Updated: Jul 23, 2020
Making gluten-free/paleo dishes rise properly is no simple task. I’ve made plenty of breads, cakes, pancakes and brownies that end up being dense and dry (or on the other hand soggy and wet). This issue is compounded if you are looking to make a paleo recipe as baking powder is not allowed (sigh). This article will end this sad state of affairs!
Wheat flour that is used in most recipes is very good at rising, however this is not true of many other flours. When trying to replicate a recipe where gluten is key (bread, brownies, pancakes, etc.), I’ve found that tapioca cassava and/or arrowroot flour are great for replicating the “glutenous” texture and rising ability. This is because both of these flours are starchy and very fine resulting in a similar texture and behavior to wheat. However, these must be combined with other less starchy flours to make the appropriate texture (almond, coconut, oat, garbonzo, etc.). I’ve found that in general a 3 to 1 ratio of almond, oat, chickpea, or other paleo/GF flour (NOT coconut flour which is very hard to master and deserves its own post) and tapioca, arrowroot or cassava is effective at replicating the behavior of wheat flour. You can always make more complex flour combinations as your experience increases, but 2 variables is a good start.
Another great way to ensure proper lift in your recipes is to read the reviews of the product you are buying (Amazon reviews are great) and to look for “Super Fine” of “Fine Grain”. These flours have been ground down more, making them more likely to rise easily. Take a look at the 2 or 3 star reviews, if many people (>10%) have complained about the flour being too dense or not finely ground, move on to the next one.
Here are some of my recommendations (I don't get compensated for these links!):
Chickpea Flour - Anthony's Organic Chickpea Flour
Tapioca Flour - Pure Tapioca Flour
Arrowroot Flour - Bob's Red Mill Arrowroot Flour
Cassava Flour - Anthony's Premium Cassava Flour
Ingredients for Lift:
Another trick for more fluffy recipes is to use baking soda and cream of tartar in place of or in conjunction with baking powder. Baking soda is a base and therefore needs an acid to react and provide lift when liquid is added. If the recipe already has some acidic components (Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon Juice, etc.) then cream of tartar can be used to provide extra lift. A good rule of thumb is to use 2 parts cream of tartar per 1 part baking soda.
We hope these tips make gluten-free/paleo recipes more delicious! Below is a brief summary of the key points :)
1. Choose the right flour mixture (3 parts either almond, oat, chickpea or other gluten-free/paleo flour (excluding coconut flour) per 1 part tapioca, arrowroot or cassava flour)
2. Choose the right flour brands (“Finely Ground”, “Super Fine”, and/or “Extra Fine” flours)
3. Use 2 parts acid (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, cream of tartar, etc.) per 1 part baking soda
4. Use cream of tartar and baking soda to add fluff to recipes
Amby & James