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10 Tips for Easy Healthy Gluten Free Baking

Updated on March 16, 2016
Turtlewoman profile image

Kim is a board-certified Holistic Health Coach, Healthy Living and Cleanse Consultant, and studied under Drs. Andrew Weil and Walter Willet.

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The Ultimate Guide to Baking with Gluten Free Flour


Are you new at baking gluten free desserts? Are you looking for some tips to improving your gluten free bread? Well you've come to the right place. Baking is a tough work of art. Throw in a gluten-free requirement to the recipes often calls for disaster and a tasteless baked good with odd texture.

Without gluten to give baked goods its elasticity, gluten free desserts can be gummy, tasteless, or gritty. Baking with gluten free flour can be a challenge, but with some practice and armed with this guideline, you will be a gluten free baking expert in no time.

The best gluten free recipes utilize a combination of grains, as well as extra ingredients that give texture and binding factor. Gluten free coconut flour can stand alone in certain recipes. However when it comes to other flours, a blend of different types of flour will yield a more balanced flavor.

Gluten-free baking is all about experimenting with different flours until you find one that will become your favorite "go-to" flour blend. It's not as simple as adding in all-purpose flour like in normal baking recipes.


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#1 Pre-Made Gluten Free Flour Mix


  • If you are a beginner at gluten-free baking, it is advisable to begin with using pre-made mixes. Is this considered cheating? I think it’s rather smart to keep a couple of boxes of mixes. The drawback to using a pre-made mix is that it can be expensive.
  • You can buy gluten free pancake batter, cookie mix, and even bread flour mix to start off with. They are more commonly found in health food stores and sold at online stores such as Amazon.


#2: Gluten Free All Purpose Flour


  • You can use Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Mix, or King Arthur's Gluten Free All Purpose Flour.
  • I have tried several different gluten-free flours, and I personally prefer King Arthur's over Bob's Red Mill. Their flour has a better consistency and does not have the gritty texture. If you plan on baking cake or bread where texture is more important, I would suggest using King Arthur's.


My favorite gluten free flour: COCONUT FLOUR!!

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#3 Learn how to mix your own gluten free flour blend


Some of the best gluten-free flours are a blend of the following flours. These flours are made from "ancient" grains that are packed with nutrients!

  • Almond flour is one of the healthiest flour, with a good amount of fiber, protein, and minerals. It has a slightly nutty, sweet flavor.
  • Brown rice flour has a nutty, sweet flavor. Us this flour instead of white rice flour as a nutritious whole grain base.
  • Buckwheat flour and millet flour are also high in protein and fiber.
  • Coconut flour has a nutty aroma, and has the highest content of fiber and protein.
  • Buckwheat flour can be used to bake bread with added antioxidants. It is also rich in protein and minerals including flavonoids, vitamin B, and carotenoids.
  • Quinoa flour has all the essential amino acids, in addition to phosphorus, calcium, iron, vitamin E and B.
  • Others include: millet, sorghum, and teff.

Additional tips to mixing your own gluten free flour:


  • Almond, buckwheat, coconut, and quinoa flour tend to yield denser results if you add too much. Start with a third to half cup in your blend.
  • Sweet rice flour is very starchy so start off slowly with 2 tablespoons


#4 Start off with this basic gluten free flour


Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix

  • 1 cup sorghum flour or brown rice flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch (or potato starch)
  • 1/3 to ½ cup almond meal (or buckwheat flour or millet flour)
  • 1 teaspoon of xanthum gum

Self-Rise Flour Mix

  • 1 cup unleavened gluten-free flour mix (see above)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Gluten-free muffin batter
Gluten-free muffin batter | Source

# 5 Understand gluten-free batter


  • Gluten free cake and muffin batter is thicker than regular batter.
  • Bread batter is slightly stiffer compared to regular bread batter.
  • You can expect cookie dough to resemble regular dough, but could spread faster. A secret to preventing that from happening is to put the cookie dough in the freezer before baking it.
  • When baking brownies and cookie bars, it is extremely easy to over bake them. You can take them out when the center is a little bit soft. Or, if you prefer, turn the oven down by 25 degrees and let it continue to bake for a few more minutes. Remember, the brownies will continue to bake after you take it out of the oven.

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#6 Adding moisture and flavor


  • When adding vanilla, add more than usual. Gluten-free flours can taste strong, so add a little extra vanilla helps soften their flavor. Buy the good, quality vanilla extract. Cheaper brands with fillers are nothing close to amazing.
  • Add warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to enhance the flavor. Cinnamon goes really well with chocolate.
  • Applesauce, sour cream, or yogurt can be added for moisture.
  • Use organic brown sugar instead of white sugar for better flavor.
  • Add honey, maple syrup, or agave for sweetness.



#7 Baking times


Baking times vary depending on whether you live at a higher altitude or at sea level.

  • If you live at high altitude, gluten-free recipes require less liquid and a higher baking temperature. Increase your oven temperature by 25 degrees. You might have to bake for a longer time.
  • If you live in a humid or dry area, gluten-free baking can be trickier. The flour tends to absorb more moisture, leaving the outcome damp. Start with 1 tablespoon LESS liquid.


