We've all been there, after that first diagnosis the mild panic sets in that you'll never be able to scoff on your favourite cakes and sweet treats again. You've heard terrible things about gluten free bakes - from the cake that's so hard you could use it to break a window, to the forever crumbly cupcake that turns to dust the moment that you start eating it.. but that's thankfully not always true, there's always a handy free from recipe that will result in a scrumptious bake every time..
Whilst it may seem like too much to take in at once when you first face life without gluten, it doesn't have to mean the end of tasty baked treats. Making the change to gluten free will take time and plenty of practice - all of us will have a disastrous bake from time to time, but it's all about embracing a whole new world of yummy gluten free bakes, and finding your own techniques and favourite recipes to try.
After more than a few failed gluten free cakes and bakes in the kitchen I've come to find my own particular favourite recipes that are handy for a quick and easy bake, as well as being perfect to adapt for a wide variety of different flavours and ingredients.
Always handy to add to your recipe file for an easy gluten free bake. A simple batch of cupcakes is an utterly scrumptious treat!
For a great starting base for a batch of plain cupcakes, you can't beat this handy recipe by Doves Farm - whilst it may refer to them as fairy cakes, this recipe can easily be used for a dozen cupcakes instead of the recommended 24 fairy cakes - simply just fill your cupcake cases as you usually would!
It doesn't require any specially made blends either, just a simple bag of gluten free self raising flour will do. The recipe is remarkably similar to what you'll already be used to with any standard cupcake recipe, so it's incredibly easy to follow.
This recipe also makes for a great starting point for any batch of cupcakes, it's easy to adapt – I've used it myself as a base for some of my favourite bakes, like these chocolate orange cupcakes. It also works perfectly substituting the required butter in the recipe for a dairy free alternative, it's just a straight swap!
A classic staple that's always handy to add to your favourite recipes - you just can't beat a tasty sponge cake!
The base recipe is surprisingly simple - just because it's gluten free doesn't mean that it has to be difficult to make! This recipe from BBC Good Food is incredibly easy to follow and doesn't require any special blends or mixtures to bake, just a handy bag of gluten free self raising flour.
It's great to adapt for a dairy free version too, simply swap the butter for a dairy free alternative and your good to go!
Even classic cake recipes can be made easily with a gluten free version, they're often far closer to the traditional bake than you'd expect. Whether it's a staple loaf of tasty banana bread - made incredibly easily, in-fact you'd probably barely notice the difference - or a scrumptious chocolate cake, with a couple of simple changes making for one rather tasty bake.
Tips for extra tasty gluten free bakes
Once you've perfected the basics, you can start to experiment adding tasty twists and extra ingredients to make some truly scrumptious bakes. Why not try adding some ground almonds in with a batch of cupcakes? Simply swap 50g of flour for 50g of ground almonds in the bake, you'll be surprised with the results!
For the perfect rise every time, ensure that you pre-heat your oven first. You don't want to leave gluten free cake mix sat around whilst the oven warms up, it bakes best when placed straight in the oven as soon as you've spooned your mixture in your tin/cases - it's a little thing that makes a huge difference, as I've experienced from several failed bakes myself!
You don't always need to use xanthan gum to stabilize your bakes, but it does help. Over time you'll get used to when you need it with your bakes. Generally speaking it doesn't tend to make a huge difference with cupcakes and cakes, but if your baking biscuits, cookies, or tray bakes it can be a huge help in the mix - ensuring that your bakes survive a day or two before the dreaded crumble sets in.
No two gluten free flour blends are the same - you'll be surprised just how much choice there is when you start baking gluten free! For the first few bakes a basic self raising or plain flour mix is the best to try, such as Doves Farm, or a supermarket own brand blend. I've not found much difference between them, but I have found Doves Farm, or M & S's gluten free flour to have the best results.
A good gluten free cake doesn't have to require lots of additional extras to make it extra tasty - just a bit of practice and you'll soon be baking some scrumptious gluten free treats. Why not try some of my favourite tried and tested recipes here on the Cake Porn blog!