I got an email this morning from Marilyn, a Delicious Living reader, which said: "I read your magazine every month and notice that most of your recipes are gluten free. I don't have a problem with gluten; so what changes can I make to a recipe to allow for the gluten?"
This intrigued me: I'm not sure if she thinks gluten adds some kind of special flavor to a dish (it doesn't; it's a protein, not a taste), or if she was thinking of making one of the gluten-free healthy baked goods featured in our December issue and didn't want to mess around with the GF flours. At any rate, here's how I responded:
"In most cases, we simply provide the 'gluten free' designation as a service for our readers who may need to be on the lookout for gluten; many of these recipes don’t use any kind of flour at all, but we note 'gluten free' because that also means that it doesn’t contain hidden gluten (such as in soy sauce or beer). In those cases, you don’t have to do anything to 'allow' for gluten.
"It’s a little trickier in the case of baking recipes. Often you can often substitute the same amount of whole-wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour for whatever flour mixture is called for in the recipe; or example, if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1/4 cup potato starch, and 1 teaspoon guar or xanthan gum, you could substitute 1 cup regular, all-purpose flour (or better, whole-wheat pastry flour, which has a bit more nutrition).
"However, baking recipes are notoriously finicky and not all substitutes will work perfectly; for example, a straight swap of almond flour to all-purpose flour would definitely not taste or feel the same. So you might have to experiment a bit."
I also told her that "I’d be happy to give guidance on any particular recipe if you like." That goes for you, too! I love hearing from our wonderful readers. Feel free to leave a comment here with your thoughts on adding gluten back into a gluten-free recipe.