While only about 1 in 133 Americans suffers from true celiac disease, according to CeliacCentral.org, many people are intolerant of gluten, which can make a gluten-free lifestyle appealing. Learning to go gluten-free can be tough, but you can do it with a little creativity and practice.
Of course, since wheat is most often used in baked goods, baking gluten-free is the most difficult part of leading this lifestyle. Making your favorite baked goods gluten free isn’t impossible, though. Try these tips, put in some practice and you’ll get it down in no time.
1. Knead dough longer than you normally would
If you’re experienced in working with wheat-based baked goods, you know that kneading or beating the dough for too long can make it tough. This is because the gluten in the wheat forms a stronger bond the more you work it. With non-wheat dough, though, you’ll actually get lighter dough and baked goods if you knead the dough longer. Gluten-free dough is normally very sticky, and beating it longer will aerate the dough and give it more lightness. A heavy-duty stand mixer is almost essential in gluten-free baking for this exact reason.
2. Don’t let it get too moist
Gluten-free dough is thirstier than wheat-based dough, which means you often add more liquid and end up with a generally moister, stickier dough. This can be a particular problem with breads, because the moisture escapes during the baking process, creating a soggy mess of bread dough after you’ve allowed the loaf to cool. You can remedy this issue with breads by removing them from the bread pan as soon as possible, and you can keep other baked goods from getting too moist by baking them on baking stones.
3. Try a mix
As you become more experienced in gluten-free baking, you might prefer to create your own gluten-free flour blends. But when you’re just getting started or don’t have much time, using a pre-made flour blend is a good idea. Neutral-tasting, basic blends can be expensive, but they’re less expensive than pre-made gluten-free products. If you wish to cut down the expenses later on, try making your own flour blends in bulk.
4. Add xanthan or guar gum
To create baked goods that taste like the “real thing” from wheat-based flour that you’re used to eating, add a gum of some sort. Xanthan and guar gums are two favorites of gluten-free bakers. These gums can help give gluten-free flour some of the texture, sheen and body that is most often associated with wheat-based dough.
5. Check expiration dates
Be sure to check the expiration dates for all your gluten-free flours, and store them in the fridge or freezer if possible. Most of these flours, particularly those that include flour made from nuts, have a higher fat content than wheat flour, which can cause them to spoil much more easily. If you aren’t good at remembering expiration dates, mark them clearly on a piece of masking tape stuck to the front of the container.
Can You Afford to Go Gluten Free?
Many people who would be well-served physically by leading a gluten-free lifestyle avoid going gluten free because they are afraid they won’t be able to afford it. However, going gluten free doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are some tips to help you afford to go gluten free:
- The original process of stocking up on the basics for a gluten-free lifestyle might be expensive, especially if you often bake from scratch and will need to add lots of gluten-free flours and add-ins to your stash. If you’re on a tight grocery budget, look at some credit card reviews for grocery credit cards. These cards could give you some good rewards for your gluten-free grocery shopping, and you could use credit for your original gluten-free stock-up shopping trip. After that, budget each month to replace gluten-free items you’re low on, and use a bit of your extra money to pay off your original shopping trip.
- Learn to make things from scratch. Of course, making items from scratch is cheaper no matter how you slice it, but this is especially true for gluten-free eaters. Pre-made gluten-free items, which are often no healthier than regular baked goods except that they don’t have gluten in them, are incredibly expensive. Baking from scratch at home is a better idea, for sure.
- Don’t let it go to waste. Depending on how much you bake, you may need to buy your gluten-free flours a little at a time so that they don’t expire and go to waste.
- Be naturally gluten free as much as possible. Cutting back on baked goods in general can be good for your health and your wallet. Focus on a diet rich in protein, fruits and vegetables, and work just a few gluten-free baked goods in for good measure.
Living and baking gluten free is getting easier by the day, as celiacs and those who have gluten intolerance are finding more and more resources available to them. These tips will help keep your gluten-free lifestyle affordable and tasty.
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Guest Post by: Ashyia Hill
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