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Guide to GF/Vegan Baking

If you are new to the world of baking gluten free and vegan, I am giving you the sign of the cross and saying an extra prayer for you right now. Let me preface the baking basics by saying:

YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES.

A LOT OF THEM.

It is inevitable. and you need to accept it now, and accept that this is a learning curve. Be open to it. The work is hard but the rewards are great. Now put your apron and sense of humor on, possibly grab a tissue (for many tears of joy and/or sorrow) and let’s get baking…

I use a 60/40 Ratio for measuring out my all purpose mix:

60% Medium flour Blend/40% Starches Blend

GF Flours:

  • Almond meal
  • Hazelnut meal
  • Coconut flour
  • Superfine Brown Rice
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Oat
  • Regular Brown Rice
  • White Rice
  • White Sticky Rice
  • Cornmeal (stone ground)
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Garbanzo Bean
  • Soy

Starches:

  • Potato starch
  • Tapioca starch (or also called flour)
  • Arrowroot
  • Corn starch
  • Sweet Rice flour

Gums:

  • Xanthan
  • Guar

There are 3 different gluten-free flour textures:

(1). Light: *starchy, less nutritional*

  • Potato Starch
  • Tapioca Starch
  • Arrowroot Powder
  • Cornstarch
  • Sweet Rice flour

(2). Medium: *lightly dense with good nutritional value*

  • Coconut
  • Garbanzo bean
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Quinoa flakes
  • Sorghum
  • Superfine Brown Rice
  • White Rice
  • Teff
  • Amaranth
  • Soy

(3). Heavy: *most dense and with the most nutritional value of all gluten-free flours*

  •  Buckwheat
  • Regular Brown Rice
  • Cornmeal
  • All Nut Flours (almond, hazelnut, etc)

Because Gluten-Free Flours are sans gluten {shocking!}, it gets tricky baking with one flour alone from the medium to heavy textures. There are a few exceptions that can do this (Quinoa and Oat flours) but in general, it’s best to create a blend. When baking Gluten-Free, the recipe for creating an all-purpose flour mix will typically include one of the 3 following combinations:

Combo #1:

  1. 1 Medium flour
  2. 1 or 2 starches
  3. a gum (xanthan or guar)

Combo #2

  1. 2 Medium flours
  2. 1 or 2 starches
  3. a gum (xanthan or guar)

Combo #3

  1. 1 Medium flour + 1 Heavy flour
  2. 1 or 2 starches
  3. a gum (xanthan or guar)
For Gums:
I don’t pre-add any gums to my all purpose blends because, depending on what type of baked good you make, different amounts of the gum will be needed. These are the xanthan gum add-in ratios for each type of baked good:
Cookies: 1/4 tsp xanthan gum per each cup of flour in the recipe
Pancakes/Waffles: 1/4 tsp per 1 cup
Cakes: 1/2 tsp per 1 cup
Muffins/Quick breads: 3/4 tsp per 1 cup
Pizza: 2 tsp per 1 cup

To create your own All Purpose mix, play around with the different combos above. I like to keep at least a 60% flour to 40% starch ratio.  Now, there are some great all purpose flour mixes out there that do all the guessing work for you. Sometimes it is just easier to buy it all from one bag…Trust me, I get it! 

Here are 2 of my favorites:

If you can overlook the strange taste/smell that this all purpose mix emits, this really is a great mix to have around the house. What I like Chickpea flour is how it adds a beautiful rise to my baked goods like muffins and cakes (However, NEVER taste test the dough–you will be sorry you tried it!) Now that I have gotten the hang of flour varieties, I tend to use this mix towards savory things like crackers and roux only. All in all, this is a great all purpose mix to have, especially if you are just starting out!

This definitely is an all purpose mix dropped down from the gluten-free gods in heaven. A mix of sorghum, white rice and a variety of starches, Authentic Foods Featherlight Blend provides a great mix for baked goods like cookies, pancakes, waffles, and normal cooking calling for flour. Please note that this mix unfortunately does not work for bread recipes. It also doesn’t necessarily have a pretty hue {more like starchy white}.

You might have to order this online if your WholeFoods doesn’t carry it.

Milk Replacements:

  • Almond
  • Hemp
  • Rice
  • Coconut
  • Soy
  • Oat

Buttermilk:

  • Use any of the non-dairy milks above and add vinegar (for every 1 cup of milk, use 1 Tb. raw apple cider vinegar, mix and let it sit and sour for 10 minutes).

Cream:

  • MimiCreme products are incredible! A nut based cream, offered in sweetened and unsweetened versions that are great for baked goods, coffee creamer, or even savory dishes like creamy soups.

