Troubleshooting Baking Problems

by Jeanne on January 30, 2012

Below are common actions that affect the success of your baking.  Please read through this list and if you made any of the missteps listed, try the recipe again before contacting me with questions. I will update this section periodically.

Did you use any (and I mean any) substitutions (including pan size or shape?

If so, then your results will differ some (or a lot) from mine.  Substitutions are going to affect the behavior of your baked items.

This is especially true if you don’t use eggs and use an egg substitute.  Eggs provide a lot of structure in a baked item.  If you can’t or don’t use eggs and use a substitute (any substitute) your baked thing will be denser and won’t be as fluffy as one with eggs.  This is most evident in breads.  Breads will typically rise and then fall a bit if you use an egg substitute rather than eggs.  There is no magic way around this at this time.

Did you use substitutions and measure by weight? If yes, go back and measure by volume.

I have found that many people who measure by weight vs. volume (cups) get funky results if they make substitutions.  For example, each gluten-free flour has a different weight.  I have found that the volume of the thing is what is needed and is key to the success of these recipes. So, if you use different flours or a different flour mix than I use, it’s best for you to use the equivalent volume of that flour.  Meaning, if I say 1 cup/140 g of Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour mix and you want to use BlahBlah Flour Mix instead, it’s best for you to find out how much 1 cup of BlahBlah Flour Mix weighs and then substitute by volume, not by weight.  I know this goes against everything everyone else says, but trust me.

Did you leave out the xanthan gum? 

I get a fair amount of questions about recipes that folks try that end up crumbly or otherwise structurally deficient.  After questioning, it turns out that they left out the xanthan gum.  Please note: gluten-free baked items need some sort of “gluten-replacer” in order to behave well.  I like to use xanthan gum. (for more on this, see my Gluten-Replacers post.)   If you don’t like or don’t want to use xanthan gum, you need to find another gluten-replacer that works for you.

Did you follow the exact recipe and the exact ingredients?

If you do not follow the recipe exactly, and you use different-than-called-for ingredients (even if you use one of my recommended substitutions), then I can’t guarantee that the recipes will work the exact same for you as it does for me.  I can’t tell you how many times I have spent a lot of time troubleshooting problems with someone only to find out eventually that they used pancake mix instead of a flour mix or they used an egg substitute in a recipe that calls for eggs, or they used an alternative sweetener in the recipes, or they didn’t use xanthan gum, etc.

Did you substitute other flours for the flours in my mix?

If so, these flours may behave differently in my recipes.  Also, if you just substituted another flour for one of the flours in my mix (say, sorghum flour for brown rice flour) please note that you need to substitute the equivalent cup measure–not the equivalent weight.  Each flour has its own density.  So, if you are substituting for a cup of brown rice flour and you want to measure by weight, you need to find out the weight of a cup of the alternate flour and then use that.  PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL ME OR COMMENT ABOUT PROBLEMS WITH ONE OF MY RECIPES UNTIL YOU USE MY MIX IN IT.

Did you beat the butter and sugar or the eggs and sugar not at all/too little?

Not following the directions is a huge reason many recipes fail.  And not adequately beating the ingredients as called for in the recipe is a big no-no–it can affect the rise of your baking. The leavening agents (baking powder, baking soda, yeast, steam) only work on pre-made air pockets, they don’t create air-pockets on their own. And I have found that gluten-free baking benefits so much from beating the fat and sugar or fat and eggs very well before adding the other ingredients. This will create a flatter than expected result.

Have you checked the actual temperature in your oven (vs. what your oven dial says)?  Do you have an oven thermometer in your oven?

If not, get yourself an oven thermometer (they are pretty cheap and I got mine at the local drugstore) and determine how your oven is heating. See my oven thermometer post to learn more. This will affect almost any aspect of your baking.  Also, most ovens–even new and super-expensive ones–don’t heat to the temperature we think they heat to.  PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL ME WITH QUESTIONS UNTIL YOU’VE CHECKED THIS.

Did you adequately preheat your oven?

Most ovens take a bit of time to reach the appropriate temperature.  And sometimes the correct temperature hasn’t quite been reached even when the control panel beeps to tell you that it’s preheated.  You need to give it extra time to adequately preheat.  This is where having an oven thermometer (see above paragraph) comes in handy–it tells you when the oven has actually reached the appropriate temperature.

Did you use the exact size pan called for?  Did you use a pan made out of metal or glass?

