Chef and Blogger Amy Green Shares Her Baking Secrets

PHOTO: Chef and blogger Amy Green share some of her gluten-free baking secrets.

Baking without gluten and refined sugar can produce desserts that will please even the pickiest eater. Having a few tricks in your back pocket helps. Here's nine tips to ensure your success.

1. Use the type of gluten-free flour called for in the recipe. Each flour produces a different result. Unless you understand how the different flours work, switching flours can be disastrous.

2. Measure xanthan gum and guar gum, which mimic the gluten in wheat flour, exactly and away from your ingredient bowl. They're powerful ingredients and even 1/4 teaspoon can change the final product.

3. Trust the recipe and follow it as written, even if it feels like the recipe is wrong. Gluten-free, refined sugar-free batters behave differently than wheat and white sugar batters do and can sometimes need different mixing methods.

4. Lightly oil your scooping and spreading utensils to help keep the batter off the utensils and in the pan. Gluten-free batters can be sticky.

5. Stock up on silicone baking mats and parchment paper. Silicone mats help your cookies brown evenly and release perfectly. Parchment paper is perfect for rolling out gluten-free pie crusts and crackers.

6. When measuring flour, stir it then use a large spoon to scoop the flour into a dry ingredient measuring cup. Use a flat edge to level off the flour. Never pack flour - you'll end up with dry, crumbly cupcakes.

7. Most liquid refined sugar-free liquid sweeteners except liquid stevia can be swapped out one to one as long as they're about the same consistency. Be warned that if you use Grade B maple syrup instead of agave nectar in your vanilla cupcakes, they'll have a mild maple syrup flavor.

8. Use alcohol-free, sugar-free pure vanilla extract in anything that won't be baked, such as frostings and puddings. Without any sugar, vanilla extract in an alcohol base leaves your icing with an unwelcome boozy taste.

9. Use the pan size called for in the recipe until you've baked the recipe at least once. This is especially important in bread recipes because there's no gluten to give the bread structure and strength.

Amy Green, M.Ed., authors Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free, a popular food blog about eating well, eliminating refined sugars and wheat, and maintaining a healthy weight. She has been living free from white sugar and wheat since 2004 and, as a result, is maintaining a 60+ pound weight loss. Over the years she's learned that eating healthier doesn't equal deprivation.

Amy's cookbook, Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free: 180 Easy and Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less, was released in February 2011 and can be found on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and your local Barnes & Noble bookstore.

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