Tools and Supplies for Successful Gluten-Free Baking
3 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Gluten-Free Baking Tips and Tricks
You can find the tools and supplies you need to bake yummy, gluten-free recipes in most kitchens. Using these tools helps make the gluten-free baking process easier. You can locate these products in most large supermarkets, at baking supply stores, and on the Internet.
Parchment paper and plastic wrap
Parchment paper may sound like something from ancient times, but it’s made by treating paper pulp with an acid. This process makes the paper fibers cross-link, which makes the paper nonstick! Some parchment papers are coated with silicone or other ingredients, but basic parchment paper works well in gluten-free baking.
When baking with gluten-free batters and doughs, use parchment paper to form doughs and stiff batters, which tend to be sticky and difficult to handle. Using parchment paper, you can form calzones (stuffed pizzas), cinnamon rolls, and French bread.
You can also use parchment paper to line baking sheets so you don’t have to grease the pan. Cookies release easily from parchment paper, whereas some cookies stick to a baking sheet no matter how much grease you use. You may need to peel the parchment paper away from the cookie; just go slowly and work gently and you’ll have success.
Plastic wrap, also known as cling wrap, is also used to form doughs and stiff batters. It’s made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which may sound threatening. In fact, some PVC does transfer plasticizers into foods. You can find some plastic wraps made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE), which doesn’t have the same toxic additives that PVC contains. The problem with LDPE plastic wrap is that it doesn’t stretch or cling as well as PVC plastic wrap. But because you want plastic wrap not to cling to foods, LDPE plastic wrap is the better choice for gluten-free baking!
Both plastic wrap and parchment paper are single-use products. Don’t try to reuse them or flavors may transfer to other doughs and batters. These products also break down with repeated use.
Ice cream scoops
Ice cream scoops (also known as dishers) aren’t just for scooping ice cream anymore! These handy tools make getting cupcakes, muffins, and cookies the same size as easy as pie. Be sure that you buy a scoop that has a release lever that sweeps along the bowl so that every bit drops out onto the pan or into the muffin cup.
Buy the best ice cream scoops you can afford, and they’ll last a lifetime. Stainless steel ice cream scoops are affordable and clean well in the dishwasher. To prevent sticking, dip the scoop into hot water occasionally or spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
Ice cream scoops come in several different sizes. The smaller the size number, the bigger the scoop! Traditionally, the size is equivalent to the number of scoops in one quart of ice cream.
You use piping bags to form cookies, biscuits, and rolls. Most piping bags are made of coated cloth to prevent sticking. You can find them in most large supermarkets and at kitchen supply stores. You can also find single-use piping bags at these stores.
You can make your own piping bag by using a heavy-duty zip-lock disposable plastic bag. Just fill the bag 1/2 to 2/3 full and then snip off a tiny piece of the corner. Force the batter or dough through the bag out the opening. You can also use parchment paper to make a piping bag. Simply roll a large piece of parchment paper into a cone, fold down the large end once to hold the cone in place, fill it, and squeeze the batter through the small end.
A scale is the most important tool in gluten-free baking. Gluten-free flours are all different weights, so if you substitute one for another by volume (cup for cup), you’re going to run into trouble. A cup of wheat all-purpose flour weighs 125 grams. If you substitute a cup of sweet rice flour, which weighs 155 grams, your baked good will be dry and heavy. Always try to substitute by weight. The correct substitution for 1 cup of wheat all-purpose flour is 125 grams of sweet rice flour.
Scales are common and easy to find. Get one with a digital readout for best accuracy. To use a food scale, follow these steps:
Turn on the scale.
Place the container you’re using for the ingredient on the scale.
The scale will register a weight.
Zero out the scale (this is also called taring) by pressing the Tare or Zero out button.
The scale will read 0.
Add the ingredient you’re measuring until the scale reads the correct number.
Remove the ingredient to a separate bowl, add the container, zero out the scale, and measure another ingredient.
Or you can continue adding ingredients, adding up the total number. This takes some math skills! Or to keep it simple, keep the container on the scale, zero it out again, and add another ingredient until it reaches the number you want.
Two kinds of thermometers are crucial to gluten-free baking: an oven thermometer and an instant-read thermometer. You use the first to make sure that your oven temperature is accurate so that baking times are accurate. You use the second to measure the baked good’s doneness.
Oven thermometers: You need to monitor your oven’s temperature no matter how new, expensive, or sophisticated the oven is. Over time, temperature sensors can get a little wonky, and if you’re baking something that requires a temperature of 350 degrees but your oven is 360 degrees, you’ll overbake the food.
If your oven is off, check the owner’s manual to see whether you can manually adjust the thermometer or temperature. If you can, fiddle with it until the temperature is correct. If not, call a qualified technician and have him or her regulate the temperature.
Instant-read thermometers: When baked goods are done, most of the liquid has evaporated from the batter or dough, and the temperature rises to a certain point. You can use instant-read thermometers to take the temperature of your food. They measure the temperature within 3 to 5 seconds (hence the instant moniker) and are quite accurate. Baked goods all have different temperature doneness points.