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The Essential Gluten Free Baking Guide [2024]

How to bake without the gluten. It’s easier (and tastier) than you may think. We’ll show you how to get started today.

Gluten Free Baking Guide

Starting out on the road to gluten free eating can be frightening for some, while others view it as a mild inconvenience. It’s important to remember that just because you can’t (or won’t) eat gluten, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of eating tasty food. It just means you need to go about things in a different way. This gluten free baking guide will hopefully get you up and running with minimal hassle.

The team at Well and Good spends a lot of their year attending gluten free Expos and other similar events. When we get talking to the people there, many say they feel alone and don’t have the information they need to eat right. Well, let’s dispel that myth now. There are loads of resources online, as well as community groups and organisations that can help.

A good starting point for information

  • Coeliac Australia – A useful resource with lots of information about coeliac disease, fact sheets, and info on eating gluten free. There is also a membership that provides support and lots more information.
  • Dietitians Association of Australia – Need assistance putting together a meal plan that’s gluten free and healthy, then visit this website to find a dietitian in your area.

Of course, you can also check out our extensive list of gluten free recipes or simply contact us for any gluten free baking advice.

Join the Community

Once you go gluten free it’s a good idea to become an active part of this community. This will provide you with lots of information and provide a real sense of community. You’ll notice that we are a close-knit group who are very passionate about gluten free eating.

An excellent place to join the discussion is Facebook. You can search for “gluten free” and filter by groups. To get you started, a popular group here in Australia is Gluten Free and Friendly Recipes.

Facebook groups are just one option, though. There are loads of other communities, both online and offline. A very popular international forum where you can ask questions and learn loads is the Gluten Free Society. Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok also have thriving communities living gluten free lives.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein that’s in a lot of foods. It derives from wheat, rye, and barley. A coeliac’s small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten which makes digesting food more challenging. The immune system reacts abnormally to gluten, and damage to the bowel results.

what is gluten

Gluten is found in wheat-based flour and is an important part of the baking process, providing structure and elasticity. Thankfully, other ingredients do a similar job to gluten without the unpleasant side effects.

Why Eat Gluten Free?

Those who suffer from Coeliac Disease or gluten sensitivity need to cut gluten out of their diet or face health problems ranging from minor to extremely severe.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body reacts abnormally to gluten, causing small bowel damage. Villi are tiny finger-like projections that line the bowel; they are flattened and become inflamed when gluten is consumed. This condition is a type of atrophy that reduces the available surface of the bowel to absorb the food’s nutrients.

Below is an illustration showing how the villi are affected by gluten. Be sure to check out our guide on what is coeliac disease to learn more.

Illustration of healthy vs. damaged villi

For others, a gluten free diet could be a dietary or lifestyle choice.

Where is gluten found?

Gluten is found in a wide range of foods, so always check the label. Many common ingredients for baking contain gluten. In addition to wheat flour, other potential gluten-containing products include bread crumbs, sprinkles, malt, brewer’s yeast, biscuits, and thickeners.

How to bake gluten free

Those starting out baking gluten free and anyone short on time will find baking mixes a huge time-saver. They’re also a fail-proof way to cook. More adventurous cooks can choose to bake from scratch.

Option 1: Using baking mixes

This is a super easy option, and anyone can use mixes. Simply add the mix to a bowl with a few other ingredients like oil, eggs, or water. Check out our range of baking mixes for a good selection of cakes, slices, breads, and biscuits. You can use most mixes for several different recipes.

A few of our most popular mixes

  • Chocolate Mud Cake – This rich, indulgent mud cake is a chocolate lover’s delight. Great for a treat or for birthday parties.
  • Crusty Bread Mix – A gluten free bread that has a crusty exterior and soft white fluffy bread inside. The best part is you can use this bread for so many other recipes, including hot cross buns, pizza bases, and challah bread.
  • Muffin Mix – You can create a huge range of baked goods, including orange poppy seed cake, tea cake, waffles, and, of course, muffins.

