Other Frequently Asked Questions

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Is it possible to use milk substitutes?
Yes. You can use rice, soy, or almond milk in all of my recipes that call for milk. Rice and almond milk add less of an aftertaste, unless you like the taste of soy. Remember that the gluten-free flours are a bit transparent in flavor. In fact, I prefer using rice milk because it has the least taste and doesn’t have an adverse effect on the texture. Coconut milk adds a noticeable coconut taste and affects the texture and appearance of my recipes. You can use earth Balance® Buttery spread or Buttery sticks (not the shortening sticks) to replace the butter in my recipes (my dairy-free testers have done this; I myself have only done so in some recipes). Several bakers have also written to tell me that they like to use butter-flavored shortening in my pie crust and biscuits, but I prefer the earth Balance.

Is it possible to use egg substitutes?
Eggs add richness, texture, color, and structure. But it is possible to replace them in many of my recipes. What you use depends on what you are making and what function the egg has in the recipe.

Ener-G Egg Replacer: 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons water = 1 egg. This can produce a good but not always ideal result in some recipes. When using this egg substitute, try to use milk higher in fat in order to compensate for not having yolks. it will improve mouth feel and help keep the baked good fresh.

Flax egg: 1 tablespoon flax seed meal mixed with 3 tablespoons warm water = 1 egg. Allow to sit for 15 minutes to “set up” before using in the recipe. Although I sometimes use flax seed gel as an egg replacer when I bake for people who have egg allergies, it really is better suited to helping hold things together (as an emulsifier). Flax gels are weak structure builders because they don’t have the relatively strong protein net- work of eggs to reinforce dough and batters. As a result, fully baked cakes, muffins, and breads won’t be as light and airy when using flax seed gels to replace eggs.

World war II option: Add 1 teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients and 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar to the liquid ingredients. Only combine the dry and liquid right before you put the baked good in the oven.

Is it possible to use sugar alternatives?
My recipes were based on traditional, classic baked goods made with wheat. They were not based on wheat recipes for special diets or restricted dietary needs. Sugar acts as a liquid in baking, and since sugar substitutes contain varying amounts of liquid, each recipe would have to be re-calibrated for dry/wet proportions, cooking time, and maybe even baking temperature, based on the substitute you use. That said, you could try substituting with the sugar alternative of your choice based on your own knowledge base of how to make substitutions. If you are interested in reducing the sugar in my recipes, it is possible—but not always easy. I don’t recommend taking out more than 1 tablespoon if a recipe uses less than 1⁄2 cup total sugar, or more than a 1⁄4 – 1⁄3 cup if the recipe uses 1 cup or more sugar. Depending on the recipe, you may have to adjust liquid (more) and baking time (less), or you will have a dry baked good.

What yeast do you use?
I use red star Active dry yeast to develop my yeast-based recipes because it has been a consistently reliable product that produces the best rise in my baked goods (for both my field testers and for me), and it is sold in grocery stores everywhere across the country. I use Red Star Quick rise instant dry yeast for baked goods that do not need a high rise (pizza, bread sticks, and flat breads). You can use other yeast, but I recommend trying a recipe first with red star, so you can see what it’s supposed to look like. Take note: SAF instant yeast has not produced a really good rise in my bread recipes for field testers or me.

Can I make the bread recipes without yeast?
Yes, however, the breads will not look or taste the same. Use about 2 1⁄2 teaspoons of baking powder per cup of my Bread Flour mix to replace the yeast in my bread recipes. Use 4 teaspoons for an artisan bread using 1 1⁄2 cups of flour mix, and 5 teaspoons for a sandwich bread recipe using 2 cups of flour mix. I have tried this myself, and I know of several other bakers who have been successful using this formula.

Is it possible to use a substitute for xanthan gum or guar gum?
Although I’ve tested various combinations of ground flax seeds, psyillum husk, chia seeds, and pectin, I’ve never been able to recreate a vanilla cupcake, a muffin, biscuit, sandwich bread, or artisan bread that had the more “classic” texture, appearance, and, in many cases, taste of gluten-free baked goods made with xanthan gum. The baked goods not made with xanthan gum all seemed a little more like. . .well, like gluten-free baked goods. They were a bit denser, or wetter, or off color, or they had an after-taste (often bitter), or they had less structure, or they dried out more quickly. At the present time, I am unable to offer what I’d consider to be a foolproof substitute for xanthan gum to make classic gluten-free baked goods.

