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Oct 20, 2013 07:58 PM

Gluten-free Baking--How to get started?

My sister-in-law has recently been diagnosed with celiac disease. I generally do some baking for the upcoming holidays, and am scratching my head where to start. For reasons of personal growth, I don't want to do a lot of testing before finally arriving at a coffee cake and pie crust. Are the gf substitutes for ap flour any good? Can I use them with my old recipes or should I look for new ones? Thanks for your help.

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  1. If you don't want to do a lot of practice I would go with gluten free specific recipes. They have been tested and tend to work better I've found. My SIL likes Nameste flour blends fot gf baking. She's had celiacs for 3 years and has given up on pie crust being the same

      1. I haven't done any intentional gluten free baking, but two spectacular cookie recipes which happen to be gluten free are Thomas Haas' sparkle cookies and Yotam Ottolenghi's florentines. They're just great recipes - festive, beautiful, delicious.

        1. GF baking includes being aware of possible cross-contamination. If your SIL is very sensitive, you might want to avoid wooden spoons and wooden cutting boards.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Erika L

            Thank you, I will. She doesn't seem to be very sensitive, but it's early days yet.

          2. There are some other discussions about GF flour substitutes and GF baking in general that may interest you - I've linked to them below. I can't personally recommend a specific product because I've always made my own GF base by combining several alternative flours, but from what I've read and heard, Cup4Cup, the King Arthur Flour GF product and Better Batter are all pretty popular.

            I agree with janeh that you should start with naturally GF recipes. Flourless chocolate cake, flourless PB cookies, pudding, cheesecake with a nut or GF-cookie crust, meringues, pot de creme, mousse, polenta cake, rice pudding, macarons, macaroons, poached fruit...all gluten-free.

            For holiday-specific baking, try one of the GF flour substitutes I mentioned if you plan to make a traditional pie/tart crust. Otherwise you can make a GF "pat-in" crust using either crushed GF cookies mixed with butter, or a combination of nut flour and coconut flour mixed with butter or oil. Those are great options for a somewhat non-traditional pumpkin pie crust, and the filling for the pie is naturally GF.


            2 Replies
            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Panna has a short video of Jonathan Waxman making a pie shell by grating the frozen dough into the pie plate and patting it into shape. He was using regular dough, but I was thinking the grating technique might work with a gluten-free dough as well.

              1. re: sr44

                Sure, it should work as long as the dough contains a lot of butter. It's all about the action of the water molecules trapped inside - they generate steam when they heat up during baking. As the steam builds inside all those tiny bits of dough they expand and meld together to create a really flaky crust.