Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Going gluten free : easy ways to make any bake wheat free!

Gluten free bakes don't have to taste bland and unappealing, the world of baking and gluten free food has changed so much in recent years that you're really spoilt for choice. Giving up wheat doesn't have to mean giving up on delicious cakes and baked treats, there's a world of delicious recipes out there, and plenty of alternatives to use in the kitchen, some of which are far easier to use than you'd imagine.

Flour
The main staple ingredient that forms any cake recipe, but hang on a minute.. you don't always have to use flour when it comes to baking! Traditional wheat flour of course needs putting in the bin, whilst wearing a hazmat suit.. but gluten free baking has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, with many retailers offering great gluten free substitutes that you can use with ease in the kitchen. Companies like Doves Farm offer a great range of wheat and gluten free flours, from plain white flour that's great for cakes, to rice flour that's rather handy for baking puddings. Supermarkets like Asda even surprisingly have a fantastic gluten free flour that makes for a straight forward replacement when baking too.

There's a world of substitutes to use, each one having it's own unique qualities, it's all about pairing the right flour up with the right bake to achieve baking perfection. Most gluten free flours (like Doves Farms and supermarket own brands) are perfect for cakes, you just need to add in more protein to help with the rise, adding an extra egg and whisking those eggs before sifting in the flour, can help the bake along. Flourless substitutes like ground almond are great to use in cakes too, and you don't just have to use it for flourless chocolate cakes either, try using ground almonds for brownies, or orange and lemon cakes, there's plenty of delicious recipes out there to try. A couple of great gluten free cook books to add to your shelf for some ideas include Bake-a-boo's Bakery cookbook and Honeybun's Gluten free baking.


Xanthan gum - do I need to use it?
The short and surprising answer is no, you may see it listed as an ingredient on many gluten free recipes, and conversion guides, but you don't always need to use it and for some this extra ingredient isn't always a help. A simple substitute of ground chia seeds or flaxseeds will do the job just as well, and you don't need to faff with the measurements either, it's a straight swap with the recipe.

Don't want to alter that recipe? Cheat!!
A gluten free cake mix, yes such a thing really is possible! Gluten free specialists like Honeybun's and Glebe Farm have put all of their baking know how into some rather handy cake mixes that take some of the stress out of gluten free baking, of course it goes without saying that you should always double check the list of ingredients (wheat free doesn't always mean gluten free - I say from previous experiences) but you'll be pleasantly surprised at the range of cake mixes available. From plain sponge cakes to carrot cakes and brownies, pay a visit to sites like Naturally good food, to find a tasty range of cake mixes to pick up, I won't scold you for cheating...

Of course all gluten free baking is always trial and error at first, as some of my disastrous attempts have revealed, but don't be afraid to experiment and try recipes out. Swap the flour for a gluten free blend in a recipe, follow a tried and tested gluten free recipe out, or cheat and use a cake mix, however you decide to try going gluten free have a good ol' experiment and try new things out. You'll find some great tips, and links to recommended gluten free suppliers for those important baking ingredients at Coeliac.org.