What can be used to replace gelatin in the sandwich breads?
The sandwich breads call for gelatin in order to add a little bit of extra body and structure. If you can’t use gelatin or don’t like it, add an extra egg yolk or leave it out entirely.

Do I need a special kind of mixer to make your recipes?
No. I developed all my recipes using a basic home Kitchen Aid mixer (read: least ex- pensive model), but any home mixer will do. One problem I discovered, though, is that newer models of many home mixers run faster than the older models. In other words, “medium speed” on a brand-new Kitchen Aid mixer is faster than it was on an old Kitchen Aid mixer. I have found this to be true with Kitchen Aid specifically, but I’ve also noticed it with other brands (including hand-held models). My evidence has come from bakers across the country who’ve written to me, my field testers, and my own experiences with a new Kitchen Aid mixer I bought only recently; it is runs faster and less smoothly than my old one, which I had for 25 years (i.e., I miss my old Kitchen Aid mixer).

Beware of using a professional-size mixer with my recipes. I’ve found that home bakers have a tendency to overbeat my recipes when they use professional-sized mixers, particularly Kitchen Aid, to make them. My recipes make “home-sized” baked goods. What happens is that the mixing bowl on the mixer is too large for the amount of batter, so home bakers tend to compensate by overbeating the batter without realizing it.

See more Frequently Asked Questions at the Foodphilosopher.com website!

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14 thoughts on “Other Frequently Asked Questions”

  1. I am new to gf and want to make a good gf bread for my son. I have all of your floor mix ingredients written down, but I am looking for sandwich bread recipe. ( yeast bread).
    And when do you use the brown rice flour mix vs. bread flour mix? Is the first one for baked goods only?
    If I need to purchase one of your cookbooks for the bread recipes, which one would be best? ( for breads and cakes/cookies).

    1. Hi Julie,
      My first cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking Classics, has all the basic recipes someone would need when they first start off on a gluten-free diet. It includes: Sandwich breads, dinner rolls, hamburger and hot dog rolls, English Muffins, rustic flat bread (focaccia), submarine sandwich bread, French/Italian bread, and other artisan breads, pizza, bagels, and pretzels, and more. All these bread recipes use my bread flour mix. This first book also has recipes for pancakes and waffles, biscuits, crepes, and a lot of recipes for various cakes, brownies, lemon squares, cream puffs, eclairs, muffins and sweet breads, cookies, pie and tart crusts, and fruit and cream pies. These recipes use my (all purpose) Brown Rice Flour mix.

      My first website foodphilosopher.com (which I no longer update) has many basic recipes that may help you to decide if my recipes are a good fit for your son. Go to the Gluten-Free Baking section in the top bar. You’ll find the hamburger bun recipe, a sandwich bread, English muffins, chocolate chip cookies, vanilla cupcakes and a whole lot more. You can also find some recipes at Gourmet.com (they featured some of my recipes in the November 2005 issue of Gourmet (when it was still being printed), and then put them online in 2007. Gourmet

      Please let me know if you have any other questions. I’d be happy to help you learn to make gluten-free baked goods that your son will love. I know how important that is. My oldest son was diagnosed with celiac when he was 12 years old, a year and a half after me. It was critical -to me- that he be able to enjoy his favorite foods, and I worked tirelessly to develop recipes. So I totally get it. I wish you much success as you start down this new road.

