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What Do I Need To Begin Gluten-Free Baking?
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I threw out my wheat flours, but now I need to replace them. I see lots of recipes online for gluten-free baking, but they all seem to use different flours. What should I purchase to start out? Where can I buy these? I appreciate advice from experienced bakers. Thanks so much!

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Gluten free baking is a real learning experience; a lot of trial and error, hopefully most trial :P I would recommend that you start out with some of the baking mixes, like Pamela's, Gluten Free Pantry, whatever strikes your fancy. Most people seem to start with Pamelas. That way you get used to the texture of gluten free batters (they are really not doughs) and how to handle them. As you experiment with mixes with different flours in them you will get to learn which kinds of flours you like and don't like. It is only after you have learned this that I would try with the individual flours. You will need some xanthan and/or guar gum although most mixes have this already added. A lot of recipes call for milk powder (if you do dairy). Many call for egg replacer which is good if you can't eat eggs :huh: but I always use eggs. The milk called for can usually be substituted for freely among the different milks available according to your tolerances. Enjoy Life makes gluten/soy free chocolate chips if that's what you need.

Pamelas Baking Mix should be readily available in a supermarket, as are a lot of the mixes for breads, cakes, cookies, pancakes. Health foods stores seem to have a more extensive collection and once you find what you like you can order in bulk quantities online. But start out slow.... or you will end up with a whole pantry full of flours you either don't like or won't know what to do with. Look on here for recommended recipes or use our old friend google and you will find lots of things to experiment with after you have learned the fundamentals. The Gluten Free Goddess has a good primer on flours and gluten free baking, and RiceGuy did a great rundown of all the gluten free flours on the forum here. I don't have the link right now but will try to find it.

But first of all, have fun. And don't cry:lol: if your first effort turns out like a brick. This is almost an initiation rite!

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I agree with everything mushroom said! :) I wish I would have started with mixes--then maybe I wouldn't have been so upset in the beginning! I, too, thought it was weird how everything I wanted to bake took three or four flours, but now it just seems normal to me. Probably the most common combination out there is rice flour, potato starch flour (be sure the word starch is in there--"potato flour" is not what you want to bake with!) and tapioca starch flour (the word starch may or may not be in the name, but it's the same thing). As mushroom said, as you taste more things, you'll learn what flavors you like (soy, for example, can be strong, as can the bean flours, and some people don't like that). There are many other great alternatives, such as sorghum and teff flour for changing it up a bit.

One key tip is that if you are going to bake bread (and I'd say for most gluten free baking, though I might be wrong), you really need a good quality stand mixer, if you don't already have one. My KitchenAid is my best friend! It really helped me out when I was getting started. My handheld mixer just couldn't handle the gluten free dough.

Happy Baking!

P.S. You can't go wrong with Pamela's Baking Mix, and the website has a lot of recipes and things you can make with it. Amazon usually has a good price, but it is for multiple packages.

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ummmm.... did you also get yourself some new pans?

GOOD LUCK!

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Thank-you both so much! I have no problem starting out with a mix, and Pamela's sounds like the gold standard. I already tried Pamela's chocolate chip cookies, and I loved them! But they come 9 to a box, and I'm sure you can all imagine the price. Time to bake my own!

I made up an apple-cobblery desert thing last week. I just mixed apples, cranberries, and gluten-free granola and added some butter. I was thinking that adding some flour would have been good too, but didn't have any anyway. Would an all-purpose flour like Pamela's work for this kind of thing?

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ummmm.... did you also get yourself some new pans?

GOOD LUCK!

skigirlchar: I need new pans for this too?!? I thought that I just needed to replace the cast iron ones?

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Yep. It's a good idea to start with a few packet mixes to get your confidence up.

I started with packets of store-bought Gluten Free flour and with recipes that just called for gluten free flour. This worked just fine to start with.

Then I found a gluten-free baking book where the recipes called for different combinations of the same flours (white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato flour and soy flour) on a regular basis. This got me used to the idea of combining flours without having to buy every flour under the sun.

I have gradually built on this, finding new recipes and adding new flours and trying new combinations. Now I have a cupboard full of different kinds of flours and I use them all on a regular basis.

I suggest googling some recipes for gluten free flour mixes and buying the flours required to make your own mix. That way you can mix your own plain and self-raising gluten-free flour and have some of the commonly used flours in your cupboard so you can tackle some other recipes.

