Learning how to bake fabulous gluten free cakes is not always simple. Let’s be honest, learning to bake regular cakes is not always simple, but learning to bake gluten free is harder again. It can be incredibly daunting for someone to even attempt to start baking gluten free.
Gluten free baking is hard because we are trying to bake cakes without the very thing that gives structure and texture to cakes. Gluten. The flour can be swapped out for another kind of flour, but that new flour still has no gluten. So the cake will still be struggling with it’s structure and texture. Once you start understanding a little bit about how gluten free baking works, it will get easier.
Who had had a dodgy gluten free cake? Either one you have made or one someone else had made? I will be amazed if you haven’t got your hand up. I’m sure every person following a gluten free diet has eaten a bad cake. Let me guess what this cake tasted like.
How did I do? Can you recognise the dodgy cake you ate? Let’s work our way through the mistakes and how to can avoid making them.
There are so many single gluten free fours available. There’s rice, corn, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, sorghum and teff, to name a few. If you tried to simply swap your regular plain flour gram for gram for rice flour you would end with a heavy dense mess of a cake. None of these flour on their own will bake a good cake, you would need a carefully tested blend. When you are new to baking, I strongly recommend, no, I urge you to buy a pre-made flour blend.
Following along from number one, not all pre-made four blends are equal. How many times have you baked a fabulous gluten free cake only for it to fail next time? I bet you never even thought about the flour blend being different. I definitely didn’t. There are branded blends, there are supermarket own blends and many online retailers selling flour blends as well. Some of these blends have the same ingredients and others don’t. For years I have always used Dove’s Farm Freee range, it gave my bakes consistency. But due to recent supply issues I had to change brand. I swapped to Glebe Farm, and before I ordered it I knew it was different, but I was out of options so I ordered it. I’m so glad I did. It’s better again than the Dove’s Farm one. I won’t swap back now.
Are you still feeling a little unsure about gluten free baking ingredients. I have put together a little guide and in it I share all of my favourite brands, as not all brand are equal. The last thing we want is your cake to fail because you used the wrong brand.
Xanthan gum is a gluten free bakers best friend. It acts as a binder. Without this you end up with crumbly cakes, and thats not good. If you use too much of it a bitter taste will come through to your cake, so use it sparingly. I use 1/2 teaspoon in a most cakes. If my flour blend already has Xanthan gum addd to it, I usually add another 1/4 teaspoon to it, just to be sure.
Gluten free flours tend to be more absorbent than regular flour, so it leaves cakes on the dry side and with a gritty texture. Gluten free cake batters need to be more runny than regular batters to get the same effect. This can be solved by using large eggs instead of mediums, or adding an extra medium egg.
Gluten free cake batters are more runny than regular so they need a little longer in the oven. This can cause the cake to burn on top, so lower the temperature by 5-10 degrees and cook the cake for longer. But be careful, not to over cook it. An overcooked gluten free cake tends to be on the drier side.
Gluten free cakes tend to need a little help with their rising. If I’m using a self raising flour I still add an extra teaspoon of baking powder ( not all are gluten free), and if the recipe calls for baking powder, I add an additional 1/2 teaspoon. Don’t be tempted to add too much as too much raising agent causes it’s own problems.
I really hoped this has made things clearer for you now. I hope you can see where you have gone wrong or that it has given you the confidence to have a go. These six things will make such a difference to your baking. But, if you are new to it, I highly recommend you start with a gluten free designed recipe rather than trying to convert your favourite regular recipe over. Conversion and experimentation will come, but you need to understand how gluten free baking works. Baking is a science. Every ingredient is there for a reason, they all have a job to do.
I am in and out of our online baking club, The Recipe Box Bakers, most days. So, click the button and come and join us, I will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
If your looking for some tried and tested recipes, head over to The Recipe Box to check out our class, The Beginners Guide To Gluten Free Baking. You will find it in our Community Freebies classroom.