To Bake Or Not To Bake

GF Flours & Grains

When I first went gluten-free, I didn’t bake.  For months.  This from someone who loved to bake.  Who would volunteer to make dessert for get togethers.

First off, I had no clue what to do.  If you’re new to the gluten-free and feel the same, you are not the first.  We have all been there.  I had made Chocolate Chinchilla for some parties I hosted knowing a friend with Celiac would be attending.  It is flourless, so knowledge of gluten-free flours was not required.  How to make Grandma Brown’s beloved cookies?  I didn’t know.  Gluten-free pancakes?  Nothing.  I was at a complete loss.

I remember seeing pictures friends would post on Facebook of cupcakes and other baked goods.  I would try to refrain from commenting about missing it.  It was Murphy’s Law that as soon as I said something about missing something with gluten, someone who had never eaten gluten-free before would say something like, “They make mixes for that.  I saw it in the store the other day.”  Or, “I saw a bunch of gluten-free crackers.”  Yes, I knew they made that stuff.  I didn’t want to buy that stuff.  I wasn’t fond of mixes before going gluten-free and I once made the mistake of buying gluten-free crackers for a party that my friend with Celiac was going to be at, too, and I wanted him to be able to enjoy cheese and crackers with the rest of us.  The mistake was not trying the crackers before taking them.  Cardboard.  I was horrified.  I was so horrified, I set out to eat as many of those crappy crackers with Grand Camembert and Fig preserves so others did not have to suffer them.  So, every time someone would say, “Well, they make that gluten-free now” I have flashbacks to those crackers.  I still see those things on the shelves and I can’t believe it.  I know flavor of gluten-free processed foods has improved, but I still stay away from them as much as possible.

It can be daunting looking at recipes online or in cookbooks with lists of flours required to make a cake, cookies, brownies, etc.  It can be a little time-consuming, too, if you are not properly prepared.

Something finally clicked and reminded me of something I read when I started making my own personal care products.  Stick with tried and true recipes.

That was when I threw caution to the wind and started buying gluten-free flours and trying recipes from blogs here and there.  Then, I started baking more as I started doing recipe testing for fellow blogging friends working on cookbooks.

I keep my gluten-free flours and grains in glass containers.  I keep the containers above my cabinets because while I was unpacking, I discovered just how small my pantry is.  I’ve read in many places and heard from many people who gluten-free flours need to be kept in the freezer or refrigerator.  I never have.  Again, space is the issue.  Pssst…I don’t keep my flax seed or flax meal in the fridge either.  It’s up there with the flours.  The containers give me easier access and I don’t have to dig through the bin of baking supplies for them, so prep time is faster, too.  I use the glass containers for staple pantry items like dried beans, coffee, and tea.

Grandma Brown's cookies... gluten-free!

The more I’ve used tried and true recipes, the more I’ve become comfortable with figuring out how to convert some of my favorite recipes from my gluten filled days.  I also have started leaning towards using more of the unrefined gluten-free flours when I bake to keep supporting my thyroid function.  It is because of my thyroid and needing to keep it supported by making sure I am doing the most I can to make my food drive my metabolism correctly that I try not to bake a lot.  It also keeps me from wondering where all the baked goods are when they are gone.  Seriously.  Sometimes I’m testing for friends while working on my own recipes.  I can have up to 3 different types of baked goods waiting to be eaten.  Once they are gone, my brain thinks I should still be eating baked goods.

Don’t want to buy all those different flours?  Gluten-free all-purpose flours work just as well.  It is what I used (Bob’s Red Mill brand) for my first attempt at converting Grandma Brown’s cookies.

The choice is up to you whether to bake or not.  Bake your heart out.  Bake a little cake once a week.  Or just bake now and then when the mood strikes.  The more experienced you get with baking gluten-free the better you’ll be able to figure out converting old recipes and swapping out the more processed flours for the healthier flours.

I am still tweaking some conversions but here are some of my favorite recipes of mine:

This post is linked to Sharing Sunday at Celiacs In The House.

Advertisements

14 comments

  1. Terrific post, Debi. Like you, I did not bake for a very long time after going gluten free. Part of that was due to the fact that during the first 6 months I didn’t eat any grains, sugar, dairy, etc. So, in additon to being unsure how to bake gluten free, I really had no clue on baking free of the other ingredients. When I was able to re-introduce those foods, I figured out I could turn to naturally gluten-free recipes, use a very simple flour mix for most things, bake flourless and crustless, etc. It was pretty smooth sailing after that, but it definitely can take some time.

