stickers from Officeworks and go crazy labelling. Then store each type on separate shelves or in different cupboards.
- Buy Two – For appliances like sifters that are difficult to clean you should buy two and clearly label each one.
- Cleanliness – Wash hands frequently. Clean plates, pans, utensils, and even your kitchen’s drawers often. It is best to have separate chopping boards and also avoid wooden boards which tend to trap residues in the small cracks.
- Never reuse – Don’t reuse boiled water used to cook a gluten containing food. Same goes for oil.
A final few words…
Eating gluten free can be a shock for some when they first start. There are certainly some changes that need to be made but once you have a good system in place it should be fairly straight forward.
A life without gluten does not mean a life without delicious food. For those that love to cook, there are literally thousands of amazing recipes available for free online. For those with time constraints, there are a big range of gluten free products on the market that allow you to eat almost anything you like.
Good luck with your gluten free eating and if you have any questions about gluten free baking feel free to contact us for help.