August 2, 2016
“It’s good … for being gluten-free.”
That reaction is pretty much every gluten-free baker’s worst nightmare. All too often—when they’re made without gluten—breads refuse to rise, cupcakes wind up greasy, and cookies come out with the texture of sawdust. When Thrive Market food editor Merce Muse ran her own bakery in Paris, she was desperate to avoid all of the above—so she spent hours developing her own gluten-free all-purpose flour mix. It hasn’t let her down since.
Before you can truly master gluten-free baking, you have to understand what you’re trying to replicate. When you add water to wheat flour, two molecules—glutenin and gliadin—combine to form the protein gluten. Kneading dough strengthens the protein, eventually forming a long, elastic membrane that gives baked goods structure. Gluten also helps bread rise in the oven: as yeast breaks down sugars, it releases carbon dioxide, which gets trapped inside gluten in tiny air pockets. It also absorbs and retains liquid to keep baked goods moist.
See the problem? Without gluten, it’s all too easy to end up with flat, dense, dry baked goods. And there’s no single ingredient swap that replicates the exact same structure. For gluten-free baking to match up to its conventional counterparts, you have to use a blend of a few different flours.
Muse’s all-purpose mix uses just four ingredients: two light, starchy flours and two heavier ones. Both rice flour and cornstarch have a glutinous quality and act as binders, while garbanzo bean and quinoa flour are hearty in texture and provide the right chewy quality.
The mix is slightly nutty in flavor, and works well in both sweet and savory recipes, but it really shines in gluten-free cookies, cakes, and brownies. Substitute it for regular wheat flour at a 1:1 ratio—there’s no need to alter the recipe otherwise.
Mix all ingredients in large bowl, then store in sealed container in cool, dry place until ready to use. Double, triple, or quadruple the recipe, if needed.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont
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