Here’s a secret: GF baking can be way more exciting than conventional baking. Don’t believe us? Pikanik owner Joanna Schultz will have you eating GF sweets in five easy steps. Plus: an easy recipe for black forest brownies.
With so many more tools in your arsenal you have the ability to take your creations to new flavour horizons. Over the years, I’ve created and evolved countless recipes, and one thing I’ve realized is that when you bake GF, there’s really no need to make any sacrifices in flavour or texture. You just need to know these five tricks:
1. Start with a GF recipe.
The biggest mistake bakers make is taking a conventional recipe and just substituting a gluten-free AP flour. Trust me, it won’t turn out the same. Instead, begin with specifically GF recipes — get used to new batter textures, get a sense of the different ratios used, and build some confidence before trying to modify conventional recipes.
2. Know your texturizers and flours.
When you see GF recipes mention “texturizers,” it means ingredients added to try to mimic the texture of wheat-based products. This typically means a variety of starches, and often means modified starches. At my bakery, I use potato starch, tapioca flour and sweet rice flour as starches and do not use any modified starches. Chia and flax are also helpful as texturizers. We also use xanthan gum – most gluten-free baking requires an added gum, which really helps hold things together. Guar gum is popular but we don’t use it because it is a bean derivative and so many people have bean/legume allergies.
For flours, I like to use finely milled brown rice flour as a dominant base in our AP Flour to boost flavour and nutrition, and sweet rice flour adds lots of moisture. For a great crust, tapioca flour is something to consider. And if you’re working on something chocolatey, you can enhance its flavour with teff flour!
3. Up the protein.
Gluten is actually a protein so to achieve wonderful textures and chew, ensure you add protein-rich ingredients like egg, ground almond, ground flax, or yogurt.
4. Timing is everything.
Gluten-free doughs and batters need time for liquids in the recipes to hydrate the dry ingredients. For cakes and cupcakes, we let the batter stand 20 minutes after mixing. This “soak-it-up” time makes a huge difference in eliminating the gritty texture that you often find in GF baking.
5. Different is good.
Many GF bread recipes have a ratio of dry-to-wet ingredients that try to mimic conventional bread dough texture, but this often leads to dry textures once baked. Instead, our GF breads are made from batters — and are very wet. We do a short rise, and let the convection ovens do the heavy lifting on getting a nice high loaf. The result? Bread that is light, chewy, and satisfying!
Ready to get baking? Get Joanna’s no-fail brownie recipe.
Pikanik Black Forest Brownies
- 306 g cocoa
- 908 g Pikanik All Purpose Flour
- 14 g xanthan gum
- 20 g salt
- 15 g baking powder
- 430 ml coconut oil
- 280 ml Coconut Dream
- 280 ml water
- 75 ml maple syrup
- 50 ml vanilla
- 1 jar morello cherries
- 360 g chocolate chips (we use Enjoy Life)
- 495 g coconut cream
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl staring with dry and streaming in
- wet until entire mixture is well blended and smooth.
- Spoon and spread mixture into a well greased and parchment lined 9×12
- baking pan.
- Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes, the centre may appear a bit wobbly but it
- will set up as it cools.
- Once brownies are cooled, prepare chocolate ganache.
- Heat the cream over medium heat, melt in chocolate chips stirring constantly.
- Add salt.
- Drain morello cherries and place all over the top of the brownies. Pour on chocolate ganache (you may have some left over, you’re looking for about 1/4” topping). Refrigerate several hours before cutting.
About the author:
Joanna Schultz is the owner and creator of the award-winning Pikanik bakery, renowned for their mind-blowing gluten free and allergy friendly breads, cookies, cakes and so much more. She opened Pikanik in October, 2012 after her daughter was diagnosed with gluten and dairy allergies. Seeing how difficult it was for her daughter to miss out on foods she loved, Joanna was motivated to serve the underserved – to create a space where people with multiple and often life-threatening allergies could come and enjoy something delicious. Worry free. Today, Pikanik is the only Canadian bakery west of Toronto that offers gluten free, nut free, soy free and dairy free products in one place. In 2016, Joanna won the Innovator of the Year Award via the Canadian Bakers Journal.