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Gluten-free desserts don’t always turn out fabulous and the last thing you want is to make a gluten-free delight for a holiday celebration that doesn't live up to your expectations. As a gluten-free blogger, I will admit that since going gluten-free, holidays tend to make me a little nervous. Bringing a gluten-free dessert to a potluck or everyday get together is one thing, but offering to make dessert for a holiday dinner or lunch comes with great expectations. While many people may be watching their dessert intake on an average day and may not even partake in dessert at a dinner party, birthday party etc., almost no one refuses dessert at the holidays - making the enjoyment of their dessert that much more important.
I definitely have a few holiday gluten-free dessert tips from my own experience that are great for the home cook hoping to impress their families this holiday season. Here we go!
First tip: do as I say, not as I do! I am notorious for springing new dessert creations on my family before I’ve tested them out on my own. This is usually ill-advised as a new gluten-free dessert can require a lot of tweaking to get the texture and flavor just right. There are ingredients that many gluten-free bakers swear by and many people invest in are gums like guar gum or xanthan gum, since they help gluten-free baked goods achieve optimal texture. If you're like me and have digestive issues with many of these additives, you know it's a challenge to find to find substitutes. So, if it’s your turn to bake this year, you may want to consider testing out your recipe a few times at home first, especially if it is gum-free, made totally from scratch, a new recipe or a creation of your imagination. When I can, I test everything I bake on my gluten-eating husband. I trust his judgement and familiarity with pleasing traditional baked textures to help me evaluate if my dessert is ready to share on my blog or with our friends or family members. (Poor guy!)
I also make my own gluten-free flour blends rather than buy all-purpose gluten-free blends. This can result in a variety of textures, some great, some not so great. If you are using an all-purpose gluten-free baking mix, you are likely to find more consistent success with your baking. If you can afford the time to test out your own mix of flours, I highly recommend it. It will make your successes that much more your own - think of your sense of achievement when you bake a delicious cake from scratch versus baking a cake from a box mix.
There are many recipes for all purpose gluten-free flour mixes and many blog posts and articles out there which describe how to devise your own. I tend to mix mostly brown rice flour with a small amount of a starchy flour (often arrowroot, tapioca or amaranth), and some gluten-free baking soda and gluten-free baking powder for leavening. Because gluten-free flours don’t bind as well as gluten-containing flours, you will need a good binder or two in your recipes. There are many options: eggs, chia, flax, banana, apple/pear sauce, oils, nut butters...the list goes on. I try to throw a few binders into my recipes to ensure the dessert ends up sticking together well. Most of my recipes are vegan and use a flax-chia "egg" binder and often a bit of pear sauce, which allows me to reduce the amount of sweetener in my recipes.
From scratch or with an arsenal of pre-mixed "storegredients," however you choose to bake gluten-free, practice is key!
- Danielle Dewar
P.S. All of my recipes are gum-free! If you need to avoid gums, head to Baking Backwards to check out the recipes.
As part of our holiday how-to series, NFCA is hosting a gluten-free giveaway! Enter here for your chance to win a gluten-free prize pack from Crunchmaster.