Going Gluten-Free, Part I: Baking
Giving up gluten but flummoxed by the flours available? Healthy Living is here to help! This is the first in a series of blogs celebrating freedom from gluten in all its forms, from pastas to pizzas and even pumpkin pies! Today we’ll talk about the foundation for any glorious gluten-free baked good: the flour. Then, we’ll share secrets for making gluten-free easy from Marta, our bakeshop expert.
We sell a myriad of gluten-free flours in the store; there’s something to satiate every baker at any skill level. If you’re one who starts the baking process by opening a bag of pre-measured and mixed flours and sugars, you’re in luck! We have certified gluten-free baking mixes from all your favorite brands. If you’re looking to make chocolate cake, Pamela’s mix yields a moist, decadent cake that your wheat-eating friends won’t believe is gluten-free. If you’d rather have something a little less sweet, turn to King Arthur; its bread mix works beautifully for sandwich loaves, baguettes, and even pizza crust! Bob’s Red Mill makes a finely-crumbed cornbread, Stonewall Kitchen gives you springy vanilla cupcakes, Kinnikinnik has a way to make pancakes as light as they are gluten-free…the list goes on. We’re confident that no matter your desired gluten-free goodie, we have a delicious mix to make it at home simply, quickly, and easily.
If you’re a little more confident in the kitchen and want to start baking up a gluten-free storm from scratch, we’ve got you covered. All-purpose flour mixes from King Arthur, Authentic Foods, and Arrowhead Mills provide the perfect canvas for your baked goods without intense amounts of mixing and measuring; no proportions to figure out or ratios to realize. Each one is different and uses a different mix of flours and starches to give it structure; we encourage you to try until you find one that works best for you and your family. Some are as nutritious as a bowl of vegan chili and some are best suited for the most divine desserts…but they’re all tried-and-true and tested by gluten-free bakers just like you.
As you gain familiarity with gluten-free flours, you may even want to start making your own baking mixes. Different ratios of grain and nut flours can produce radically different results; using mostly quinoa and coconut will give you a dense cake, whereas tapioca and potato can give you a dessert that’s lighter than air. We have all the building blocks you need to mix up a storm and a bulk department full of gluten-free options so you can experiment without breaking the bank. Looking for Teff, Ethiopia’s favorite ancient grain? Or maybe hazelnut flour for a tasty twist on a cinnamon roll? We’ve got them both, along with other internationally-loved flours like Garbanzo Bean and Sweet Sorghum. These specifically sourced flours are from certified GF sources like Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills…so you know you’re buying truly gluten-free.
Now that you’ve got the rundown on your flour options, you need to know how to use them! Here are some tips and tricks for gluten-free baking from Marta, our Saratoga store’s Bakeshop Lead (and gluten-free baking expert):
- Keep it Clean: Wash your hands, countertops, and mixing bowls thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination
- Chill Out: Store your GF flours in the freezer to preserve peak freshness
- Mix Quick: Use an electric mixer- it’s easier, more consistent, and helps eliminate lumps
- Get to know Xanthan Gum: it adds volume, structure, and viscosity to your batters and baked goods while simultaneously stabilizing and emulsifying. It’s a good thing.
- Let it rest: give your batter 30 minutes to sit post-mixing. It helps eliminate graininess by evenly incorporating fats and starches.
- Give it some Gusto: increase the amount of leaveners (ie baking powder), spices (such as cinnamon), and other flavorings (like vanilla) by a small amount. This will help ensure you have properly risen and deliciously flavored baked goods.
We want gluten-free to work for you, so we have a wide selection of GF flours and mixes available boxed, bagged, and in bulk. If you’re a regular baker and need tons of tapioca starch or a plethora of potato flour, we can special order large quantities (25 + lbs.) at Customer Service.
Join us next week as we delve into some of our favorite options for boxed and packaged cookies, crackers, and chips. Same bat time, same bat channel!