Using the proper-sized baking pan is very important. If you use a Bundt pan when a loaf pan is called for, or an 8″x8″ pan when a 9″x9″ pan is called for, then you will probably get different results than you would using the correct pan.   Among other things, the baking time will be different.  Also, if you use a baking pan that is made out of a non-standard material (like plastic or paper), you will get different results. Often this is a gummy or uncooked center or, alternately, burning.

Stoneware often works well, but there are brands that seem to work better than others.  If you are using stoneware and your baking is not turning out right, I would suggest that you switch to metal and try again.  I can’t really help you out on this one: I don’t use stoneware for my baking except for ceramic pie pans for pies.

Is your yeast/baking powder/xanthan gum expired?

If you use expired yeast, baking powder, or xanthan gum, you are using a product that may no longer be good to bake with. It won’t perform its designated function.  For example, yeast is a living organism. If you use an expired yeast, there is a good chance that all or many of the yeasties have died, meaning that they will not eat the flour and then expel gas to help your bread or cake rise. This will cause your item not to rise and it will be flat.

Did you double (or triple or halve or whatever) the recipe?

Unless you are an experienced baker and know what to look for in a doubled recipe, please don’t multiply or halve recipes.  It’s best to make the recipe once and then again for the second batch.  This ensures a good result.  If you did multiply the recipe, please make it again as the single, exact recipe before contacting me.

Did your yeasted baked thing rise high and then deflate?

This often happens when yeasted items are allowed to rise too high before baking–the structure of the baked thing doesn’t have the power to uphold the height.  If this has happened to you with a yeasted item, I would recommend trying again, and let the item rise less high (or even not at all if you are baking at high altitude) before baking.

If your Soft Sandwich Bread rises in the oven and then falls, I don’t know what to tell you other than what I’ve included in this post.  A few things to ask yourself:

1) did it fall a tiny bit?  If that happened, that’s OK.

2) does it look like the photo in the post?  If so, that’s what it’s supposed to look like

3) did you make any (and I mean any) substitutions to the way I tell you to make it?  If so, go back and make it exactly according to the recipe.

4) did you measure by weight? If so, I would recommend measuring by volume and see if your results differ.  In the summer in particular (and during rainy days), I have noticed that the dry ingredients–especially the flour–absorb water.  This makes them heavier.  So, if you weigh your ingredients, they will measure heavier on humid days and cause you to use less than is needed for the recipe.  The volume listed is what it needed for the recipe to work well.

Did your yeasted thing crack at the top?

This is normal for bread.  Loaf breads (like my Soft Sandwich Bread) or my Multigrain Bread usually don’t do this, but they may.  Usually I tell you to slash the tops of breads that crack for me.  The crack means that the yeast pushed the outer layer so much that it needed to crack in order to allow for the rising.  This is why many bread (usually artisan breads and baguettes) have slashes at the top.  If your loaf bread is regularly cracking at the top, I would recommend slashing it with a sharp knife a couple of times before placing it in the oven.

Did your yeasted thing not rise, or not rise as quickly as you expected or not rise as much as you expected?

This can be caused by several things.

-Is your yeast expired?  If yes, try again with new yeast.
-Is your kitchen cold?  If yes, this is the cause of slow rising because the yeast don’t rise very well at cold temperatures.
-Did you use all of the exact other ingredients in the recipe?  If no, try the recipe again with the exact ingredients I call for.
-Did it not quite rise to double in size?  This is OK.  To be honest, gluten-free yeasted thing don’t necessarily double in size–they mostly get puffy.  Puffy is a better indicator of something rising vs. doubled in size.

Are you confused about how sticky and/or batter-like your yeasted dough is?

Sticky is normal for gluten-free yeasted things.  And for the most part, gluten-free yeasted things will not have a super-stiff and malleable dough that wheat yeasted things will have.   Gluten-free yeasted dough is almost always like a thick cake batter.

Are you surprised at the amount of or presence of certain ingredients in a recipe?

Please trust that I know what I am doing.  For example: the yeast in breads.  I have found that I need more yeast than normal (at sea level) to get my bread to rise.  So 2 tablespoons is not unusual.  Remember: gluten-free baking is a bit different from wheat baking.  Please check the comments to see if the recipe is working for other people before you start doubting it.  And please actually bake the thing it to see how it works before you comment or email me with your doubts that it won’t work.

Are you expecting something to behave like your old wheat recipes and it doesn’t?

Keep in mind: this is gluten-free baking.  It is somewhat different from wheat baking.  Therefore, you need to be open to some differences.  For example: bread dough.  Bread dough in my recipes (maybe versus some other site’s recipes) is more like a thick batter than a dough.  It is not kneadable.  That said, there is no need to knead (heh) gf bread because there is no gluten to develop.  So, please trust the recipes and see how they work before you comment about or email me doubts about them.

Are you baking at high altitude?

I bake at sea level, so my recipes are tailored to sea level conditions.

If you are baking at high altitude (i.e., higher than sea level) then your baked items may react differently.  The higher the altitude, the less pressure there is on the baked items.  This is sometimes good for gluten-free baking–which often has issues with rising.  But, what this means that your baked items will probably rise higher and faster than the recipes indicate, and if they rise too much, you may have to reduce the amount of leaveners (especially baking powder), and you may need to reduce baking time and/or reduce the baking temperature.  You may also find that your baked items rise high and then deflate after you take them out of the oven.  If this is happening to you, you will need to adjust the leaveners, carefully monitor the rising time on your baked items, and experiment with less baking time or a lower baking temperature.

A good table for how to start adjusting for high altitude baking can be found on the High Altitude Baking website.

Updated: 8/4/14

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{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

kristina September 12, 2014 at 1:56 pm

hi.. I am just getting started in the gf baking.. I have had some success and failures . the thing the kids want the most in the morning is pancakes or waffles and my gf ones are so soo. They always taste good but they are doughy or chewy or rubbery on the inside while the outside is totally cooked. I used all purpose better batter gf flour. What could I be doing wrong. ?

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Jeanne September 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Kristina: Are you talking about someone else’s recipes? I’m not sure why the other recipes didn’t work–but chewy is often a function of too much xanthan gum.

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kristina September 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Hi there, I have tried a few, one from GF on a shoestring, the others from other sites which off the top of my head I don’t recall the site names and I can’t reach for them at the moment. I have been using GF better batter all purpose flour.. Last night I think I figured it out.. I usually or say use to throw it all together and mix and this time, I mixed the dry and then mixed the wet then folded the wet into the dry. I was making a cake and it came out awesome none remained which is a first store bought or made by me.. So I am going to keep going with that idea and try pancakes again tonight or tomorrow.. I am in the southwest and its hot so I am baking late or very early. Thank you for your email.. I bookmarked you , I will be back.. K

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Jeanne September 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Kristina: Ah, OK. Yes, it sounds like you’ve figured it out.

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Karen July 3, 2014 at 2:05 pm

First off, LOVE the soft sandwich bread- it is better than just about any other homemade bread I have made, gluten or not! And I do agree that your flour blend is the tops– better than the one I was previously using, even thought it meant having to order sweet rice flour. I came to this page to check out my problem and I found it above, but wanted to ask a little more. My problem is that the bread rises nicely, but then deflates after taking it out of the oven. I see that you mention that it is caused by over-rising before baking, but it seems that this is something that is a high-elevation problem. I live 3 feet above sea level, so I wondered if that is really my problem. The bread is also very moist inside, so I wondered if it could be that I need to bake it longer? I am using the recipe EXACTLY as stated, including the same type of pan (metal) and weighing the flours. I let it rise for 30 min, and it appeared to be just about exactly doubled in size. I certainly can cut the rise time if that is the problem, but I just wanted to see if you thought that is actually my problem or not, given my lower elevation.

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Jeanne August 4, 2014 at 11:21 am

Karen: I would recommend measuring by volume and see how it works. Measuring by weight doesn’t work as well here. Also, let it rise less. Double in volume sounds like it’s too much.

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Kathleen D. June 12, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Jeanne, thank you for your encouraging blog and recipes. I want to try this white sandwich bread, but I am also oil-free as well as gluten-free. I usually use butter as a substitute for oil. Will this work in your recipe and if so, what would the substitution measurement be? Thanx.

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Jeanne June 16, 2014 at 11:08 am

Kathleen: Sure, you can usually use butter in the place of oil.

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M.Price June 11, 2014 at 6:27 pm

In need of help, I’m new at this! I was wondering if u could help me break down the recipe for a smaller 5″x 6″ glass pan.

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Jeanne June 16, 2014 at 11:11 am

M: No, I don’t really have the time to re-write recipes for people. Also, I’m not sure what recipe you’re talking about. I would recommend getting the plan you need for the recipe.

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Becky April 29, 2014 at 10:45 pm

I’ve been using your gf flour blend recently and so far sm very impressed. I made a cake today… the taste and texture are wonderful but the cakes didn’t rise evenly, leaving a collapsed center. I am at high altitude, so I’m thinking maybe I need to reduce the baking powder? I cooked them at a lower temperature for linger. Not sure what else it could be. Cupcakes from the same batch were perfect. Thanks!

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Jeanne May 1, 2014 at 10:29 am

Becky: Yes, reduce the baking powder. Things baked at high altitude don’t need the extra oomph that baking powder gives.

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Ronalyn Hurley April 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Jeannie, I have been looking forward to baking your Soft Sandwich Bread for a week, having to wait for my sweet rice flour to arrive from Vitacost. Today was the big day! I used the exact ingredients in the recipe in the exact amounts called for. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer. I let it rise, which it did more quickly than any other bread I have made, and baked it at exactly 375 degrees, using an oven thermometer. After 20 minutes I covered it with foil and baked it another 10 minutes. It was a gorgeous loaf of bread when I removed it from the oven. I set my timer for 5 minutes to cool before removing from my metal, 9×5″ bread pan. My heart sank when I saw what had become of my beautiful loaf…collapsed, top and sides. I live in a suburb of Houston, Texas, definitely not high-altitude. This has never happened when I made other gluten-free breads. When it was cool enough, I cut a couple of slices to find out how it tasted. I ate both slices with butter and I have to say it was delicious, which made me even sadder that it collapsed so badly I can’t use it for sandwiches. Can you suggest what to try next time or should I just give it up and go back to another recipe (which won’t taste as good as yours :(

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Jeanne April 10, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Ronalyn: This usually happens when the bread is allowed to rise too high before baking. I recommend trying the bread again and let it rise just to the top of the pan before baking and see how it goes. Let me know if that works!

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Ronalyn Hurley April 10, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Jeanne, thank you for your reply. I will definitely try it again when I have a chance to buy more yeast. The first loaf didn’t go to waste, by the way. I made a delicious bread pudding with it.

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Jeanne April 10, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Ronalyn: My pleasure! And I’m so glad. And yes, let me know how it goes the next time you make it.

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Pam December 16, 2013 at 10:47 am

Can I bake 2 or 3 loaves at a time or would I have to add extra baking time on for each additional loaf

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Jeanne December 17, 2013 at 9:49 am

Pam: Well, it would depend on the size of your oven and how much monitoring you are prepared to do. It’s not so much that you would need more time (although you might), but that you would need to rearrange the loaves every 20 minutes or so to make sure they bake evenly. The more stuff you have in your oven, the less space there is for the heat to get to all sides of the baking pan evenly.

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Stephanie October 16, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Hi Jeanne,

I love your site and have found it very informative!

When substituting a gluten-free flour blend for all-purpose flour, I sometimes find my batter to be too thin – particularly with cakes. The batter rises and tastes good, but if I’m adding an ingredient like chocolate chunks at the end, they sometimes sink to the bottom during baking. When I’ve added more gluten-free flour to thicken the batter, it helps with the density but makes the cake drier and floury tasting. Any suggestions?

Thank you!

Stephanie

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Jeanne October 16, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Stephanie: Greetings! I haven’t experienced this with my flour blend. There are some recipes where the added thing sinks to the bottom, but that’s more a function of the recipe mixed with the thing that is sinking than it is with the gluten-free nature of the flour. The only thing I will say is that gluten-free yeasted bread dough tends to be more like cake batter than like wheat bread dough–which is fine, because you don’t have to knead it anyway.

Have you experienced problems with my recipes? Or just in general? Also, are you following the ingredients and directions exactly without any other substitutions or subtractions?

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Barbara Anderson October 11, 2013 at 6:03 am

My daughter recently made some gluten-free deep-fried turnovers, which although delicious, had a crumbly pastry. it was like biscuit crumbs for the coating. She has asked me to research a more suitable pastry which will not disintegrate with deep-frying. As she often entertains her in-laws who have quite a few coeliacs, and she likes meals and foods to be all-inclusive, it would be good to add another goodie to her folio. (She’s a great cook!) Can you help, please?
Sincerely,
Barbara Anderson

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Jeanne October 11, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Barbara: What kind of dough did she use in the pastry for the turnovers? Have her try my pie crust dough–it works very well for this kind of thing.

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Barbara Anderson October 18, 2013 at 6:57 am

Dear daughter used a recipe (non g-f) but substituted a locally made gluten free plain flour made from maize starch, tapioca starch, soy flour and rice flour. other ingredients in the pastry were butter, lemon juice. The turnovers were deep-fried in a vegetable oil which contained soya bean oil. We don’t know if any of the non wheat starches reacted differently with the cooking oil.
In looking for a suitable gluten free pastry, I cannot find any which is specifically used for deep frying, only oven baking.
Barbara

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Jeanne October 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Barbara: All sorts of things could have happened. One thing that is important is that you have a “gluten-replacer” like xanthan gum in the dough. Otherwise, it will fall apart. I use my mix (which contains xanthan gum) in deep fried things and it works fine. I would recommend trying my mix and see how it goes.

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Barbara Anderson October 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Thanks, Jeanne. She said she’ll try that – which isn’t just when the gf mob turn up!
Barbara

Barbra September 14, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your blog.

You have some really good articles and I think I would be a good asset.

If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write some material for your
blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an e-mail if interested.
Cheers!

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Jeanne September 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Barbra: No thank you. I create all of the content for my site.

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Bryon Karren September 7, 2013 at 11:33 am

When baking GF bread I have always been frustrated getting a good looking loaf. Since vision is the first sense we use for eating I think it is important. The problem was getting a smooth top on crust. I always tried to “smooth” it but was disappointed. Today I tried something a little different. After putting dough in prepared pan I shook pan to get it to lie down nicely and spread out. Then I put a bit of olive oil on top and was able to shake pan to flip dough over. So what was on bottom was now on top. It was nice and smooth. A little touch up especially along edges. I am quite proud of the finished product. I only regret I can’t send photos.
I hate the capthca code system on ipad, hard to decipher the symbols.

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Jeanne September 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Bryon: Wow, what an interesting fix. Do you do this with my bread or with other gluten-free breads? My bread dough is more like cake batter so I’m not sure how you would flip it over. Let me know!

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Bryon Karren September 7, 2013 at 10:40 am

I suggest if you want to add ingredients by weight you verify the per cup weights. These can vary quite a bit for such finely powdered materials. I was having unsatisfactory results when I used the standard 140 GM/cup for the flour mix, always seemed too runny. I checked my mix and it was actually 170 for mine. Voila, the batters are now what I expected and results much better n

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Jeanne September 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Bryon: Good point. I tell people to not substitute flours in my mix by weight–because a cup of each has a different weight. I suggest they determine the weight of a cup of the flour they want to substitute and then substitute that way.

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adriana June 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm

I love the taste of your flour mix. But everytime I am making a bread comes out soggy inside its bake but soggy. How can I fix it?

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Jeanne June 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Adriana: What recipe are you using?

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Marjie Lischer June 3, 2013 at 8:57 am

I saw advice on another website stating that there can be high arsenic levels in brown rice flour and you should be very careful when using this flour. Have you found this to be true or a problem? I was a little concerned.

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Jeanne June 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Marjie: There has been some information that has come out that they are finding “trace” levels (i.e., tiny) of arsenic in rice due to arsenic in the soil and water (they have also found this to be true of fruits). There is more in brown rice because the bran coating on brown rice. The FDA has said that it doesn’t think people need to change their rice consuming habits because the amount is so low. If you are worried, you can substitute sorghum flour for the the brown rice flour in my mix. I would recommend reading the FDA FAQ on this topic to get more information.

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Stephanie May 14, 2013 at 8:04 am

Hi Jeanne,
Can I sub your flour mix in a 1 to 1 ratio for all purpose wheat flour called for in other recipes? Not sure how I may need to tweak. Thanks so much!

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Jeanne May 14, 2013 at 10:10 am

Stephanie: Often you can do a straight one to one substitute, unless it’s a yeasted recipe–that is harder to tweak. But for things like cookies and cakes, it’s often easy to sub. I tell folks to try it and see what happens!

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Billie March 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Jeannie, I’m so happy to have found your website.my daughter is now gf and I want so much to make her my Easter bread that she so loves much. I’m worried about the amount of eggs in this recipe .If I cut the recipe in 1/2 I will still use 6 eggs. Do I need to use more gf flour then regular flour. And how do you know what is the finale dough suppose to look like. Cake batter or regular bread dough?

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Jeanne March 28, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Billie: Is the Easter bread a yeasted thing? If so, it’s not a simple adaptation. You need to adapt other things like the amount of liquid and the amount of yeast. You may have to add baking powder. If it’s not a yeasted dough, I would need to see the recipe to see if anything needs to be altered. :)

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Billie March 29, 2013 at 8:27 am

Jeannie thank you for the reply so quickly. Yes it is a yeast bread,this is the recipe, it’s just a basic egg bread.
6 eggs
1/4 cup crisco
3/4 cup sugar
3 pkgs of 1/4 oz dry yeast
2 cups milk
7 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla

I’m just worried about the liquid from the eggs and milk

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Jeanne March 29, 2013 at 8:41 am

Billie: OK, since this is a yeasted bread–it requires more tweaking than just substituting gluten-free flour. I don’t have the time to figure this out in time for Easter–but I think you will get similar results if you use my Soft Sandwich Bread recipe. Add an extra 1/4 cup of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla to it. I think that would approach the results of your Easter bread. You might want to do a test run to make sure.

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Billie March 29, 2013 at 10:59 am

Jeannie, thank you so very much, have a very Happy Easter.

Jane February 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I have all but given up trying to bake GF bread – I know it’s me – I can’t make a gluten free bread to save my life. It always – ALWAYS – comes out doughy inside like it is underdone. I have even baked 30 min. longer and it makes no difference. I follow the recipe to the T, using fresh ingredients and a calibrated oven. I tried recipes from this site – using your GF flour mix, flour mixes I’ve purchased, recipes from other GF sites. No one else seems to have this problem, but it’s happened with every GF bread recipe I’ve tried. Since I am new to GF baking, I was hoping someone could help!! PLEASE!!!!!

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Jeanne February 20, 2013 at 10:05 am

Jane: What kind of pan are you using? The material that the pan is made out of and the size of the pan is important. If it is made out of dark metal, that could be a problem. If it is made out of plastic, that could be a problem. If it is the wrong size, that could be a problem.

And when you say a “calibrated oven,” do you mean that you have the thermometer in the oven as you bake? Even if you think your oven is properly calibrated, it’s important to have a thermometer in there to be sure.

Finally, I have a lot of people who at first glance say that they made the recipe exactly as written, but then it turns out that they substituted for an ingredient. For example, are you using actual eggs or are you using an egg substitute?

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Sonia January 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Hello, I have a question, Every time I try to bake a bread the top crust separates from the loaf leaving a big whole in my bread. HELPPP !!! Any advice? What am I doing wrong?

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Jeanne January 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Sonia: What bread recipe are you using? It sounds like the bread is over-rising and then the crust stays in place while the rest of the bread deflates a bit. I will need to do some research on this.

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grace December 4, 2012 at 1:17 am

I’m from Western NY and recently moved to Burbank, CA.I’ve noticed that when I bake cookies and pie crusts, the cookies come out soft instead of crispy, and the pie crusts don’t mix as well. I use the same ingredients as I did in NY and have been experimenting with ingredients and amounts but cant find a solution. I was a professional cook for many years so I’m feeling pretty dumb about now! Any suggestions?

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Jeanne December 4, 2012 at 8:34 am

Grace: This is actually a huge topic. There are many reasons why cookies and pie crusts would come out more crispy vs. soft and vice versa. You need to examine the conditions of your kitchen and your ingredients. One of the main issues is the temperature of the fat in the recipe. The warmer the fat (usually butter) is during the mixing process, the more crispy the cookie is going to be. And the warmer the fat during the mixing process, the less flaky your pie crust is going to be–because the fat melts into the flour versus staying solid until the baking process, where it creates layers between the dough. Also, do you have an oven thermometer that you put into your oven? If not, get one right away. And read my article on Knowing Your Oven’s Real Temperature. The temperature that your oven is actually heating to (versus what the dial says) will affect the texture of your baked goods. Also, the temperature of and the amount of humidity in your kitchen will affect things, as well. More humid=you need less liquid in your pie crust and it also means that your cookies will absorb more moisture during the mixing process. I hope this helps!

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MaryAnn October 8, 2012 at 9:09 am

I made GF scones. Used exact ingredients and cooked as directed 400 degrees for 15 min (max.). Cut into wedges and inside seemed gooey so put back in oven for about 7 more minutes to seem done. What’s up with that?

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admin October 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

MaryAnn: I’m not sure. I am wondering if your oven is heating to the correct temperature?

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chris secrist April 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I have made a quick bread called Logan’s Bread. Mine come out moist but a friend that gave me the recipe, has tried it three times now and hers keeps coming out dry and crumbly. We have verified the recipe ingredients and process together. All that I can see differently are: 1. I baked mine in a glass bread pan and she baked hers in an enamel bread pan. 2. She has a gas oven and I have an electric oven. 3. I bake mine in the middle of the oven on convection and she does not have convection.
We have discussed cutting back on the flour which is an equal mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flour, cooking at a lower temperature which she has tried, and possibly increasing moisture ingredients. If it is the gas oven that is causing the problem, what kind of adjustment is needed?
Could you assist us in solving this problem.

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admin April 16, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Chris: I am wondering if your ovens are heating to the same temperature? Do you each have an oven thermometer? Even new ovens can be off of correct temperature. Also, are you using the exact same ingredients? And, I have found that enamel can be problematic at times–maybe suggest to her that she use glass or metal. Finally, are you both at the same altitude?

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Molly Pisula April 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Hi Jeanne,
Lately I’ve been asked to do some gluten-free cupcakes for some clients. I’ve been using your recipes for the most part, and using your gluten-free flour mix in other recipes as well. In general, I’ve noticed that the gluten-free stuff has the tendency to get a bit gluey in the final product. (Your recipes are the best out there, but I needed a vanilla cupcake recipe and GFCF recipe so was looking at others!) Do you think if the final product gets gluey, it’s a result of not beating the eggs/sugar enough? Thanks!
Molly

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admin April 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Molly: when you say gluey, what do you mean? Do you mean not-done in the middle? Or gluey somehow on the outside?

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Maggie February 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Hi Jeanne,

I made some cupcakes tonight using your GF flour blend, and I think I might have not beat the butter long enough as they were kind of spongy. I assume that would be the problem? Is it possible to over-beat the butter? Or over-beat after the addition of eggs? And, is this the right diagnosis of my cupcakes? Thanks so much for your help and your knowledge!!

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admin February 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Maggie: Which recipe was it?

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Maggie March 2, 2012 at 6:31 am

I made lemon salt cupcakes from Tartlette’s website (http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2011/10/recipe-gluten-free-lemon-salt-lemon.html), where she recommends using your flour blend.

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admin March 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Maggie: Ooo, yummy! Thanks for letting me know! I love Helene–she was the stylist for the photo shoot of my book. So awesome!

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shannon February 23, 2012 at 11:30 am

Hi Jeanne,

Thank you so much for sharing your GF knowledge! I have baked a few things using your flour mix and they have all worked beautifully except for cake recipes calling for buttermilk. They all rose properly and looked lovely until I pulled them out of the oven… they collapsed into a sticky, wet mess!

Wondering if the buttermilk might have an adverse effect on the mix??? Have you experienced this or is there something that I may be doing wrong? Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks!

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admin February 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Shannon: Are you using your normal recipes with my flour? If so, most of them have baking soda (which works with the acid of buttermilk), but no baking powder. You need some baking powder with gf cakes to help them rise and not fall. I would add an equal amount of baking powder to baking soda. Let me know how it goes!

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Jenn Sutherland February 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Jeanne, these sorts of questions are why I will leave #GF baking expertise and advice giving to others. I’m fairly incapable of following any recipe precisely…I do my best with baking, and sometimes things come out well, sometimes not so much, but usually the results are edible, and quite often tasty, if not precisely perfect.

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admin February 20, 2012 at 9:17 am

Jenn: Ah. My goal with this list is not to emphasize the need for perfection (truly, there is wiggle room in baking), but to let folks know that these things can affect outcome. I get lots of questions about why things didn’t work for folks–and it turns out that one of the things on the list is often the culprit. :)

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Nicole @ GFShoestring February 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Thank you, Jeanne. Just … thank you.

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admin February 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Nicole: :) You are welcome!

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Dan February 10, 2012 at 10:42 am

Hi Jeanne,
Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes.
I have baked the GF sweet bread twice following your recipe. It turned out very well but the bread seems to collapse on the sides while cooling. What am I doing wrong?

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admin February 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Dan: It sounds like the bread is rising too high before baking. What recipe is it that you’re having problems with? Also, are you baking at high altitude? High altitude seems to be good for gf baking–because it allows the baked items to rise more easily. But, it means that you need to adjust the rising and baking time. If the bread rises/bakes too long, it can collapse.

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Dan February 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm

The bread I tried is the Soft Sandwich Bread from your recipe. No, I am not in high altitude; but it is cold in Ontario, Canada. It takes longer for the dough to rise? I used 10×5 bread pan which is 3 inches high and allowed the dough to rise just above the top as the recipe suggests. Thanks again for your help!

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admin February 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Dan: Hm. There will be a bit of collapsing during the cooling period. But not so much that it looks like a shriveled ghost of its former self. I would recommend letting it rise just to the top. Not over. See how it behaves then. The problem with gf baked goods is that the structure is going to be a little weaker than bread with gluten. Sigh. Let me know how it goes.

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Dan February 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Thanks for the ideas. I just finished baking another bread. Didn’t let it rise to the top, but I’m sure it had doubled in bulk before I put it in the oven. I also added another 5 minutes to the bake time. (I don’t have an oven thermometer.) It has been cooling for about half hour and it hasn’t collapsed!
Thank you very much for all that you are doing. God Bless you!

Stan Starsky January 31, 2012 at 10:08 am

I made one of your cookie recipes but instead of rice flour I used oat flour..I also added some egg whites because it just felt right. I was in a rush so I did not mix the batter all that well. I did not want to use my oven so I cooked them on the grille in an old coffee pot….

And they came out great…I don’t see what the problem is.

Sorry…When you mentioned that different ingredients were being used in your recipes and as a result the recipes did not come out well, it just made my kind of laugh.

…Honestly I am guilty of always changing recipes and as a result of your post I have nobody to blame.

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admin January 31, 2012 at 10:15 am

Stan: LOL! I love what you did! And yes, much of the time substitutions work out just fine. Especially in the more simple types of baking like cookies. That said, I think the farther up the difficulty chain you go (like to cakes and breads), substitutions become more and more tricky. Also, it sounds like you know what you’re doing and are comfortable with baking (yay!). But so many people are new to this and have no idea that substitution ingredients can be quite problematic depending on what part they are substituting for.

I keep thinking of the person who substituted ice cream for mayonnaise in a recipe on Epicurious. They then complained that the resulting dish didn’t taste good. LOL! That always cracks me up. (I don’t remember what the recipe was for)

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Karen January 31, 2012 at 7:16 am

Hello,, Im new to your site as well as new to the GF life..I have enjoyed browsing you site and loved the look of these recipes.. Im still working on collecting the staples of GF and learning to cook a whole new way..wow..
is that any piece of advice you would give a newbie to get through these trying times of changes.?? I will be following you as well as on fb.. Thank you for your site and for offering your recipes and experience to us all..
Have a blessed day..

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admin January 31, 2012 at 9:51 am

Karen: I think the most important piece of advice is to know that it does get better. It is so hard in the beginning. I really do think folks need to go through a mourning period when they get a diagnosis that they can’t eat something that is so important to our food culture–so be kind to yourself. Also, focus on what you CAN eat versus what you can’t eat. I have actually found that my diet has gotten much broader with my gluten intolerance diagnosis. I eat so many more things than I would have if I had never been told I could no longer eat gluten. And realize that simple, whole foods are your best friends now–because the processed stuff is always a minefield of hidden gluten. Take care! Know that you are not alone!

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Mona January 30, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Jeanne, is it always best to use xanthan gum in gluten-free breads? Do you get a better rise w/ or w/o?

Thanks Mona

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admin January 31, 2012 at 9:54 am

Mona: Yes, you must use some sort of gluten-replacer in breads. Otherwise, there is no structure for the starches to adhere to and for the leavening gases to push up against. If you don’t use xanthan gum (or something similar) it’s like trying to build a house with no frame. It won’t work and it will fall down.

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Chris Stafferton March 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Whoa there! It is not necessary to use gum in gluten free bread. It all depends on which gluten free flours you use and what other ingredients you use in your gluten free bread.
I sell a range of recipes for gluten free breads and pastries, only two use gum, and that is only because when I developed those recipes my range of gluten free flours was limited. I am currently working at eliminating the gum from those two recipes.

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admin March 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Chris: I think we will have to agree to disagree. For the results that I want, I find that xanthan gum is necessary. It sounds like you are happy with the results you get without gums–which is awesome.

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admin March 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Dan: Yay!! Thanks for letting me know!

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Jeanne March 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Billie: My pleasure! Happy Easter to you, too!!

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Jeanne October 18, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Barbara: OK, that sounds good.

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