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Natural Awakenings National

Gluten-Free Baking: The Scoop on Safe-to-Eat Flours

Aug 31, 2011 10:10AM ● By Claire O’Neil

Gluten, the protein in wheat and other cereal grains such as barley and rye, can be a problem for those with celiac disease or some sensitivity to gluten. Preparing food for a gluten-free diet requires experimenting with new ingredients, like alternative flours, and becoming a label reader, says Tina Turbin, an advocate for gluten-free living at

Fresh fruits, most dairy products, eggs, fresh vegetables, meats, fish and poultry are already gluten-free. The challenge is trying to make pancakes or pizza, or other recipes that normally call for wheat flour.

With an estimated 18 million Americans sensitive to gluten in their diet and 3 million more diagnosed with celiac disease, according to the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, food producers have finally begun to address the need. Gluten-free cereals and pastas, breads, flours and baking mixes, cakes and cookies, snacks and frozen confections are now available in greater quantities—and in much better tasting versions—than just a few years ago.

New gluten-free products, such as sorghum flour and specially formulated baking mixes, can also help home cooks revamp recipes for family favor ites. However, trying to approximate the crust, crumbliness and interior structure of baked goods typically made with wheat flour takes a bit of experimentation when using gluten-free ingredients. Sometimes just one type of flour will work, such as almond flour for waffles, rice flour for cake batter or buckwheat flour for pancakes. Other baking recipes require an assortment of gluten-free flours.

Different types can combine to resemble the taste, color and texture of wheat flour, for ex- ample. Most gluten-free flour blends use rice flour as a base, with potato starch, tapioca flour, corn flour and/or cornstarch added for softness. Other flours, such as buckwheat, chickpea (garbanzo bean), millet and sorghum, can improve flavor, color and texture.

Xanthan gum, an additive made from corn, typically provides structure for yeast dough made with gluten-free flour. Eggs, vinegar, sweeteners and applesauce or pumpkin purée soften and round out the flavor of the dough.

Gluten-free flours, flour blends, and xanthan gum most often appear in the specialty baking section of a grocery or health food store; helpful brands include Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Flour. Using alternative flours, homemade treats can remain a delicious part of gluten-free living.

Gluten-Free Flours


Yummy Gluten-Free Recipes

Gluten-Free German Apple Pancakes

“These delicious gluten-free yummies should be served as soon as they’re pulled from the oven, as they will deflate soon enough,” says gluten-free health advocate Tina Turbin. “They’re perfect for an easy, laid back brunch.” On her website,, Turbin offers recipes for two home- made, gluten-free flour blends.

Makes 2 large pancakes, or 4 servings

4 large eggs
¾ cup gluten-free flour blend
¾ cup soy, rice or almond milk
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 medium apples, thinly sliced
¼ cup natural granulated or raw sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Courtesy of Tina Turbin
Courtesy of Tina Turbin
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place 2 round, 9-inch cake pans in the oven.

3. Beat the eggs, flour, milk and salt in a small mixer bowl on medium speed for 1 minute.

4. Remove the pans from the oven. Place 2 Tbsp margarine in each pan. Rotate pans until margarine is melted and coats sides of pans.

5. Arrange half the apple slices in each pan. Divide batter evenly between pans. Mix sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp sugar mixture over batter in each pan.

6. Bake uncovered until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Source: Recipe at

No-Knead, Gluten-Free Pizza Dough

In this recipe, the ingredients just mix together in a bowl—no kneading is necessary. The raw dough doesn’t taste like yeast dough; but magically, during baking it becomes a gluten-free pizza crust, with a browned crust and mellow, yeasty flavor.

Makes dough for 1 pizza to serve 8 to 12

1 cup stoneground brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour or potato starch
1 cup garbanzo bean or chickpea flour
½ cup cornstarch or corn flour
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp instant or bread machine yeast
1½ tsp fine kosher or sea salt
3 large eggs or equivalent substitute
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
3 Tbsp vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, or light olive oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup lukewarm water, about 100 degrees

1. Spoon the flours and xanthan gum into a measuring cup, level with a knife or finger, then dump into a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the yeast and salt to the flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon. Lightly beat the eggs in 4-cup measuring glassware. Add the brown sugar, vegetable oil, applesauce and water and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Pour the liquid into the flour mixture and whisk until arriving at a smooth, very loose, batter-like dough.

© 2009 Robert Rose Inc.; all rights reserved.
© 2009 Robert Rose Inc.; all rights reserved.

3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature, about 72 degrees, for 2 hours or until the dough has risen to nearly the top of the bowl and has a thick, golden, mashed potato-like appearance.

Source: Adapted from
200 Fast & Easy Artisan Breads, by Judith Fertig.

Gluten-Free Pizza

“People that are allergic to the gluten in wheat still want to eat what everybody else does. And who can blame them?” queries Judith Fertig, author of 200 Fast & Easy Artisan Breads. “As long as the pizza toppings are also gluten-free (check the labels), there’s no reason why those that are gluten-sensitive can’t enjoy pizza, too. If dairy or meat are concerns, use soy equivalents,” she advises. This recipe makes a rectangular pizza, because it’s easier to spread the batter-like dough into this shape.

Makes 1 pizza to serve 8 to 12

1 recipe of prepared No-Knead, Gluten-Free Dough
1 cup gluten-free pizza sauce
2 cups thinly sliced fresh button or Portabella mushrooms
2 cups shredded mozzarella, provolone or dairy-free cheese
Olive oil for drizzling
2 cups sliced gluten-free pepperoni or soy-based pepperoni
1 cup gluten-free sliced Kalamata olives
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. To form the pizza, transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Using a water-moistened spatula or just hands, spread the dough into a 14-by-10-inch rectangular shape.

2. Cover with a tea towel and let rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Spread the pizza sauce over the dough. Arrange the mushrooms and pepperoni over the surface, and then sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle with olive oil.

5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and the pizza is bubbling. Transfer to a rack to cool. Slice and serve.

Source: Adapted from 200 Fast & Easy Artisan Breads, by Judith Fertig.

Gluten-Free Blackberry Vanilla Almond Muffins

Revel in this antioxidant-rich recipe, replete with blackberries and almonds.

Makes 1 dozen

Photo by Pamela’s Products
Photo by Pamela’s Products
1½ cups Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix
½ cup blanched slivered almonds
2 eggs
1/3 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup vanilla-flavored almond milk
¾ cup melted butter
4 oz blackberries (save some for the tops)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin baking tin with oven-proof paper liners.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix the liquid ingredients together, and then stir into the dry ingredients. Carefully fold in ¾ of the berries, taking care not to squish them too much; reserve the remaining berries. Scoop approximately ¼ cup into muffin tins and top each with some of the reserved berries.

3. Bake for about 25 minutes.


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