By Suzanne Anthony
1. In baking, the magic ingredient is LOVE. The secret ingredient is CONFIDENCE. You can be a better GF baker.
2. Practice, practice practice. Build a base of knowledge and grow from there. You can easily gain knowledge by reading, watching and listening. In time you will develop instincts. Listen to them too.
3. Read the recipe over thoroughly. I suggest following it exactly as written (and in order) the first time you make it. Be prepared to make that thing at least 3 times. (Not necessarily in the same day).
4. As you go along experimenting, date the recipes you have worked on converting and write notes to yourself. You may want to go back to it again and this will make things more clear in your mind.
5. It is said that gluten-free baked goods are typically best eaten the day they are made. I have found most can be left loosely covered at room temperature for a few days. Refrigeration can often cause the item to become hard and shrink. Some items will do better refrigerated. Experiment to decide what works best for each item. Often times, the recipe will tell you what to do.
6. Some things that could go wrong and some possible fixes
• Kind of hard & getting harder – bake for less time, or could be too much xanthan gum. Also take your oven’s temperature.
• Tasted kind of blah – use a variety – a medley of flours – to round out the flavor. GF baking usually requires more spices, salt, and vanilla extract than traditional baking because they are very bland tasting as compared to wheat flour to begin with. Start at double the amount and go from there. Since GF flours are so bland, you will know when enough extra spicing is enough.
• It got too brown – Check your oven’s temperature. Or ease off on the baking soda. Did the recipe say 1T or 1t? There’s a big difference.
• The texture is weird and all wrong. No it’s not, now stop imagining things. Let’s get used to something new.
7. Common-sense rules the world of GF baking too. An all-purpose mix made with bean flours may taste alright for some things but if you are making cupcakes, you may want to rethink your plan. Stir slowly. They say you cannot over mix GF batters. I disagree. Also do not attempt to bake when the school bus is coming. You should be relaxed and able to focus. Follow the recipe in the exact order as written. On a second attempt, it is best to change just one thing at a time that you didn’t like about the baked good. You can learn a lot this way.
8. You will need to use xanthan gum to hold your baked good together. It stands in for the now missing gluten. There is a chart on the back of Bob’s Red Mill brand. Follow the chart. As you proceed, try to use as little as possible.
9. Create your own GF bake mix by using 2 parts flour to 1 part starch. For starch you can use Arrowroot, Tapioca, Potato.
10. When measuring out flours or your baking mix remember “SSS” Sift, Scoop, Sweep. Brown Rice, Millet and Sorghum flours are good ones to start out with.
11. Baking Powder will make things puff or RISE. Baking Soda will make things SPREAD. If there is an acid such as orange juice, vinegar, molasses, or chocolate in the batter then baking soda can also make things rise. Baking soda is four times stronger than baking powder. Wow!
12. Always use quality ingredients. Are your flours within date? Is your baking powder and baking soda still good? Things can go bad. Seal tightly and store GF flours in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh.
13. Sometimes it’s the fault of the recipe. There are no recipe police out there. I have come across many that are truly not right.
14. Above all do not get discouraged. Baking is fun and is a great way to show love. And it helps keep our brains young by using all those basic math skills.
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