Yogurt/Sour Cream:

  • Any non-dairy yogurt made from coconut, soy or rice milk…
  • Tofutti Sour “Cream”
Butter:
  • Earth Balance margarine
  • Non-hydrogenated shortening
  • Oil (extra virgin olive oil, melted coconut oil, canola, vegetable, or safflower oils)

Eggs:

Per 1 egg:

  • Flaxseed meal (1 Tb + 3 Tbs warm water, whisk and allow to set for 10 minutes)–not ideal for breads or cakes, however
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar (1 tsp baking soda + 1 tsp cider vinegar–Add the powder to the dry ingredients, the vinegar to the liquid ingredients and wait until the very end to combine and then quickly put into the oven).
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer (1 1/2 tsp + 3 Tb warm water, whisk until frothy).
  • 1/4 c. applesauce
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1/4 c. Silken tofu, blended
  • 1 Tb softened Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese”
  • 1 Tb softened Tofutti Sour “Cream”
  • 1 Tb arrowroot powder/cornstarch/any starch + 2 Tb water
  • 1/4 c. non-dairy yogurt

Mess around with these alternatives and see what works and what you like. Everything here, from GF flours to alternatives to eggs are all about individual tastes. Do what works for you. Happy experimenting! 

Are we square on the Gluten-Free  and Vegan Baking now? I know, me neither, but get used to it. We are all learning. Welcome to the club. Let’s keep learning together because there is always room to add more rules. Deal? Deal! More rules = More room for mistakes = More senses of humor please!

If ever you have any questions, please feel free to email me (Cara) at: myforkandbeans@gmail.com

55 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jennifer #

    Hi Cara,

    These cookies were my very first attempt at gluten free/vegan baking. I just tried out your recipe and subbed in tapioca for arrowroot – turned out great! However, I was wondering if tapioca leaves a more starchy taste than arrowroot normally does. What is your experience; do you prefer arrowroot for any particular reason?

    Also – awesome blog and thank you for this great reference page, so so so so helpful, especially to someone so new at it.

    January 16, 2013
  2. I was wondering, where would whey protein powder fall in the list of starch, medium and heavy flours??

    January 8, 2013
    • That is a good question, Kelly. I don’t think it would fall in the flour category actually, I’m not sure though. However because whey does have traces of dairy in it and is technically off-limits for me (though I don’t always abide), I don’t include it into the vegan guide.

      January 8, 2013
  3. Tina #

    This is fantastic! Thank you!! And in my journey into GF baking everything you said, including the needing a tissue is true! I have had some flops but when I made my first chocolate chip cookie that I didn’t say, well it will do, but rather made me swoon, I seriously nearly cried. It was a moment I won’t soon forget!! Thanks for all your hard work for this of us GF/DF and egg free! What a blessing!

    December 22, 2012
  4. Kristina Johnson #

    What’s an alternative to heavy whipping cream?

    December 5, 2012
  5. This is a great quick guide to reference! I made some vegan gluten free brownies that turned into lava…so your point about making mistakes made me laugh!

    November 29, 2012
  6. Thank you for the information. It’s nice to see it all in one easy place.

    November 13, 2012
    • You got it Jill! Glad you appreciate it 🙂

      November 13, 2012
  7. Fabulous post! Thank you!! 🙂

    November 7, 2012
    • You are spoiling me with tons of sweet words! Thank you, for reals…

      November 7, 2012
      • You are so welcome! I truly love your blog!

        November 8, 2012
  8. NatDoc #

    Wow. I’m speechless. Your website is amazing. I’m going to refer patients to this site for sure. Thank you for sharing your experience through this website!

    -Naturopathic Doctor

    July 12, 2012
    • You just made ME speechless, doc! Thank you for such kind words and I would be HONORED to have you refer your patients over here. Thank you!!! xo, Cara

      July 13, 2012
  9. New here, a gluten/free vegan blog, I’m in HEAVEN!

    June 30, 2012
  10. What an amazing guide – great resource – Thanks!

    June 3, 2012
    • You are so welcome, Heike! My absolute pleasure 🙂

      June 5, 2012
  11. Tami Vigil #

    Thank you 🙂 I use Chia for eggs and binder. ground for binder and soak in water for eggs. I am also allergic to flax so I use Chia. for egg replacer: Place 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in a cup and add 3 tablespoons of water. Allow the mixture to sit for about 15 minutes. 1/4 cup of hydrated chia seeds equals approximately 1 egg.

    for a binder ground up and use a little less than than you would for flax.

