Gluten Free Baking by Michael Tighe (December 2013)
URL of this page: http://users.rcn.com/tighe/GF_Hints
Jump forward on this page to the most recent addendum about soy-free and dairy-free baking.
Here's the quick-and-dirty 2-minute version for Gluten Free. See (below for notes on Soy-Free)
Mix a box of corn starch
with a box of tapioca (1 lb each) with a 22-ounce bag
of soy flour to make about three and half pounds of general purpose
Use about 1+1/3 of a cup of this GF flour for
every cup requested in your wheat-based recipe.
Mix in about
a half teaspoon of xanthum gum per "cup" of the GF flour before
you add any liquids.
When you do add liquids, add more water or
honey than the recipe calls for (incrementally).
Bake at 350 degrees for a longer time (i.e., don't bake at 400).
Make sure when you make bread
or other yeast-based products that you shape it, let it
rise and then bake without handling it.
Here's the longer - more detailed version of the same thing:
Essentially, I got most of my information from a
website which I highly recommend. When she started
she was the "Gluten-Free-Girl" - now she's married a Chef,
so it's "The Gluten-Free-Girl and the Chef". It's so
cool she's found her way in this world!
The main site is here: (http://glutenfreegirl.com).
You'll want to wander her site, but the key page for
me was her explanation of how to make a gluten-free
flour with all the options clearly explained. You
can find that page here: (http://glutenfreegirl.com/2012/07/how-to-make-a-gluten-free-all-purpose-flour-mix/).
She explains how a good flour-mix requires 40% protein
and 60% starch (by weight) and she supplies a list of protien
flours and a list of starches. You then get to pick which
ones you want - depending on your dietary limitations and
taste preferences. Read her page, watch her video and you'll be all set.
I tried a couple and have found one
fairly good solution for my family, but it includes corn
and soy - which may not meet your needs. I found corn flour
adds a stronger taste than the soy flour and I found that
the potato starch/flour can leave a slightly bitter tang to the baked goods.
You need to experiment - but feel free to use my proportions
and ingredients as a starting point.
I've made bread, rolls, brownies, muffins, banana bread,
chocolate chip cookies, blueberry bread, strawberry bread and
more with this GF flour mix described here. And the report
from gluten-free and gluten-consumer alike is that the result
tastes good and has a really nice texture. So - universal
For me, I've found after some experimentation that
there are a number of important things that will improve your
process and success ratio.
Measuring Scale - Buy a scale that allows you to weigh
your flour mix - I have an inexpensive one that allows
you to weigh up to 11 pounds (more than I need at any
point in time). It has one cool feature (other than the
"show me grams/ounces/pounds" option): it has a "reset".
This means I can put the bowl on the scale, hit reset
and the scale "subtracts" the weight of the bowl. So when
I want to weigh 400 grams of flour, I can just put the
bowl on the scale, hit "reset" and then start dumping
flour - when it gets to 400 - I stop... so cool.
The Mix - As it happens, the mix I ended up
with almost exactly matches common packaging weights.
For me, I use soy flour, tapioca and corn starch.
To make a couple of cups of flour, I mix them as follows:
- 400 grams of soy flour,
- 300 grams of tapioca and
- 300 grams of corn starch.
If you buy tapioca and corn starch in 1-pound containers
you discover that the weight is 454 grams per pound. If you buy
the Arrowhead Mills Organic Soy Flour, you discover that
the package is 623 grams (22 ounces). Voila. That almost
exactly matches my original mix. Recently, what I've
been doing is just mixing the three packages as I get them
from the store. If I've got my scale and feel like a perfectionist, I
remove about two tablespoons of the soy flour to get
it back down to 605 grams (from 623) which makes it perfect!
(So far, I've not been able to tell the difference between
605 grams and 623 grams...)
Put them all into a larger sealable (airtight) container
and mix them up thoroughly by shaking it a lot. Use like
flour (as a thickener in gravy, like a surface for rolling
out dough, etc).
Weigh, Don't Measure - Each cup of this Gluten-Free (GF)
flour weighs a lot less than wheat-based flour. So if you
want to match an existing recipe (which is what I've been doing),
you must use 140 grams of this flour per "cup" of wheat
flour in the recipe. I've found on average this is
about 1 and 1/3 cups of the GF flour, but I weigh each and
every time unless I don't have a scale handy (e.g., while camping).
If you want 1+1/2 cups - use 210 grams. It's easy. I actually
made a table and consult it to make sure I get the number right.
