Gluten-Free Baking FAQs
We’ve been having beautiful weather here in the DC area, and the holiday season has snuck up on me this year. Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week?!
To get you prepared for holiday baking, I have asked our resident gluten-free baking expert, Kathleen, to share answers to some of her frequently asked baking questions. Kathleen creates delicious recipes for our Baking Free™ blog, so she is well-versed in the nuances of gluten-free baking. Baking Free blog!
Why do you always recommend that I weigh the flour?
Gluten-free flour is light in weight. If you just scoop 1 cup out of the bag, you might get as much as 1½ cups in the scoop before you level it. Too much flour in a recipe might cause it to cook unevenly and the final result may be very heavy. Our flour should be spooned into a bowl and weighed. 1 cup weighs 124 grams. Doing this one thing will help solve many, many problems when baking gluten-free. Kitchen scales are inexpensive and very helpful in gluten-free baking.
Baking Free™ All Purpose Flour already contains xanthan gum. Why do some of your recipes call for more?
Yes, our flour contains a minimal amount of xanthan gum which helps in stabilizing the baked item. I find that our flour works for many recipes without any additions. However, certain recipes benefit from an additional bit of xanthan gum. It helps keep cakes from falling in the center and cookies from going too flat. I always test recipes without the additional xanthan gum before including it in a recipe. If I think it helps with the final product, I include it. I usually start by adding only ½ teaspoon of additional xanthan gum to a recipe to see if it will help with getting the best results.
Why do some of your recipes call for “room temperature” or melted butter and some call for “very cold” pieces of butter?
Ideal butter temperature depends on the recipe. If you want a very flakey pie crust or scone, you use cold butter so it is distributed throughout the batter in tiny modules. These melt as they are baked and they make the final result light and flakey. In cake and muffin batters, you want it incorporated into the whole baked item so you use melted or room temperature butter according to the recipe.
Why do some recipes call for butter and shortening?
This is a method of balancing the melting point of the shortening in a recipe. Butter melts at a lower temperature than shortening. In some recipes (such as chocolate chip cookies), both are required so the cookies don’t go too flat. If you use only butter in that recipe, the cookies will taste great but spread too much in baking. Therefore, the recipe calls for both.
Why do some recipes call for granulated sugar and brown sugar?
This is strictly for taste. Brown sugar adds flavor, but granulated and brown sugar bake in similar ways. Brown sugar still has some of what would be molasses if removed. Light brown sugar just has more of what would be molasses taken out, so dark brown sugar has a stronger flavor. They bake the same in recipes.
How does altitude affect baking?
Recipes are published to work at (or near) sea level. If you live 2,500, 5,000 or 7,000 feet above sea level, there are specific adjustments to be made in any baking project (gluten-free or gluten-full) for the recipe to work. If you have never baked before, ask an experienced baker if they make adjustments in baking recipes because of the altitude. You can also search on line for information about high-altitude baking.
Still have questions? Contact Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more holiday tips and festive gluten-free recipes, check out our newest eBook, “How to Enjoy Your Gluten-Free Holidays,” which is available for FREE until 11/18/2015 on our Daily Deals page (scroll to the bottom of the page for the deal). If you enjoy the book, please feel free to post a review on Amazon. This is our first experience using Amazon to promote our eBooks, and it would be a tremendous help to have your support.