Celiac Disease Program | Gluten Free Baking

Baking without gluten can be challenging even for the most experienced bakers. Gluten-free (GF) baked goods lack the gluten structure required to provide the strong & stable foundation to trap the leavening gases, & impart elasticity to the dough.

"Regular" bread is inherently high in gluten, unlike cakes & cookies, which is why GF bread is much more prone to failure than their less gluten-dependent cousins (i.e. the brick like result). GF flours are also very sensitive to changes in the environment & moisture, requiring one to moderate the amount of liquid needed in the raw batter each time before baking.

While GF recipes & mixes can give ballpark estimates on the amount of liquid to add, the actual amount needed may vary 1/4 cup or more with subtle changes in environment, flour grind and substitutes used. Although our mixes will tolerate the many substitutes suggested on the label, we have found that your end success is better guaranteed with these few helpful tips:

  • Use a high-powered tabletop mixer (we're partial to KitchenAid) and the batter beater (not the dough-hook). Give the mixer time to fully blend the ingredients and incorporate air into the batter (to help the rising process or "leavening").
  • To determine true batter consistency, ALL liquids (including eggs, fats, or substitutes) should be at lukewarm temperatures [unless stated otherwise]. Let ingredients sit out for at least 1/2 hour before using.
  • Follow the recipe or mix instructions (not the bread machine or the substitute). Modifications may yield less successful results.

Baking is essentially food chemistry. Each ingredient plays a critical role in the end resultant taste, texture, & flavor of the baked goods. Raw dough texture plays a key role in determining success. While most GF raw dough/batters should look as expected, raw GF bread dough is MUCH looser & stickier than their gluten counterparts, ranging from soft-serve ice cream to thick cake batter in consistency. The lighter dough texture is needed to allow air bubbles to form & create leavening (or rise).

Milk and Substitutes

Anything BUT whole (3 percent) cow's milk is technically a "substitute." And most substitutes are higher in water content than whole milk. Milk is typically however the least critical ingredient in baked goods, and therefore the key liquid to moderate when preparing the raw batter.

ALWAYS INITIALLY WITHHOLD 1/4 cup of the milk substitute from the raw batter to start and blend the mix well. Use batter consistency as your guide, and if it appears too dry, add 1 TBSP of the reserved liquid & blend again, repeating this until the batter consistency is the same as stated on the label.

When using rice milk, if may help to add a few tablespoons of oil to the batter PRIOR to adding more milk substitute (it helps to better visualize the batter texture accurately).

Tips and Tricks

Tips for a Great Loaf Of Bread Every Time

  • Warm liquids to 100 degrees
  • Use "flour" and eggs at room temperature (Warm eggs by setting them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes.)
  • Add ingredients in any order you wish or follow the order for adding ingredients recommended by the manufacturer of your machine
  • It's not necessary to mix ingredients in a bowl before adding to the bread machine, but it will not harm the bread
  • A good gluten-free bread depends on a delicate balance of wet to dry ingredients
  • Success is determined in the first kneading cycle where dough should be properly mixed and liquid or dry ingredients should be adjusted
  • Proper mixing and proportion of ingredients allow the yeast to be evenly dispersed
  • Too much liquid produces a floppy, gummy loaf with large holes and a flat or sunken top
  • Too little liquid produces a lumpy, crumbly loaf

A Few Tricks

  • A few minutes into the first knead cycle, lift the lid and use a rubber spatula to mix the dough, until it is smooth and moist in appearance.
  • Don't be afraid to reach right down to the bottom of the pan. If the kneading blade hits the spatula, it will not harm the machine
  • If dry flour is sitting on the top or in the corners, the bread needs more liquid and/or better mixing. Add 1 tsp. warm water at a time, mixing after each addition, until dough is smooth and "swirls" in the bread pan
  • For soupy batter - Add 1 Tbs. of rice flour (of g-f blend of flours) at a time, stirring after each incorporation, until dough is thick and pulls away from the sides

If Your Bread Isn't Rising...

  • Gluten-free bread dough rises best in a warm, draft-free room.
  • If the machine is programmable, increase the amount of time in the rise cycle. Make sure to begin with very warm (not hot) ingredients
  • Add a little more warm liquid during the kneading cycle
  • Add 1 tsp. cider vinegar to liquids or 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ascorbic acid (powdered Vitamin C) to the dry ingredients in the recipe
  • The yeast may be old or liquids may have been too hot. (Over 120 degrees will kill the yeast.) Next time, use fresh yeast and water that is not quite so warm
  • Don't worry if your bread has not risen to the top of the pan when it begins to bake. It will rise more during baking

General Suggestions

  • Avoid using automatic cool down cycle. Cool on wire rack to prevent bread from becoming gummy. To revive, heat uncut loaf in 350-degree oven for 5 min
  • Use butter and milk rather than oil and water to add moisture and create chewy crust. Egg replacer may be used in place of eggs
  • Adding a sweetener helps activate the yeast. Molasses and honey help produce a silky texture in gluten-free yeast doughs. Be sure to count as part of the liquid ingredients
  • If the same bread machine is used for all family bread baking, buy a second paddle and bowl or carefully clean blade and shaft of bowl to avoid any contamination

Beth's Pick for Bread Machines

People use nearly every model of bread machine to make their bread and most turn out an acceptable loaf. However, Beth's favorite is the Zojirushi X-20 Bread Machine.

It is equipped with a programmable cycle, horizontal loaf pan and dual kneading blades. These features make it ideally suited for gluten-free breads. If you find another brand of machine with similar features, it will also work well for gluten-free breads.

From Beth Hillson, Founder, Gluten-Free Pantry, and V.P. Consumer Information Glutino USA. www.glutenfree.com

Please note: Some bread machines knead gluten-free dough more effectively than others and some recipes work better in a particular machine than in other machines.