      Very best,

      1. In the recipe for the loaf of bread, canola oil is listed. Can I use different oil? ( olive, coconut, etc)

        1. hi!
          Yes, you can use a different oil, but it may not come out as a “classic” sandwich bread. Canola oil is light and flavorless and allows the bread to form a “normal” wheat-looking interior and crust. It also allows the nutty, grainy flavors of the millet and sorghum flour to shine through. Olive oil is heavier and adds olive oil flavor, even light olive oil (which if you do want to use olive oil in my sandwich bread recipe, is what I would use). I do use extra-virgin olive oil in almost all of my artisan breads, however, but those recipes use less oil (usually only 1-2 teaspoons) than the sandwich breads. Coconut oil contributes a bit of flavor and changes the texture and appearance. Grapeseed oil would be my second choice if you don’t want to use canola; it will allow you to create a more classic sandwich bread in terms of taste, texture and appearance.

          Hope this helps!

          Very best,

    1. Dear Kristi,

      In my testing, I found that I got the best results with Earth Balance Buttery Spread. Make sure it is cold when you mix it into the flour and don’t add any extra salt because the it already contains a lot. That said, even though I wasn’t as happy with the results of Butter-Flavored Crisco when I tested it, several readers have written to me to tell me that they’ve used it with success. If you’re new to my recipes, you might try the Earth Balance Buttery Spread first, and then make another pie crust with the Crisco so you can see the difference and decide which you prefer for the future.

      I hope you have a delicious and happy Thanksgiving.

      Very best,

  2. I have an issue with the recipe for the Blueberry Muffins. My muffins are tender to the point of falling apart. What can I do to make a firmer muffin without sacrificing a tender bite?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jane,

      Yes you are correct, they shouldn’t fall apart. So first, make sure the xanthan gum you’re using isn’t too old or expired. Also, make sure you mix the batter enough to get the xanthan gum well blended into the batter (you don’t have to worry about the muffins becoming tough because there isn’t any gluten). If you’re not using finely ground brown rice flour, the larger grain can sometimes hydrate differently. Are you using the Authentic Foods or a different brand? And finely, you can always add an extra 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum. (But first let me know what brand of flour you’re using).

      Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season.

      Very best,

  3. I love your GF Baking Classics cookbook. My husband requests the coconut cake all the time! The only thing that hasn’t worked for us is the buttermilk pancake recipe. It makes a very thin batter that turns out a pancake that almost resembles a crepe instead of a pancake. Do you have any thoughts on why that is – or are your pancakes supposed to be thin?

    1. Hi Ramona,

      I’m happy to hear you and your husband are enjoying my recipes. Thank you for telling me (I happen to love that coconut cake, to!).

      My pancake recipe (you are correct) it is slightly thinner than a “normal” pancake, but not typically as thin as a crepe. In any case, all you have to do to make it thicker is add a bit more flour mix (a tablespoon at a time) until you get a batter that makes a thicker pancake. You can test the thickness by making a tiny pancake – and then if it isn’t as thick as you want, add a bit more flour. Keep track of how much more you add to get your perfect pancake and then write a note on the recipe page so you’ll have it for next time.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Very best regards,

  4. I know this FAQ is old but I miss baked goods! I loved your GF Baking Classics book and it was my go to for most staple recipes until my daughter developed an egg allergy. We haven’t been thrilled with the flax egg option, have any of your testers tried using Aqua Faba? I saw a comment I think on the Amazon book reviews that they successful used it but no details on how they used it, like straight from the can? Whipped? Folded in?

    1. Hi Heather,

      The aqua faba craze came significantly after my cookbooks had been published and so I never had the chance to work with my testers on developing a good road map to use it. I tried it myself only once (on my vanilla cupcakes) the result was so NOT good, that I decided I didn’t want to waste anymore of my precious gluten-free flour to try to make it better. But I can tell you this (and yes I know the internet is now filled with vegan and allergen bakers) – I recommend only one recipe developer for egg-free baking: Cybele Pascal started developing allergen-free recipes because her son had severe allergies. Her first book came out in 2009, the year after the second edition of my first book came out. She has an excellent palate and well-tested recipes and she uses my flour mix as her all-purpose flour (and her bread flour mix is like mine but without the corn). If I were you, I’d give her first book a more than a glance to see how she has adapted her egg-free recipes. Her recipes are simple and you could apply her techniques to my recipes- or use a similar one in her book and adapt it for yourself (they are also dairy-free).

      Please let me know how you make out! And thank you for trusting my recipes all these years.

      Very best regards,

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