I like to say that baking is chemistry, and gluten-free baking is a science.
The secret to baking gluten-free goodies that are very close to the real thing lies in producing the “stretch factor” without gluten and using the right mix of gluten-free flours.
Creating the Illusion of Gluten
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt that creates the “stretch factor” in batters and dough. Adding xanthan gum, guar gum, or psyllium husk to the mix helps create the same stretchy properties, and results in a chewy rather than crumbly baked good.
The Right Mix
In general, a mix of gluten-free flours will always be better than a single gluten-free flour. This is because no gluten-free flour can closely mirror glutinous all-purpose flour.
The gluten-free flours I use most frequently are sorghum, millet, brown rice, and tapioca. To add richness, I also sometimes add almond or hazelnut meal into the mix. A lot of my recipes have been developed through trial-and-error, but there are also many resources online for gluten-free baking.
I buy my own flours separately and combine them in different ratios depending on the recipe, but there are also some great gluten-free flour mixes out there: My favorite brand for all of my gluten-free flours is Bob’s Red Mill and Namaste is a close second. You can find gluten-free flours at most mainstream grocery stores these days, although it is usually cheaper to order them online.
Gluten-free baking is a bit more complex than glutinous baking, but I promise the results are so much better than store-bought gluten-free baked goods.
These yogurt mini-muffins are the perfect grab-and-go breakfast or snack, packed with whole grains and protein. I offer two mix-in options below (coconut-chocolate chip and cranberry-pistachio), but feel free to add other nuts, dried fruit, or sweet morsels of your choosing. This is recipe is adapted from the Kitchn.
1 cup sorghum
1/2 cup millet
1/2 cup tapioca
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
For coconut-chocolate chip:
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pistachios
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a mini-muffin tin (if you have convection, use it!).
In a mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, yogurt, and vanilla until smooth.
Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in chosen mix-ins.
Divide batter evenly into muffin tin (I use my medium cookie scoop) and bake for 15-18 minutes until tops are golden brown and firm. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container on the counter for 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
I’m gluten-free so quinoa is part of my everyday life, but I think most gluten eaters appreciate quinoa the most on Passover, when more mainstream grains like wheat, barley, and rice are off-limits. This quinoa salad is very versatile in that you can use pretty much whatever vegetables you like depending what is in season. Here I do a roasted veggie medley of sweet potatoes, onions, zucchini, and bell peppers, but asparagus, tomato and scallion would be just as delicious.
1 sweet potato, diced
1 red onion, chopped
2 zucchini, quartered and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, cubed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon (about 1 Tbsp)
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
dash of pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease two baking sheets. Spread sweet potatoes and onions on one baking sheet and zucchini and bell peppers on another. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of olive oil over each baking sheet. Roast zucchini and peppers for 10 minutes, sweet potatoes and onions for 25 minutes. Remove to a large bowl.
In the meantime, place quinoa, water, and 1/4 tsp salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and rest for 10 minute before fluffing with a fork.
Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Add quinoa to vegetables and drizzle dressing over top, mixing to combine.
Serve cold or at room temperature.
Food related traditions like hamantashen are some of my favorite parts of being Jewish. I had to work on this hamantashen recipe for a while, because creating a gluten-free cookie dough that can be rolled and cut is no easy task. But I think I’ve finally got it (don’t skip chilling the dough, it really makes all the difference)!
This recipe makes hamentashen that are crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. If you prefer them to be completely crispy, bake an additional 2-3 minutes.
*Make sure you choose a gluten-free flour that includes xanthan gum (I like Bob's Wonderful Bread Mix or Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend), or add 1 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum with the flour.
Cream margarine and sugar on high for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, allowing to combine before adding the next.
In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3 cups of gluten-free flour (and xanthan gum if required). Turn mixer to the lowest speed and add to wet mixture a 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the dry ingredients to be incorporated before adding more. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
Divide the dough into four parts, roll each into a ball, wrap separately in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Dust the counter and the rolling pin with gluten-free flour. Remove 1 dough ball from the refrigerator and cut into circles using a 4 oz. mason jar or small juice glass (if the dough is too sticky to roll out and cut, add additional flour a tablespoon at a time until it is pliable enough). Fill with 1/4 tsp tsp of filling, pinch into a triangle, and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Repeat with remaining dough balls.
Rella Kaplowitz has blogged gluten-free and mostly dairy-free as the Penny Pinching Epicure for the last 3 years. In "real life," Rella lives in Washington, DC with her husband where she specializes in organizational improvement consulting for the federal government.