My Top 5 Must-Have Gluten-Free Baking Ingredients

Rachel Young

Rachel Young, Founder & Owner of Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes, Olympia’s First Dedicated Gluten-Free Bakery, and Runner-up of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars

Gluten-free baking can be challenging, but what I’ve learned along the way, is that anything can be made to taste as amazing as it would with gluten, if the right ingredients are used! In my experience, store-bought gluten-free mixes are not as successful as making my own gluten-free mix. I have purchased many gluten-free blends and mixes, only to dump out inedible lumps of “cake”, gooey and doughy, unappetizing “biscuits”, and cupcakes that literally tasted like dirt. Gone are the days of the tearful, frustrated, and “I’m so angry I could scream!” baking experiments.

I would like to present to you my:

5 must-have gluten-free ingredients to create the perfect all-purpose flour substitute:

Gluten-free Vanilla Salted Caramel & Red Velvet Cupcakes

Gluten-free Vanilla Salted Caramel & Red Velvet Cupcakes

1: Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is the binder that holds the batter together, which is what the gluten does in regular baked goods. Gluten-free baking really needs a thickener to keep it all together, otherwise your cupcakes will be falling apart and crumbling everywhere. I use about a tablespoon of xanthan gum per four dozen cupcakes, so in the bakery where we make everything in 12 dozen batches, we use three tablespoons of xanthan gum per batch. For home baking, if you’re making a single cake or a dozen cupcakes, you will probably be fine with 1-2 teaspoons of xanthan gum in your recipe.

2: Brown Rice Flour

Brown rice flour is what we use in our chocolate cupcakes in the bakery. This rice flour is slightly more nutritious than white rice flour, because it hasn’t been stripped as much of its nutrients and fiber. I prefer brown rice flour for this reason, and the texture and flavor profile it gives our chocolate cupcakes is unparalleled. It is also higher in protein which helps hold our chocolate cupcakes together, since they have the most delicate crumb of all of our cupcake flavors.

3: Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour is made from cassava roots, and is helpful in thickening gluten-free batters so that they hold well. This can be used almost interchangeably with corn starch, however my best results and flavor profiles come from using a combination of tapioca flour and corn starch.

4: Corn Starch

Corn starch has a fluffy consistency in gluten-free baking, and helps to offset what might be perceived as a gritty texture from the rice flour. It also helps hold the batter together, as it is a commonly used thickening agent in soups and sauces. Potato or arrowroot starch can be used instead of corn starch, for those limiting corn from their diets.

5: White Rice Flour

White rice flour, while it made it to my top 5 list of gluten-free baking ingredients, is only used in the bakery in the vanilla cupcakes, because when we used brown rice flour, they were actually too tan/brown after baking, and customers thought they were overbaked even though they were not. So by switching to white rice flour, we were able to have a “lighter” looking vanilla cupcake. The white rice flour makes a fluffy and delicious vanilla cupcake.

I hope my Top 5 have been helpful for you! As a typical all-purpose flour replacer, I would typically use the following ratios:

To replace 1 cup of all-purpose flour:

3/4 cup brown or white rice flour

1/8 cup corn starch

1/8 cup tapioca flour

(Don’t forget the xanthan gum!)

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