Gluten-free food is having a bit of a moment right now but unfortunately, many baked goods haven’t gotten the memo.
While there are lots of baked goods that make my gluten-free heart sing, many are dry, crumbly and lack any trace of flavour. Gluten-free baked goods can also be extremely pricey, making it difficult to justify the extra splurge. Quality gluten-free bakeries are few and far between, with top-notch Antoinette's Bakery on Kevin Street closing its doors for good a few years ago and Finn Ní Fhaolain’s Milish Bakery in Bundoran not yet open.
That’s where home-baked goods come into play; you get the satisfaction of creating a masterpiece, while also ensuring your food is tastier (and probably cheaper) than store-bought. However, lots of people often complain about how hard it is to produce gluten-free baked goods at home, often sticking to the cardboard-like shop-bought alternatives. To that, I have to say that yes, gluten-free baking does take some time to get used to, but once you master it, you won’t even be able to tell the difference between what is and isn’t gluten-free.
Want to try your hand at gluten-free baking at home? Try the following tips to perfect your products.
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Start with the basics
If you’re anything like me, you miss random things you never thought you would, like croissants and doughnuts, which are baked goods I’d never really been partial to before I changed my diet. I put all this down to good old fashioned envy – if you tell me I can’t have it, then I 100% want to eat it ASAP. While I have cautiously ventured towards more extravagant bakes, I only did so once I was sure I’d mastered the basics, like pancakes and brownies. Start small and work your way up to recipes that require a lot of work and technique.
Add extra liquid
Gluten-free baked goods are notoriously dry and sandy, coating your mouth with unpleasant crumbs when you eat them. To combat this, extra liquid is 100% necessary. When I’m baking a cake that calls for 200ml milk, I usually add in an extra 100ml to make sure it won’t dry out. The liquid doesn't always have to be milk: just increase whatever liquid the recipe calls for and the end result will be far superior.
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Cook at a lower temperature
This tip ties into the one above; The more fluid your mixture is, the longer it will take to cook. If the temperature of your oven is up too high then your food will more than likely dry out, burn or brown. To make sure you avoid this, reduce the temperature of your oven by a few degrees. It might mean that your food will take a little longer, but your baked goods definitely won’t turn out dry or overly-browned.
Add extra raising agent
I always add a quarter teaspoon of extra raising agent to my mixture, just to give my baking a little boost. The lack of gluten means that baked goods are often missing springiness or they don’t rise properly. By adding a tiny bit more raising agent, like baking powder or baking powder, your baked goods are guaranteed to rise and turn out perfectly springy and fluffy.
Always add xantham gum
This is my top tip for gluten-free baking. Xantham gum is a thickener that replicates the properties of gluten, resulting in a texture very similar to regular products. Some store-bought flour blends already contain xantham gum, so you might not always need to add it, but it’s always good to have some on hand for any gluten-free baking.
Do you have any gluten-free baking tips? Let us know in the comments below.
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