This post has been brewing for a while. I thought it would be good to list a whole heap of gluten-free (GF) resources in the one place.
Set out below are some starting points on cooking gluten-free (including some tables that identify gluten-free ingredients) and baking gluten-free. I’ve also included some links to gluten-free recipes on the blog. Hopefully this will be a helpful resource.
Gluten-free, wheat-free and spelt
My first comment (which most of you will know) is that I am not a coeliac and I do not follow a GF diet. Rather, I am wheat intolerant. Thankfully, I am able to eat spelt, which is an ancient form of wheat. Most of my baking recipes include spelt conversions.
Spelt is not suitable for the gluten intolerant and some people who are wheat intolerant. For example, I have a few friends that are wheat-free and some can tolerate spelt and some cannot. If you are cooking for someone wheat-free, it is best to check with them if spelt is okay or not. In any event, all the recipes listed below are gluten-free.
Tips for gluten-free cooking
I think my biggest tip on cooking gluten-free is to rely on as few pre-prepared foods as possible. If you cook your food from scratch, without relying on packaged ingredients, you will find cooking gluten-free pretty easy.
The most important thing is to know which foods are gluten-free and which are not. Some of these are pretty obvious – anything made from regular wheat flour is a no-no. But then some other ingredients are a little trickier, for example, I didn’t realise initially that soy sauce and couscous both contain gluten.
The tables below aim to make things a little simpler by identifying which common ingredients contain gluten (and get a red cross) and which are happily gluten-free (and get a green tick). There is also a third category – the yellow triangle, which denotes foods that can be gluten-free but need to be carefully checked.
Clearly, the tables I have put together are not anywhere near exhaustive, but they should be a useful starting point for cooking gluten-free.
Tips for gluten-free baking
I wouldn’t say I’m any kind of expert on gluten-free baking – the majority of my gluten-free recipes are your traditional flourless affairs. This is because my go to grain is spelt, which I find easy to use as a substitute for ordinary flour. Unfortunately, as noted above, spelt is not acceptable for people who are gluten-free.
If you do need to bake gluten-free:
- Make your own GF flour mix - this gives you far more control than buying a commercial blend. The issue is that there is no one recipe for GF flour – each brand of GF flour will have its own ratio of different ingredients. This means that for a consistent approach in your baking, making your own blend is best. A suggested ratio is below.
- Do not expect GF flour to behave like ordinary flour – it will be sticky, it could be more liquid and it will generally be difficult to deal with. If you need to roll out GF flour, I find that placing it between two sheets of baking paper is best.
- You probably need to add more fat – gluten holds the air pockets in food. Consequently, gluten-free baked goods are generally dense and can be prone to being dry. Extra fat or liquid will help make your GF baked goods more palatable.
- Triple check your ingredients are gluten-free – this is obvious, but some baking powders contain gluten and most corn flours are actually made of wheat. Also, ‘icing sugar mixture’ often contains wheat starch, always buy pure icing sugar instead. Read the label and have a look at my handy tables above.
- Start out by baking something that isn’t too flour dependent – this sounds like cheating, but it is easiest to start small. Perhaps try a cookie recipe before you commit to baking a full GF cake.
A gluten-free flour mix
The below mix will make the equivalent of 3 cups of ordinary flour. Adjust the ratios as required:
1 cup superfine sweet rice flour
1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
Some great gluten-free blogs
There are heaps of great GF blogs out there -
- Gluten Free Girl – wonderful US based blogger, as a starting point have a look at her guide to working with gluten-free flour.
- My Tartelette – ex-pastry chef who is now gluten-free, her photos are beautiful. Have a look at her puff pastry recipe and lemon vanilla cupcakes.
- Canelle et Vanille – another beautifully photographed blog from an ex-pat living in the US. Every recipe is gluten free and these maple glazed donuts look amazing!
- Green Gourmet Giraffe – Melbourne blogger who isn’t gluten-free, but has lots of GF tips as she has GF family members. Her gluten-free advice for beginners is a great resource.
- Alinea at home – I started reading Carol’s first blog when she decided to cook every recipe from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry cookbook. Carol is now getting her molecular gastronomy on by cooking her way through the Alinea cookbook and has recently become gluten-free. While most posts involve some pretty involved processes, she does include some simple gluten-free recipes, such as this sponge cake.
Check out the gluten-free friendly page in the recipes section for lots of yummy ideas. This page lists all the GF friendly sweet recipes on the site – although most of the savoury recipes will be GF friendly too (just avoid the couscous, pasta and pie recipes!).
To whet your appetite – there are lots of cupcake recipes (chocolate-hazelnut, orange with white chocolate cream cheese frosting and tropical lime with coconut cream cheese frosting) cakes (chocolate mousse, chestnut torte, chocolate meringue cake, regular cheesecake, cherry cheesecake and the somewhat labour intensive cheesecake pops) and sweet treats (tahini balls, Anzac biscuits, Nanaimo bars and the chocolate peanut butter squares that are pictured above). There are also lots of lovely GF desserts - custard, lemon and ginger creme brulee, orange cardamom flan, white peaches in rosewater, crema catalana and the quintessentially Australian pavlova.
On the savoury front – all of the recipes in the salad section are gluten-free, except for the couscous salad. Some salads I keep making again and again are the quinoa tabouleh with cauliflower and the spiced eggplant, buckwheat & chickpeas (pictured above). All the rice based recipes are gluten-free, the paella always wows a crowd and you can read Saskia’s risotto opus or just make my simple mushroom & sage risotto. Saskia’s gobi dhal has to be one of our most loved recipes. On the meat front, Nonna Val’s bolognese is pretty impressive (just serve with GF pasta) and the leg of lamb with preserved lemon & herbs is a winner.
So there you have it! A lot of gluten-free talk. Let me know if you have any comments and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have on the whole GF shebang.
I’m also planning on writing another post on tips and tricks for eating out gluten-free, but will save that one for another day! In the meantime, you can check out the places I’ve been to that are gluten free friendly.