Ever try baking a gluten free cake, only to have it fall flat? Maybe even bread or cookies too? It isn’t your fault! Bread, cake and cookies are staples in our lives and you shouldn’t have to give them up when you go gluten free. Even though it is becoming increasingly easy to find pre-baked GF alternatives in grocery stores and at bakeries, it is still much more expensive than making your own. They also aren’t always made the best way with the best ingredients. However, when the GF foodie ventures into making their own baked goods, they often fail at first and give up. No one tells you that the rules of GF baking are different. Not even the online or cookbook recipes. Here the top 5 reasons why your recipe fell flat:
- You opened the oven to check on it before it was done baking.
- The most common mistake that no one tells you to avoid is opening the oven to check on it before it is fully cooked. I grew up opening the oven to check on goods and had to break my self of this terrible habit. GF products are naturally less stable. The missing gluten is what holds up the bread or cake during baking. Even the slightest temperature change when baking GF goods will cause the fragile structure to breakdown and your bread/cake/etc will collapse.
- You didn’t let it bake long enough.
- GF baked goods generally take longer to bake through. If your cake or bread has a gummy center, chances are you took it out of the oven too soon. For example, my glutinous bread recipes took around 25 minutes to bake, but my gf bread of similar size takes 45-60 minutes to bake through. This is why several brands of store bought GF bread have dark burnt-tasting crusts. Cooking GF items low and slow always yields a better result.
- Your oven temperature is off or you baked it at the wrong temperature.
- Again cooking at a low temperature for longer is better. You cannot get away with rushing GF items by cooking them at a higher temperature, like you can with glutinous ones. If you are cooking at the suggested temperature, but still have issues, your oven may need to be re-calibrated. When I first went GF, it blew my mind that my cakes took 1 1/2 hours to bake. I found out my oven was FIFTY degrees lower than indicated. You can buy a simple oven thermometer like this at any grocery store. Hang it from the rack you plan to cook on and watch it through the oven window to see if the temperature matches what your oven tells you.
- You used old ingredients. Especially baking powder/soda.
- Because the GF flours lack the elasticity of gluten, you usually need stronger or more leavening products to create those lovely air bubbles you see in bread and cake that makes them so light and fluffy. Old or expired leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda have lost some of their leavening power, so you won’t see the product rise as well.
- The altitude or weather was different when the recipe was created.
- I know this sounds bizarre, but it was one huge takeaway I got from culinary school. Altitude and weather affect your baking. Even more so for GF products. Ever try baking macarons on a rainy day? What about proofing bread on a cold one? It never turns out right. Heat, humidity, and distance from sea level are huge factors in baking. Some factors cannot be controlled, but often you simply need to adjust your recipe to the weather. Most often it is an issue with liquids. On a wet day, reduce liquids, but on a hot day add more.
With this knowledge under your belt, you will be baking GF goodies like a pro! Please comment below or email me if you have any further questions or would like advice on a certain situation. I would be happy to help!