GLUTEN FREE BAKING TIPS
Gluten Free Baking differs from the baking of wheat and other grains quite markedly.
The technique is not difficult to master although takes a little patience and a lot of accuracy.
You will leave yourself open to a great deal of frustration and failure if you attempt to undertake gluten free bread baking without a reasonable set of scales.
Cupping flour as a method of measurement is simply not a good way to go about it.
You will have some good and some poor results due to varying dough texture.
Accuracy is not simply important- it is essential.
How to ensure accuracy
Whereas in wheat flour baking you have a small tolerance in respect to proportioning flour and water, gluten free baking provides a much smaller tolerance. One tablespoon too much or too little water will see a dramatic difference in the final result.
We recommend the use of digital scales as the ideal tool to assist in gluten free baking.
Most of our customers who have purchased a good digital set only regret that they hadn't done it years before. (A smart bread maker starts hinting at them as a gift well before the big day) They don't stretch the budget and they make a great gift that actually gets used.
Those that we sell are well priced, reliable, finely calibrated to measure in 1 gram increments and are ideal for all your baking needs. You will find these listed under the Tins and Things section of this site.
Measuring Water by weight
Apart from accurately weighing your gluten free flour, you also need to accurately measure the water. Again you will be disappointed if you rely upon the markings on water jugs to provide a really accurate measurement.
The glass jugs are notorious for mis-measurement.
I treat the glass measuring jugs with a similar degree of belief as I treat a politician at election time. What they tell you may not be entirely true. (it might not even be close)
Water is most accurately weighed on your scales.
1 litre of water weighs 1 kilo. 320ml of water weighs 320 grams. It is as easy as that.
Even if your scales weigh a tiny bit high or low it matters little as you are using the same instrument to measure both they will be correctly proportioned.
Types of Water
The other important aspect to remember is that there is a difference in the type of water used.
Recipes that appear on our labels are the result of tests using metropolitan scheme water.
Rain water and filtered water are softer water and generally require slightly less to achieve the same dough consistency.
Bore water, or water that is "hard" tends to require a little more.
How much more? Usually about 15 to 20ml but then again, it is a matter of degree and depends upon how hard or how soft the water you used is.
The only way to know whether you have got it exact is to get to recognise the texture of the dough. Experience will tell you what gives you the best loaf.
Once you have mastered the texture of the dough, you are almost there in terms of mastering gluten free bread baking.
Too much or too little water?
Too little water results in a stiff dough. This means that the loaf is likely to be small and stunted. More cake like in texture than bread like.
A little too much water can see the bread rise too far with the result that the holes in the bread are just a little (or a lot) too large.
This "open texture" makes the bread difficult to cut, difficult to butter, dries out too quickly and is generally of a weak structure.
A "lot too much" water will see the loaf quite flat, heavy and soggy as it fails to trap the gas from the yeast and also tends to be under baked in the middle.
For gluten free mixes the consistency should be batter-like. Add or cut back on water accordingly. Ideally this should be thinner than a cake mixture, but thicker than a pan-cake batter.
When the blade stops turning, the batter should be sufficiently loose and wet to slowly run back into the area of the pan just cleared by the kneading blade.
If you lift a spoonful of batter onto a tablespoon, the batter should slowly 'gloop" off.
To have it the consistency of "wet tooth-paste" is a reasonable description.
Regular users of these mixes recognize the ideal texture and are able to add in other ingredients, knowing that you simply adjust the water level to always bring the dough back to the ideal consistency for the perfect result.
An example of this could be to use the microwave to cook pumpkin, cool it down, puree it and use it as the liquid. Adding grated cheese is another option.
If you were to add seeds, eg chia seeds, they would absorb a little water so you would need to add a little extra to ensure you retained the right consistency of batter.
Differences in baking in Oven and Bread Machines
A gluten free recipe that works well with oven baking is likely to need considerable adjustment to make it successful in a bread machine.
In following our gluten free recipes it is suggested that you identify the product that you are going to use and click on the recipe for that particular product.
Then click on the headings to take you to the gluten free baking method you intend to use with the All About Bread product.
We baked hundreds of gluten free loaves in ovens and various bread machines to find out how to get the best results each way.
There is no point in you spending the same amount of time and effort when we make the information freely available for you and we are happy to share it.
Bread Machine or Oven Bake?
Gluten free baking in the oven is quicker and provides more control than gluten free baking in a bread machine. It is also more efficient in that it takes no longer to bake two or even three loaves in the oven than one. There is no reason that the extra loaves should not be allowed to cool dowm, sliced, placed in a plastic bag and frozen for future use.
Gluten free baking in a bread machine is often more convenient in as far as you simply weigh up the ingredients, load the machine, push a button and go put your feet up.
Apart from being fussier about measurement, gluten free bread baking is less strenuous than wheat flour baking. There is no kneading involved.
Kneading is performed on wheat flours to develop gluten. As there is no gluten in gluten free bread mixes (duh) it is simply a couple of minutes to ensure the water is added to the gluten free flour and it is mixed to ensure it develops the correct consistency.
This takes no more than two or three minutes and can be done with a wooden spoon as well as by a bread machine paddle.
Bread Machines programs.
The late model bread machines have specific "gluten free" programs.
Older models are all quite capable of handling the baking of gluten free breads as well.
Usually the best program to use is the "rapid" cycle which simply mixes the batter (this is usually performed for about 30 minutes).
The machine then proceeds to warm the batter to enable the yeast to rise the dough and then onto the baking cycle and completion.
Be aware though that you read on the next two paragraphs if you are using a yeast free product.
Check the Dough
The mixing process (in a bread machine) also differs considerably from that used for wheat flours. The mixing and kneading process of the bread-machines is essentially designed for wheat flours.
Gluten Free products are far more likely to have the kneading blade push some of the mixture high up the pan where it remains, largely unmixed, until the dough rises. It is important to keep an eye on the dough during at least the first ten minutes of the mixing cycle to ensure the mixture reaches a smooth texture throughout.
Staling or drying out of gluten free
Gluten free loaves will sometimes appear to "stale" quicker than wheat loaves. This is usually as a result of the vegetable gum (used to replace gluten in providing a structure to the bread) contracting.
There are two things that can be done to assist here.
Use a table spoon of oil as a replacement for a tablespoon of water in your dough mix.
Give the "dried out" loaf a very short burst in the microwave. This will soften up the vegetable gum and freshen and soften the bread.
Gluten Free and Yeast Free
If you are using a product such as All About Breads "Amaizing Bread" then make sure you read the instructions concerning which program to use.
Amaizing Bread is gluten free, lactose free and most importantly for bread machines is yeast free.
The most important thing to remember about yeast free products is that they have an alternative rising agent such as baking powder.
Baking powder releases 90% of its gas on the first rising which means that if you have used a program such as the "basic white" the dough will be knocked down after the first rising and there will be insufficient to rise the loaf from this point.
Yeast free products require a yeast free (or cake) program to be used.
The recipe section of the product (and the label) will nominate the program such as the "yeast free" or "cake" cycle for this particular product.
All About Bread Maize & Rice Bread Mix is a gluten free bread mix that you use yeast with and can bake either in the bread machine or the oven. The recipe and method are found under the recipe area of this site.
We no longer conduct the gluten free baking classes however should you experience difficulty with any of our products, you are always welcome to contact us through the email address and we will always try to assist you with any of our products.