You dream of baking gluten-free and doing it well. Your kid's birthday is coming up, and all she wants is a vanilla layer cake. You have such good intentions!
So why aren't things going your way, Baker Lady?
Mistake #1. You followed the recipe – but in your own special way.
I cannot begin to tell you how many readers have wanted to kill me because of my recipe for Gluten-Free Pancakes.
My recipe has detailed instructions, plus extra tips and tricks. If you follow them to the letter, you will have those pancakes, remarkably like the picture. If you don't, you might not.
The most important thing? Don't try to kill me. I can totally take you. I'm like a ninja.
Mistake #2. You didn't measure your flour by weight.
There have been studies (people who aren't me totally study this stuff) where home bakers have been asked to measure 1 cup of flour by volume. The results were dramatically different – everywhere from 4 ounces (112 grams) to 6 ounces (168 grams). That's a difference of 56 grams – almost one half cup!
Don't make me cite chapter and verse of those stats. Get a scale, and measure by weight, not volume, and nobody gets hurt.
Mistake #3. You threw together “some flours” since you read somewhere that, as long as your blend has the right weight, it doesn't really matter what's in there.
It matters. A lot.
Take a relatively simple recipe like these Gluten-Free Animal Crackers. Roll-out cookies need the right balance. Use the wrong flours, and they're either going to be too wet and sticky to cut out shapes, or too dry and brittle to cut out shapes (the dough will shatter).
And remember, if all that mattered was the total weight of your flour blend, not the individual components, wouldn't my Gluten-Free Flour Test have turned up exactly the same results no matter the blend & no matter the recipe being tested?
Mistake #4. Your ingredients weren't at room temperature. Or your dough wasn't the right temperature before baking.
Having eggs, butter and milk at room temperature really really matters (unless you're making pastry or whipped cream, which call for cold ingredients). If not, they won't incorporate well into the batter. That can leave you with pockets of certain ingredients in higher concentration, and pockets that are missing something imoprtant.
Think about it. When you're making a cake and your butter is room temperature (yay!), but you drop a cold egg in the batter, what happens? The fat in the butter clumps. That's, like, the total opposite of mixing.
Cookie ingredients should be room temperature when you're making the dough. The dough, on the other hand, should be really cold before baking. The recipe told you to do that. Why didn't you do it?
Mistake #5. You made substitutions your first time making a recipe.
I won't belabor the point, since we've already had this chat. Just don't monkey around with the recipe the first time you make it. You need to know what to expect before you put your signature on the recipe.
Mistake #6. You used a multi-ingredient baking mix like Pamela's as an all-purpose gluten-free flour.
Pamela's Baking Mix is a multi-ingredient baking mix, with baking powder, baking soda, salt and other additional ingredients in it. Just because it's worked like a charm for you in the past doesn't mean it will continue to. You got lucky. I guarantee your luck will run out.
Gluten Free Yeast Bread will get you every time, by the way. And when it does, take that sorry excuse for bread and pulse it in your food processor. Fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs are a real treat.
Mistake #7. You didn't use an oven thermometer.
Oven temperature matters a whole heap. And most ovens are off by about 50°F. Mine is off by 75°F! I ignore the dial, and go by my oven thermometer exclusively. That one little switch could be the different between the thrill of victory—and the agony of defeat.
P.S. Already have your copy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread? Thank you! Your support means the world to me. If not, no time like the present!