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  • Sep 24th 2019
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Want to cook gluten-free but don’t know where to start? Jo Richardson, home economist, helps demystify gluten-free cooking.

Going gluten-free can be confusing to say the least, and using gluten-free flours can mean you end up with an unsatisfactory result in your cooking. But there are ways to achieve very palatable baked goodies, sauces and marinades if you know how.

Gluten is a binding protein structure of wheat, rye, barley and oats. When this protein is removed or flour is used without this structure, the texture, consistency and often the flavour and colour has changed too. Usually the baked good is crumbly, dry or simply doesn’t keep long once baked. But all is not lost! A little adapting and playing will achieve a result you like.

Baking: No single flour replaces wheat flour, but a combination of flours will give the best result. The most common mix is a combination of fine white or brown rice flour, tapioca flour and cornflour flour. A combination of three flours, with rice flour being the main ingredient is the most common. The best guide is two thirds rice flour and the balance corn and tapioca. Rice flour is the firmest flour for baking and brown rice flour adds a wonderful nuttiness and texture. There are other flours that add flavour and a good texture such as quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, coconut flour, potato flour and chickpea (besan) flour which can be added and combined to give a great result.

Gums: Xanthan and guar gum are the two most commonly used. Half to one teaspoon of a gum sifted in with the flour mix will give better crumb and firmness to the baked biscuit, cake, pastry or bread. 

Sauces or marinades: Rice and potato flour make a glossy, smooth white sauce, or cheese sauce and will also thicken gravy. Use it in the roux, or mix to a smooth paste with a little water before adding.

Flour coating: For coatings on fish or chicken fillets use a fine rice flour.

Have a browse through our extensive gluten-free recipe collection. Our favourites include the Feather Light Sponge, Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins and Fudgy Brownies.