Carol Fenster Celebrates Celiac Awareness Month with 10 Baking Tips for Gluten-Free Beginners

As the nation celebrates May as Celiac Awareness Month, gluten-free cooking expert Carol Fenster, author of Gluten-Free 101, offers 10 baking tips for beginners who are just starting the gluten-free diet.

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Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner's Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking

“Gluten-free batters and doughs are much softer and wetter than wheat-flour versions,” says Fenster, “so resist the temptation to add more flour which makes baked goods dry and crumbly.”

Denver, CO (PRWEB) May 13, 2014

As the nation celebrates May as Celiac Awareness Month, gluten-free cooking expert Carol Fenster, author of Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking, offers 10 baking tips for beginners who are just starting to cook their own gluten-free meals.

“Beginners most often crave gluten-laden foods such as breads, pizza, muffins, cakes, and cookies—all of which require a gluten-free recipe and baking in an oven,” says Fenster, “so here are my10 tips for successful baking so beginners can make these foods at home.”

Use a Gluten-Free Cookbook.
Beginners should start out with cookbooks that contain gluten-free recipes to assure early success and build confidence. Then, apply this new-found expertise to transform family heirloom recipes or favorite recipes from non-gluten-free cookbooks to a gluten-free version.

Follow the Recipe.
Follow the recipe precisely as written—especially the first time. “Gluten-free batters and doughs are much softer and wetter than wheat-flour versions,” says Fenster, “so resist the temptation to add more flour which makes baked goods dry and crumbly.”

Use a Blend of Flours in Baking.
Replace wheat flour with a blend of gluten-free flours instead of a single flour. Use the flour blend recommended in the recipe for best results. Experts formulate these blends by selecting from a wide array of flours––e.g., rice, corn, bean, sorghum, potato, tapioca, and arrowroot, to mention just a few—and assembling them in the right proportions into a versatile flour blend that can be used in a wide variety of recipes. “Keep this gluten-free flour blend in your pantry and you’re always ready to bake,” says Fenster.

Use the Right Tools.
Use dry measuring cups to measure dry ingredients; liquid measuring cups for liquid ingredients. Many beginners don’t understand the difference between the two. Fenster says that liquid measuring cups are usually see-through plastic or glass and have spouts. Dry measuring cups are usually opaque—such as plastic or metal—and the cups nest together. Dry and liquid measuring cups are not interchangeable in baking since it is very difficult to measure flour accurately in a liquid measuring cup.

Measure Flour Correctly.
Before measuring, run a whisk or spatula through the flour to aerate it a bit. Measure the flour by loosely spooning it into a measuring cup. Level the mound of flour with the flat side of a knife and never pack the flour down into the cup. Incorrect measuring can yield 20% more flour then needed, leading to dry baked goods. See Fenster’s video on “How to Measure Flour” under Videos button at http://www.CarolFenster.com or http://www.CarolFensterCooks.com.

Incorporate Whole Grains for Better Nutrition.
Some gluten-free flours and grains are vitamin-deficient so search out recipes that use whole grains or whole grain flours such as amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, sorghum, and teff for wider diversity and better nutrition.

Consider an Increase in Flavorings, Herbs, and Spices.
Beginners may want to increase spices, herbs, and flavorings (such as vanilla extract) by 1/4 to 1/3 to compensate for the loss of wheat flavor that many notice as their palates adjust to the new flavors and textures of gluten-free foods.

Don’t Forget the Gum.
Use xanthan gum or guar gum as directed in the recipe. It compensates for the missing gluten and improves texture and rise in baked goods. Without gums, baked goods crumble and fall apart.

Use Smaller Pans for Baking.
Breads may be more successful in several small loaf pans (e.g., 4x6-inch) instead of one large (5x9-inch or 4x8-inch) loaf pan. A Bundt pan (instead of a 9x13-inch pan) produces a more successful cake because its circular shape (with the hole in the middle) promotes even heat distribution and reduces falling.

Use Nonstick Pans for Certain Foods.
Use nonstick pans (gray, not black) for pizza, breads, cakes, bars, and muffins to promote proper browning and encourage rising. For cookies, use shiny (not nonstick) baking sheets. Generously grease baking pans and use parchment paper on baking sheets to avoid sticking.

Fenster will share these tips as a guest speaker at the 40th Anniversary Conference of the Gluten Intolerance Group, to be held in Atlanta, GA on May 17-18. For more information, go to http://www.gluten.net.