If you are vegan and gluten free you may have found yourself wondering what is left for you to bake with. As you scan recipes on the web or look at the variety of gluten free cookbooks at your book store or library, you will find that many of them use eggs to help make up for the lack of gluten. Leaving the eggs out of gluten free baked goods is not quite as easy as it is with glutinous baked goods but it is possible.
To start, read our previous blog post about substituting for eggs in vegan baking to give you an idea about what you need to keep in mind about eggs.
Substituting gluten free flours begins with the same question as substituting for eggs: What is this (flour, egg, etc.) doing in this baked good?
Wheat flour has two parts – the gluten is protein composite (that’s what we make our Lentil Burger with), while other part of the wheat flour is starch. In addition, gluten has a special property whereby when it is mixed with water it become sticky and forms a stretchy dough. Gluten helps dough to rise and hold its rise after being baked, it helps control the moisture of a baked good and it can give a chewy, crusty texture when baked.
A gluten free baked good needs to substitute for all these things: protein, starch and the binding quality of gluten. In addition, wheat has its own flavor that ranges from almost invisible in refined white wheat flour to strongly whole-grain and nutty in whole wheat flour. Gluten free flours have a variety of flavors and sometimes which one to use comes down to what flavors work well together.
But for the basics:
Starch: this should comprise about 60% of your total flour mix. The two main starches we use are tapioca flour which is a very fine white starch and white rice flour which is more granular and gives more texture. Both flours are very mild and the flavors hardly add anything to the final product. We also use cornstarch, potato starch and arrowroot in some of our recipes.
Protein: these flours should be about 40% of your mix. The most common ones we use are sorghum, millet, amaranth and teff. We also use chickpea flour in our gluten free bread, but as it has a very savory, beany taste we only use a little and only in savory items. Sorghum and millet are the mildest of these flours – both taste a little like cornmeal. Millet can taste bitter, but it gives a nice cakey texture. Teff and amaranth taste more whole-grainy – good for spice and chocolate cakes, or cookies, but not as good for a very mild “white” cake.
Binding: at Chaco we use xanthan gum, which is a polysaccharide made by fermenting sugars with a specific type of bacteria. The resulting gel is dried and powdered. We recommend Bob’s Red Mill as it has consistent quality and good results. It adds viscosity and volume to your Gluten Free dough as well as texture. You have to be careful though – too much and you will get a rubbery texture and a slippery feel in your mouth. Usually 1/2 to 1 t per cup of flour mix is enough. Start with the lower amount and increase as needed.
Other options besides xanthan gum include other gums (such as guar gum), flax or chia seeds. Each one acts differently though, so do your research and be ready to experiment.
Try this flour mix for cakes and cupcakes – for each 2 cups of wheat flour use:
1 c tapioca starch
1/2 c white rice flour
1/4 c millet flour
1/4 c sorghum flour
1 t xanthan gum
If you run into any trouble, or questions. Please Reply in the Comments Below!
Cheers & Much Love,
The Chaco Canyon Bakers!
This post was created by Laura Wilson.