Gluten Free Mama’s Basic Baking Tips
For the Mama baking is as stress reliever, but that is not the case for everyone. Many people who are newly diagnosed suddenly find themselves cast into a new lifestyle of cooking/baking with little experience. Many have been baking for years, so this is just a refresher for you. Whether new to baking or not, whether baking is a stress reliever or stress causer, knowing these basic baking tips will make your life in the kitchen way less simpler and 100% Tasty. Remember that with baking there is less room for improvising, accuracy is important, where cooking you can be a little more fluid with measurements and play around a little more. Hopefully these baking tips will help you on your way to enjoying baking gluten free.
Mama’s Must Have Kitchen Utensils
- Kitchen Aid Mixer
- Two sets of quality measuring spoons, 1 set for dry ingredients, 1 set for wet ingredients
- Dry Measuring cups. It is nice to have two sets on hand
- Liquid Measuring Cups, two.
- Rubber Scrapers, 2 or 3 (Silicone is best then you can use in baking or cooking)
- Spatula, a small metal flat one for easy removal of cookies, and a regular one.
- Silicone Baster, for basting the tops of breads with egg white or butter or basting the top of pie crust, etc.
- Microplane zester, for zesting lemons and oranges or even mincing garlic.
- Cooling Rack, 1-2
- 2 good quality Baking Sheets (Costco carries really good ones a couple times a year, Wilton make as good one too.)
- 2 Pie Pans, regular size glass or ceramic
- 8 or 9 inch square baking pan
- 8 or 9 inch round baking pan
- Muffin tins, 2 regular/large and 1 mini
- Bread pans, loaf pan, french loaf pan, mini 4 inch round cake pans (for hamburger buns)
- Bread Machine with Gluten Free Bread Cycle – Cuisinart is what Mama’s uses.
- Good quality pot holders, so your hands don’t get burned!
Measuring Gluten Free Flour
Measure gluten free flour by scooping or spooning flour into dry measuring cup. Gently tap the edges with rubber scraper add more flour if necessary, then make a clean scrape across the top of measuring cup to level. If you prefer to weigh your flours, 1 cup of Mama’s Almond Blend Flour is = to 5 ounces, Mama’s Coconut Blend Flour is = 5.5 ounces.
Measuring Wet or Sticky Ingredients – Measuring Applesauce, Honey, Agave, Peanut Butter or Shortening
Measure these ingredients in dry measuring cups. Fill to top cup and level off by making a clean scrape across top of measuring cup with rubber scraper. Often people will eyeball these ingredients and by doing this could cause inaccuracies in measurements and cause recipes to fail.
When measuring sticky ingredients, first use the cup or spoon to measure the melted butter or oil or just spray with cooking spray and the sticky ingredients will slide right out.
Add Nutrition to GF Baking
Measuring Liquids – Water, Milk, Juices and More
Use liquid measuring cups (Pyrex)
Accuracy is important. Set the cup on level surface. Look at measurements at eye level. The liquid should line up directly with the line on the side of the measuring cup.
Gluten Free Texture of Batters and How it’s Different
Gluten Free textures of pre-baked batters is going to sometimes look a lot different than traditional wheat baking. For example, cake batters are going to be slightly thicker.
For most cake batters you should be able to easily run your rubber scraper through the batter. Some cake batters like ones that use purees like pumpkin are going to be slightly thicker.
Brownie batters often come out thick too. You should be able to easily run your rubber scraper through the batter, if it doesn’t run easily add 2-3 Tbsp. water to your brownie batter, mixing well.
Gluten Free Breads are nothing like regular wheat breads. Not only do we use about 1/3-1/2 the amount of flour, meaning more liquid is needed in gluten free breads to prevent them from turning out into a big brick. Before you start creating your own breads, bake some tried and true gluten free bread recipes before you start experimenting with your own to help you familiarize with what the textures should look like. They will be wet, thick and sticky, but you should be able to smooth out easily with a rubber scraper. Mama’s Sesame French Bread is a tried and true recipe you can try or any of Mama’s breads in her cookbook “In the Kitchen with Gluten Free Mama”.
Biscuits are sticky to the touch. Follow a gluten free recipe. It will look like a sticky mess. What you can do is generously flour a pastry mat and place the dough onto the mat and then generously flour the top and gently roll out for cut out biscuits. Or you can skip all of that, use a two inch cookie scoop, drop dough two inches apart on cookie sheet. With lightly floured hands smooth out rough edges, or lightly sprinkle with flour and press into 1/2 inch thick round.
