Those with celiac disease or other dietary sensitivities may find that their health improves when they adopt a gluten-free diet, or a diet which is free from wheat products. While many people are intimidated by the notion of gluten-free baking, a few useful tips may be all the home cook needs to produce delicious, wheat-free baked goods. Among the most important points for successful gluten-free baking are using the correct flour types and measuring all ingredients carefully. Bakers should also be prepared to handle the stickiness that is typical of gluten-free dough. Finally, it is important to mix dough thoroughly and to use proper bakeware to prevent sogginess.
One of the most important steps in gluten-free baking is using the correct flour types. While most health food stores and some supermarkets stock several different gluten-free flour options, such as rice flour, almond flour, and tapioca flour, many people find that using only one of these flours results in baked goods that lack depth of flavor. For richer flavor, many gluten-free baking experts recommend mixing two or more of these flours together. Some home cooks opt to experiment with different blends until they have found a mixture which satisfies them. Those who are apprehensive about blending their own flours may wish to purchase a premixed blend.
Careful measurement of all ingredients is also a crucial part of gluten-free baking. Adding too much flour can result in a dish which is heavy and dense. Excess xantham gum, a dry ingredient used in most gluten-free recipes to create dough elasticity, can create foods which are tough and hard. To avoid undesirable results, be sure to carefully follow the measurements called for by a recipe.
Bakers should also be prepared to handle the stickiness that is typical of most gluten-free dough. It may be necessary to apply non-stick cooking spray or oil to mixing spoons or other utensils which will be used to combine dough. For dough which must be patted or kneaded, such as pizza crust, it is helpful to periodically wet the hands with water during handling. Baking gluten-free dough on top of parchment paper or silicon mats can help prevent the finished product from sticking.
Many of those bakers accustomed to working with wheat flour know that over-mixing wheat dough can result in a tough final product. In gluten-free baking, however, the opposite is generally true. Under-mixing gluten-free dough, in other words, can result in a tough, heavy final product. Therefore, home bakers should take care to mix ingredients for the full amount of time called for by a recipe.
Finally, gluten-free bakers should use proper bakeware to prevent sogginess. When baking items like cookies or pizza crust, using a preheated baking stone can help create a crisp final product. To produce a crust with a pleasant crunch, those making bread may find it useful to remove loaves from their baking pans and place them directly on a preheated baking stone for the last few minutes of cooking time.