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Gluten-free Baking: 7 Simple Tips for Sweet Success

by Jane Greer
CulinaryEd Columnist
May 19, 2011

Gluten-free cooking and baking accommodate the one percent of Americans who have celiac disease. However, many people who don't have the disease also prefer a gluten-free diet. Scientists, culinary schools, and chefs have found ways to create delicious gluten-free food.

In celiac disease, a protein called gluten, found in grains such as wheat, rye, or barley, damages the small intestine and interferes with nutrient absorption. People with the disease often develop symptoms of malnourishment unless they switch to a rigorously gluten-free lifestyle. They must follow their doctor's recommendations and completely avoid the foods, alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, medications, and numerous common household items that contain gluten.

Culinary School Secrets for Baking with Gluten-free Flour

Baking with gluten-free flour is challenging for chefs and culinary schools. Most chefs learn to bake using wheat, rye, and barley flour. Using gluten-free flour — from beans, soybeans, nuts, chickpeas, or buckwheat, which are not related to wheat — requires different procedures. Many culinary schools are teaching chefs to follow these simple rules for great-tasting, gluten-free pastries and breads.

  1. Gluten-free dough is wetter and stickier than dough made from wheat flour, so you must beat it longer.
  2. Wet or oil your hands when working with gluten-free dough.
  3. Bake pizza on a pizza stone to crisp it. Bake breads and cakes in smaller-than-usual pans. Remove bread from the loaf pan as soon as it's firm enough to hold its shape, and finish baking on the oven rack without the pan.
  4. Instead of a one flour dough, blend flours to make tastier dough.
  5. Store gluten-free flour — higher in fat than glutinous flour — in the freezer to prolong freshness.
  6. Make sure gluten-free flour hasn't come in contact with any glutinous grains or grain dust at the mill or in processing.
  7. Create a separate storage area for tools and bowls used for gluten-free food.

These seven simple rules can help chefs create delicious gluten-free breads, pastries, and desserts that anyone can enjoy.

Sources:

  1. Celiac.com
  2. National Institutes of Health


About the Author

Jane Greer is a freelance writer and editor and is also brave enough to teach English grammar at a community college.
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