Getting Started with Gluten-Free Baking Mixes - dummies

Getting Started with Gluten-Free Baking Mixes

By Jean McFadden Layton, Linda Larsen

One of the best and most efficient ways to bake gluten-free is to make some mixes with a combination of gluten-free flours and starches. Then all you need to do is add some water, milk, and sometimes an egg or some oil; stir; and bake cakes, cookies, brownies, or breads.

With mixes in your pantry, you don’t need to feel stymied by a recipe that requests five different flours, four starches, and a gum or two. And best of all, you totally eliminate possible cross-contamination using mixes, especially if you don’t have a dedicated gluten-free kitchen!

Baking mixes, like baking recipes, are scientific formulas. You must measure carefully and accurately for best results. You measure many baking recipes using weights, and mixes are no exception.You really should weigh every ingredient.

You’ve no doubt used mixes in the past, so you’re familiar with the process; you just dump the mix into a bowl, add other ingredients, stir, pour the batter or dough into a pan, and bake.

Here are a few rules to follow when you’re creating your own mixes.

  • Measure using a scale. Be sure that you weigh each flour ingredient separately for the most accurate results. Always zero out the scale after the bowl is on the scale, before you add each ingredient. If you don’t use a scale, always measure by spooning the flour or flour mix lightly into a measuring cup and leveling off the top with the back of a knife.

  • Be sure all your ingredients are fresh. Baking powder, baking soda, and yeast all have expiration dates, beyond which they just don’t work as well. There’s no point in making all this effort and spending all this money on a mix, only to have it fail because your ingredients are too old.

  • Try to use the exact ingredients the mix calls for. You can make some substitutions for food allergy reasons or if you can’t find a certain flour. For instance, you can substitute a flour with a similar protein content for another. When you make a substitute, be sure to do so by weight, not by volume. Try to weigh all flours, always!

  • Always label the mixes. After mixes are mixed and stored in your pantry, you won’t be able to differentiate between a cookie mix and a high-protein bread flour mix. Mark the name of the mix, the date you made it, and instructions for use directly on the bag or container.

  • Store the mixes in airtight containers in a cool, dry place. Flours are very absorbent and absorb excess moisture from the air when it’s very humid. And heat may affect the leavening properties of the baking soda or baking powder. Finally, some high-fat flours can become rancid in the presence of high heat and moisture.