Essential grain-free, gluten-free baking tips, perfect for holiday treats!
I've been eating a grain-free, gluten-free diet for 7 years if you count my raw vegan days, but I've been learning grain-free baking for the past 4 years on a mostly Paleo diet. I've had lots of successes (see my recipes page!) but in the beginning there were plenty of failures as I learned about using new ingredients.
I don't keep baked goods around most of the time (even grain-free, naturally sweetened, Paleo treats are still not exactly health foods) but I do love to make them for special occasions and I love impressing family and friends with a healthier version of a classic or just super delish dessert!
So, I've compiled a few essential tips I've learned over the years. Use these and your grain-free baking should be much easier and more successful!
4 essential grain-free, gluten-free baking tips
1) Don't substitute floursAlmond, arrowroot, coconut, tapioca... they are all very different and have different functions. Back in the day I used to try to swap whole wheat cake flour for white flour and it usually kind of worked... you definitely can't do that kind of switch with grain-free flours. Coconut flour is very absorbent and fibrous so it can give things a dry texture if you don't have enough eggs or moisture--so unless you want to experiment and make a bunch of batches, just don't use it unless it's called for. I've found finely ground almond flour is the easiest to work with, but I don't like to use recipes that call for only almond flour, so I look for others with a blend of flours rather than taking it on myself to try adding another one in! Bottom line: stick to the recipe's flours!
2) Stock up on ingredients for the seasonGrain-free recipes can have long ingredient lists, and often items you may not already have in your pantry. I like to plan ahead and order almond flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot powder, coconut flour, and some natural sweeteners (like maple syrup and coconut palm sugar) and keep the pantry stocked so I can bake when I'm ready! (I've linked my favorites of these below!)
3) Refrigerate delicate ingredientsNuts and seeds can get rancid when exposed to light and warm temperatures. I can totally taste the difference between raw sunflower seeds that have been refrigerated and those that have been in a pantry for a few months. Blech. It's pretty obvious with walnuts, too. Store nuts, nut flours, and coconut flakes or flour in the fridge unless you'll be using them right away.
4) Sift!I had never owned a flour sifter before (in my standard American diet baking days), but after making a few Paleo recipes that ended up with clusters of starchy coconut flour in them...... now I'm more careful! Almond flour also can chunk up or have bigger pieces in it. It doesn't take much time to sift the dry ingredients as you add them to the wet ones, and it makes such a difference!
Hope those are helpful! Happy holiday baking. If you want some serious knowledge about grain-free, healthier baking, check out one of these books from the pros. I've also linked some of my favorite ingredients!