In the Kitchen: Substitution, Gluten-Free Dumpling Recipe, Flour Blends & More



Beth Hillson

I’ve been asked to bake a gluten-free cake and must avoid corn. What can I use as a substitute for baking powder and confectioners’ sugar, both of which contain corn? Can I mix baking soda with a starch to make baking powder? Can I do the same with granulated sugar? If so, which starch?

You can make your own baking powder by thoroughly combining 1/3 cup baking soda, 2/3 cup cream of tartar and 2/3 cup arrowroot starch. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. Two commercial baking powders are gluten free and corn free: Featherweight Baking Powder ( and KinnActiv Baking Powder (

To make corn-free confectioners’ sugar, combine 1½ tablespoons tapioca starch/flour or potato starch (not potato flour) with enough granulated sugar to make 1 cup. Process in a blender or food processor on high speed until powdered. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

I’m trying to convert my grandmother’s dumpling soup recipe to a gluten-free version but without any luck. I’ve tried various commercial flour blends but the dumplings don’t stick together and the soup looks like gruel. What flour blend should I use?

Are you sure your recipe’s measurements are correct? Try making grandmother’s dumplings more substantial, like matzo balls, by adding ¼ to 1/3 cup instant mashed potato flakes and ½ teaspoon xanthan gum to the recipe’s dry ingredients. Then simmer the soup over low heat as you add the dumplings. (Rapidly boiling soup is apt to break them apart.) Alternatively, steam the dumplings separately and then add them to the soup before serving.

I’d like to try baking with almond flour. Can it be substituted cup for cup for wheat flour in recipes for baked goods?

Almond flour usually cannot replace wheat flour cup for cup. The baking properties are too dissimilar. Include about ¼ cup almond flour as part of 2 cups gluten-free flour blend. It will add a nice taste and texture to your baked goods, in addition to extra protein, fiber and beneficial nutrients. For more about gluten-free baking with almond flour, check out The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook (Celestial Arts) by Elana Amsterdam or visit

My daughter is allergic to wheat, corn, sorghum, almond and potato. She can’t have cornstarch, potato starch, xanthan gum or anything with sulfites. She can eat oats, buckwheat and guar gum without problem. Can you help me with a flour blend for piecrusts, biscuits, pancakes and other baked goods?

I think you’ll have good success with this blend: 1 cup oat flour, 1 cup buckwheat flour, ¾ cup tapioca starch/flour, 2 teaspoons guar gum. Blend ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Use this mixture as a cup-for-cup replacement for regular flour in your baking.

I have a question about the recipe for Chocolate Raspberry Pie (Feb/March 2012). I’m omitting the Chambord. Given the bittersweet chocolate and tart raspberries, it seems like I should add some sweetener to the filling. Am I right?

I wonder if you’re confusing bittersweet with unsweetened chocolate. Taste your bittersweet chocolate first. If it’s not sweet enough for you, replace half of it in the recipe with semi-sweet chocolate. Then I think you’ll be fine. (For Jules Shepard’s recipe for Chocolate Raspberry Pie, go to

The Ginger-Molasses Cookie recipe calls for molasses but specifically instructs, not blackstrap molasses. I’m curious—why no blackstrap molasses?

Like full-bodied red wines and lighter white wines, this is all about personal taste. Blackstrap is the substance left at the bottom of the barrel when molasses is processed. It’s thicker and stronger in flavor than regular molasses, which is used in this delicate-tasting cookie recipe. If all you have is blackstrap molasses, go ahead and use it. The slight change in texture will not alter the cookies but the molasses flavor will be more pronounced. (For Carol Fenster’s recipe for Ginger-Molasses Cookies, go to

Food editor Beth Hillson is a chef and cooking instructor. She is founder of Gluten-Free Pantry, one of the first gluten-free companies in the United States, and author of Gluten-Free Makeovers (
Send your questions to Ask the Chef, Living Without magazine, 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854-1631 or Include your full name, address and daytime phone number. Letters become the property of Belvoir Media Group, LLC and may be published in other media. Submissions chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and length.



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