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Gluten Free and Allergy Free Baking: Why won't my baked goods turn out?

Posted Apr 03 2012 11:57pm

Boy this is an important topic! As the author of a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and other allergen free cookbook, I know how critical this area is for people. I devoted a chapter in my book to the things that I know will make a difference. Let's start with having an oven thermometer in your oven at all times, which is my first suggestion if you have a gluten-free or allergen free baked good that is a flop. Why? Because over the last 12 plus years from my own personal experience and from teaching baking classes for almost as many years I have discovered that most home ovens are off in temperature any where from 25 to 40 degrees. This is huge. When you remove gluten and dairy and eggs from a baked good, they are more fragile and not as resilient in my humble opinion - and are therefore more sensitive to oven temperature.

So the first thing I recommend is to get and use an oven thermometer. Let me share how important I discovered this was BEFORE I published my cookbook. I was teaching baking classes at a kitchen store in 2004 and I would tell the class that they needed to get an oven thermometer and why. When I would see the students from the baking class at a subsequent celiac support meeting, without question those people who got an oven thermometer were always successful and the ones who didn't get one were not. The oven temperature fluctuation, by the way, is true for brand new ovens, old ones and those that are in between.

Another factor in success is how you measure your flour. Bette Hagman used to tell people to either sift your flour twice or tap the measuring cup repeatedly to have the flour settle (to get the same effect as if you had sifted the flour). I invented a quicker "heap and dump" method to save time. Regardless of what method you use - you need to understand how the flour is to be measured for the recipe you are using.

Something else that causes baked goods to flop is adding too much liquid, which is sometimes a function of the flour measuring issue I mentioned above. If you could remove gluten, dairy, eggs, etc. and have a baked good come out perfectly without some tricks and techniques - no one would need a cookbook. So there are reasons that gluten-free baked goods and allergen free baked goods flop. If you stick with a recipe that comes from a reputable source and don't make any substitutions in the beginning - you will find your way. If you have any questions about your gluten-free baking and allergen free baking, post a comment here so I can help you! Good luck and happy baking!



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