How to Cool Down Gluten-Free Baked Goods - dummies

How to Cool Down Gluten-Free Baked Goods

By Jean McFadden Layton, Linda Larsen

Cooling methods are crucial to the success of baked goods, especially those that are gluten-free. The challenge of baking with gluten-free flours is that gluten is the main structure builder in baked goods. It forms a web that traps air so the baked goods rise. It keeps the structure from collapsing as it cools. You need to carefully develop gluten-free baked products to mimic gluten’s function.

When you take a baked good out of the oven, it cools down gradually. The starch, which has gelatinized in the moisture of the formula and the heat of the oven, starts to set as heat escapes. Egg proteins and flour proteins set. The product gradually becomes drier as moisture escapes.

If you cut into a baked good before it’s cool, you’ll have problems. Though eating a warm cookie is one of life’s pleasures, it’s not a good idea to cut into cakes, breads, and pies before they’ve cooled completely. Slicing into hot bread, quick breads, or cakes compresses the structure before it has completely set, and it won’t be as light and fluffy.

Different kinds of pans have different effects on cooling. If the baked good is left in the pan to cool, a glass pan holds residual heat longer and may cause overbaking. Metal pans cool down more quickly. If a recipe calls for the food to be cooled in the pan, choose a metal pan over a glass pan.

You should never rush cooling. Don’t place hot baked goods in the fridge or outside on a cold day. Cooling too fast can make baked goods shrink. And always use a cooling rack. If you put a hot baked good on a solid surface, moisture condenses on the bottom as it cools, leaving a soggy mess or a mushy bottom. Air must circulate around the product as it cools for best results.

These are specific ways to cool baked goods:

  • Layer cakes: You cool layer cakes, which you bake in 8-inch or 9-inch pans, by letting them stand in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes so the structure firms. Then you remove the cakes from the pans by turning them onto a cooling rack.

  • Sponge and chiffon cakes: These cakes are very delicate, and their structure is easily compressed. Many are turned upside down to cool, so the web of egg proteins, flour proteins, and starch stays stretched while it cools. This prevents sagging.

  • Angel food cakes: You cool light and airy angel food cakes the same way as sponge cakes. That’s also why you don’t grease the pans for these types of cakes — because they’d slide right out of the pan while cooling!

  • Sheet cakes: You typically cool these cakes in the pan. It’s best to bake sheet cakes in a metal pan because it holds less residual heat than a glass pan.

  • Cookies: You cool most cookies on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Bar cookies: Cool this product in the pan. Again, use a metal pan for bar cookies instead of a glass pan so they don’t overbake from residual heat.

  • Breads: You usually remove breads from the pan right away. Shake the pan gently to make sure the bread is loose and then turn out the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely.