How to start?
There is the saying, “Every beginning is difficult!”. I have to disagree when it comes to vegan and glutenfree baking. As soon as you are here and reading this post you took the decision to try to find a different angle on baking so you definetly have the hardest step far behind you!
When I started to create my own vegan and glutenfree recipes the only input I could find online was either on vegan OR glutenfree baking. The combination of both was a rare treasure to be discovered. Since then a lot of time has passed and I learned a lot of stuff on my own through trial and error. Also there is a lot more of good information online by now. So with this particular category of posts I really want to make things easier for you to start out with a set of tips and tricks and get creative yourself.
Baking glutenfree does not have to be a sacrifice but can be vastly enriching. After your first attempts I can assure you that a new world of possibilities and different flavours through the new flour types you are using will open up to you.
I myself like to mix the different flours and starches individually tailored to every recipy but you are always trying to build the baking property of gluten containing grains. So in general I would recommend that the starch content of your mix should not exceed 40%. I like to mix full grain glutenfree flours like rice or millet with half the amount of starch so you get a ratio of 2:1. Your new best friend in glutenfree baking will be your binding agent. To mimic gluten in your mix you should use either xanthan, guar gum or carob gum in tiny amounts. It will bind the cake itself and also the water and therefore keep your goodies moist.
So what can I use?
RICE: YOu can either use brown rice flour or white rice flour but have to keep in mind the different starch content the two of them have. I would recommend to mill your flour yourself because you can regulate how fine your ground will be. The finer the better I say, because who likes chuncks in their cake?
MILLET: Millet gives your baked goods a nice colour and has a slightly nutty taste.
TEFF: Teff is a dark type of millet that has a stronger nutlike taste. I therefore like to combine it with chocolate or cacao because the flavours intensify each other. Teff is not a regional product in Austria so I only use it in moderation and in combination with other flour types.
BUCKWHEAT: Buckwheat is a wonderful regional grain that is technically not even really a grain but a fruit. It has a very significant taste, so I either use it in moderation or as a standalone flour to fully experience the taste.
OAT: Oat itself is glutenfree but very often is grown next to gluten containing grains or gets contaminated when it is processed in the same mills. There is certified glutenfree oat though. I find that oat in combination with starch gets very close to the taste of wheat.
CHICKPEAS: The flour of the chickpea, as any other bean flour, has a very significant taste and has to be combined with other flours. One of the great advantages of bean flour though is the high count of protein which makes your cakes rise like crazy and gives a nice fluffy consistency.
CHESTNUT: Ground chestnuts have a nutty taste and give a rather dense consistency to your cake. I like chestnut flour in salty baked goods like bread.
NUTS: If you ground them fine enough you can use every kind of nut as a part of your flour mixture. Nuts give your baked goods texture and keep them moist because of their high oil content.
POTATOE STARCH: You can use potatoe starch in nearly every recipy. It gives nice texture and keeps the moisture in your cake.
CORN STARCH: Cornstarch is also universally usable and gives a soft texture and nice crust.
TAPIOCA STARCH: Tapioca gives your baked goodies a nice crust and has very good binding properties. In Austria you can get tapioca starch in asia supermarkets. As it is not a regional product here I use it very rarely and rather use a mixture of potato and corn starch.
XANTHAN: Xanthan is a polysaccharide and strong binding agent. In very small amounts it is what makes the magic happen in most of the glutenfree goodies as it mimics gluten.
CAROB GUM: Also a polysaccharide that gets extracted out of the seed of the carob tree. It can be used as a binding agent or gelling agent.
GUAR GUM: Guar gum is extracted out of the seed of the guar bean and has very similar properties to carob gum.
Maybe these posts interest you as well? They give more information on vegan and glutenfree baking!