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Alison's Gluten Free Cooking and Baking A-Z: Part 1 A-M

I think it is always nice to know what others use in gluten free baking and some tips on what works and what doesn't, this is part 1 of my gluten free baking a-z

Added 20th April 2018
Updated 10th November 2020

Alison's Gluten Free Cooking and Baking A-Z: Part 1 A-M
There are so many things to consider when cooking and baking gluten free, what is naturally gluten free, what isn't, what flours work best, what flours are useless, what exactly does xanthan gum do.

You get the gist, so I decided to do an A-Z of all different things related to gluten free cooking and baking that I have picked up along the way and ingredinets I use myself that you may find useful.

Here is part A-M, part 2 N-Z can be found here!

A - Almonds

Almonds come in very useful when it comes to gluten free baking, they are naturally gluten free, suitable for people following low FODMAP diets and suitable for those who want ketogenic friendly products. Almonds are very versatile, fine ground almonds or almond flour is quite heavy but perfect for baking a lot of cakes and breads and they can be used for pastry too.

Almonds are also great for vegan diets, it is very popular for nut milks and also seen some yogurts coming out made with almond rather than soya.

We use them in our ketogenic bread recipe and cakes like our Bakewell Tray Bake but there are so many other cakes and bakes you can make with them.

B - Bread Maker

When it comes to bread making it is very difficult to perfect a recipe which isn't too heavy. I have a few recipes I like but still find bread made in the breadmaker works out the best, whether it is packet mix or made from scratch.

My tips on a bread maker would be this, don't go for anything expensive and it doesn't need a gluten free setting. I use a cheap £50 Panasonic bread maker which does have a gluten free setting but I never use it, I personally find that bread made on the normal bread setting works out much better.

If you want a bread recipe for bread maker I have a couple in my recipes.

C - Cornflour

Make sure you have cornflour in, for sauces switch to using cornflour all the time rather than other gluten free flours, you have much more control on how thick the sauce is and it does seem to taste better.

The best thing to make with cornflour though is Yorkshire Puddings, it makes the best gluten free Yorkshire Puddings, nobody will know the difference between Yorkies made with this or with wheat flour, they rise amazingly as long as the oil is scorching! My recipe for Yorkshire Puds is here.

D - Doner Kebabs

No doubt there has been a lot of people who have wanted a Doner Kebab but been disappointed when you have gone the takeaway, not because the doner meat isn't gluten free but because you suddenly realise that it's subject to a lot of cross contamination. Watch them next time you are in the takeaway and they shave that meat off, you will know what I mean.

However doner meat is super easy to make at home, it's basically just lamb and spices and if served on a gluten free pitta with some chips and salad it's just like having it from the takeaway. Find our recipe here or Tom Kerridge also has a fab one that he does a bit different.

E - Experimenting

The key to gluten free baking is experimenting, sometimes it is as simple as swapping the flours in normal recipes, other times it takes a bit more work.

Experimenting never does any harm, play with different flours and see how they respond, it changes with make too not just the type, you may find a cake works with one brand but not another and also a brand may work with cake but not with bread etc, so make sure you play with the ingredients, try out new combos you will find some flours work better than others.

Don't be afraid to play with other ingredients too and the cooking times and temps, what works with none gluten free baking often needs tweaking when it comes to gluten free.

F - Flaxseeds

Flax is great for all sorts, not only does it make a great crunchy topping for yogurt or cereal which is packed with nutrients they also make a great replacement for eggs.

If you are Vegan or can't tolerate eggs, mix a tablespoon of ground flax with three tablespoons of water, let it rest for about 5 minutes and it will become almost like gel or the white of a egg. This amount equates to one egg and works fab in cookies, cakes and pancakes.

Flax is very popular in gluten free baking as a lot also have allergies to other products such as eggs and dairy.

G - Guar Gum

You may have seen this on a lot of gluten free bread but do you know what it is?

Well it is a substance made from guar beans which is used as a thickener and stabalizer in bread. It is used a lot in gluten free baking as an alternative to xanthan gum (more on that in part two). In essence it works like glue so basically acts like gluten would in regular bread, holding it together so it doesn't fall into a pile of crumbs.

