No fear: A starter on gluten-free baking
Here are some tips from the experts for gluten-free baking:
- There are numerous flours that can be used in place of those that contain gluten. Experiment to find a taste and texture you like, trying combinations of flour. Sorghum flour, for example, can provide protein and structure to baked goods, while potato starch can help lighten and soften the crumb. Tapioca flour can lend a more traditional bread-like consistency. Make your own basic flour blend with 11/2 cups sorghum flour, 11/2 cups potato starch or cornstarch and 1 cup tapioca flour.
- Think thickeners. Without gluten to act as a binder in breads and other baked goods, you won't get much rise unless you replace it. Xanthan and guar gums (both available at natural-foods stores) are all-natural substitutes.
- Start with quick breads and cookies. They are generally easier to make than bread.
- Let ingredients come to room temperature before using them. This helps the rising process.
- Accuracy is key. Make sure you measure carefully. Aerate flour by stirring it with a whisk before measuring. Don't pack the measuring cup. And after you've filled the measuring cup, level it with a knife. Skipping that last step can add 20 percent more flour to your recipe.
- Don't over-cream butter and sugar when making cookies. Blend them just enough to combine the ingredients, then refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight to make it easier to shape.
- Gluten-free doughs and batters are almost always wetter than their conventional counterparts. Bread dough should be the consistency of cake batter and does not need to be kneaded.
- Gluten-free bread doughs need only one rising.
- Bake in smaller portions. Two smaller loaves of bread will come out better than one large loaf. Round pans bake better than square ones.
- Use nonstick pans for breads and quick breads. And use a little extra oil or butter to coat them. Avoid glass, aluminum and ceramic; your goodies may not cook evenly and can stick to these pans.
- Invest in parchment paper or a silicone baking pan liner for delicious cookies that don't stick or fall apart immediately. You can reuse parchment paper several times.
- Let most baked goods cool at least 10 minutes before removing them from the pan. Then let them cool further on a rack. This will help prevent crumbling.
- Store bread and baked goods in the refrigerator or freezer — or just eat them immediately. This improves the consistency and helps prevent mold. Gently toast or warm them on a low power setting in the microwave.
- If your grocer and natural-foods store don't have the ingredients you need, check out The Gluten-free Mall at http:www.glutenfreemall.com and Bob's Red Mill at http:www.bobsredmill.com.
— The Associated Press
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