Can Baked Goods Taste Good without Gluten?

The EatingWell Test Kitchen reviews gluten-free cookbooks and baking mixes.

"If I eat wheat I am "

For traditional baked goods, bakers usually use only one flour—wheat flour, which contains gluten. As gluten heats, it expands, capturing the carbon dioxide released during the leavening process. “Gluten is what holds baked goods together and gives them structure and springiness,” says Annalise G. Roberts, author of Gluten-Free Baking Classics (Surrey Books). Without gluten, baked goods can be dense or gummy. So a lot of trial and error goes into creating gluten-free recipes that mimic the taste and texture of traditional baked goods.

In the EatingWell Test Kitchen, we tried recipes for baked goods from several different gluten-free cookbooks. Two favorites: fudgy brownies from Gluten-Free Baking Classics and Cheddar biscuits from Robert M. Landolphi’s Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook (Andrews McMeel Publishing).

If you’re looking to make one of your favorite recipes gluten-free, you can use one of the gluten-free baking mixes available in place of the wheat flour. These mixes are blends of flours milled from other grains or legumes, such as rice, sorghum (a grain widely cultivated in Africa and Central America) and chickpeas. They also contain starches, such as tapioca and potato, to help add structure.

We tried several of the mixes in place of wheat flour in our One-Bowl Chocolate Cake recipe. The cakes tasted great but were less fluffy than the cake made with wheat, and some of the less-familiar ingredients in the mixes lent a slight aftertaste. We found that adding a little extra flavor enhancer, such as vanilla or lemon zest, can help mask those unfamiliar flours.

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