Low FODMAP Baking
Low FODMAP baking might have been one of the most important things for me to get a hang of when I started the low FODMAP diet. I love sweets! Cake, cookies, brownies and muffins, I never get enough of them. When I had to switch to gluten-free desserts because of the low FODMAP diet (FODMAPs are not the same as gluten, but it comes down to using gluten-free flour instead of normal flour) I was very upset at the beginning. Not being able to pick a cake in a café when having a coffee, not looking through the dessert part of the menu first when I go out for dinner to decide which dessert I wanted before eating anything else and having to eat dry gluten-free pastry.
Clearly, I saw everything very gloomy in the first weeks of the low FODMAP diet, but luckily it turned out to be not as bad. In the mean time, I got quite some experience with low FODMAP baking and I manage to make bakes that are just as good as non-FODMAP ones! Baking gluten-free bread is still quite a challenge for me, but baking cakes and cookies isn’t that hard. Also because, luckily, there are more and more low FODMAP baking products available to use. Last week I baked my carrot cake cheesecake for friends of my parents that were visiting and everybody loved it. They didn’t have a clue that this cake was low FODMAP, gluten-free ánd lactose-free and that is exactly how I want it to be!
Today I want to discuss the basics of low FODMAP baking. Small bakes such as cookies and muffins and simple cakes. More difficult bakes like small patisserie and bread is something for a next article. We start at the beginning!
Which ingredients do you replace for low FODMAP baking?
High FODMAP ingredients that we often find in main meals, such as garlic and onion, are not something you will find in most cakes. The ingredients that are problematic for us while baking are mainly flour, dairy and fruit. I will list for you how you can replace those.
Replace normal flour by gluten-free flour. In the Netherlands, I prefer using the ‘Kuchen & Kekse’ mix by Schär and I sometimes make my own gluten-free flour mix which you can find in this recipe. In almost every case (for cake, cookies and bakes like brownies) I managed to substitute normal flour for these flour mixes without any problems. Only with some cakes I had a bit of trouble, you can read about it in my recipe for vanilla pound cake.
For my healthier desserts and cookies, I love using oat flour. According to the Monash app oats are low FODMAP up to 60 g per serving. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the amount of oat flour per portion doesn’t exceed the maximum portion size. For example: using 200 grams of oat flour for 10 muffins is fine because the amount of oats in one muffin is 20 grams.
Spelt flour is not low FODMAP, but is used by fodmappers in the Netherlands quite a lot. If you have tested spelt and you tolerate it you can also use this for baking. Spelt does give your bakes a bit of a tough dense structure. Therefore, I don’t prefer using it for cakes or cookies. For bread-like bakes it is very nice.
Next to flour it is important to have baking powder and baking soda in stock.
Recipes for cheesecake often ask for a bottom layer made with cookie crumbs. You can easily replace the cookies used in the recipe for your favorite low FODMAP ones. In the Netherlands, I often go for low FODMAP oreo’s, gingerbread cookies, digestives or simple butter cookies. Check the ingredients of the cookies to make sure that they are low FODMAP. Some gluten-free cookies are not low FODMAP because high FODMAP ingredients such as inuline or fructose have been added.
Puff pastry is also an often used ingredient for baking. In the Netherlands, we have one gluten-free and low FODMAP replacement available: the puff pastry by Consenza.
Butter contains a very small amount of lactose and is therefore low FODMAP. You can read all about it in this blog. You can also replace butter with coconut oil or margarine. Personally, I don’t like replacing butter with margarine, because it alters the flavour a bit, but in most cases it is a possibility. Note that butter, because it contains a lot of fat, can be a trigger for IBS complaints. Really fatty bakes can therefore, give you problems if you eat too much of it.
Other dairy products
Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cream cheese can be replaced by lactose-free variants. Luckily more and more substitutes for dairy products are available. In the Netherlands, you can find amongst others lactose-free milk, yogurt, cream cheese, whipping cream, crème fraiche and mascarpone.