    April 20, 2012
  12. elise #

    Hi cara! I just came across your site and this reference alone is amazing!! I’m so thrilled to have found you. I’ve recently tried GF baking and it’s such a hit and miss experiment. Sometimes so frustrating. Anyway. I just wanted to say hi bc I am now your biggest fan. And I figured I should introduce myself so my comment marathon that’s about to go down doesn’t seem so crazy 🙂

    March 29, 2012
    • Hi Elise–Oh, this is such a fun and sweet comment!! I am so happy that you found your way over here and I hope you make yourself as comfortable as possible. I cannot wait for the barrage of comments–I am looking forward to it! xo, Cara

      March 29, 2012
  13. Katy #

    Thanks for sharing so many simple GF/Vegan recipes and cooking tips. We just found that our 3year old is allergic to Gluten and eggs (amongst other things) and I’m finding LOTS of recipes to try out 🙂 First stop Poptarts! Thanks for Sharing!

    March 22, 2012
    • What a total diet change for you, Katy! It can be so overwhelming so if you ever have questions, please feel free to ask away. So glad you are finding foods here that are good for your little one. Lots of love!! xo, Cara

      March 22, 2012
  14. adventuresofacollegevegetarian #

    hey, this information page is awesome! I’ve always struggled to figure out the proper replacement ratios and sites online sometimes tend to give weird answers, so this will be my go-to from now on!

    March 17, 2012
    • I am so glad to hear it is helpful! I know that I hard a reeeeaaaal hard time finding information for replacements and how-tos when I first changed my diet so I am glad to hear that it is helping someone out there 🙂 A GREAT book you might want to look into is The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen and Joni Mari Newman. It is THE best book!! xo

      March 17, 2012
  15. Im so happy to have found your blog because I love vegan baking ( I cannot wait to try babycakes in NYC ) but you are right about making alot of mistakes… Hehehe I have made my share of them!

    February 21, 2012
    • I think that is the only way to learn, isn’t it? Just the other day I tried making a new recipe of pancakes with a new binder and they were horrible 🙂 It’s all about trial and error. Glad you like what you see over here! xo

      February 21, 2012
  16. Baker Bettie #

    You say you want me to teach you some baking tips… Well I’m sure I have a lot to learn from you too! I’m looking forward to reading about all you have learned about baking gf and vegan.

    February 20, 2012
    • Heck yes, I want you to teach me!! I’ve only been learning by means of trial and error, really. All self-taught, but I am still trying to figure out why things work the way they do, etc. That is where YOU come in. *pulling up my chair and a bag of popcorn* 🙂

      February 20, 2012
  17. I know it’s silly to feel so tragic about now having to consider gluten free. I thought barley and soy and beans and nuts were enough of a pain to get around ::sigh:: I’m so glad you are here for me to learn from.

    February 6, 2012
    • It’s {always} tragic to have to give something up, are you kidding me? Tragic away, girl! What is going on with the GF stuff?

      February 6, 2012
      • I’ve cut out the soy and barley from my baking and still been feeling bad; bad cramps, heaviness in my gut, wiped of energy…kinda my new standard. So I thought I’d have a breadapalooza and it seemed to tell me exactly what I was suspecting…and I couldn’t really function the next day, luckily I was off from work for a few days for my experiment.

        February 6, 2012
        • Something tells me we both need to go raw… 🙂

          February 6, 2012
          • I agree. This morning I was in tears, again, because I feel lousy, still.

            February 7, 2012
            • Your morning sounds like my night. Raw it is! 🙂 Hope you are feeling better STAT!

              February 7, 2012
  18. Jamie #

    Awesome info! I have a 15 month old son who is allergic to wheat, eggs, soy, all nuts, dairy and food coloring. There is no convenience of premade store bought foods with this one and everything I knew about baking went out the window. It seems vegan recipes are the most accommodating for his needs. Great information for this mommy who want to provide a since of normalcy for my little guy! Thanks!

    January 22, 2012
    • This makes me so happy to hear, Jamie! This is why I started up Fork and Beans and it means the world to me to know that there is a mommy out there who feels more at ease, recreating safer foods for her baby to eat. LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Soooo happy you found your way over here. Let me know if you have any questions, for reals 🙂 Welcome, xo Cara

      January 23, 2012
  19. Mndee #

    Just came across your blog on Pinterest. My son is allergic to egg whites, wheat, diary, and peanuts. I have been baking vegan for years, but this gf baking thing. OMG! I am lost. Half the stuff I try doesn’t come out right or has a gritty funny taste to it. I am scared to death to try to bake anything, and I love to bake! I am slowly building up my supply of GF flour and starches. HELLO, EXPENSIVE! Most of the blogs I come across just confuse me. Your is funny, simple, and you don’t use all kinds of crazy flours. I just received some doughnut pans for Christmas and am dying to make my little man some doughnuts. I look forward to looking through your other recipes. Take Care!

