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Texture In gluten-free Baked Goods? New At This.

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My son was just diagnosed with celiac, so we are trying to learn how to bake gluten-free. Most of our dinners are already gluten-free or easy to adjust, but baking is a different matter.

So far we've tried pizza crust (with success!), white bread (ok), muffins (kind of ok), and cake (dismal failure).

My question is really about what to expect. Are there gluten-free recipes for baked goods that resemble the non-gluten-free varieties in terms of texture, or am I seeking something that doesn't exist? Do we just need to get used to the kind of grainy, dense texture that a lot of these seem to have? Or do I just need more practice? (or perhaps the perfect recipe!) Or should I bag the attempts at baking and use store-bought goods until we get the hang of it.

I have a gluten-free cookbook, and the pizza crust recipe was great. But the others I've tried aren't what I would call great. Having no experience with gluten-free foods, I'm not sure if it's me, if it's the recipes, or if it's just that things without gluten will never be the same as I'm used to.

Any advice?

Thanks!

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In the beginning, when it comes to baking, I suggest a mix. It helps you learn what gluten-free can be and the types of flour mixes you like (mixes greatly influence taste).

I like King Arthur mixes. Their chocolate cake mix is so good I wouldn't try to make a replacement.

If you want something unique, try to stick with naturally low gluten or gluten-free recipes (flour less chocolate cake, cheesecakes, etc).

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In the beginning, when it comes to baking, I suggest a mix. It helps you learn what gluten-free can be and the types of flour mixes you like (mixes greatly influence taste).

I like King Arthur mixes. Their chocolate cake mix is so good I wouldn't try to make a replacement.

If you want something unique, try to stick with naturally low gluten or gluten-free recipes (flour less chocolate cake, cheesecakes, etc).

Thanks! I guess mixes are the way to go initially. I just kind of feel like I went from being a pretty decent baker to being clueless about how different ingredients interact. I'm trying to look at it as a learning opportunity.

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Thanks! I guess mixes are the way to go initially. I just kind of feel like I went from being a pretty decent baker to being clueless about how different ingredients interact. I'm trying to look at it as a learning opportunity.

You and me both!

I'm at 7 months gluten-free and just now starting to play with different flour mixes and converting recopes. I swear, it's never the same twice. Drives me nuts.

As an example I made perfect pancakes a few weeks ago, converting my old recipe. I was on cloud 9. Made them yesterday and they were a flop. You know what I think the difference is? Buttermilk. I rarely keep buttermilk. I am thinking of freezing it in 8 oz. containers since I can't find gluten-free buttermilk powder. Ugh. What a mess!

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I have been experimenting like crazy, since Day 2 or 3 of my diagnosis 10 months ago. And now I have 22 kinds of flours/starches that I really enjoy playing with. My first couple of loaves of bread were not a success because I was shocked at the texture. Now I am over that shock and treat it as it is. I believe someone else mentioned that they llike it for what it is.

As others have recommended, start with naturally-gluten free things including pavlova (meringue), granita, semifreddo, sorbet, etc. There is a long list of awesome naturally-gluten free desserts posted here.

Don't be shocked at the texture of bread. The first time I spread the cake batter like dough into the pan I literally cried. I am a baker and it was very hard to take. But now I make all my own bread, rolls, bagels, English muffins, cinnamon buns, etc. Even cream puffs and eclairs! Oh, and very good Naan.

Biscuits and pastry are also easy with good results. In fact, gluten free pastry is easier as it does not have the gluten so it does not stretch/shrink when you are kneading/rolling it. Good crusts for Steak and Ale Pie and Chicken Pot Pie can be made and enjoyed! :)

The easiest things to experiment with are cakes, brownies, muffins, quick breads and cookies. They can be as good or better as gluten-containing goods as they do not need gluten like yeast products do. I bake at least a few times a week and give a lot of my baking away or take to meetings or send to my husband's work and almost always the container comes back empty with requests for recipes and, "Oh! I had no idea that was gluten free." It is a great feeling, that is for sure. It can (and will!) happen to you, too, so do not be discouraged. I teach gluten-free cooking and baking classes and each and every time people are absolutely stunned with what they found they could do. Try to focus on all the incredible things you can have. It takes a while, for sure, but it eventually happens. I bake and cook with passion and heart and soul. And a lot of love. :)

You had success with pizza crust already. That is wonderful! You can build on that and make bread sticks, flatbreads and French bread using the same recipe. After that, when you are ready, you can tackle breads.

We are all trying to find that perfect bread recipe that does not yet exist. There are some great recipes but I still cannot compare them to chewy ciabatta bread, for example, although I do have a pretty darned good recipe for that.

