Gluten-Free Baking

Have you noticed that more and more people are joining gluten-free diet these days? More than 3 million Americans are diagnosed with celiac disease. Increased awareness about gluten sensitivity encourages people to take better care of their health. Those affected by Celiac disease can't properly digest foods that contain gluten without damaging their small intestine. Gluten-free diets for weight loss and improved athletic performance are becoming very fashionable too.

Groceries, supermarkets, and bakeries are in a rush to cater to this part of health-conscious population and capitalize on the new trend in food industry. If you are a bakery owner and want to join the gluten-free bandwagon, you need to have some basic knowledge about gluten and Celiac disease.

Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in common wheat, barley, rye, and similar grains. It helps with cooking as it makes batters and doughs stick together. It gives your baked goods their form and structure. Gluten provides pastries and other baked goods their elasticity and stability. This protein is what holds all your creations together.

Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten-Free diet is food choice that does not include any gluten. Substitutes have to be used instead of traditional flour and other ingredients. People with Celiac disease have to have gluten-free foods, while many food trends are recommending participants to stay away from gluten for various other reasons. Either way, offering foods with gluten-free options will benefit both kinds of customers.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease makes body hypersensitive to gluten and attacks the lining of small intestines when gluten is found there. If a person continues consuming gluten, this process never stops and can cause significant health problems. The body will lose intestinal lining and won't be able to absorb needed nutrients. The deficiency of vitally important nutrients can lead to various other ailments like osteoporosis, anemia, diabetes, and various intestinal cancers.

When you start gluten-free baking, you have to be very cautious and very knowledgeable because people's health is at stake. Contamination can lead to serious complications for your customers.

Baking

Avoiding Cross-Contamination

Growing Celiac disease awareness and gluten sensitivity made many healthy options more accessible. Various kinds of gluten-free flour are available for home and professional bakers. There is no shortage of great substitutes to bake wonderful gluten-free goodies.

The only thing to watch out for is contamination, which is at high risk for bakeries that bake glutinous products too. It is very easy to mix some gluten containing ingredients in gluten-free batter by mistake. Gluten protein is so light that it can be found in the air long after you finished using the flour. Even the smallest dose of gluten can cause discomfort and damage to those affected by Celiac disease. The best choice would be to cook only gluten-free recipes at the establishment. If that is not possible at all, read on for some tips on how to avoid gluten contamination at your bakery:

  • Separate your tools and equipment for gluten-free and regular cooking completely. Do the mixing in a separate area and always keep that area for gluten-free cooking only. Store the supplies separately and bake goods in a separate oven. Wash and keep utensils separately too.
  • You should research your suppliers and not automatically trust them. If flour is not certified gluten-free, don't use it. It helps to be informed about the way your supplies are made in the production facility. If the mill also produces regular flour, there is a risk of contamination. Read labels carefully and examine each ingredient.
  • If you want to bake regular and gluten-free products at the same bakery, make sure you mark clearly what finished products are safe for customers with Celiac disease.

Gluten-Free Ingredients

There are plenty of choices available to substitute gluten-containing flour, but it will take some time to get used working with them. You won't automatically get the usually fluffy and sticky texture in your gluten-free cookies, cakes, and pies. People are craving that, so you will have to learn how to recreate similar textures with different flours. Here is some advice how to use gluten-free substitutes successfully:

  • You can use more baking soda, baking powder, and various starches to achieve similar dough effects. Make sure your baking powder and soda are gluten-free.
  • You can mix a few different kinds of gluten-free flour; you don't have to stick to one. It's up to you to find what works best. Each type of four has unique qualities, so if you combine them all, you might get some spectacular results. You can also use already pre-mixed blend of flour for gluten-free baking.
  • Try using xanthan gum for stretchiness. You only need to use small quantities and your dough will taste and feel just like regular kind, but with no harmful side effects. Add about 1/2 of teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. This will improve your breads, pastries, cookies, and muffins.
  • Use more eggs. They are rich in protein and will prevent your creations from crumbling. Beaten egg whites will make your products fluffy, while an extra yolk can help make the texture tenderer.
  • You might want to check if some of the products that you are using are already gluten-free. Most pure cocoa powders and cornstarch are naturally gluten-free. As long as they are not contaminated, they are safe to use without looking for special substitutions.
Pies with Filling

Gluten-Free Flour Types:

  1. Almond Flour

    This flavorful and low carbohydrate flour can do wonders for your baking. The almonds are skinned, blanched, and ground before milling to a very fine powder. Almond flour is light, but adds moisture and protein to your baked goods. This flour is great for breads, macarons, cakes, pastries, and pie crusts. You don't have to use nuts to add nutty flavor to enhance your products. Almond flour can be a great substitute for bread crumbs.

  2. Rice Flour

    This is your perfect all-purpose flour that can also replace wheat flour. The rice is polished and milled before getting ground to a very fine consistency. It is smooth, light, and mild, so you can use it for delicate desserts and thicken your puddings and custards with it. If you are looking for extra nutrition, use brown rice flour.

  3. Some other gluten-free flour: tapioca, teff, buckwheat, quinoa, and coconut. All of those can be great on their own or as combinations.

If you are ready to bake for gluten-intolerant customers, be sure to take precautions, keep all the tools separate, implement rigorous safety standards, understand the basics of such cooking, and enjoy serving healthy gluten-free flair.