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My first attempt at gluten free cinnamon rolls was a disaster...or so I thought, the kids still ate them up. The 2nd attempt was much better. I really love the Pamela's chocolate cake mix. I also recommend that if you are baking for an occasion that you do a "practice run" before the real one. I picked up a Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix because I was at the regular grocery and needed one for a party. I was really dissapointed with it, Pamela's is much better. My daughter was diagnosed at the beginning of November and one of our family traditions is cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. This was one of the first things she said - oh no I can't have cinnamon rolls on Christmas. At first I thought that was right, but then realized Pillsburry was not the only source for them. Then I realized that my home made gluten free ones were actually much better (once I got the recipe right). I am a newby, but basically what I did was try some recipes and just bought what that specific recipe called for. I slowly build up my pantry of gluten free necessities.

Good Luck and have fun!

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Gluten free baking is a real learning experience; a lot of trial and error, hopefully most trial tongue.gif I would recommend that you start out with some of the baking mixes, like Pamela's, Gluten Free Pantry, whatever strikes your fancy. Most people seem to start with Pamelas. That way you get used to the texture of gluten free batters (they are really not doughs) and how to handle them. As you experiment with mixes with different flours in them you will get to learn which kinds of flours you like and don't like. It is only after you have learned this that I would try with the individual flours.

But first of all, have fun. And don't cry:lol: if your first effort turns out like a brick. This is almost an initiation rite!

Yes, I agree with mushroom! It really is a lot of trial and error...and I've had a few errors, sometimes salvageable, sometimes not. I made a yellow cake from scratch and ended up not serving it to friends. But it's going to become crumbs as I need something to make a crumb crust for strawberry pie. tongue.gif

And then I baked a brick! mad.gif I ended up just throwing it out as I didn't even want to make bread crumbs out of it. But I will try the recipe again now that I have a new KitchenAid stand mixer.

The flours are overwhelming and I've probably bought a lot more than I should have but so many recipes call for different types. Eventually I'll be able to figure out what I really like and use. It's the one instance that it's probably good that they're packaged in small bags. lol

There are also some recipes for baking that don't use any flours like Flourless Chocolate Cake and I know I have a flourless peanut butter cookie recipe around here somewhere. Not to mention the Betty Crocker gluten free mixes, which are available everywhere. The brownies are a real winner (I added extra mini chocolate chips to them). And with General Mills coming out with new gluten free Bisquick soon, that'll make it a lot easier, too. biggrin.gif

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Lucia:

If you do start to try baking from scratch, not from a premade mix, you will want to have two kind of flours on hand because they are used in a lot.

Potato starch (not potato flour)

and

Tapioca starch (used to make things a little lighter and fluffier)

Aside from that, some books ask you to use millet flour, amaranth, teff, corn starch, soy (ugh, though soy flour has an awful, awful taste, imo, and too many people have problems with soy!!), sorghum, garfava (combo of fava and garbanzo beans, which is actually really, really good), brown rice and whit3e rice flours, even sweet rice flour (mochiko). You can bake with nut flours too, like almond and chestnut, though these seem to be used most in cakes and sweet things. I bake with buckwheat flour too and I love that!!

People use all kinds of combinations.

A hint for getting cheaper flours: you can get sorghum (called jowar) and millet flour in Indian markets, in bigger bags for cheaper. You can get sweet rice flour in Asian markets for a lot cheaper too.

Also good to have on hand is cider vinegar. It's used in a lot of recipes.

Xantham gum and guar gums are necessary to have on hand.

Xanthan gum is pricey though you use it by the tsp. full not by the cup.

Happy baking.

I have now been making my gluten-free bread for about a month now. I use my bread machine and a regular loaf pan.

I have made some deeeeeeeeeelish loaves, so much so that I won't buy store bought gluten-free bread again!! I made a cottage cheese dill loaf (brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch) that was amazing and goes so well as a sandwich made with cream cheese and smoked salmon!!

Happy baking!

~Allison

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It's a good idea to keep your flours in the fridge or freezer if you have the space. This extends their shelf life which can be an issue when you have a lot of different types of flours that you don't use often.

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I threw out my wheat flours, but now I need to replace them. I see lots of recipes online for gluten-free baking, but they all seem to use different flours. What should I purchase to start out? Where can I buy these? I appreciate advice from experienced bakers. Thanks so much!

Thanks everyone! I bought a gluten free flour mix from Arrowroot. It has a recipe for bread on the back, so I guess I'll start with that.

Funny, my Mom started baking bread from scratch as a healthier alternative to supermarket breads when she was recovering from cancer. It is said that we all turn into our Moms.

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Funny, my Mom started baking bread from scratch as a healthier alternative to supermarket breads when she was recovering from cancer. It is said that we all turn into our Moms.

Our Moms were right!!! biggrin.gif The number of preservatives and other unpronounceable ingredients in prepared foods should be enough to scare all of us.

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