Option 2: Baking from scratch

Baking with flour blends: Baking from scratch will give you a sense of achievement and allow greater control of your nutrition. When you read baking recipes, you’ll often see them calling for gluten free plain flour or self raising flour. This refers to flour blends that include other ingredients like corn flour and natural gums. These extras are necessary as they do the job that gluten would normally do.

We offer a range of flour blends, which include plain flour, self raising flour, and pastry flour. Try to avoid searching for wheat-based recipes and then substituting with gluten free flour. It doesn’t always perform the same as wheat flour. Instead, search for gluten free recipes.

gluten-free-flours-rawBaking with raw ingredients: If you’re looking to add some excitement and extra nutrition to your baking, then you could look to use raw ingredients. They taste great and have lots of extra nutritional benefits like increased protein and fibre.

These flours have nothing added, so you’ll often need to blend two or more flours to get the result you’re after. This topic could have its own blog, so if you’d like to know more, then check out this flour guide infographic.

5 tips for better gluten free baking

  1. Increase the moisture: Cooking GF can cause your food to turn a bit crumbly and dry. Mixing equal parts of milk and yoghurt will help keep your final product less dry.
  2. Increase the butter: If you’re following a wheat flour recipe, then consider increasing the butter content. This helps add more moisture to your baking.
  3. Add some protein: If water is used in the recipe, consider replacing some of it with an egg to help with the structure of the baking.
  4. Flour storage: If there’s room, store your gluten free flours in the freezer. Remember to remove from the freezer a little earlier to bring the temperature down to room temp.
  5. Be persistent: You’re likely to have some failures when cooking from scratch. Don’t let that put you off, though. Be persistent, and you’ll get there!

5 bonus tips for baking gluten free bread

  1. continental-dark-breadFor gluten free bread that’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, bake in a hot oven for a short time.
  2. Use warm water to combine with the yeast. This is necessary to activate the yeast
  3. Use a wooden spoon and hand mix rather than using a mixer.
  4. Brush the dough with olive oil as the dough proves This helps keep trap the moisture and creates a lovely environment for the yeast.
  5. Cover your dough with a damp tea towel, as this helps with the proving process.

Gluten free baking videos

If you prefer to follow recipes by watching a video, then be sure to check out our Youtube Recipe Videos. We’ve compiled a large selection of recipes that even a novice can easily follow. Here’s an example video below, which shows you how to make amazing fresh doughnuts.

Gluten free safety

If someone in your household is unable to eat gluten, it’s important to maintain a safe kitchen. The safest option is to have a kitchen that’s completely gluten free – this avoids any cross-contamination issues.

gluten free safety tipsHowever, this is usually not practicable as other family members and guests will often want gluten-containing foods. If you decide to have gluten in your kitchen, then follow these steps to reduce cross-contamination of foods.

  1. Implement a storage system – a good method is to have a different colour code for gluten and non-gluten foods. Get some cheap stickers from Officeworks and go crazy labeling. Then store each type on separate shelves or in different cupboards.
  2. Buy Two – For appliances like sifters that are difficult to clean, buy two and clearly label each one.
  3. Cleanliness – Wash hands frequently. Clean plates, pans, utensils, and even your kitchen’s drawers often. It is best to have separate chopping boards and also avoid wooden boards, which tend to trap residues in small cracks.
  4. Never reuse – Don’t reuse boiled water used to cook gluten-containing food. The same goes for oil.

A final few words…

Eating gluten free can be a shock for some when they first start. There are certainly some changes that need to be made, but once you have a good system in place, it should be fairly straightforward.

gluten free carrot cake

A life without gluten does not mean a life without delicious food. For those who love to cook, there are thousands of amazing recipes available for free online. For those with time constraints, there is a big range of gluten free products on the market that allows you to eat almost anything you like.

Good luck with your gluten free eating, and if you have any questions about gluten free baking, feel free to contact us for help.

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