Basic Gluten-Free Ingredients for Bakers
Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond by Linda J. Amendt offers more than 100 gluten-free recipes, from light, quick breads, biscuits and scones to tasty pancakes, waffles, coffee cakes and sweet rolls. It also includes chapters on frittatas and omelets, quiche, stratas and breakfast casseroles.
Buy this book from the Mother Earth Living store:Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond.
Using quality ingredients can make all the difference in the flavor and texture of the finished dish. Here are the most common gluten-free ingredients.
A number of flours can be used in gluten-free cooking and baking, though most are heavy and have very strong grain or bean flavors. They tend to create dense baked goods with flavors that are significantly different from items made with wheat flour. I created an all-purpose gluten-free flour for the recipes in this book, and it comes very close to replicating the texture and flavor of wheat flour.
White-rice flour has a mild flavor and makes a good substitute for wheat flour in gluten-free recipes. It is ground from rice after the bran and germ have been removed. Finely ground or stone-ground white-rice flour produces the best texture in gluten-free baked goods. White-rice flour is relatively inexpensive and has a long shelf life.
Containing the bran, brown-rice flour has more protein, fat, and nutrients than white-rice flour. Considered a whole grain, brown-rice flour is a little heavier than white-rice flour and has a slightly nutty flavor. The higher fat content makes it more perishable than white-rice flour, so it needs to be stored in the refrigerator to preserve freshness. Be sure to bring the flour to room temperature before combining it with other ingredients.
Ground from dried corn kernels, cornmeal adds great flavor and texture to muffins and breads. Cornmeal is commonly available in yellow and white varieties; yellow cornmeal has a stronger corn flavor.
Buckwheat is in the same botanical family as rhubarb and is not related to wheat. Buckwheat flour makes a good addition to pancake and waffle batters.
Without gluten to support the structure of the dough or batter, gluten-free baked goods can be dense and heavy. Gluten-free flours are also heavier than all-purpose wheat flour, compounding the problem and making baked goods even denser. To counteract this, starches are added to lighten the mixture and replicate the texture of wheat flour.
Tapioca flour, potato starch, and cornstarch all lighten and improve the texture of gluten-free batters and doughs. They also serve as thickeners, help stabilize the structure of baked goods, and produce a lighter and smoother texture.
Tapioca flour, also called tapioca starch, is a light powdery starch made from the tuberous root of the cassava plant. Tapioca flour is a key ingredient in gluten-free flour blends because it helps to lighten the texture of baked items while adding a chewy texture and strengthening the structure.
Potato Starch (not potato flour)
A finely textured starch made from raw white potatoes, potato starch helps to lighten flours and gives gluten-free breads and other baked goods a more tender texture.
Potato flour is made from cooked potatoes and has a much heavier texture than potato starch. Do not substitute potato flour for potato starch in gluten-free recipes as it will make baked goods very dense and heavy.
Made from the starchy endosperm of the corn kernel, cornstarch is used to lighten baked goods and thicken sauces. Adding cornstarch to gluten-free biscuits and scones helps give them a more tender texture.
Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch, & Beyond, by Linda J. Amendt, published by The Taunton Press in 2013.
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