H - Homemade

If there is one thing I have learnt over the years it is don't rely on ready meals, make everything yourself, there are so many simple dishes you can batch cook and freeze for a quick microwave meal rather than buy expensive, additive packed ready meals which quite frequently have wheat or barley added for no real reason.

You can make fresh and wholesome meals so much cheaper and you know for sure what is in it and not at risk of cross contamination. Why not give simple cottage pies, bolognese, chilli, curries and pasta sauces a go, you know exactly whats in them and they are perfectly freezable and so cheap to make.

I - Indian Dishes

Whether you are cooking it yourself or eating at an Indian restaurant you may be surprised to know that a lot of Indian cooking is naturally gluten free.

A lot of restaurants use gram flour, which is made from chickpeas, in their cooking and things like poppadoms are also made from gram or lentils, even shop bought ones. When eating out though be away of things like onion bhajis and samosas being cooked in potentially shared frying pans.

When you are at home though, curries are some of the easiest things you can make and you don't even need the gram flour, a lot of the time you don't need any kind of flour at all. So if you want to cook more but not sure what it gluten free or aren't the best best cook, try going for Indian cooking which is mostly naturally gluten free and usually pretty simple to make.

We have a few Indian recipes includings Naan Bread and also a variety of curry recipes you can try out.

J - Juices

Juices are more versatile that you think. Juice from oranges and lemons are great in a variety of oriental dishes or even on salads as a dressing (just mix with a tad of honey and vinegar for a quick dressing).

Fruit juices are also great in cakes, especially fruit cakes they make the cakes lovely and moist, orange juice is great in Christmas cake or really rich fruit cakes!

Another idea for juice or squash is ice lollies and jellies. Mix with gelatine and you can get some fabulously flavoured jellies, why not try pineapple and orange squash or apple to get some different flavours which aren't readily available in packets. Simply freezing juices make some fab ice lollies too, full of vitamins and low calorie!

K- Ketogenic

You may have heard of keto bread and the like mentioned before, it's a popular diet at the moment and some Coeliacs find it suits them well especially if you have other allergies with Coeliac. It is useful if you have a lot of fruit or veg allergies as a lot of them are restricted on the diet.

Ketogenic is a low carb, high fat diet so nuts are used a lot in the recipes, such as almonds being used in a keto bread. It's been useful in people with epilepsy at controlling seizures amongst some other medical conditions. There more info on ketogenic and gluten free diets here.

L - Legumes

So many legumes and pulses work great in gluten free cooking and baking for all kinds of reasons. These are a coupe of my favourites which I use a lot and things you can do with them.

Chickpeas - my absolute all time favourite, gram flour works in a lot of Indian baking, chickpeas themselves are great in curries (my favourite is a Vegan, chickpea, sweet potato and spinach slow cooked curry). Ground up they are also great in cakes!

Soy beans - soya milk is a great milk substitute which is readily available, soy replacements work well in pretty much any baking if you need dairy free. Soy beans are great to eat on salads too.

Lentils are also great when it comes to gluten free cooking, they are fab for bulking our casseroles or even scattering on salads. Always wash thoroughly though as they tend to be bagged in factories which handle wheat and barley.

Also try adding black beans or kidney beans to chillis and curries, they really bullk these kinds of dishes out and add some extra nutrients and fibre. There are loads of different beans on there which you can do all kinds of fun dishes with, give them a go!

M - Millet

Millet is naturally gluten free and is available in all different forms, millet flakes can be a great alternative to porridge oats, it is also great in homemade ceral bars.

Millet flour is also fairly easy to get hold of, like gram flour it is used in a lot of Indian baking and makes great flatbreads.

I have a couple of recipes using millet, warm honey oats which you can use millet flakes for and millet bars which are lovely flapjack-y type cereal bars.

Thats it for A-M, I hope you picked up some tidbits you didn't know to help with your gluten free cooking and baking.

Find part 2 of this blog right here!

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