I don’t know about you, but when I bake gluten free goodies I want them to be THE best, knock-em-out-of-the-park goodies anyone in my family has ever tasted!  If they’re not that way I am pretty hard on myself and consider myself a failure.  This post, I hope, will relieve me — and maybe you of that  very expectation.

Inspiration for this post: the gluten free oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies I made over the weekend. I figured I had a shot at getting 50% of the people in my 4-person family to actually try them (and one of them wasn’t even my celiac daughter).  I LOVE oatmeal chocolate chip cookies– but only if they’re super chewy and moist — so I wanted to try baking them.  The other reason — I have gluten-free oats hanging around a house filled with a family that doesn’t really care for oats (except me).  So I went for it!

The Gluten Free Experiment

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I didn’t even have an official gluten free recipe.  I figured I make a pretty decent version of gluten-free Toll House  Chocolate Chip cookies so knowing what I know about that — I thought I would go for it here.  So I logged on, hit Google and found a Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, but it needed substitutions to make it gluten-free.  Instead of the 1 1/2 cup regular flour I did 2/3 cup mix of rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch, filled the rest of the 1-cup measuring device with brown rice flour and then did the last 1/2 cup with sorghum flour.  I added 1 tsp of Xanthan gum and 1 tsp of ground flax seed to the mix as well.  And of course I used gluten-free oats, not regular ones.

Well bottom line, I guess they turned out FINE.  But that’s really about it — nothing spectacular, and of course nothing I would bring to the Super Bowl party (because -wink wink- you NEVER bring any gluten free goodies that aren’t fabulous to a party with “regular” people.  You want them to know gluten free foods can be fabulous instead of making you feel like your mandatory diet is lacking in some way).

Now, there they sit on my counter in a Ziploc bag.  They don’t have that “super chewy and moist” texture I had hoped for.  Instead they are hard (or maybe just harder than I would have liked).  So now I have cookies that I don’t like because they’re hard and no one else likes because they have oatmeal in them.

When Gluten Free Baking is Unsuccessful

And that’s where I get down on myself.  When YOUR baking or cooking  experiment doesn’t turn out the way you had envisioned —I hope you don’t do what I do — which is feel inadequate (and that you’ve wasted at least $10 in ingredients and an hour or two of your life that you’ll never get back) and never make those treats again.

Changing over to gluten-free baking is tough (and my transition is still happening after nearly 11 years).  I usually use mixes — which always turn out great– it’s when we get into that “baked from scratch” thing where it gets a bit dicey.  So why do I keep trying it even though it can be a huge disappointment?

  1. I need to learn!
  2. I am trying to make goodies like this more healthy.  Really, the only way to really do that is to strike out on your own and bake from scratch (no offense mix companies)
  3. I have the ingredients — so why not be adventurous?

All of these reasons sound so positive, and they are true.  But then why do I get SOOO disappointed when something doesn’t work out?? I just don’t know.

All I can say is for you — especially if you’re super new to the gluten-free baking thing — don’t be too hard on yourself. It is a different beast.  Please keep trying! Even Blue-Ribbon Baker Marjorie Johnson told our ROCK support group that it is tough to make gluten-free baked foods taste good!  She even had to throw out her first batch of cookies!  Glad it’s not just me!

Good luck!  Feel free to share your disaster or success stories below!

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2 Responses to “Gluten Free Baking Is Not Always Perfection”

  1. I’ve been gluten free for three or four years, now, and use most of the same recipes I used before going gluten free. (Except for yeast bread, of course – they’re their own kind of headache.) That’s the first trick – know the recipe is a good one to begin with! 🙂

    For cookies, I find it helps immensely to let the dough rest, either in the refrigerator, or just on the counter if it’s reasonably cool in the kitchen. Gluten-free flours – especially rice – can be very slow to absorb moisture. An hour or two to “soak” before baking can make all the difference.

  2. GREAT tips Beth! Thank you! I often am not patient enough for that. But I should work that time into my prep.
    Your tips will help others ease frustration I am sure!

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