Cookie Dough dough will look very similar to regular wheat cookie dough. Sometimes it may be a l
le stickier. One thing that is your friend when baking cookies is your 1 inch cookie scoop, listed above. The cookie scoop make baking cookies easy, easy, easy!
Mama’s Make it Easier Tips
- When measuring out sticky ingredients like honey, first measure your oil then your honey and the honey will slide right out. Or spray your measuring cup lightly with cooking spray for same result.
- Shaping mini pies. Use a mini muffin or cupcake pan. Lightly spray the pan. Roll dough into 1 inch round ball. Place in pan. Use a tart shaper and press evenly onto the top of the dough pressing down until each side of the crust is about 1/4 inch thickness. You will find the tart shaper saves you lots of time. You can buy a tart shaper from Pampered Chef for just a few dollars.
- Breads- Cover with a dry towel vs a wet towel. Place in the warmest part of your house to rise. You can even place into an unheated oven with the door closed. Also be sure to smooth out the tops of bread dough. All of the rough edges will harden in baking and be unpleasant to look at and eat. You can smooth out tops by lightly sprinkling with flour and gently pressing the edges until smooth. Or run your rubber scraper or fingers under hot water and then gently press out rough edges. For more bread baking tips, see Mama’s Gluten Free Bread Tips.
- Pie Crust. Instead of using a pastry mat, lightly spray 2 pieces of wax paper with cooking spray. Roll out dough between the two pieces. Gently pull back top layer and then put your hand under the bottom piece and gently flip dough over and onto pie pan, pressing the dough into the sides of pan. Gently peel back wax paper, then make minor repairs as needed.
- Oven Temperature. Every oven is a little bit different and the old ones sometimes Youdon’t heat up to the temperature that you put them at or over heat. Invest is a $3.00 oven thermometer and check your oven temperature from time to time. This will assure you have perfectly baked goods every time.
- Timer. Use your kitchen timer. If you are like me (mama) then you get side tracked while things are baking and forget about them. The timer saves a lot of burnt cookies!
- Organize your kitchen. An organized kitchen always makes baking more enjoyable. See Mama’s tips below.
- Before baking, fill your sink with hot, soapy water. That way you can wash measuring cups between dishes or wash as you go. You will be amazed at how easy it is to clean up if you do a little bit at a time as you go.
Organize your Kitchen
You might think, why is this tip in here? Well, I will tell you having an organized kitchen reduces stress, helps you better gauge when you are getting low on items, makes baking and cooking run smoother and overall makes you feel better.
Organize your spices and baking ingredients. You don’t have to go out and buy all new storage containers, you can use the ones you have. Clean the old ones off and label. Or if you like everything to look the same you can purchase inexpensive spice jars, and buy larger matching jars for items like flour, sugar, seeds, baking power, chocolate chips, and more. Both Ikea and World Market have very affordable options. Be sure to label them so you don’t forget whats in them.
Organize all the essential baking ingredients in a cupboard near your mixer. When you are baking and adding ingredients to your mixer, it is nice to be able to reach right above or next to the mixer and grab the vanilla or sugar. I also like to have all my baking utensils in the same drawer, also near the mixer for ease of use. Items I like to have in the same drawer include measuring cups, measuring spoons, 1 inch cookie scoop, 2 inch cookie scoop, several rubber scrapers, baster, zester, and whisk.
Next to my mixer, I have canisters where I keep my Mama’s Flour blends, organic sugar, and xanthan gum readily available. Saves the hassle of pulling big containers out of cupbaords.
In the cupboard near the mixer, I have containers (I like containers best for storage reasons), I have my brown sugar, my baking spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, etc.), salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, cornstarch, flax and chia seeds, vanilla and other extracts and cooking spray. Other items I store in the pantry that I don’t use as often like nuts, powdered sugar, dried fruit and chocolate chips.
Adding Nutrition to Baked Goods
Add 1-2 Tbsp. of Flaxseeds to baked goods. High in Omega 3’s and offers texture
Add 1-2 tsp. chia seeds to baked goods High in Omega 3’s ad B vitamins No one will know they are there and they do not change the taste of the baked good.
Add seeds to baked goods; chia, flax, pumpkin sunflower or sesame seeds. Not only do they add nutrition they add texture to baked goods.
Add Nuts to muffins, quick breads or cookies. Sprinkle on salads. Grind them up with coffee grinder and use in your flour mixture for coating chicken.