Use Xanthum Gum - The "sticky-ness" of glutin in wheat
is one of the things that holds the dough "together". Without
it, much gluten-free baking becomes crumbly. I use Xanthum
Gum as a replacement. If you've ever chewed on a piece of
bubble gum or chewing gum - you have been exposed to Xanthum Gum!
I use between a half and a full teaspoon of xanthum gum per
140 grams (i.e., "one cup") of GF flour. I've not experimented
much since I found something that worked for me. I have noticed
that when xanthum gum gets wet - it gets slippery. I don't
don't know why. I don't think it's necessary
when making pie crusts and things you want to be crumbly, but
I have the feeling it's essential when making bread. If I
have time I'll experiment and write up more about what I've learned.
Use More Water - I've found that this
GF flour absorbs water
a lot faster and makes a lot thicker dough that's almost too
hard to mix. So I add another 10 to 20 percent water - sometimes
just adding the water a bit at a time till I get a consisitancy
that is similar to the one for normal wheat-based baking. That's
my definition of "feels right".... yours may be different. Overall,
I find the dough stickier and thicker. Adding water makes it
less thick, but still sticky. For most of my baking, I look for
something like sticky mashed potatoes. Can't describe it better!
Don't Handle It - When I try to make something that rises
(like muffins, rolls, bread), I've found that handling it after
the rise really deflates it and I get something with no loft.
Normal wheat-based baking has so much air trapped in the dough
that when you handle it - it still has lots of loft when you bake.
This hasn't worked too well for me with the GF flour. So I've taken
the approach of mixing up all the stuff I want, shaping it and
then I don't touch it again. Because the dough is so much thicker,
I don't use a cup-cake tin when making blueberry muffins - I
just dump the dough into cupcake liners on an open cookie pan.
They're thick enough to just sit and bake in their original
shape (no flowing). Sometimes when I make "rolls", I smooth
the outside of each roll by wetting a spoon with water and
rubbing and shaping the "roll" into something more like a
rounded lump rather than a "scoop of mashed potatoes". I like
to think that the wetting of the surface and smoothing it
produces a better culinary experience (looks nicer - less lumpy).
Bake At A Lower Temperature - I've found
that when I make
muffins and rolls and bread that the wheat-based recipe calls
for baking at 400 degrees. I have found that with my GF mix, this
causes the outside to be brown or almost burned in spots when the inside
is barely done. I think this is because of the soy-flour (not really
sure, justa gut feel). I've taken to reducing my baking temp for this
GF flour to 350 degrees and adding five minutes or more to the
baking time. I specifically test with toothpicks each and
every time because nothing puts you off more than a goopy or
glue-like interior when you bite into a roll or muffin, and
GF baking already has challenges enough! You want the toothpick
to slide in smoothly and come back out without anything on it
or only dry "fluffy" bits of the dough. I test every time I
bake, and if I'm "not sure" - I give it another three to five
minutes since that won't hurt - it'll just make the outside
a little browner and let me be SURE that the interior is cooked.
In some cases, I put it back for yet another five minutes,
especially when the thing is big (e.g., a loaf of bread rather
than rolls) - since it takes longer for the heat to get to
the center of the baked goodie.
Here's one quick recipe - it can be used to make rolls or two small loaves of bread:
4 cups of flour (560 grams of GF flour)
2 or 3 teaspoons of xanthum gum
four tablespoons of sugar
two teaspoons of salt
12 oz hot water
1 package yeast (make sure it's GF)
a big squirt of honey
vegetable oil (e.g., olive oil)
coarse salt (e.g., kosher salt)
For me, I add a touch (sprinkle) of garlic powder
and rosemary powder to bring some aromatic
flavors to the dough. But that's all personal
Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, xanthum gum, aromatics)
Mix the wet ingredients (hot water, honey)
Pour yeast into the hot water/honey mixture
Mix the yeast up really well.
Add liquid to the dry ingredients and mix.
You will have to add water (about 4 oz) to the mix to make it pliable.
(Rolls: makes about sixteen "lumps" each of which is two inches across.)
(Loaves are long and narrow like a loaf of french bread - make two.)
Cover with waxed paper and let it rise at least an hour.
Wet the top surface of the rolls/loaves with the oil and sprinkle course salt on it.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes for rolls, 20-25 minutes for bread.
Test with a clean toothpick. If it is not perfectly clean, bake for
another three-to-five minutes and test again. Repeat till you are
convinced it's done.
Take it out. Best if served warm, but it's great a day later.
Refrigerate it if you intend to keep it more than a day or two - it molds quickly.