    Shirley

  2. I’ve been gf for almost 4 years and it took me a while before I baked anything. It was like I was in shock. I’ve slowly ease into it and thanks to people like Shirley, Elana, and the GF Goddess, I’m finally getting the hang of it. I do still struggle with bread tho – I’ve tried so many recipes, in the oven and a bread maker and I just can’t get it. I’ll keep trying and someday I’ll get it right. Thanks for your post.

    Faith

    • Faith, gingerlemongirl.com has a great french loaf that I love to make. It’s pretty easy and mostly almond flour. simplysugarandglutenfree.com has some great bread recipes, too. If you can find anything by Mary Capone, she made some great sandwich bread at the Gluten-free & Allergy-free Expo last year in Chicago. Beth Hillson and Carol Fenster, too. Check them out. The thing to remember with gf bread is it is not going to be like the gluten full bread you remember. Might get it close, but when you go into it knowing that it’s not going to be the same, it’s a little easier. OH! Look for 2 books on gluten-free baking co-authored by Iris Higgins and Brittany Angell that comes out March 1st. I did some recipe testing for them and the breads I tested were wonderful. One of them I keep making…and eating too much! If you don’t follow their blogs, they are thedailydietribe.com and realsustenance.com respectively. Brittany has a great quick bread base recipe so you can use whatever spices and produce you want in it. I hope this leads you in the direction you want to go!

    • Faith, gingerlemongirl.com has a great french loaf that I love to make. It’s pretty easy and mostly almond flour. simplysugarandglutenfree.com has some great bread recipes, too. If you can find anything by Mary Capone, she made some great sandwich bread at the Gluten-free & Allergy-free Expo last year in Chicago. Beth Hillson and Carol Fenster, too. Check them out. The thing to remember with gf bread is it is not going to be like the gluten full bread you remember. Might get it close, but when you go into it knowing that it’s not going to be the same, it’s a little easier. OH! Look for 2 books on gluten-free baking co-authored by Iris Higgins and Brittany Angell that comes out March 1st. I did some recipe testing for them and the breads I tested were wonderful. One of them I keep making…and eating too much! If you don’t follow their blogs, they are thedailydietribe.com and realsustenance.com respectively. Brittany has a great quick bread base recipe so you can use whatever spices and produce you want in it. I hope this leads you in the direction you want to go!

  3. Thanks for the advice and the links Debi. I do understand that gf bread is not like regular bread, I just haven’t been able to get the mixture right. I am familiar with those websites (most are on my FB) – I do some more research and some more baking!

    Thanks again, and have a great weekend,
    Faith

  4. Thanks for linking up to my Sharing Sundays. You are a sweetie. I go back and forth with baking. I stayed away initially because it felt like it was all my whole wheat baking that got us into the celiac mess. I ebb and flow with the baking now and am doing more grain-free recipes.

    • You’re welcome, Wendy. 😀 I’m enjoying the experimentation aspect of the baking since I was strictly to the recipe when I baked before I was gf. Even the failed experiments…like my lemon bars the other day. I learned what doesn’t work at least! I love being able to just take some of those sinful things to a healthier level. I made some brownies earlier in the week and just earlier I was formulating in my head how to make them flourless (even though the only flour I used was a little almond meal) and still just as flavorful and fluffy. 😀

  5. It’s taken me months to start baking again. Like you, I loved to baked before and often took goodies to share. I’ve finally gotten into it and am having success. I did use a cake mix for my husband’s birthday because I wasn’t sure that I could turn out something good. (King Arthur’s chocolate cake was loved by all.) But since I’ve made things like the maple apricot scones yesterday that my father-in-law (a gluten-full sweet’s lover) said to not lose the recipe for 🙂

    • That is awesome, Shannon! I probably should’ve used a cake mix for my birthday cake last year. I was intent on creating a gluten-free dairy-free haupia cake (coconut). The idea was great and each component was good, but wasn’t the best together. Still working on creating a grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free cake. lol

    • That is awesome, Shannon! I probably should’ve used a cake mix for my birthday cake last year. I was intent on creating a gluten-free dairy-free haupia cake (coconut). The idea was great and each component was good, but wasn’t the best together. Still working on creating a grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free cake. lol

  6. I’ve just come to the same conclusion about tried and true recipes. I don’t need 15 different recipes for each thing I bake all the time. One tried and true keeps me happy because it tastes good every time. When I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll try out one of the others for a change, and I’m always adding new recipes to my favorites, but gonna stick to the basics at my house!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s