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#8 How to store gluten-free flour


  • Gluten free flour has a shorter shelf life compared to other flour.
  • Keep your gluten-free flour in a tightly sealed canister and store it in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.
  • Whole grain flours (such as brown rice flour) get rancid quicker since they have not been over-processed.
  • Gluten free flour can be kept in the freezer for up to a year.


Watch this (quick) video to learn the proper way to measure gluten-free flour

#9 Measure gluten free flour


  • Gluten-free baking desserts such as cupcakes and bread can be finicky. When measuring your flour, use a spoon to scuffle the flour and then scoop it into the measuring cup. Do not scoop from the bag directly as this will compress the flour.
  • You can also use a digital scale to accurately measure out flour in grams.

Fresh out of the oven: gluten free bread

To prevent gluten free bread from collapsing, do not take it out of the oven right away. Turn off the oven, and leave the door slightly open. Let the bread cool off while it's in there.
To prevent gluten free bread from collapsing, do not take it out of the oven right away. Turn off the oven, and leave the door slightly open. Let the bread cool off while it's in there. | Source

Gluten Free Bread

Enjoy a slice of gluten free bread with your favorite jam!
Enjoy a slice of gluten free bread with your favorite jam! | Source

#10 Baking gluten and wheat free bread


Baking gluten free bread my seem like a tricky endeavor, but it doesn't have to be that way! Just follow these tips and you'll be fine.

  • As with any yeast, it needs a warm environment to rise properly. The ideal temperature is around 100-120 degrees. Anything hotter than that range of temperature will kill the yeast. Make sure the yeast is not expired. "Proof" your yeast by adding a teaspoon of sugar to warm water.
  • Learn to visualize the gluten free bread dough. It should look shiny and stiff, just like cake batter. It will not be as thick as cookie dough.
  • When you add water or liquids to your flour mix, add it slowly. Different types of flour and mixes behave differently, so I do not recommend just dumping the water in. You should expect a stiff dough. If you happen to add too much water, simply sprinkle some rice flour until you've reached the desired consistency of your dough.
  • Digital thermometers are very useful for gluten-free baking. To avoid overcooking or taking your bread out too early, buy a thermometer and eliminate the need to guess! I like my bread to reach the temperature of about 208 degrees F, which is higher than regular bread.
  • Gluten-free bread will keep its shape better overcooked than undercooked. I'm not suggesting you over cooking your bread. However, it in doubt, keep your bread in for a bit longer.
  • If you are new at baking gluten-free baking, I would suggest using a recipe that calls for baking by hand, rather than using the bread machine. There are just too many variables to consider, and it will be much easier for you to control. Don't get me wrong, some people swear by their bread machine. They are indeed useful. Baking gluten free requires a bit of experimenting in the beginning so I think it's best to simply use a mixer and oven.
  • When baking gluten free bread with using the oven method, metal pans are better than glass!
  • If you have problems with your gluten-free bread sinking, do not take the bread out too quickly! Instead, turn off the oven after it's finished cooking and open the oven door slightly. Let it cool down for a few minutes. If this doesn't work, that means your recipe has too much liquid resulting in too much moisture. Next time, use less liquid or add 2 tablespoons of flax seed meal.
  • Substituting gluten free beer for water will help give bread more volume and flavor!


What type of gluten free desserts have you baked?

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# 10 Other tips and adjustments


  • Gluten-free baked goods and breads get soggy if they stay too long in their cozy pans. Remove loaves and cakes and muffins from the pan as SOON AS possible. The longer a gluten-free baked good remains in a hot pan, the soggier it gets.
  • If your end product is gummy in the center- or it falls in the middle- the problem is most likely too much liquid. Use 2-4 tablespoons less when you mix the batter or dough next time. Add only a little liquid at a time to achieve the consistency you need. If it happens often, your flours may be damp or your oven too cool. Or you may be taking the baked good out of the oven too soon; if so, bake it longer.

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Remember...


When you bake with gluten-free flour and ingredients, try to be open minded and forgiving. Yes, you will mess up. You will make mistakes. Gluten free baking is like driving a stick shift car. It’s hard and weird at first, but with patience and practice it will become a valuable skill. And don’t beat yourself up if the loaf of bread comes out hard as rock. If that happens, just feed it to your dog or grind in up in a food processor and use as bread crumbs for entrée recipes. That’s just part of baking, really. Have fun!

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    • profile image

      Snigdha Gupta 12 months ago

      Hi, I just made GF mixed berry muffins and their texture is very chewy and stretchy and they are sticking to the muffin liner. I know I have over baked them, but is that the reason why they are like this. I also found my batter very difficult to mix and I could see little lumps of flour, even though i tried to mix thoroughly. Is it because I used the wrong brand or am I doing something terribly wrong. This is my 1st attempt at GF baking and needless to say its a disaster. Help!

    • profile image

      Mary 17 months ago

      I kept wondering why my GF muffins and breads tasted soggy the next day!! I have just been keeping them in the loaf pan. Thanks so much for the tip!

