A gluten-free diet needn't banish you to a life of only eggs, bacon and fruit for breakfast. Traditional waffles are made with off-limits, gluten-containing wheat flour, but you can use gluten-free flour mixes to create crispy, light waffles. Gluten-free waffle batter is suitable for any waffle maker, and the finished product accommodates a pat of butter, fresh berries and a drizzle of syrup just as well as any gluten-containing version.
Gluten in Waffles
A typical waffle recipe calls for wheat flour, which contains the protein known as gluten. Gluten provides density and texture in a waffle. Use cake flour or pastry flour to lower -- but not eliminate -- the gluten content and you'll get a crisper, airier waffle. All-purpose flour, with its higher gluten content, turns out a waffle with a greater density and slightly chewier interior. The other classic ingredients in a waffle -- eggs, sugar, butter, milk, vanilla and baking powder -- are gluten-free.
Commercial Flour Substitutes
Commercial gluten-free flour mixes are convenient and can usually be substituted one-for-one for regular wheat flour in your waffle recipe. The absence of gluten in these commercial mixes can result in a light, airy waffle with a crispy exterior -- similar to that achieved with wheat-based cake flour. Some gluten-free mixes contain garbanzo bean flour, which may result in a subtle bean-flavored aftertaste. Gluten-free baking mixes are also available; use them as you would any traditional pancake and waffle mix. Usually, you're required to add only eggs, oil and water.
Make your own gluten-free flour mix with white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch and nonfat milk powder. Substitute it one-for-one for the wheat flour in a traditional waffle recipe. Add an extra egg to add heft to the batter and create a denser, chewier waffle. If your traditional recipe requires you to separate the eggs and beat the egg whites, you may skip this process when using a lighter, gluten-free flour mixture. The whipped egg whites lighten up a batter heavy with gluten, but when your batter is gluten-free, this step may be unnecessary.
Coconut flour is another gluten-free alternative to wheat flour for waffles. Coconut flour absorbs liquid more effectively than other flours because of its higher fiber and protein content. Experiment by substituting half as much coconut flour as wheat flour in a recipe. For example, if your recipe calls for 2 cups of wheat flour, use 1 cup of coconut flour. If the batter seems too thin, add more coconut flour a few tablespoons at a time until it reaches the desired thickness. Double or triple the number of eggs to hold the batter together as it cooks. Coconut flour imparts a subtle sweetness and coconut flavor to the finished waffles.
If your waffle iron calls for greasing, use a gluten-free cooking spray. Avoid adding fruit or other additions to the waffle batter, as this can throw off the ratios when you're working with gluten-free flours. Waffles are best when eaten right away. Gluten-free versions are especially prone to becoming soggy if left to sit out. Be prepared to freeze any leftovers immediately.