Keep at it and do not give up. Learn about new ingredients and utilize them. Each flour has its own characteristics and are in recipes for a reason (i.e. for browning, to crisp up the crust, flavour, texture, crumb...). It really can be a lot of fun. Get your family involved and enjoy it. Remember: you can learn from failures. Just try again using what you learned from last time. :)

Just a hint - white and brown rice flours can be gritty in recipes so see if you can find very fine flours instead. (I buy mine at an Asian store. Far cheaper, too.) Soy flour is excellent in pizza crust as it contains so much protein. Almond and coconut flours are delicious in cookies, cakes and brownies. Sorghum, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, sweet potato, corn, etc. flours are a pleasure to work with.

Make sure your ingredients (including eggs) are at room temperature when you bake. And when you measure, don't dip your measuring cups into bags - ue a spoon to dip into the bag and put into the cup. A tablespoon or so can make a big difference in a recipe.

Edited by love2travel
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Texture is the one thing that I can't seem to get right just yet. I have more experimenting to do.

One thing I'm doing that you might find helpful too, is to keep notes of how a recipe turned out. You can just add a note to the page with a post-it-note or write directly on the recipe. Things like..add more sugar or add less water, then note by how much you changed it.

You'd be surprised at how easy it is to forget what you did last time.

Have fun!

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I really like The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free by Anne Byrn. She shows you how to add to the gluten-free cake mixes to improve the texture and get a full-size cake from them (most of them only make one layer or 12 cupcakes if you follow the directions on the box). And once you understand the theory, you can use it to create some of your own recipes - I invented a mix-based Red Velvet cake this Christmas that my gluten-eating relatives raved about. It's also worth investing in a really good gluten-free flour like Better Batter for some recipes.

It is a learning opportunity as you said, and you'll probably make some yucky things along the way, but you'll also make some great discoveries if you keep at it. And you can't tell by the texture of the batter or dough whether it is going to turn out alright; sometimes it is very different to the gluten-version, but once baked it is closer than expected. Good luck!

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I think loves2travel summed it up pretty well. There is no perfect bread, but other baked goods can be as good if not better. I have found the most success in converting recipes to be gluten-free. Or a combination of recipes will sometimes make the best. But I was pretty nervous about converting my first few recipes. I am not a mix person. I didn't like them, and I want to know how to make it myself. It does require some reading up on ingredients, but it can be done. Just don't start with cookies. ;)

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I am so grateful for Trader Joe's bread. Not only is it affordable it taste great as long as it is toasted. I have been at it for a couple of years now and there are some great web sites with terrific ideas. Room temp everything is #1 and a good place to start. Fresh yeast and not bread machine yeast. Use more yeast than called for, try putting it in your cakes. Same with pancakes. Make small batches of experiments to keep it in line cost wise. You CAN make all those mixes. I really like Bob's Red Mill rices, white and brown. I don't use white except to roll out stuff. Mostly I roll out stuff with EVOO. I use whole packages of Bob's to make a mix. One brown rice, one potatoe starch, 2 cups sorgum and 1 cup masa harina makes a killer pizza dough and you have enough to play with.

BUTTERMILK: I use powered always and it really helps get a rise out of these dense seeds. Most of these so-called grains are seeds. Teff can be used like polenta! Found that out in Mark Bittman's Everything Veggie Cookbook. I learned alot in that book about the different properties of these seeds/grains. Some are lighter than others and react differently in breads and mixes.

When making yeast bread, I live in a cold house so I do my raising in the oven. You heat it at 170 while you are assembling the bread, turn off oven, put in bread and let it rise. Some say 1/2 of the pan, some say top of pan, I let mine go until its BIG and flowing over. Takes a good 2 tablespoons of yeast to get it to rise like the pre-made bread, keeping in mind they have IDEAL conditions to make this bread rise and then charge us $5-8 a loaf!! Smile. You can do it! I always suggest waffles 1st. Can't go wrong with waffles, add enough EVOO and they won't stick. I always use EVOO for everything. I have several different kinds and I never used it before all of this.

A dark bread pan will make dark colored bread! I had to switch to lighter colored pans and use alot of ceramic. I always use parchment in the bottom of the pan. You can cut the parchment long enough to fold it over on top to keep the bread from browning too fast, making a tall tent because this bread is gonna rise!

One last thing; NEVER bake with aluminum baking powder!

Alice

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I have converted 50-60 recipes that I used to make pre-Dx to gluten-free and dairy-free (and many soy-free). Some were failures after the first attempt but now I feel like I can attempt just about any conversion. Knowing your gluten-free grains and what each is best for and what its characteristics are, and what it mixes best with is very useful. Learn about gluten-free flour mixes in the process. Move away from the pure rice flour baking (unless it is a rare recipe that really calls for it).

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I want to say I am mightily impressed by the wealth of knowledge and experience of people on this site. Thank you all for contributing and helping those of us beginning this journey. I am pasting and copying recipes and words of wisdom gained for experience with cooking.

Sorry, I don't have a recipe but just had to give kudos to you all.

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Just a hint - white and brown rice flours can be gritty in recipes so see if you can find very fine flours instead. (I buy mine at an Asian store. Far cheaper, too.)

