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January 20, 2017

Gluten Free Baking By Weight

Post by Cinde Little

A measure of various flours that can be used when Gluten Free Baking By Weight
Gluten Free Baking By Weight -photo credit Jim Little

Gluten free baking by weight, using a scale and measuring your flour in grams, is more precise than measuring flour by the cup. Since baking is a science the results of your baked goods will be more consistent when your measurements are more exact.

Do you need to bake by weight to be successful in the kitchen? Absolutely not.

Take a moment and think which of the following two statements describes you best?

  • I want to bake good gluten free muffins, brownies and cookies. I like to bake the occasional pie or cake and want reliable recipes to use year after year.
  • I love baking and am always trying to improve the quality of my GF baking. I like to try new recipes, bake new things and I don’t mind searching for different ingredients and buying special baking pans.

If you are in the first group the good news is there is an endless supply of recipes using gluten free flours measured by the cup. You can enjoy all kinds of baking with great results and will hear accolades from the people who are lucky enough to enjoy them with you.

If you are in the second group you may be ready to start baking by weight.

A Cup of Gluten Free Flour Does Not Equal a Cup of Wheat Flour

Wheat flour pretty much weighs the same no matter what brand you buy. Not true with gluten free flours. The photo above shows 50 grams each of six different flours that I use for gluten free baking. You can see there is a difference in the volume, texture and density of each one.

Because each flour has different properties the best gluten free recipes include a combination of multiple flours to try and mimic the missing properties of gluten. When you are perfecting recipes this becomes important.

When I started gluten free baking and produced horrible results over and over I started to notice recipes listing flour by weight. I knew there was more to learn (and of course that learning never ends).

Without weighing my flour I learned about the different properties of the many gluten free flours, the structure of baked goods, about the benefit of combining flours and starches, and also about xanthan gum to add elasticity. I can make muffins, cupcakes, brownies and squares all using my gluten free flour mix or any mix I want to make. But when I tried to make fancier cakes, like an Angel Food Cake, I needed to learn more.

That’s when I started doing some gluten free baking by weight.

The Pros and Cons of Gluten Free Baking By Weight

PROS – Your results will be more consistent. You can learn to bake fabulous gluten free cakes and breads. Go beyond good for gluten free. Amazing gluten free baking is happening all over the world and it can happen right in your kitchen.

CONS – Most recipes aren’t written with weight measurements. You also need a kitchen scale (starting at $10 on Amazon) for baking by weight. But a kitchen scale has many uses and simply making your own flour blend by weighing the flours, then baking with cup measurements may still improve the quality of your baked goods.

What to Look for in a Kitchen Scale

A kitchen scale is an excellent investment. You can portion meat, vegetables, pasta or anything you eat using a scale. Measuring flours to make your own gluten free flour mix is much less expensive than store bought flour blends. Many bakers would also argue that homemade blends yield better results because you know what is in them and can adjust accordingly.

I like a kitchen scale with these features:

  • flat surface to accommodate different sizes of dishes,
  • setting for pounds, ounces, kilos and grams,
  • tare button to zero the weight with a dish on the scale,
  • display large enough to read at a glance.

I hope there was something here to help you understand the finer points of baking and why one mix works in one recipe and not in another.  So whether you bake by weight or by cup I hope you are encouraged to keep learning about gluten free baking and have some fun doing it.

Let me know in the comments below what your experience  has been with baking by weight.

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