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Gluten Free Baking 101

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2007 and my life was changed forever. You’d think I’d be mourning it, but I am so thankful.

If you don’t know what Celiacs is, here’s the short version. It’s an autoimmune disease sort of like an allergy. Except that when a Celiac ingests gluten, their body attacks itself. If left untreated, the long term effects take a toll on nearly every system in the body due to malabsorption (the body not getting the nutrients out of food).

So why on earth would I be thankful? When I discovered that I couldn’t eat gluten, I was forced to look closely at the ingredients to everything. This was the turning point at which we went from the standard Amercan diet to traditional, nourishing foods. It was and is a long journey. And I’ve learned a lot along the way.


While I still have a lot more to learn, here are a few things that have helped me. If you or someone you know has a gluten intolerance/allergy, baking & cooking can be incredibly frustrating. Here are a few things to lighten your brain overload.

  • Baking is chemistry. You can’t expect to change the variables and get the exact same result. Gluten free baking will be different. Very different.
  • Likewise, guts a digestive system is a fine-tuned piece of machinery. And if it’s a Celiac machine, then even baking/cooking with the same utensils & pans as wheat containing foods can throw a wrench in the gears. Believe. Me. If you’re cooking for someone else, offer to tell them every detail of how your dish was prepared before you label it “gluten-free”
  • Most gluten free mixes and recipes will have you stick something the consistency of pancake batter in the oven. Sometimes, this will result in an edible loaf of bread or a treat. Sometimes.
  • You’re alternative is to mix exactly 18,000 flours together to make something that sort of acts like wheat flour and even then you’ll still have to add a binder such as xanthan gum or psyllium husk.
  • If you by this particular Taproot Magazine, read and follow the article on gluten free sourdough. It is the equivalent of a two week course with a pro! The tutorial changed my baking world forever! (Note: This issue appears to be sold out, but I still have my copy and I’d love to help you get the info you need if you’re interested.)

    Healthy, happy sourdough starter.
  • Sourdough is the absolute best way to bake. Glutard or not 🙂 Rice flour works well for feeding a starter.
  • Coconut flour requires a lot more moisture than other flours!!
  • The BEST (and therefore the longest) baking tip I can give you: To get the best result (closest to conventional flours) you have to do at least a little combining to get all of the little features that come with wheat, barley, etc. Like I said before, you can follow a formula and combine six or more flours but it’s a lot of work and storage – and I don’t like it. So I find a happy medium between still good baked goods and a 8 hours of kitchen chemistry. The first thing you need to know is that the perfect gluten free flour is about half flour, half starch. I use tapioca starch (Flour/starch is the same thing with tapioca. It’s always very fine.), but some people use potato and corn. Then I usually use at least some rice and then fill in with something “fitting.” Maybe it will make more sense if I give you an example. So here is my basic break recipe:


Basic Gluten Free Bread:

  • 1 1/2 cups of tapioca starch,
  • 1 cup rice flour and
  • 1/2 cup Millet flour (they say Millet works well with yeast to get a decent rise. I might also use almond, coconut {especially for a dessert}, or buckwheat for…a distinct buckwheat flavor and bluish tint.)
  • 1 tsp binder (I literally just put in two big pinches of psyllium husk and/or xanthan gum.)

    Bubbly sourdough starter!
  • 1 1/2 cups of water + 2 heaping tsp of yeast OR 1 cup sourdough starter + 1-2 cups water

Make it:

If using conventional yeast, combine with warm water to proof now.

Combine dry ingredients and stir.

If using starter, squish into dry ingredients now and then add warm water . Otherwise, add proofed yeast juice.

Stir with a fork until well combined. Add warm water/flour to get a good dough that’s not crumbly or very sticky.


Turn out and knead. This. Is. Amazing. I hadn’t kneaded a lump of dough for years when the Bread issue of Taproot came out. This is the glorious step that makes it all worth it. Yes, yes I am a little coo-coo.

For conventional yeast, allow to rise for a few hours. For sourdough, allow to rise for much of the day and after risen, place in fridge for a day or two to ferment (aka get delicious).

Bake at 425 degrees until it sounds nice and hollow. I have a tendency to take loaves out too early because GF bread is crumbly by nature to begin with.

Best enjoyed by pulling apart an slathering with butter. Sliced and snuggled with Bacon, Lettuce & Tomatoes is also an option though.

Gluten free carrot cake, mmmm.

Gluten free baking is a challenge, especially if you want to do it well and healthily. I sometimes end up looking at the baked goods not as a nutritional part of my diet, but a yummy little something to put nutrition on. Nic said “a nutrition vehicle,” and it made me happy. Like a delicious, squishy little taxi cab. Everyone needs a little starch sometimes, now you or your glutarded friends don’t have to miss out!

Peace and deliciousness!

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Published inHome & Kitchen

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