THIS IS SOOOOO TRUE!!!! When using rice flour the grittiness factor in the end product is extremely dependent on the fineness of the grind. This is extremely noticeable in something like a cake. The rice flour in the Asian stores are a lot finer than what I have found at whole foods. Last time I bought some, it was 99cents/lb.

I have found the most success in converting recipes to be gluten-free.

Agreed. When I first started baking gluten free, I made a gluten free banana bread. It was OK but didn't really taste like my old banana bread. Was it because it was gluten free? No, it was because it wasn't my old recipe. I have since converted my old recipe and I'm extremely happy with my banana bread now.

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This is the recipe that I used for cake:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/gluten-free-yellow-cake/detail.aspx

Taste was fine, texture was so-so. Kids liked it but I thought it was too "spongey". Not sure how to describe it. It was the only recipe I had so that's what I used.

One day when I was making it, I accidently used potato starch instead of tapioca flour. I knew I made the mistake right after I did it, but I didn't want to waste the ingredients that were already in the batter so I went ahead and finished it out. I loved it!!! I didn't tell the kids that there was anything different and even they noticed. My son (not Celiac) was especially impressed. ("These are the best cupcakes you've ever made!") So now I use the potato starch instead of the tapioca flour every time.

I'm going to repeat myself here . . . it's important that you use a fine grind on the rice flour in this recipe or you will notice a gritty feel.

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You and me both!

I'm at 7 months gluten-free and just now starting to play with different flour mixes and converting recopes. I swear, it's never the same twice. Drives me nuts.

As an example I made perfect pancakes a few weeks ago, converting my old recipe. I was on cloud 9. Made them yesterday and they were a flop. You know what I think the difference is? Buttermilk. I rarely keep buttermilk. I am thinking of freezing it in 8 oz. containers since I can't find gluten-free buttermilk powder. Ugh. What a mess!

What's wrong with buttermilk in powder form??

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Add yeast if your body can tolerate it!

You can add yeast to anything. I add it

to pancakes, cookies, I even put it in my

tortillas! Now, that was rather funny, they

turned out like flatbread instead!

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There is a lot of good advice in this thread already. What I'd add is that once I looked beyond rice flours, I never looked back! I immediately noticed the difference - no grittiness with sorghum, millet, tapioca, etc. Only the rice flours were gritty. The superfine rice flours that I could find were expensive by comparison. But I did find rice flours at an Asian foods website, and although not specifically "superfine", were much less gritty than the "regular" rice flours. Still however, I prefer other flours for texture and taste, and haven't used any rice flours in a long time.

I think many recipes use rice flours because they've been fairly available all along, which also generally makes them more affordable. Unlike many other gluten-free flours, which only in more recent times have gotten enough attention that manufacturers are producing them for the U.S. gluten-free consumer market. Many of these flours have been in use for generations in other parts of the world. The West seems to focus heavily on a select few baking ingredients, ignoring most everything else.

One thing I noticed after experimenting awhile (and keeping notes on how each turned out), is that a recipe which didn't turn out as expected was often a much better recipe for something I wasn't actually trying to make! So what might otherwise be a disappointment was in fact a welcomed discovery. Plus, by experimenting with very small amounts of dough/batter, I got a lot of mileage out of the flours and other ingredients. And, not having to stomach a bunch of something which didn't turn out particularly edible was a nice advantage too LOL.

When it's early in your gluten-free baking experience, I do think it can be helpful to try things which do not have to rise much if at all. Crackers and cookies were pretty easy to have turn out well enough. If a cookie crumbles too easily, you might have a recipe for pie crust instead. And you can always use the crumbles as a dessert topping, or combine into the next batch.

A notch up from those may be things like pancakes and pizza crust, neither of which are generally risen very much. Buckwheat pancakes are not an invention of the gluten-free community (just make certain the buckwheat flour is truly gluten-free, as most I've tried are contaminated).

You might find the following thread helpful:

http://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/index.php?showtopic=57120

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I rarely keep buttermilk. I am thinking of freezing it in 8 oz. containers since I can't find gluten-free buttermilk powder. Ugh. What a mess!

I buy a lot of Augason Farms products, they do have a dedicated gluten free facility and offer a lot of great products to keep on hand. They don't have buttermilk powder on their website but I did find some from Sam's Club. The first link is to the Sam's Club page, the second is to the gluten free products that Augason lists on their site. I get access to most of their products in stores here in Utah, but I doubt that's the case outside this area.

http://www.samsclub.com/sams/shop/product.jsp?productId=prod4540215&pid=CSE_Froogle&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=sku4934193#desc

http://www.augasonfarms.com/Products/Gluten-Free

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Wow - these are great tips. I really appreciate it! You all have a wealth of experience to tap into.

The grittiness is what got me about the muffins we made. I guess I can blame the rice flour for that. Otherwise they were ok.

Our task for this weekend is to make a yellow cake. I have a 4-yr-old about to turn 5... I have a couple recipes plus a back-up cake mix from a box (and some coconut flour that's calling my name).

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