Updated: Jan 21
Gluten free baking is an art. I say this because every cupcake, cake, and even éclair for instance, is unique to it's own result. Think of gluten free baking as an art project or a science experiment. If you like art, or if you like science and testing, or even if you love baking or eating sweets in general, you would probably enjoy gluten free baking! I am here to tell you that the process of it is really not so different from regular baking at all. In fact, once perfected, and yes it does take practice, the result is a very well-earned and delicious dessert just as it is the case with regular baking. What makes gluten free baking a specialty art is that, yes, you are working with different types of ingredients and flours. You just have to know how to work with them. #challengeaccepted
So what makes gluten free baking so special? First of all, I encourage you to walk into a gluten free bakery and try, for instance, their vanilla cupcake. Next, walk into another gluten free bakery and try their vanilla cupcake. Bakery X will have a different vanilla cupcake than Bakery Y. The reason for this is because Bakery X makes their vanilla cupcakes with a different flour blend than Bakery Y does. You will then find that Bakery A makes their cupcakes with a different flour blend than Bakeries X, Y and Z does also! Yet, while they are all made with different blends of flour, they are all delicious and unique in their own way. Really, with gluten free baking, you’ll find that no two vanilla cupcakes are ever the same! In fact, you’ll find that no two gluten free desserts will ever be alike in any way – anywhere. There are numerous ways to work with gluten free ingredients and with that said, there are countless possibilities with gluten free baking. Go ahead, try it! Become your own pastry chef and baker for a day! #glutenfreebakingchallenge
Comparing gluten free desserts among bakeries and restaurants is a lot of fun and exciting because it allows for a different experience with taste and texture every single time. Additionally, it's like getting to become your own dessert taste-tester in that sense too! You could even do it for the excuse of having a cupcake party- hop event. Why not?
When it comes to gluten free baking, there can be many challenges that come with it, especially if you are not familiar with what gluten free flour even is. If you are looking to become a professional baker or chef, you are 100% likely at some point in your career to accommodate someone with food allergies, Celiac Disease, and many other conditions people have that are affected by the infamous g-word: gluten. Guaranteed!
So what even is gluten? It is a protein found in wheat flour. When you see a food item in the store that says “Contains: WHEAT” it is not gluten free.
You may have noticed that gluten free foods are becoming more and more common. Indeed there is a very widespread need throughout the world for millions of people who require a gluten free diet. It’s not going anywhere... In fact, the need is rising. For millions of people, the gluten free diet is a need, not a luxury.
It actually took me years to perfect gluten free baking. Even now, I am still perfecting it. The fact of the matter is that I love what I do. I love to create art and add a splash of color and flowers and candy with what I make and I love getting science-y and testing my recipes. Just know that if you are reading this, gluten free does not have to be boring, bland, or bleh... It's all what you bake it to be! :)
So, why are gluten free desserts so different from one another? When it comes to gluten free baked goods, you just don’t know what tastes you’ll get. When desserts are made from wheat, they are all made from one type of flour. With wheat flour, there is a pretty uniform taste among baked goods such as a vanilla cupcake, for instance. (I can say I know this from prior experience and those tastes are memories that I'll have forever.) However, no two gluten free flours, nor the results they produce, will ever be alike. This is actually what makes my world Colored in Flour, because unlike baking with non-gluten free flour, it is not limited to only one specific type of flour therefore not yielding two of the same results as is the case with using wheat flour. #coloryourglutenfreebakingworld
I am ultimately saying this to shine a positive light on the gluten free baking world because many think that baking with gluten free ingredients means to bake without the use of flour, at all, therefore producing a bland and more boring result. But... You all, you cannot bake a classic cake without flour! To bake something gluten free means to bake with gluten free flour instead of wheat flour. See those cakes and cupcakes and everything else in the above picture? Those were all made with gluten free flour.
Gluten free flours are typically made from sources like white rice, brown rice, tapioca, cassava, potatoes, almonds, and so much more, all of which are ingredients that do not contain wheat. Foods such as almonds, potatoes, and rice become ground into fine flours before they are ready to be used in baking. You are not literally going to eat a potato or rice cupcake if that's what you have been thinking all along about what gluten free baking is…No, that's gross! And I can see exactly where the negative perception of gluten free baking is just based on that alone! Again, no, not at all!
The same goes for wheat flour- you are not literally going to bake a cake with a wheat stalk in its original form. Wheat becomes ground into fine flour as well so that it becomes suitable for baking. Again, the same process, just with different sources of ingredients.
When baking gluten free, you are likely to use a flour blend that consists of rice, tapioca, and potato. Working with rice flour only would not be enough to make a cupcake as it is not suitable for baking on its own. However, let’s say you wanted to make cupcakes with almond flour only. Well, you could absolutely do that! While almond flour does not contain gluten either, it has a texture that is suitable for baking on its own when you include other ingredients like eggs, sugar, etc. Also, macarons are made with almond flour. But, be careful as not all macarons you see in non-dedicated facilities are going to be gluten free due to other added ingredients and shared preparation space with wheat flour items.
You may have noticed with baked goods that contain wheat, that one of the ingredients include either unbleached or bleached all-purpose wheat flour. The purpose of bleaching wheat flour is to assist the gluten in baking or to make things whiter in color. Hmm... Bleached flour- Does that sound healthy to you? To me, it sounds like what I use to do my laundry with to make my clothes brighter. I know it’s not the same process, it’s just the sound of it that bothers me. But in my opinion, bleached wheat flour is very unhealthy for you, even if you don't have Celiac Disease. Ever try and make a true gluten free white cake? It's not as simple as it sounds because you are not going to find bleached white gluten free flour anywhere. The bleach is what makes wheat flour cakes white in color. Gluten free flours do not get bleached or come packaged labeled as "unbleached".
With that being said, gluten free baking is an art as well as a specialty on its own and it can certainly be a little more challenging than baking with wheat flour at first. Once you get the hang of it though, it's really not all that different in comparison. What makes it different are the special type of ingredients that are being used, such as the flour. What makes gluten free baking even better is only using the highest quality ingredients in addition, such as the type of eggs, sugar, vanilla, etc. you decide to use.
The specialty itself, is the artist behind the chef who can master working with any gluten free ingredients. Even if you are not looking to become a professional chef or baker, I encourage you to join me on my baking adventures here at Colored in Flour. You don't even have to be gluten free to enjoy this journey with me either! I encourage any foodie out there to hop on the Colored in Flour train as it is a teaching opportunity for everyone. Yes, it might be challenging at times, but the challenges we overcome in life are what leads to a successful outcome. Overcoming obstacles are a major part of the process of becoming a successful baker. It took me years, but I finally got here. We’re all trying to achieve something in life and all we can do is work hard, improve, and never stop trying.
I wish you all success with your baking!
Oh! And surprise! :) Here is a Gluten-Free Classic White Cake I made below! No “bleach” in that!
I have made this cake several times and have photographed it in different variations so you can see for yourself! So, yes, as you can see, a gluten free white cake is entirely possible.
Disclaimer: My opinions are my own, of course!