5 Tips for Fearless Gluten-Free Baking From Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop

How to work with blends, moisture and a bit of tenacity to make great treats every time.

Little Red Bake Shop’s gluten-free amaretti cookies are a study in how to build a good cookie. Photo by the author.

School’s back on and the weather’s getting cooler: It’s cookie time. Whether that means you’re getting in the kitchen and baking them up yourself, or you want to pick up a ready-made batch, Little Red Bake Shop’s Susan Palmer can help—even if you’re gluten free! 

While Palmer’s classic ginger molasses, lemon sugar and peanut butter cookies are all made with traditional flour, her gluten-free amaretti treats are such a triumph that we asked her to show us how to make them on Facebook Live from her spot at Hot Bread Kitchen. Here, her great tips for how to convert your own recipes.

Blends Are Your Friend
If you’re new to gluten-free baking, go for premade gluten-free baking blends. They are a great replacement cup for cup for all-purpose flour. Once you get comfortable with gluten-free baking, starting experimenting with your own blends and different varieties of flour, such as nut flours, coconut, rice, chickpea, potato, cassava, teff, oat and many more!

Add High-Moisture Ingredients
Gluten-free baked goods tend to be quite dry, so you want to add ingredients that are high in moisture. This is not the time to try a low-sugar recipe. Try swapping out some cane sugar for brown or adding in honey, maple syrup or agave nectar in goods. In cakes or muffins, mix in sour cream or carrots, zucchini, pumpkin etc…

Lower Fat With Nut Flours
When baking with nut flours, it is important to remember that they are much higher in fat than other gluten-free flours. Make sure to lower the fat in the recipe (butter or oil) and increase the amount eggs. The eggs provide structure to your baked goods and moisture. Nut flours are also great for dairy free recipes.

Mask Unfamiliar Flavors
Be sure to increase the amount of vanilla, spices or other extracts while baking. Gluten-free flours can often have unique tastes and adding additional flavoring will mask unfamiliar flavors.

Try, Try Again
Give yourself time to get comfortable with gluten-free baking. There will be failures and successes with gluten-free baking. Also give yourself time when baking and lower your oven temperature, gluten-free baked goods tend to brown quickly and take long to bake. Remember to experiment and have fun.

You can order Little Red Bake Shop’s cookies online, but she’s also at Hester Street Fair and other markets in the city.

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Alicia Kennedy is a Long Island–born, Brooklyn-based food writer and recipe developer.