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So, you’ve gone gluten-free but can’t seem to beat your cookie craving?  We get it.  We like our food full of healthy goodness, but we still can’t resist one of our specialty brownies at the end of a meal.  What’s a healthy eater supposed to do when faced with nothing but gluten-full dessert options?  Get creative!  Think outside of your traditional unbleached, all-purpose bag of flour!

We looked to Google for help with this and discovered some great blogs devoted to gluten-free cooking and baking.  We were amazed at the wealth of ideas and culinary creativity people have come up with to feed their dessert needs!  For the purposes of this blog entry, we’re going to focus on gluten-free baking, but there are other blogs full of great recipes for dairy-free, sugar-free and vegan baking that we definitely want to get back to in the future.  For now though, let’s jump into the gluten-free bowl!

The simplest gluten-free flour substitute we found came from Geri Peacock of the gluten-free Cherbourg Bakery in Columbus, Ohio via the kitchn.  Geri recommends using a combination of 1 lb. of white rice flour whisked together with a half cup of tapioca flour.  This combo works best in recipes that call for 2 cups of flour or less, so your cookies, brownies, bars, etc. are good to go!  A lot of gluten-free recipes can get pretty complicated with their flour mixes, xanthum gum, guar gum, and other complicated flour substitutes, but Geri has found that her combo is both simple and inexpensive–and who isn’t looking for more of those things in their life?

If you’re just starting down this gluten-free baking road, you may want to start with some pre-made mixes.  It seems that Bob’s Red Mill products are pretty popular, so feel free to give those a whirl, but King Arthur (a favorite flour brand) has some gluten-free mixes out as well, and we’re thinking they may be worth a try, too.  Got a rainy weekend to kill?  Buy a couple of different brands and taste test to begin to discover which flour or flour combinations you like best.  If you’re looking to make your own combos, take a peek at some of these recipes: all-purpose gluten-free flour mix, Jeanne’s gluten-free flour mix, or these gluten-free flour formulas.  Recreating all of wheat flour’s best properties can be tricky, so take your time, taste test, and let us know what you think!

There’s been a lot of talk about coconut flour; and as you probably know, coconut everything has been quite a craze recently.  So, what’s the deal with coconut flour?  A lot of people have come to love it because it is loaded with fiber and protein and it contains no trans fats (and very few people are allergic to it!), but opinions differ on just how to use it in baking.  Some people think that its use should be specially tailored to each specific recipe it’s used in; some think that you should only replace 20 to 30 % of the flour in a recipe with coconut flour; still others say–go for it!  Replace your flour 100% with coconut flour, but be sure to add an egg for every ounce of coconut flour to cover the loss of gluten in the original wheat flour.  The coconut flour will absorb the extra moisture from the egg, so that’s not really an issue for your baking, and the egg will provide the lift you’d be missing without the gluten.  So, get your coconut on, we say!

We know people who shy away from gluten-free baking, period.  One of them calls gluten-free baked goods “gateway” foods, and we can see her point; but if you’ve gone gluten-free and sometimes (especially at holidays and special events) feel like you’re missing out on some of the fun, give gluten-free baking a try.  A treat is a treat because you don’t have it very often, but what’s the point of a treat that tastes badly?  So, do your homework, taste test; give the extras away to your neighbors, if you don’t want them around, but when it’s time for that birthday cake or batch of Christmas cookies, you’ll be ready!