Everyone who reads the recipes on this site will have a different set of equipment, ingredients and an oven with different settings. Gluten-free vegan baking is hard enough as it is without those factors rcoming into play. To help minimise any discrepancies between your bakes and mine, I thought I’d offer some insight into the ingredients and equipment I use.
When it comes to gluten-free baking the flour you use is your lifeline. I like to mix my own, in fact whenever I reference all-purpose GF flour I’ve mixed it up myself. The recipe by Minimalist Baker which, you can find here, is amazing. I first witnessed the magic of this blend when I worked with a pastry chef who used it for all her gluten-free bakes with incredible results. The xanthan gum is optional but, I always add it for a more fail-safe version.
I recommend sifting the flours together and then mixing with a whisk (they need to be very well combined). I like to triple the recipe so I don’t have to mix flour every time I need it. I’ve also noticed some gluten-free bakers using super-fine brown and white rice flour. Super-fine flours help combat the gritty texture GF bakes tend to have but they are very expensive and difficult to find. I’ve started blending my rice flour (in a high-speed blender) for a minute before mixing it with the other flours.
Before I go on with ingredients, I want to talk about weights and scales. The ingredients for every recipe on the site are measured in grams, tablespoons and teaspoons. I highly recommend getting a digital scales as accurate measurements for GF baking are very important. I also weigh my liquids in grams. My logic is that if you already have your scales out it’s going to be more efficient and accurate to weigh the liquids than it is to get a measuring jug out. FYI: the mls function on a digital scales is somewhat redundant as it doesn’t account for the density of the liquid you’re measuring. King Arthur’s has a great conversion chart on their website which I will link here if you want to convert ounces or cups in the interim.
I am in love with Naturli vegan butter (not the spread the proper solid AF butter). I first tried it in a gluten-free puff pastry recipe and, it worked beautifully. I’ve been keeping two blocks in my fridge at all times ever since. In all the recipes that call for butter, I use Naturli. I haven’t used Earth Balance but, it’s always highly regarded by the plant-based community in North America so if you’re in the US give that a go.
A little controversially I am also worshipping at the altar of Oatly. Let’s get this straight, oats are naturally gluten-free! They do not contain the glutenin and gliadin proteins which combine in the presence of water to form gluten. They are however often grown alongside gluten-containing grains and are easily contaminated. In the US Oatly is made with certified gluten-free oats, lucky for you! In the UK Oatly is made with oats that comply with the ‘very low gluten’ labelling requirements.
I discovered the joys of the Oatly when I moved to the UK last year and gosh is it good in tea! I use Oatly in my baking as I find it resembles dairy milk more closely than any other non-dairy milk. Of course, if you are coeliac or gluten intolerant and don’t live in the US, Oatly isn’t for you. When I lived in Australia, I absolutely loved Nutty Bruce and it’s a great dairy milk substitute in vegan baking. If you’re in the UK or Europe I recommend any unsweetened minimally processed non-dairy milk.
I never use a commercial egg replacer. My go-to is either a flax egg (1 Tbsp. ground flax and 2½ Tbsp. water) or aquafaba (50g unwhipped in place of 1 egg). However, in all honesty, I haven’t quite figured out the egg situation yet. Eggs are used in gluten-free baking as a binder and they provide structure in the absence of gluten. In vegan baking with ordinary flour, I’ve found an egg replacement isn’t that important as you have gluten for structure and binding. An aquafaba egg or a flax egg is not an exact replacement for an egg and I’m still trying to determine whether the bakes actually need them and if they do how to adjust the egg component appropriately.
Before I started this free-from baking project it was almost 4 years since I last bought sugar. When I met my partner he was eliminating all-processed sugar from his diet and I was working in a raw vegan cafe where we only used maple syrup, agave, dates and coconut sugar for sweetness. To bake gluten-free, vegan and processed sugar-free is not only challenging it is also VERY expensive so I caved and bought some light muscovado. Billingtons have a range of unrefined sugars and all my bakes, unless otherwise specified, are made with light muscovado. I definitely take the label ‘unrefined’ with a pinch of salt but it’s the best compromise I can come up with. If it was more affordable, I’d be using coconut sugar. If you’re sugar adverse you can swap the muscovado for coconut sugar at a one to one ratio.
Can we have a moment of silence for Tony’s Chocolonely . . . Not only is their chocolate delicious but they are working to end slavery and child labour in the cacao industry. In place of chocolate chips, I just chop up a bar of their 70% chocolate as dairy-free chocolate chips can often be a nightmare to find. Not all the bars are vegan so make sure to check the ingredients. I guarantee the dark salted almond will not stay in your pantry for long once you get your hands on it.
My oven has no fan setting so all my bakes are done on the conventional setting. If you prefer to bake with fan you may need to reduce the temperature or bake time.
My blender is a Nutribullet and, it’s high speed. A high-speed blender can grind seeds and nuts into flours, will give you a super-smooth texture in nut-based cheesecakes and sauces, as well as smoothies and soups. You will not get the same texture if you blend in a blender that isn’t high speed so it’s important to keep that in mind.
My food processor is a Kenwood and is best for making hummus, pesto and nut butter. A food processor and a blender can be somewhat interchangeable but you will get massive discrepancies in the texture. A food processor will never give you the super smooth texture that a high-speed blender will and a blender will never achieve that chunky bumpy texture usually associated with pesto.