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ABCs of Gluten-free Baking

Gluten-free baking differs from traditional baking. While replicating ‘All Purpose Flour and Wheat Flour‘ the two magic flours of conventional baking, we need to play a different set of ‘rules’ to understand how new flours behave in Gluten-free baking. This article provides an insight of Gluten-free(GF) concepts and the key rules to be followed for successful GF baking.

The term ‘Gluten’

‘Gluten’ is an insoluble protein present in certain whole grains like Wheat, Barley, Rye and more. For example, Wheat grains contain two kind of proteins namely, Glutenin and Gliadin. When these two gets hydrated in the process of cooking, they form a new protein called ‘Gluten’.

Gluten acts as a binder and helps the food hold their shape. The hardness or softness of the food item depends greatly on the strength and grade of gluten present in them.

Gluten-free diet means..

A gluten-free(GF) food doesn’t include anything that has gluten in it. Best suited for people who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease. But we certainly don’t need to have any disease or allergy to go gluten-free!

Following a gluten-free diet makes us energetic, eases out digestive problems and also solves most of our subtle health issues that often go unnoticed until some complications flares up in our body.

Fortunately, we have a huge array of food products that are naturally gluten-free. As a pure vegetarian, I could find endless combos that can be prepared deliciously with easily procurable GF whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and more. Including gluten-free food more often in our daily menu is a brilliant way for overall health!

About Gluten-free Baking

In baking, Gluten plays an important role. It helps the dough to rise and maintain the structure of the bakes. Though the requirement ratio of gluten differs in each baked product, it is absolutely vital for elasticity or pliability in the bakes. It renders soft, supple, airy texture to the finished product.

No doubts it’s a challenge for the bakers to bake without gluten and still have the finished product that are nearly soft and supple as traditional bakes. But, understanding the science behind gluten-free baking and knowing the ingredients used will make our GF baking a breeze!

Key Points for Successful Gluten-free Baking

GF baking involves new baking techniques that are different from traditional baking principles. Also, to replicate the wonderful composition of All-purpose Flour or Wheat Flour – two popular flours in standard baking, we use multiple types of GF flours, plant-based starches or binders that gives fairly similar texture and flavour.

The points to follow for an amazing GF baking experience..

  1. A good blend of homemade or store-bought Gluten-Free Flour is necessary for a perfect GF bake. To enhance the texture, we use more of the heavy flours to medium flours together. For cakes, cookies and other light bakes, 65% of GF flour grains and 35% of plant-based starches can be used (will be discussed in detail in my upcoming post).
  2. Gluten-free flours needs more liquid for hydration. GF flours have good ratio of starches present in them that absorbs more liquid. The batter needs to be loose or flowing in consistency than that of conventional baking.
  3. Larger quantity of leavening agents (baking powder or baking soda) needed to improve the rise and volume of the bake.
  4. Overmixing is not an issue in GF baking. In fact they do good to the bake if you mix it longer. In standard baking, the presence of gluten makes it chewy if we overmix the batter. Here, there is no gluten present in flour and overmixing actually helps to build more structure and good rise of the GF bake.
  5. Gluten-free dough or batter needs to rest for min 30 mins before it goes into the oven. Some of the GF flours turn out gritty or sand-like texture after baking. Resting the batter enables the flours to absorb moisture that will help in softened, non-grainy bake.
  6. Needs more baking time at low temperature. The dough contains more liquid and some heavy flours. Hence slow-baking concept being followed to avoid gummy or mushy texture in the bake.
  7. Using a measuring scale while baking gluten-free goodies. Weigh the ingredients accurately using a digital scale as GF flours and starches are fine in texture and may not be weighed accurately by using measuring cups.
  8. Always use a oven thermometer and a timer. More often even after baking for a long time, GF bake appears to be underbaked. It looks mushy when it is hot. Once they get to room temperature, the starches present in the bake firms up giving the required structure. So, always use a timer and stick to the baking time given in the recipe instead of visual cue that we follow in traditional baking.

Oven thermometer helps to avoid hotspot issue found in some ovens. Temperature   regulation is crucial in GF baking.

Having discussed all these, I find GF baking interesting and fun! It gives a scope to try and test new dimensions in baking. By following few basic points given above, we can create wonderful GF bakes hassle-free.

Plz click the links for Gluten-free, Vegan Cake recipe..

Filter Coffee Jaggery Cake

Millet Banana Quick Bread

Happy Baking!

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