Gluten Free Baking is quite a bit different from conventional baking because gluten is such an integral part of the process. Gluten is the stretchy substance that gives structure to products as they rise.
Think of a
whole bunch of tiny balloons filled with air. The air is caused by the chemical
reaction of your leavener (yeast, baking powder, baking soda) and the
structure, the part that holds the air in, like the rubber of the balloon, is
In gluten free baking, the leavening is done the same way; yeast, baking powder, baking soda, in addition to some mechanical leavening with egg whites, carbonated water or gluten free beer. Where you run into trouble is with the structure. That’s why gluten free products tend to be smaller and denser.
So the challenge in gluten free baking has been to achieve that nice light, airy texture and keep the product from going flat. A number of ingredients are used for this. The most common are xantham gum and guar gum. Both are highly processed additives which I try to steer away from if I can. Some of my recipes do call for gums and if I think it’s necessary, I’ll lean more toward guar gum because it is plant based and it seems to flavor the end product less. If it’s not absolutely necessary though, I’ll leave it out.
Flours used for gluten free baking are a bit more complicated too. There is no single flour that does a good job of replacing wheat flour in baking so you usually end up with a blend of flours. Similar to wheat flour though, different ones work better for different purposes.
Quick breads are nice to keep around. They are a little easier to make than yeast breads and even the ‘glutinous’ members of the family love them. I have a few varieties of breads and muffins that I like to keep around, but I’d say the banana bread and the carrot muffins are the most popular. Hubby likes the cornbread too ;)
The other thing about quick breads is once you get the hang of it, you can convert your conventional recipes quite easily. You can substitute a gluten free all purpose flour blend cup for cup with all purpose wheat flour. Many recipes for gluten free muffins call for xanthan or guar gum. If you are converting a recipe start with 1/4 teaspoon of gum per cup of flour. Take a look at the flour you're using, it may already have gum included in the blend so you don't want to over-do it.. Some people are sensitive to gums so if you think this might be you, you can leave it out of most quick breads.
These are nice to have as treats. I often take something like this when I’m going to someone’s house for dinner. That way I know there will be a dessert that I can have, and it’s a good opportunity to share and let others taste and see that gluten free can be appealing and delicious.