Adventures in Gluten-Free Baking

One of the most challenging things about switching to a gluten-free diet (which I started about 18 months ago after discovering a gluten allergy) is giving up those old family recipes that I have enjoyed for so many years.  Recently I have been experimenting with adapting older recipes to accommodate gluten-free baking ingredients.  Wheat flour alternatives are plentiful, but they are challenging for bakers because they affect the taste and texture of baked goods, requiring some experimentation to find the right alternative.

Below is my great-grandmother’s scone recipe which I have adapted: the wheat flour has been replaced with brown rice flour (which has become my preferred flour alternative because it is odourless and provides a slightly more moist baked scone than white rice flour), and I have also added a small amount of xanthan gum.  Xanthan gum is a common ingredient in gluten-free baking which acts a thickening agent (or “glue”) to the rice flour.  So far, the recipe has been a hit with friends and family who have exclaimed numerous times: “you can’t even tell that it is gluten-free!”.  Enjoy the recipe and feel free to experiment!

Gluten-free Scones

* recipe makes three 6 inch scones 

½ cup white sugar

2 cups brown rice flour (can also be made with white rice flour, however scones will be a little more dry in texture)

2 tbsp of ground flax seeds (*optional)

2 tsp xanthan gum (very important!)

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder (use gluten-free baking powder if gluten allergy is severe)

½ cup of butter (softened)

1 egg

¾ cups milk (I use lactose-free, but any kind will do)

½ cup raisins (*optional)


Preheat oven to 325° F.

 Mix sugar, rice flour, ground flax seeds, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

Add softened butter, work into dry ingredients until you have a loose crumbly mix.

Add egg and milk to bowl, mix until you have a big ball of wet dough.  Add raisins to dough if desired.

Sprinkle some rice flour on a wood cutting board or on the counter.  Divide the large dough ball into 3, and drop each portion onto the flour – roll around just enough to cover the ball in a light coating.  Then place on a lightly floured baking sheet.

Using your lightly rice-floured hand, push each ball flat on the tray.  Using a sharp knife, score the tops of the scones if desired, and sprinkle a light layer of sugar on top.

Bake for approx. 30 minutes, or until the tops and edges of the scones are golden brown.