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I am very excited to share these tips with you today. This is a project I have been working on for about a month!
My goal was to turn my ordinary cookie recipe that people love and make it gluten free. Why? I had many people reach out for help and questions after I posted this series about Ask Alexis. Did you know I will answer any question you have! Anything at all, so ask away! If it is something that I think other people need help with I will make a blog post about it too. You never know how much chemistry makes everything possible!
Okay, so back to my easy gluten free baking tips.
The thing to remember in gluten free baking is that gluten is actually a wheat protein. It gives baked goods and breads the fluffy or chewy binding texture we all know and love. Without gluten in the flour, you risk the cookie being unable to adhere to itself, therefore falling apart or not having that “cookie” texture. Some people even get that cookie that doesn’t spread at all, but just looks like a rock.
Luckily, food chemistry allows for certain substitutions that can aid in this lack of gluten. Xanthan gum is one of those ingredients that makes things stick or have a chewier, thick texture.
With that in mind, I turned my normal, gourmet chocolate chip cookie mix that I have made for 10 years into an almost identical version with gluten free all-purpose flour.
Taste is exact, texture is VERY similar, although will never be the exact same due to lack of gluten protein.
As you can see from the picture above (one is chocolate chips, the other is white chocolate), they look almost the same! You don’t normally see gluten free cookies with a normal texture.
My very good friend is one of the people I did this for. She has a gluten sensitivity and she as trying every recipe she could find on pinterest, and they all turned out horrible. She was so frustrated and finally reached out to me. One of my Christmas gifts to her was a huge batch of cookies all gluten free. She is a long time fan of my cookies, so she knows exactly how they taste. Her exact words were,
“OMG, these look like your regular ones and taste EXACTLY the same!”
She was so excited and I was so excited that I could help her enjoy her favorite dessert.
Before I give you all my easy gluten free baking tips, I do want to point out that I am not exclusive with gluten free for myself. Many people talk with me who also have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and they want to know if gluten free is something they should do. The answer is no! Gluten is only bad for you if you have a sensitivity or celiac’s disease. Those people have to choose gluten free since their bodies are viewing gluten as foreign object and attacking it.
I personally went gluten free in 2008, when it was all the rage. I thought it would help my RA symptoms and inflammation. The verdict was I had no energy that year, more joint pain and swelling, and did not feel well. After doing some biochemistry research, I learned that by eating too much protein, which you tend to do when you aren’t eating wheat, was building up uric acid in my joints causing pain. I am a carb girl, and desperately need that for energy.
Anyways, that is my health related experience with it.
But for those of you who do need to limit it, these tips are just for you!
Easy Gluten Free Baking Tips
First, the only thing that contains gluten is flour since it is made from wheat. You can turn any cookie recipe into gluten free by replacing the flour, everything else is already free of gluten. To do this you need two products, gluten free all purpose flour and xanthan gum. I like Bob’s Red Mill Brand. It is affordable and contains simple bean flours. I will say that Xanthan gum is very pricey, BUT you will only be using a tiny portion of it, so it will last years depending on how often you bake. Bob’s Red Mill Xanthan Gum is the best quality and price you will find.
The second tip is to replace the flour in your cookie recipe equally with the gluten free flour. If you use 2 cups of flour in your regular cookie recipe, you will use 2 cups of gluten free flour. It is an equal exchange.
Along with that tip, you will need to add 1/4 tsp of xanthan gum per 1 cup of flour! If you have 2 cups of flour in your cookie recipe, then you will need to add 1/2 tsp of xantham gum. Don’t add anymore or anyless. If you have an uneven number like 1 3/4 cup of flour, then use 1/4 tsp then 1/8 tsp of xanthan gum.
Now, after doing this many times and figuring out the chemistry of the baking. Here are some other tips that will get the cookie texture and taste more on point.
Use Cold Butter!
If you use the traditional room temperature, the cookies will probably spread too much. Since there is no gluten holding these together, you still want them to be a little thick, no paper thin. By using cold butter, they will be lighter in texture and less likely to spread. I know this goes against almost all the things you know, but trust me, it made all the difference. It scientifically makes sense too!
Use a little more salt
My typical recipe calls for 1 tsp of salt. It needs more with bean flour which gluten free flour is made from. It will mask any possible bean flavor going on. I upped it by another 1/2 tsp.
Whip the butter and sugar for a little longer than usual
Since you are trying to get that fluffy texture in traditional cookies, aerating the butter and sugar will cause it to be more fluffy. I did this for the last few batches and immediately noticed a difference
When you take them out, let them cool longer on the pan
If you follow my chocolate chip cookie secrets, I talk a little about that. But these are not as firm as your usual cookies, so they do need to set up a bit more. This will keep them from falling apart when you take them off the pan.
Let them cool on the rack COMPLETELY!
Don’t even touch them until they are totally cool.
I did notice, these cookies don’t stay as long as traditional. I packaged them up to mail by placing two cookie back to back, then wrapping really well with plastic wrap. This will keep them cookies from falling apart and sticking together in a big batch.
Many of you asked my favorite cookie scoop, I like this one!
Now, if you are wanting to bake a cake or something like that, the details aren’t as intricate. You will still replace the flour equally and use xantham gum (cakes are 1/2 tsp per cup of flour), then perhaps increase the baking powder by a little bit so it will rise more. Other than that, everything else should be fine!
As always, if you have questions you can comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!