    January 9, 2012
    • Mindee, you sound EXACTLY like me 6 months ago! I cannot tell you how many times I threw dough and hockey pucks that were supposed to be dinner rolls across the room, and cried tears of frustration. All I can say is just keep doing what you are doing, even when you think you suck big time at it. It’s supposed to happen like that so when you have that first moment of success, it is THE best feeling in the world and it keeps you going. Part of the frustration comes from the overwhelming newness of it all–I totally get it! But please, please, please feel free to ask me ANYTHING. Email me @ myforkandbeans@gmail.com if you need help with anything–for reals! Best of luck with the donuts 🙂 So happy you are here and found F&B! xo, Cara

      January 9, 2012
      • Mndee #

        Thank you. I actually made my very first batch of gf vegan soy nut butter cookies the other day and they turned out great! I was so happy. I even adapted the recipe with no egg and subbed another gf flour! They even passed the “father-in-law” test!

        January 24, 2012
        • Aaaah, best news ever. Hold on to that victory, for sure! So happy to hear it, Mndee 🙂

          January 24, 2012
  20. Does using 2 different starches help? i just have tapioca right now.. and i am thinking if i should get potato.. i guess i should.. pretty much all blends have 2..
    i made some crackers of the chickpea bread crumbs with fennel seeds.. those were good!

    January 8, 2012
    • I like the different components 2 starches give, however, 1 is totally fine!

      January 8, 2012
  21. ‘nother question….
    once you’ve got your flour blend, do you still use regular yeast when doing breads?…
    what does the guar or xanthum gum do? I guess that’s two questions…. 😉
    thanks!
    L

    January 7, 2012
    • One question maxium Liz, sorry. haha. Just kidding. Yes, regular yeast is a must when making bread, however, you don’t need to allow it to sit and rise for the amount of time you would with regular flour (maybe 25 min max, really). OR do you have to worry about overmixing so mix your heart away (hooray! We get one point!) I am still a bit frightened, however, with the bread-making area. I have made a few hard pucks supposedly called “bread” and it makes me nervous, which means that I WILL conquer it this year 🙂 Stay tuned…
      About the gums, they provide the ability of the dough to bind. It does a partial job as to what gluten usually does–it makes sure your baked good doesn’t crumble the moment you pick it up.
      Hope this helps! Let me know if you need anything else, Liz! xo

      January 7, 2012
  22. liz #

    This is going to be my go-to for gluten free flour! I’ve been toying with the idea in my head, but the selection of GF flours in the stores is pathetic. I do a lot of my own baking of breads and muffins, etc. and I’ve been hesitant to do GF cuz, well, you know…!
    So now I’m inspired!
    Thanks for this.
    I’m gonna add you to my blogroll, which I don’t have yet, but I’m in the process.
    🙂

    January 5, 2012
    • Aw Liz, I am so so so happy to hear that this is helpful for you! Not only is GF baking confusing but when you don’t have all the flours available, that makes it even more frustrating. I am hoping you find some useful info and if you need anything, let me know! You go with your inspired self 🙂 xoxo, Cara

      January 5, 2012
  23. this is super cool.. takes some time out of my trial and errors learning.. now i can just thrown in things and the bread magic should work!:) btw u are mentioned on my shroom soup post!

    January 5, 2012
    • Ooooooh, an official Richa shout out?! Heck yeah 🙂 Thank you! xo Hopefully one day we can master a delightful GF and vegan bread. Then, we can rule the world 🙂

      January 5, 2012
  24. You are awesome! What a great guide to gf and vegan baking 🙂 it’s definitely a science and you are rockin’ it ! Just thought I’d say hi and nice job…ya know, in case you don’t hear from me enough! Hugs

    January 5, 2012
    • I *don’t* hear enough from you!! 🙂 MORE, please! Thank you for GF/Vegan guide love. I always appreciate everything that you have to say…

      January 5, 2012
  25. Ahhh I love this!! I’ve been interested in GF baking and needed some tips before I start! Thanks 🙂

    January 4, 2012
    • Saying an extra prayer for you, Blondie 🙂

      January 4, 2012
  26. This is absolutely awesome! Thanks for this! Where do you get Authentic Foods brand? I haven’t seen it at any of the stores I go to up here.

    January 3, 2012
    • It’s hard to find, I am figuring out–even at WholeFoods where I buy it. I have only found it in 1 out 4 that I have checked. Your best bet is online 🙂 xo

      January 3, 2012

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