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.

Some Fabulous Gluten-Free Flours and Baking Mixes
Some Fabulous Gluten-Free Flours and Baking Mixes

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.

GF Flours in our VT Bulk Department (Don't worry, NY has all these, too!)
GF Flours in our VT Bulk Department (Don’t worry, NY has all these, too!)

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!