There are also several kinds of plantbased milk that are low FODMAP. Almond milk is low FODMAP up to 240 ml per serving. Macadamia milk is low FODMAP up to 240 ml per serving. Rice milk is low FODMAP up to 200 ml per serving. Coconut milk in a package is low FODMAP up to 180 ml per serving and canned coconut milk up to 60 ml. Oat milk is low FODMAP up to 125 ml per serving.
Some dieticians (in the Netherlands) suggest using soy products as a replacement for cow milk products. However, soy products are not low FODMAP and can give problems. The only soy milk that’s low FODMAP is soy milk made of soy protein instead of soy beans, but unfortunately we don’t have it here in the Netherlands. If you can find milk made of soy protein, you can use that. If you have tested soy products and you tolerate it, you can of course use it as a substitute.
Sugar and other sweeteners
In many healthier desserts, honey or agave syrup is used as a sweetener. These two are not low FODMAP, but you can replace them with maple syrup or rice syrup, which are low FODMAP alternatives.
Apart from that, you can use all normal types of sugar, such as white sugar. Palm sugar is also low FODMAP and the sweetener stevia is too. Coconut sugar is only low FODMAP up to 1 tsp per serving. For sugar the same caution note as for fat: in large amounts it can be a trigger for IBS complaints. Therefore, it is important to control your portion size when you are eating desserts.
When you use chocolate in a recipe it is safest to go for dark chocolate. 30 grams of dark chocolate is a safe low FODMAP portion. For milk chocolate and white chocolate respectively 20 and 25 g per serving is a safe serving. I like to bake with special kinds of chocolate such as milk chocolate with salted caramel. As long as the added ingredients (next to the ingredients that are normal for milk chocolate) are low FODMAP the same portion size applies for this kind of chocolate. In this case, 20 gram would be safe. If you use for example 150 gram of this chocolate and bake 10 cookies with it, one cookie would be a low FODMAP portion.
Fruit can be a difficult one for low FODMAP baking, because what is an apple pie without apple? In this case, unfortunately, your only option is to replace the high FODMAP fruit by a low FODMAP variant. For example: In the Netherlands we have a traditional cheesecake which is usually made with a layer of cherries on top. As cherries are not low FODMAP I replaced them with strawberries. We also love puff pastry filled with a mixture of apple and raisins. As apple is a no go on the FODMAP diet I put pineapple pieces in the puff pastry instead. Apple crumble is another favourite, but that is also easily made low FODMAP by making the crumble layer gluten-free and replacing the apple with red fruits like raspberries or strawberries. See for example the recipes for blueberry crumble bars and healthy strawberry crumble.
Final tips for low FODMAP baking
- Gluten-free flour sometimes needs something extra to rise. If you want to change a normal recipe to a gluten-free recipe using gluten-free flour it is advisable to add ½ to 1 teaspoon extra baking powder.
- Xanthan gum is a product that is also used often in gluten-free recipes. It is used to replace the gluten that you miss in a gluten-free recipe and helps to hold you bake together. Mix, if you want to use xanthan gum, the powder through your flour and add the other ingredients after that. If you mix it with a liquid immediately the xanthan gum might form a thick lump and that’s not what you want. For cookies add ¼ teaspoon of xanthan gum per 180 grams of flour, for cakes ½ teaspoon per 180 grams of flour and for muffins ¾ teaspoon per 180 grams of flour.
- Are you going to make a dessert for guests and do you want to adapt a recipe to make it low FODMAP? Make sure to test it before! Like that, you will be sure that the recipe will work out and you won’t get stressed on the day that you have to make the dessert. On my blog you also find several tasty examples that I have already tested for you:
Low FODMAP baking remains a case of testing and trying. I have learned to bake low FODMAP cookies and cakes, but I want to continue to experiment with using xanthan gum and baking gluten-free bread. So if you are interested I will continue this series with a low FODMAP baking part 2 in the future!
How do you deal with low FODMAP and/or gluten-free baking? Do you have any special tips that work for you?
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