The Importance of Baking by Weightgluten-free-flour

I’ve always been told that baking is more of a science than cooking, but apparently I never really listened when they said ‘exact measurements.’  The suggestion of a scale in the kitchen had always remained that – a suggestion. I followed recipes closely, leveling cups and teaspoons, and my baked goods always turned out great…until I started baking gluten-free.   After many dense cakes and crumbly brownies, I gave the scale a go following the suggestion of the many talented gluten-free bloggers out there (check out my good stuff page for fantastic sites).  Being the nerd I am, I researched gluten-free substitution on end and found out that each type of flour has a very different taste and weight.  You can’t simply exchange one gluten-free flour, such as brown rice flour, for all-purpose flour.  You have to create a blend of whole grain flours and starches; more on that below.  Your best bet?  Make a big container of your favorite gluten-free blend to keep on hand.  When a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, simply replace it with the equal amount (in weight) of your gluten-free blend.  What if the recipe calls for cups and you don’t know how much regular flour weighs?  Here’s a conversion chart that you can use.  What if you need to know the weight of gluten-free flours and starches?  This fine lady made a gluten-free conversion chart so you don’t  have to.  (I keep these printed on the inside of my cupboard).  It’s time to stop being overwhelmed at the idea of “GF” (the common acronym for gluten-free) baking and have some fun with it.  It’s all the rage people!  Even the New York Times is talking about it.

Gluten-free Mixes

Okay so we’ve got the weight thing figured out…but what about the actual mix?  What should you use?  Well, once you’ve entered the world of allergies and sensitivities, you become all too aware that we can be sensitive to nearly anything.  Just because something is gluten-free does not mean it works for you.  I, for example, can’t eat flax seed or tapioca – and those ingredients are in a ton of gluten-free products, but they could be perfectly fine for you!  Read ingredients or, better yet, make your own creations.  I’ve listed descriptions of flours and starches to the right under “What is this stuff?”  Nearly everyone should be able to develop a mix from those flours listed, unless you eat entirely grain free, in which case you should work with almond and coconut flour.  A good rule for everyday baking and cooking is to make your mix consist of 70% whole grain flour, 30% starch and a binding agent if you so choose to use.  The high whole grain level keeps the food nutrient dense and will cause less of a spike in your blood sugar.  I recommend using at least 2-3 whole grain flours mixed with 2-3 starches.  For holiday baking and special cakes you may want to change the ratio to 50% of each whole grain and starch, but keep in mind it’s less nutritious.

Below are some of my favorite mixes.  Remember: I’m doing this by weight (grams or ounces), not by volume, and you should too.  Buy a scale.  Seriously.  They’re pretty cheap.  I suggest making a big ol’ batch of flour that you keep on hand, that way it’s just as easy for you to decide to bake cookies at 11pm at night as it is for someone cooking with regular flour.  Just remember to replace the flour called for in the recipe with the same weight of your gluten free blend.  Let’s do an example: if your recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of flour, and you’re trying to replace it with a gluten-free blend, you would use this chart to determine that you need to substitute with 187.5 grams or 6 5/8 ounces of your gluten-free blend.  Most people choose to add a binding agent, such as xantham gum or guar gum to help with structure, but some people choose to bake without it.  Take a look at the pages to the right to learn more about each type of flour, starch, and binding agent, as I certainly haven’t used all in the mixes below.  There are countless possibilities.

These Mixes Make 1000 g Large Containers

Whole Grain Blend                                  

  1. 250 g Brown Rice Flour
  2. 250 g Sorghum Flour
  3. 100 g Sweet Rice Flour
  4. 150 G Arrowroot
  5. 150 g Potato Starch
  6. xantham gum or guar gum*
* The general rule is to use one teaspoon of binding agent for every cup of gluten-free flour when making bread, and half to three quarters of a teaspoon for other baked goods.

High Protein Blend

  1. 250 g Quinoa Flour
  2. 250 g Brown Rice Flour
  3. 100 g Almond Flour
  4. 150 g Arrowroot
  5. 150 g Sweet Rice Flour
  6. xantham gum or guar gum*
* The general rule is to use one teaspoon for every cup of gluten-free flour when making bread and half to three quarters of a teaspoon for other baked goods.
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