    • profile image

      Gail 18 months ago

      Thank you so much for helping me figure out what to do about coconut flour's grittiness. I ended up throwing an entire loaf of banana bread last night because I couldn't deal with the sandy texture of that plus the almond flour. I'm trying King Arthur next time!

    • profile image

      Gigi 2 years ago

      Thank you for sharing my video on properly measuring gluten free flours. Many more tips on gf baking and recipes are available at GlutenFreeGigi.com, free of charge. :)

    • Turtlewoman profile image
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      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Thank you for stopping by. I'm glad that your niece could find this article useful as gluten-free cooking can be intimidating and tricky. Please feel free to pass along some of my GF recipes...especially the bread.;-)

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Lots of great info! My niece has a serious allergy to gluten and it's been a tough road to find things that she will eat that are yummy! And it's gets old eating the same stuff all the time so thanks for sharing these tips!

    • Turtlewoman profile image
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      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      I'm glad it did, Allie! There are also a lot gluten free foods available at regular supermarkets now too (not just Whole Foods)...so if you don't have time to cook for your friend, there are options! :-)

    • alliemacb profile image

      alliemacb 5 years ago from Scotland

      This has come along at just the right moment. I have friends coming to stay soon and one of them has to eat gluten free foods, so I now have some ideas to work with. Thanks for the useful information

    • Turtlewoman profile image
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      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Oh Margie, always good to hear from you....thanks! ;-)

    • Mmargie1966 profile image

      Mmargie1966 5 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      YUM! I'm hungry now...Excellent Hub! Thanks for sharing :)

    • KrisL profile image

      KrisL 5 years ago from S. Florida

      Thanks, Turtlewoman. I grind my own flour in a Vitamix, so I'd have to work to make it into a good recipe with pre-ground flour . . .but you inspire me to try! I actually use a little bit of kasha - roasted buckwheat groats, and I think you could grind those in a regular blender for a nice nutty taste.

      I look forward to reading your recipe for bread with that brown rice flour mix. So many of the GF breads & mixes I've seen are mostly refined starch, such as potato, tapioca, or white rice.

    • Turtlewoman profile image
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      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Oh I love GF pancakes! I'm glad you use brown rice and millet- they are definitely a healthier choice. If you would like, there's a bread recipe hub using a pre-made flour mix too...check it out! I will also have another one posted this weekend, with a brown rice flour mix that I've been experimenting with. GF baking was difficult for me at first. Lots of trial and error and I'm still learning so much! I wold love to try some of your pancake recipe ;-)

    • KrisL profile image

      KrisL 5 years ago from S. Florida

      Thanks, I've been eating gluten-free for years.

      I've perfected pancakes (brown rice, millet, white sushi rice flour in descending order of quanitity and just a little bit of buckwheat flour, perhaps 1-2 tbs per cup), but I haven't tried bread, and this gives me encouragement.

    • Turtlewoman profile image
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      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Hi pipmistress - Thank you for the kind comment. Hope it works out...let me know if I can answer any questions regarding gluten free baking. :-)

    • Turtlewoman profile image
      Author

      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Hi Monette- Gluten free baking can be a funny experiment in the beginning...but once you get the hang of it, it's not too bad! Thanks for stopping by and voting.

    • pipmistress profile image

      pipmistress 5 years ago from Qatar

      This is a great hub! I will definitely try this. thanks:)

    • MonetteforJack profile image

      MonetteforJack 5 years ago from Tuckerton, NJ

      This is a lot of information to digest :) It's really great of you to differentiate the flavors of the different gluten-free flour. I find you funny when you said --

      "And don’t beat yourself up if the loaf of bread comes out hard as rock. If that happens, just feed it to your dog"

      Thanks for the warning, hahaha! Seriously, thanks for the advices. Voted up and all the way.

    • Turtlewoman profile image
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      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      ChristinS, you're absolutely right about gluten free baking...hopefully I can narrow that learning curve for some. Thank you for the nice comment!

    • Turtlewoman profile image
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      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Hi Marcy and habee, most of my friends give me a funny look when I mention coconut flour. It does sound a bit funny! Once they try it, they actually like the flavor and appreciate the health factor.

      Thank you for your votes.:-)

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 5 years ago from Midwest

      awesome hub! I know there is definitely a learning curve when going gluten free with baking and I'm sure this hub will be very valuable to those who are just getting their feet wet.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Like Marcy, I'm not familiar with coconut flour, but I'm ready to give it a try. Wonderful tips! Voted up.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I hadn't heard of coconut flour before! I have many friends who need to eat gluten-free foods, so this hub is handy to have! Thank you!

      Voted up and useful!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Another great hub, Turtlewoman!

    • Turtlewoman profile image
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      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      RTalloni- I don't mind at all....thank you. I'm glad I can help!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      What a great resource you've given us with these tips for gluten free baking! I'm looking forward to referring to this hub many times over. Will be linking it to a couple of my gf recipe hubs if you have no objection--thanks!