Ask the Experts… How Can I Prevent My Gluten-Free Bakes Being Dry?

gluten-free baking 

Q How can I prevent my gluten-free bakes being dry and crumbly?

Many trials and errors in the kitchen have taught me that there are a few safeguards you can take to ensure that your gluten-free breads and cakes are light, airy and moist:

  1. Try not to use only one type of gluten-free flour. For example, if you just use quinoa flour in your recipe it will lead to a crumbly, dry texture. You need to use a blend of flours and starches to replicate the flavour, texture and density of gluten flours. You can buy a gluten-free flour blend or make your own. If you choose to make your own blend, there are many flours and starches to choose from. A few examples of gluten-free flour include; rice flour, sorghum flour, amaranth flour, quinoa flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour, teff and bean flours, coconut flour, nut/seed flours and soy flour. Gluten-free starches include tapioca, potato starch, cornstarch, and arrowroot.
  2. Gluten is a protein so it’s important to include protein in your gluten-free flour blend. Protein gives structure and stability. High-protein flours include chickpea, amaranth, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, teff, navy bean and other bean/nut/seed flours.
  3. Gluten is what gives baked goods their structure. Without the gluten, foods are more likely to fall apart. Adding gums such as xanthan gum or guar gum replaces some of that structure. Some people avoid gums because of digestive issues or sensitivities. In these cases, adding psyllium, agar agar, chia seeds or flax seeds in amounts equal to the gums required can also give a lighter structure. In some recipes, you may find you don’t need any gluten replacers at all. The more you bake, the more you will learn which of your recipes come out better with the gums added.
  4. To make baked goods lighter, sift the flour before measuring it. When you sift flour, it’s lighter and you use less. Not sifting the flour will mean using a lot more flour which can lead to dry, heavy-baked goods.
  5. Add air by beating the batter for at least 5 minutes. It will make the baked goods lighter.

With some care, there is no reason why gluten-free cakes and breads can’t be as light and fluffy as their gluten-rich counterparts.

maria bezAbout our expert: Nutritionist Maria Bez is a registered nutritionist with the British Association of Nutritional Therapists. She has a BSC degree in Nutritional Medicine and practices from Nourish, her clinic in Bath. As well as attending to clients, she writes and speaks on all matters relating to nutrition and lifestyle. She is dedicated to providing individuals with information and advice to take control of their own health and well-being.

Do you need help with your free-from cooking, or do you have a nutritional query? Email your question to to ask the experts for advice.